Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

To paraphrase Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, anything different is good. So it's fun when every four years the calendar is suddenly out of whack and we throw in an extra day.

You'll see stories all over the news about births and birthdays today. A set of twins will get top billing. In the Union-Sun & Journal today, we had a story about a woman from Lockport who was born on Leap Day 1952 ... who then gave birth to a daughter on Leap Day 1976. The odds are pretty low, to say the least.

Here's a fun little rant (warning: rather vulgar) by a girl who just doesn't "get" why we have Leap Day. I understand that there are some people in society who aren't that bright, but I have a feeling she's acting. God, I hope she's acting.

She does have one good point, though, actually. Most of the months have 30 and 31 days. Makes sense. If you take 365 (days in a year) and divide by 12, you get 30.4. So most months should be 30 days with a few 31. Why, then is February 28?

As it turns out, it's the Roman's fault. Or at least that's the explanation in this Salon.com story. But the calendar has undergone several changes over the past couple millenia. Why didn't one of those changes incorporate the leveling out of the months? Take two of the months have that 31 days and make them 30 days. Give those days to February.

Of course, that creates its own problems.

Sadly, I don't know what months have 30 days and what have 31. I don't know the rhyme and I never figured out the knuckle thing either. That's why I buy calendars. But diligent research (Wikipedia) tells me that January, March, May, July, August, October and December have 31 days.

Well, you obviously can't take Halloween off the calendar. Nor can you delete New Year's Eve. That leaves January, March, May, July and August from which to borrow. Personally I think January and March would make the most sense. Winter months should be shorter.

Except what about people whose birthdays are on Jan. 31 and March 31? Would they just not have any more birthdays (thereby not get any older)? Or would you move their birthdays to Feb. 1 and April 1? It would make (April) fools out of a whole lotta people. Would you have to change their birth certificates? I mean, really, how would all the logistics work?

In the end, it would be a lot better. But you'd still have an extra day every four years. I wouldn't add it to February, though. Put it in June or September where we can enjoy it!

Hope you're Leap Day was worth waiting four years for.

Monday, February 27, 2012

So ... this.

I don't endorse this idea ...

But this ad is hilarious ...

 


Big brother is "keeping us safe"

The news can be a scary thing.

Take, for instance this report from Sunday, which noted the growing popularity of unmanned (drone) aircraft designed to give a birds-eye view of the ground. Widely used by the military to monitor the ground movements of foreign and terrorist troops, these spy planes and helicopters are gaining use in the states by both government and private corporations.

I’m actually less concerned about businesses using these little tech toys than I am about what the state may do with them.

I read a story the other day that noted that citizens of London are caught on a security camera hundreds of times per day on average. While London is widely known to be the most spied-on city in the world, what’s to say that New York, DC, and even Buffalo isn’t next?

After all, we also found out last week the the New York (City) Police Department had made a habit of infiltrating college campuses in order to watch the activities of Muslim groups. They even came all the way to the University at Buffalo to see what we had going on in our neck of the woods. If the NYPD can spy on us in Buffalo, there’s not much to prevent the feds from doing the same, is there?

Of course, we already have traffic light cameras. Despite the protests of several citizens groups and the NYCLU, these little snap shooters have been quietly installed around Western New York under the guise of “keeping us safe.”

Tell that to London. According to a recent report, there's been little or no change in London's crime rates since all those closed-circuit cameras were more widely installed in the mid 1980s. In nearly 30 years, despite having 51,000 spy cameras strategically located around the city, crime rates are about the same.

If only they had every criminal’s DNA, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking for.

The governor is seeking an “expansion” of the “database” of criminals’ DNA. This was the way the governor’s office worded it. And nearly every news agency in New York State reported it as such using the phrase “database expansion.”

Google the phrase “database expansion” and you’ll get hundreds of hits — all related to this story.
When you think of “database expansion,” though, do you think of the compelled (forced) plundering of the biogenetic makeup of our fellow citizens? Or does it sound the fresh new catchphrase at an accounting firm?

It’s already the case that anyone who is found guilty of a felony has to surrender a DNA sample. This “expansion” would include all misdemeanors. Any conviction. Period.

Law enforcement has come out in support of this, understandably so. But I’ve been amazed at the lack of opposition to this plan. The idea of the state owning a piece of what it is that makes me “me” is downright frightening. I’d like to be self-owned, thank you very much.

When the state can track our every movement and literally owns a piece of us, what does that make us? Property? Pets?

Of course, they’re doing so under the guise of “keeping us safe.”

Maybe we should just be grateful to have an “older sibling” who is so concerned about our safety.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shrove Tuesday 2012

The Little One adds maple syrup to her pancakes at Emmanuel United Methodist Church's Shrove Tuesday dinner.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nice day for a walk ...

The scene in Lockport Monday while walking up Exchange Street from the Market Street Art Gallery.

Everywhere you wanna be ...

Links to all my social media profiles ... via about.me.

GOP: Desperately seeking someone

So, Rick Santorum. Huh. Why not?

The former senator from Pennsylvania seems to be the Republican party’s flavor of the week in a game they’re playing called, “Which one of you is not Mitt Romney?”

I’ll give Senator Santorum this: He believes what he says. Of course, that’s the difference between liars and mad men. Liars know they’re full of it, while mad men completely believe the crazy things they say.

Take the latest example of “Republicans saying stupid things,” which Santorum provided during an interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS’s Face the Nation: “The bottom line is that a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions.”

This is Santorum’s response to President Obama’s suggestion that birth control and many types of pre-natal care should be provided free of charge by employers and health insurance providers.

For so many in the leadership of the Republican Party, “family planning” and “abortion” are synonyms. From their perspective, the only purpose for Planned Parenthood is to provide abortions. Never mind the fact that 97 percent of what the organization does is everything else. All that matters is that three percent of the time, they perform abortions every time.

I’d like to state two facts, one which is readily apparent and the other, which anyone who’s followed my career already knows.

1) I am not a woman.

2) I’m pro-life.

That said, as much as I abhor abortions, I also abhor the divisive politics being played here by Senator Santorum.

To make a parallel-logic statement, if you find out you’re suffering from a deadly disease, you may engage in risky behavior, so you shouldn’t be screened for certain types of cancer.

Of course, that sounds stupid. But following the if-then schematic laid out by GOP flavor No. 5, it’s pure logic.

Of course, if you really follow their logic, you should be forced to smoke non-filtered cigarettes first, too.

At some point over the course of the past decade or so, knowledge became the enemy to the Republican Party. For many of the rank-and-file, science is evil and facts just get in the way of a good invasion, so they encourage that we bury our heads in the sand and not offer pre-natal screening or birth control.

The scariest part for me is that an increasing number of people seem to agree with Santorum’s view.

I’m all for replacing Barack Obama come November, but only with someone better. And the GOP hasn’t found that person yet. It sure isn’t Rick Santorum.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Erie County GOP calls Democrats partisan ...

Thoughts below ...

STATEMENT FROM CHAIRMAN LANGWORTHY REGARDING THE APPOINTMENT OF AN ERIE COUNTY COMPTROLLER
For Immediate Release:                          
Buffalo, NY:  - Today, Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy issued the following statement regarding the appointment of David Shenk as Erie County Comptroller:
“Culminating a hyper-political process, the Democratic Conference of the Erie County Legislature today appointed the least-qualified candidate under consideration to the office of Erie County Comptroller.  Erie County is the equivalent of a billion-dollar enterprise.   Taxpayers have been done a great disservice by the appointment of David Shenk, who lacks the qualifications to serve as Erie County's Chief Financial Officer. Candidates with better credentials were passed over due to the will of Party Politics and the over-reaching of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.”
“The Erie County Republican Committee has launched a screening committee to identify its candidate to run in the 2012 special election for County Comptroller.  Interested candidates should mail a cover letter and resume to Erie County Republican Headquarters at 715 Main Street, Suite 102, Buffalo, NY 14203.  Materials can also be emailed to ecrc@ecgop.com.”

###
Gee, ya think? Democrats appointing Democrats? Who ever heard of such a thing?

What I really want to know is, when did Nick Langworthy change his name to Nicholas A. Langworthy? He sounds like a lawyer now.

More to come, I'm sure ...

Slowly but surely ...


Up to 30 minutes a day ... next level is 40 ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

There's nothing flakey about it

The new apartment is so much bigger than my previous place. That means that several items which I’ve had in storage are actually being used — or prominently on display.

Sunday afternoon I was cleaning up and organizing my bedroom, one of the last rooms in the house to be tended to. (I never got my bedroom painted in my old apartment, despite living there for 18 months). I took my box of Flutie Flakes and put them on top of my dresser, surrounded by a couple of stuffed hedgehogs and a stuffed bear.

And my girlfriend immediately started picking on me!

You’re thinking she was picking on my for owning stuffed animals, right? That’s where I thought she was going to go when she started laughing. I mean, what self-respecting adult male has a collection of stuffed animals that he keeps on display?

But, no, she had seen the hedgehogs and the polar bear before. It was the Flutie Flakes that apparently drew her attention.

The box is in pristine condition — still unopened. They go for about $10 on eBay. Of course, I didn’t know that until about 30 seconds ago because I’ve never considered selling it.

For one, it provides “10 essential vitamins and minerals.” For another thing, it’s kind of signed. In the same manner that all first-edition Flutie Flakes were signed. And lastly (this may be key), my dad gave it to me.

“I’ll bet 10 percent of men in Western New York still have a box of Flutie Flakes,” I told her.

She seemed to doubt this supposition on my part and contends that any self-respecting male that does have a box of Flutie Flakes has them hidden in a closet somewhere so his wife or girlfriend won’t throw it out.

I know I’ve said previously that I’m not a huge sports fan, but c’mon. Doug Flutie? How could you not like the guy. For a while, he was the hero of 50 percent of guys in the Buffalo area. The other 50 percent, for some reason, hated him.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe the “shrine” (her words not mine) to the Flutie Flakes is a bit much.

Eventually, they’ll end up on a shelf along with other items she’ll think should embarrass me but don’t, like my tin Labatt Blue sign which she suggested should go in the “man cave” (attic).

But for now, my box of Flutie Flakes will be prominently displayed in my bedroom — where no one other than her or I will see them.

But I have to ask you guys, where do you keep yours?

Monday, February 13, 2012

You're never gonna belive this ...


No kill switch on awesome ...


You'll be seeing 'less' of me ...


... now that I got this baby back up and running. I found a Gazelle on craigslist and hope that means I'll actually be able to reach my weight goal of 180 by summer. Currently, I'm at 192.8. I'm hoping for 190 by week's end ... and a little less each week thereafter.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The great check debate ...

I'm finally getting around to ordering new checks. I've got it narrowed down to two designs. I love them both - in part because they're unusual. So ... a little help?

Owls?


or SPAM?

Let me know via the comments from however you got here (G+, Twitter or Facebook). If you stumbled here on your own, email me ...

Thanks!

Eighth-grader shoots marshmellow canon in White House (Obama helps)


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Some people ...

Today's POS award goes to a Niagara Falls girl just overheard on the scanner telling police that she was worried about her 7-year-old brother, who she believed was home alone. According to the scanner chatter, when the police officer questioned her about it, she said "never mind" and walked away. The boys in blue, of course, did mind the fact that a 7-year-old was home by himself and followed the girl to interview her more, after which she told them that there is no brother. She just wanted a ride home.

Some people ...

'Santorum' has new definition

Rick Santorum has a fighting chance.
Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota really don't have much in common.

One characteristic they all share, however, is they love Rick Santorum. A lot.

The conservative pretty-boy candidate for 2012 won the primary contests in those three states rather handily on Tuesday, knocking the "inevitability" card cleanly out of Mitt Romney's hands.

Following Santorum's shocking showing in Iowa (a recount later showed he actually won the state), he went somewhat dormant, doing poorly in New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina and Nevada. But looking at Tuesday night's numbers, you'd be hard-pressed to realize that he isn't the "inevitable" Republican nominee.

Are you worried yet, Mitt?
The GOP seems underwhelmed with Mitt. Although he's won three of the eight primaries so far, there always seems to be a "but" after his win. And if you're simply counting wins, he now trails Santorum, whose campaign was considered DOA just a couple months ago. Newt Gingrich won South Carolina.

There are three weeks until the next contests in Michigan and Arizona — and four weeks until Super Tuesday, which will see GOP voting in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. It could essentially wrap up the nomination. 


Four weeks is about equal to a million years in a presidential campaign and polling numbers could very easily swing wildly between now and then. I would expect that Romney will spend heavily in Michigan and Arizona in an effort to make Santorum look bad, in hopes of regaining his momentum and convincing Super Tuesday voters that they might as well vote for him since his victory was predetermined.


This week's convention could matter.
A lot.
But before Mitt, Rick et al can get to Super Tuesday - or even mediocre Tuesday the week before - they have to get past the CPAC convention which kicks off on Thursday in D.C. The CPAC crowd can be really tough on a guy like Romney, who many "true conservatives" feel is milquetoast. And Tuesday's wins could give Santorum just the right kick heading into the convention to rally the conservative base around his campaign and shed the likes of Mitt Romney for good. Operative word in the last sentence is could.


When I worked in radio, I was invited to the CPAC convention repeatedly to sit in (and broadcast from) radio row. It always pained me that I couldn't convince my boss to let me go, but such is life. Boy how I'd love to be there this year — to see how it all plays out.


In just three days, we may be looking at Rick Santorum in a whole new light — as the "come-from-behind" kid in the 2012 campaign.


Let's not forget that there are two other candidates involved here. I know it's easy to forget Texas Congressman Ron Paul — considering the media fails to acknowledge his existence at times. And I know a lot of people want to forget former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. But both men are still in the campaign ... for now.


I'm not sure 2012 is your year ...
I have to imagine that Newt's days are numbered. He only garnered about 10 percent of the vote in Minnesota and Colorado. (he wasn't on the ballot in Missouri). Gingrich has 32 pledged delegates thus far, compared with 45 for Santorum and 107 for Romney. (source: WSJ) While this doesn't make it appear that Newt is really that far behind Santorum, he is — especially after Tuesday's contests. The pounding he took from Romney's millions were very effective. Just wait. By the evening news, people are going to be saying, "Newt who?" And by next Monday, Newt will be talking about "spending more time with (his) family."


Dr. Paul, meanwhile is not going anywhere. Although he only has nine delegates, he appears to have plans to stay in the campaign until the end. I'm not sure if he's hoping for a brokered convention ... or if he's delusional ... or what. (disclaimer, I wrote in Ron Paul in 2008 and I probably will again in 2012). Tuesday night, he sent out an email saying he only trailed front-runner Romney by eight points. I'm not sure what kind of strategy has you proclaiming that you're trailing a guy who just got his ass handed to him in three different states by eight points, but ... Ron Paul did.


Also something to consider: The Republican nominee is still going to have to face President Obama in November. And despite the turmoil in the country right now, I don't see any of these men beating Obama. 


Random thoughts: 

• Might there still be a candidate from the outside? If results keep going back and forth as they are right now, we could seriously see a brokered convention. Donald Trump? Sarah Palin? Ugh, let's not go there. Hopefully a clear path to the nomination will be revealed soon.


Biden (noun) Bi.den - One-term V.P., A political liability.
• Bye-Bye Biden? Although Obama's position will gradually strengthen heading into July, I foresee a new VP for his second term. Biden won't be able to win on his own in 2016 and I think the Dems know that, so they'll want to pick someone slightly younger (who has their wits about them) to serve as Obama's protege for four years, avoiding the Dick Cheney (un-winnable) scenario from 2008, which ultimately handed the election to Obama. If Obama is Ronald Reagan, who could be his George H.W. Bush?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Niagara SPCA problem is "who you know"

Pablo came from the Niagara SPCA. He's one of the lucky ones. Many cats
don't make it out of the facility alive. Changes are necessary.


When Paul Cambria becomes the voice of reason for your organization, you have some issues.

The Niagara SPCA certainly has some issues as it was recently discovered that the mortality rate for animals brought to the shelter on Lockport Road in Wheatfield is insanely high and the leadership of the organization seems to care very little for animals.

From Executive Director John Faso to members of the board to the shelter's veterinarian, the love of animals seems to have disappeared long ago.

I'm sure the volunteers at the organization care about the dogs and cats that come and go into the facility. As for the staff and board, I'm not so sure.

We got a cat from the Niagara SPCA several years ago - Pablo. When we went to pick out a cat, my little one fell in love with Pablo — a black black and white kitten with the appropriate number of digits. When we went to pick up Pablo, they tried to give us a different cat altogether (too many toes). We eventually got our Pablo, but concern about the organization was instilled in me immediately.

Liberty was purchased from a breeder in
Niagara Falls. More animal lovers — like
private breeders —are needed at the SPCA.
When I lived in Tonawanda, I occasionally volunteered at the Erie County SPCA on Ensminger Road. I was astounded at the love of animals that was apparent within the staff, as well as the volunteers. You could just tell that these people cared about what they were doing.

I think it's good that Erie County SPCA Director Barbara Carr headed up the Niagara SPCA investigation. There was some public concern that the two organizations were in cahoots and that Carr's investigation would soft-peddle the issues at the Niagara chapter. Based on Carr's findings, I would say that wasn't the case.

Personally, I never considered it damning that John Faso wasn't an animal expert. He was hired to run an organization, not to take care of pets. He was the figurehead and chief bean counter. I have no idea whether he performed those duties adequately or not, but several people seem to think he was thrown under the bus over this whole ordeal. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. But a move had to be made.
Now, however, more moves still need to be made, starting with the dissolution of the entire board of directors. Anyone who had any level of authority at the Niagara SPCA should be replaced with someone who isn't politically connected, as many of the board members of Niagara County's non-profits seem to be.

Several years ago, when I was doing Dialog on WLVL, I frequently mentioned Niagara County's circle of influence and the amount of nepotism, cronyism and incest within it. Forget six degrees of Kevin Bacon. In Niagara County, you could jump from anyone in any position of authority to the top dogs in just a move or two. That needed to stop then. It didn't. Maybe someone will see that it needs to stop now.

John Faso deserves some of the blame at the Niagara SPCA. The board deserves a lot of the blame. But "the system" deserves a lot of it to. In Niagara County, it often seems that it's not what you know, it's who you know. I realize that's a common theme nationwide, but it seems far too prevalent here.

Find some people that know (and care about) animals. Give them seats on the board. Write new bylaws that protect pets from the rampant stupidity and apathy of people. And start over.

At least that's what I think needs to be done.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Don't wait to be productive

I’ve always been a bit of a night person. It started in college when I would stay up all hours of the night — doing homework. Or something.

I’ve gone back and forth between day jobs and night jobs since then. My current job sees me leave work around 2 in the morning. I go home, putz around on the Internet, have something to eat, drink some coffee and finally head to bed around 5.

Some nights, though, I feel like being productive. Such was the case Sunday night as I sat in my new kitchen and stared at the walls in disgust. That wallpaper was the ugliest thing ever.

I say “was” because at 2:30 Monday morning (to me it’s still Sunday night, though), I got out a step stool and started peeling wallpaper. I only intended to do a corner as a test — to see how easily the wallpaper came down. To my delight, it peeled off the wall quite easily. The problem with that, though, was that I just kept peeling. Instead of doing a corner, I did three whole walls and part of a fourth. By the time you read this, all that horrible wallpaper will be down. And some time next week, I’ll consider painting.

Every day I add items to my to-do list. Most days I mark items off my to-do list. Some days I even do those tasks before marking them done.

The new apartment means a constantly evolving to do list. As soon as I accomplish one task, it occurs to me that two others need done. I should name my to-do list Hydra.

One of the myriad problems that comes with being a night person is that many of the things on my to-do list simply can’t be done at night. Sure, I can do dishes and laundry, but I can’t really hang the shelves that I need to. And I’m pretty sure my downstairs neighbor might be a touch upset if I vacuumed. I can shop for groceries, but banking at 4 in the morning doesn’t work so well.

I met another neighbor on Sunday. He was doing some spring cleaning and I took the opportunity to go say “hi.” I introduced myself the same way I always do: “Scott.” We talked for a bit and then he glanced at my license plate. For those who don’t know, it says “LEFFLER.”

My neighbor turns to me and says, “There used to be a Scott Leffler.”

I love the way he phrased it. “There used to be ...” Of course, I told him there still is and I am, in fact, the same Scott Leffler that used to be. As it turns out, he knows my name from my radio days. Also, I know his daughter. That happens a lot — both the radio thing and the daughter thing.

But not to worry dads, I’m not looking. I’m pretty content with my girlfriend — who at 4 o’clock Monday morning was dying her hair.