Tank you very little


As a lifelong fan of the Buffalo Sabres, and hockey in general, I can’t wait for this season to come to a conclusion. I can’t watch them, it, the abyss that is this team. You look at the BIlls, the other Pegulaville and you get a sense of a plan. While there might be one, the public notion is that Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel will fix the mess that is our hockey team.

So, yeah, i have a hard time “Embracing the tank.” It seems wrong, dishonest, a bit of an insult.

Love the game. When it is played well, it is a thing of beauty. I still remember an inconsequential game from the late 1970s between the Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens. The game ended in a 2-2 tie and everybody went home happy, having seen an incredible show of skating and skill. There wasn’t a penalty called. Watching Buffalo’s French Connection and all the late 70s heroes from the Canadiens’ great run (I think they won the Stanley Cup that year) was a thrill and it is games like that should be mandatory watching, the perfect primer for folks who don’t get hockey.

It’s a little twisted now that the Sabres and Coyotes are playing twice soon with so little on the line (for this season) and so much on the line for the June NHL draft. And even then, there are no guarantees. The NHL uses a lottery system  which waters things down more. If you finish last (what would Ricky Bobby say), you might not be first. How screwy is that? Perhaps if they borrowed a page from the NFL and last drafts first, second last second, and so on, it might restore a little sense of integrity, at least publicly.

Perhaps, it would make February and March hockey a little easier to take. It’s hard to even have my team on even as background noise, as you watch for disaster, like a frozen version of a Nascar fan.

I have hated this season. I have been to a couple of games this year, largely for the suite seats afforded me. I attended the game where Dominik Hasek was honored in a weird, awkward ceremony. When Danny Gare and Rene Robert skated on to the ice, I sort of wish they would have been handed sticks to help out in the equally awkward loss that followed,

Having been a usher there for five seasons, you get nostalgic for those “heroic runs” to the final playoff spot, because at least those had some fun. A come from behind win in overtime against the Maple Leafs a few seasons ago felt like VJ Day. It was exciting that a local guy bought the team a few years back, but after suffering since the Drury Briere cluster in 2007, I’m tired. I don’t want to watch the Blackhawks to see a good game (but dammit they are fun to watch).

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While this is funny, it’s also a pretty revolting development.

Can’t be that hard to get to the Cup, I mean I did.

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All you can do is hope Tim Murray is right. After a decade of “rebuilding,” it would be nice to have something to show for it. Like fun hockey to watch. Might take more than one 18 year old to fix it though.

Is that so wrong?

I Miss El Nino


I’m tired, Lily Von Stupp tired of driving in the snow. The return to old school Western New York winter isn’t sitting well. We didn’t get any January thaw to speak of, and temperatures have been single digits for so long that if we get a heatwave of 15, I walk out thinking, this isn’t so bad. What the hell?

The publishers of the coffee table book, Wall of Snow, might be able to make some money if there was so much of the crap still around. When the temperatures were in the negatives to start last week, many road ways just froze. My commute on a regular run of the mill day is 20 minutes. That’s pretty good, almost pleasant. You can relax from the busy day or get your self geared up for the day ahead with some tunes, what have you. Not these days, when snow, freezing rain, and wind have regularly turned the trips into 75 minute white knuckled, gird your loins, hunched over the steering wheel, burn a hole through the windshield with your concentrated gaze, feats of road terror.

Now, I don’t have road rage, I have road expectations. The road has set its standards pretty low. But the pleasant drive has turned into that joke Robin Williams used to make about marathon runners at the end of the race “I’m,…I’m alive.” During the latest cold freeze, random roughly 30 foot sections of the Interstate 190 along Lake Erie decided to freeze, so caked in ice the Buffalo Sabres could have tanked on them. So frozen that doing anything other than aiming the car. Don’t stop, don’t accelerate, just aim. Anything else and you were headed to the ditch. Even safe passage caused the back of my sportage to shake like a dancer at Club Marcella’s after too many espressos. After seven or eight randomly spaced out instances of this, you arrive at the promised land, the toll booth of the South Grand Island bridge, the scene of another large accident.

Traffic of course stops. I look and you see a ice trail up the bridge that would make a great luge run going down, or so it would appear. I see an exit to sneak down River Road, but who the hell knows what does on down there. I summon the courage and go through the toll. A group of about 40 cars and trucks seems to take the trip in unison like the Donnor party. We all reach the peak of the bridge and start to descend down, all hoping it is just a wet surface leading to the flat ground of Grand Island.

It made me think of the people who whine about not getting a storm, missing snow, or griping about schools being open, or schools being closed, reporters who can’t describe snow as anything other than winter wonderland, or snow days you didn’t get in 1983 and how all of the aforementioned need a slap up side the head.

That’s the thing. The sky and the surface have matched each other for so long, it’s harder to differentiate. Somehow, we all land on Grand Island, and sonofabitch, it’s a different ecosystem there. Sun is out and roads are passable. If you haven’t stopped for PTSD treatment for the first part of journey, it’s like hitting Brigadoon. You could drive (and breath) like a human. I heard my radio once more. I was conscious of the jamoke who didn’t knock the snow off his car, silently receiving curses from me. You could see the guy who cleaned his car by running the wipers once.

Until we left Shangra-la to cross the next bridge, where the frost giants awaited…

I miss El Nino.

 

Snow Blind


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This is getting on my nerves.

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I think anybody who takes to social media of any kind next winter to lament that they didn’t see any storm, where’s my snow or anything or why wasn’t my kids school closed needs to be thrown screaming from a helicopter…into a snowbank

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This thought occurred to me as I drove behind another car on one of our busier roadways around here. Unlike much of the area, bare pavement made up the bulk of the driving and apparently that jamoke decided that high speed and wind was how he was going to clean off his car. It’s a pretty deplorable practice, especially when it means your car is on the receiving end of a steady stream of snowballs.

Somewhere in the middle of El Nino, Western New York lost a bit of its snow mojo. I noticed that since we’ve gotten those two light winters, we’ve been getting our butts kicked. And to top it off, who stole our midwinter thaw. There used to be, usually around january or so, some kind of breather, temps would get up, we would get sunlight you could feel. It gave you a second wind to get to spring. My car has been a stud, but you can hear the ache of operating in such constant cold. I used to grouse about paying for a garage space, but that is fee I’m happy to pony up, helps the car last longer and reduces my carpal tunnel odds from not having to clean off the car for the fun drive to work.

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This just flat out sucks. Instead, no breather, in fact, it’s gotten a little tougher with International Falls-style wind chill that makes you not care a whit if it is Celsius or Fahrenheit, a minus anything pretty much is flat out cold. I mean, it’s great, we don’t mudslides, or much in terms of other earthbound traumas, so I guess this is Mother Nature‘s Way of keeping us honest. I’m not so sure I like it. I mean, we are at the point where the sunshine has been random, infrequent and meaningless. The color of the sky, snow and the street have all been cut from the same grey portion of the pantone chart. To add insult to frozen injury, the storms have frequently been coming at rush hour, which then needs to be called something else. It shouldn’t be so noteworthy from my 20 minute commute to actually take 20 minutes. That shouldn’t come as a pleasant surprise.

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2014 in review


Guess I best step it up

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Season’s Needlings


The lack of much to say has slowed down my blogging in recent months, but as we mumble our way through the holiday season, I’ve been making a few mental notes as I go.

I’m pretty sure an artificial Christmas tree shouldn’t leave needles on the floor when you take it down.

Ndamukong Suh could have at least pretended he didn’t mean to step on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but chose not to. Yep, a dirty player.

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He got a game suspension. It’s good that that system worked.

I like that.

Some other things, I wish I would have “gotten for Christmas.”

I wish albums still mattered. Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters says we shouldn’t be concerned that the U2 album showed up uninvited on our ipods, but that we should be concerned that the album stunk. He was right. I have always liked the band, but the last relevant record was 15 years ago. 10 years ago, I took my daughter to her first rock show and we had a blast, because they reminded us that after all the Bono speak, forbes magazines, fashion layouts, U2 can flat out rock. I’d like them to do that again. Care about the music, and the claws, lemons, and whatnot will take care of themselves.

Course, I sort of wish U2 still tried to matter.

I wish EJ Manuel would get another shot. Many a quarterback had to sit for a few seasons before getting their shot (like Mr. Rodgers, pictured above) and hold that clipboard and learn. He wasn’t great, but Uncle Rico didn’t exactly make people think of the second coming of Jim Kelly.

I hope the Pegulas in their search for the right Head Coach for the Buffalo Bills aren’t setting the Bills up for a good shot at drafting Connor McDavid.

The guy who told Doug Marrone to “try the power play, Doug” probably shouldn’t be giving advice again.

Sting’s musical closed. He probably should have listened to Paul Simon, who probably should have listened to Steve Van Zandt.

Good thing Kanye West helped that McCartney fellow out. That Kanye, always on the lookout for up and coming talent.

Jeb, Mitt, just say no

Going for an ice bike ride.

A Hazy Shade of Winter


I don’t know who is in charge of naming things, but the 7 feet of snow that is screwing with Western New York needs a better name than “Knife” for supposedly cutting through the area. Given this fine line that lake effect weather wore, I would have thought “Bi-Polar Vortex” would have surfaced at some point. A good friend of mine offered up “Flakenstein” which I’ve added on to resulting in Flakenstein’s Monster.

It seems appropriate. There are thousands of images floating up that remind you of the fierceness of the weather.

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Driving south from Niagara County, you could see this incredibly solid shroud hanging over the southern half of the city and the surrounding suburbs, like a black hole from cheesy sci fi flicks. If you needed a reminder of the severity, red cross commercials during sunday football broadcasts highlighted the work of the red cross in such places, like Buffalo. I’m looking through my facebook feed and saw the story of the woman who was writing a good bye note because she was trapped in her car for that long.

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Fortunately, her story had a happy ending. With there being a body count, I guess you can say it’s a lucky thing that it wasn’t higher all things being equal. I don’t know of another city where 400 plus would rally to…shovel.

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Literally the story of two regions. During the “surprise storm” of October 2006, my dad lamented that the worst part of being out of town during a Western New York weather event is that you didn’t get your own story, but you got to hear everybody else’s. The entire north half of Western New York is like that, but we were home.

Like any Western New Yorker of any time frame, I’ve seen ten foot high snow piles before, but they usually take a little longer that a day to build.

It’s not the most reverent thing in the world, but I think humor helps in dealing with the unfathomable or when a public official lectures citizens before checking facts. Althought I was proud when the county executive told the NFL off.  They might not have needed it in this case, but it was good to know priorities.

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Because you never know when the next one might hit.

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But the tone of the people during this, the people who live here make you forget that this can be a place where the wind can hurt your face and just be glad that this is home.

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Travelin’ Band


My work related travel took a big increase with my current posting and that is a good thing to get that kind of experience. It can a bit of stretch at times however, but you try to find some fun along with the myriad of long security lines and barely made connections.

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You have to be amused a little at the human condition, but especially at the times of air travel. The announcement of boarding makes everybody mill about like we are Black Friday shoppers waiting for Walmart to open. I’ve noticed a big of a swagger among some travelers.

There is no greater locale for people watching as all sorts come through airports. My most recent travels took me from Buffalo to Boston to Philadelphia in what might have been the longest 30 hours in recent memory. It was a pretty convoluted itinerary, but it’s what you do when you are told on Monday that you have to be someplace on a Friday morning, and that someplace is across the next state.

And the next thing you know, you are watching four women in full berkas cueing up at Checkers for some quick take out (or one going up many times quickly).

But, it’s not without its moments where you can’t help by laugh a little, like the Boston security guard watching me make my late arriving connection from Philadelphia to the other end of the c terminal to get to the Buffalo bound plane on time. His cheer of “Go, OJ, go” was pretty funny. Their placement of gate c29 away from c21 was not, but lesson learned: 35 minutes between flights is shaving it pretty close.

And never count on the booking site to be accurate with telling you where you’ll actually stop

 

Drive, he said


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There was an article published recently that talked of how lousy western New York drivers take to the roads.

That came into my mind over a recent errand into Canada for work. It’s a different world for border crossings in recent years obviously enough and the worst thing to do is get unnecessarily worked up as that solves little. In returning from the errand via the rainbow bridge, a predictably long line filled the bridge and the near by side streets. It was a nice day and little to do but roll down the windows and be patient. Most folk took that in spirit, people let each other in, except one grouch in a Lexus, who cut people off, changed lanes like it was important that he and he alone make it to America with his purchases. For his trouble, he got an extended chat with the good folks in customs,

This popped back into my mind this morning negotiating the highways that envelope Toronto. This is not for the squeamish. A lot of things happen, all at 75 to 90 miles an hour. There’s a reason the Canadians go slower on Buffalo roadways as the pressure is off. My gps couldn’t draw the directions quick enough to keep up with the vicissitudes of the 401 to 400 to 427 highway exchange,

That said, driving isn’t the mad max movie that is Wny highways. While walking from my hotel just now, I did see the aftermath of an accident where the participants said a rare thing to each other

“Soory”

Ride, Captain, Ride


I was sitting in O’hare Airport when I laid eyes upon the ride home. It was one of those smaller planes that my dad and brother could quote the model on sight. I walked down a seemingly very long jet way to see a door way that required I fold my six foot two frame to fit in without inducing head trauma. Once in, I didn’t mind as there were two seats on one side of the aisle and singles to the other. That mean a window seat and I had a camera. I liked little planes…for the moment.

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And then we landed…was too busy watching the brakes work to get a picture of that.

Flight Plan


It’s funny. I don’t travel for work often, but there appears to be common threads to those instances. Perhaps it’s the destinations, employers sending me, what have you, but the “adventure” is lost on this casual traveler.

It doesn’t always go like that, but any excitement about a trip seems to have been snake bitten.

One thing that jumps out at me is the plane. Despite modern advances, improvements in technology, and the like, I am consistently on a vehicle that most likely has Wrong Way Feldman in the captain’s chair. If that reference escapes you, think of a flying hoopty. If that reference escapes you, google it. And if that reference escapes you, get out more. And today wasn’t really different, with my being placed on the United version of a minvan. Some of these folks are crafty. Most airlines charge to check bags these days, but some of these folks brought large bags only to surrender them on the jetway, beating the charge. It gives one pause, but not on that jetway, a rickety looking structure ever there was.

The whole morning surrounding the pretty short flight time is a great festival of people watching, starting as the folks assemble in Buffalo. The airport wi-fi got interrupted momentarily and one goof who was plugged into the charging tour acted like his world collapsed, personifying the spoiled brat in Louis C.K.’s “Everything is amazing and nobody’s happy.”

I arrived in baggage claim at the same time my bag did, not bad considering it got a ride.

Anyway, here I sit at 32000 feet with the jamoke behind me kicking my chair repeatedly as I stare out the window waiting for the clouds over Michigan to break up so we can see what kind of day it actually is here in the central time zone. The captain was good enough to trace the route for us. “We’ll be flying over London, Ontario, down along the lakes, into Michigan, and finally into Chicago land.” While that was nice to know, it didn’t mean anything as there was no discernible difference from the canadian clouds to the michigan clouds to the Illinois clouds (Except those were an hour later). So, you couldn’t see much, dig?

I was actually disappointed to see no sky mall catalog in my seatback, but given how old the plane is, it would all have to be in black and white.

But it gives one pause. The folks at the terminal outward bound were downright pleasant, security was a breeze. If your only downside in the arrival point is that I knew where I was going better than the cab driver, that’s doing okay.

“I’m sorry, Sir, I can seem to find it”

As he was parked under the sign of my destination.

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