The Lights of Home


When you have a seemingly iditarod-like commute to work, it does give one time to think. After doing it for three years now, if I had any brains, I’d have Rosetta Stone loaded and teaching me French by now, but I digress.

It doesn’t take much in Western New York weather terms to cause that 45 minute regular commute into something out of The Odyssey. Maybe it was an accident last year, maybe it was realizing that just because one can go 65 m.p.h. on the rolling hills of New York State Route 20A does by no means mean that one should. I know a minivan driver who executed a perfect snowstorm arabesque last winter would now agree with me.

But, after heeding the warnings of the morning weather and traffic folks and knowing these backroads, one can settle one’s mind a bit and sort out conundrums like:

Why are the visible snow plows in the area always going the other direction while the lane I’m in still covered in muck?

Why did the prius driver in front of me only use his wipers to clean his car off? It can’t be because the car is too tall.

Did the guy in the admittedly cool looking mustang realize what rear wheel drive was going to be like on a snow laden commute? If he arrived alive, he got a hell of an arm workout.

While I do work, you can hear the tell tale sound of deer season in the distance, the occasional shot gun blast.

If ever I needed a reminder to slow it down on these nasty roads of ours, it was the sit of a chevy pickup in the ditch on the media the other night. I believe there were other cars there as well as the emergency vehicle count was around a dozen. Betting the non emergency vehicles were tempting the fate of Mother Nature. She apparently doesn’t like that.

I do pity others as there is a speed trap underneath an overpass that requires the officer involved to twist in his driver’s seat and aim the radar gun, blow dryer, or whatever in the opposite direction. So, window down, snow falling, 20 degree temps, that is a back ache waiting to happen.

It’s bad enough when the daylight or lack of daylight savings time comes into play and messes with our collective circadian rhythm. I didn’t even no what that was until Star Trek explained it to me. Now, it is responsible for the xannax in my diet.

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When the good weather and traffic folk say on their broadcasts that “it’s nothing we can’t handle,” they are usually correct. Whenever I hear it, it makes me cringe a little as an example of somebody who can’t handle it will be found at least once on the road to or fro.

Ever notice that when you are driving into lake effect snow, the net effect isn’t hyperspace a la Star Wars but more along the lines of barbeque smoke. No matter what direction you are driving, you are driving into it. Somehow, it knows.

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After Christmas, the thrill is gone.

 

 

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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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Baby, It’s Cold Outside


Lots of weather out there.

In this age of social media, I’m amused how basically having a place to post a gripe, complaint, witticism, that we don’t all have the equivalent of a digital barstool to mutter from atop of.  For every weather related facebook post or tweet showing how much snow landed, there is somebody else grousing that they didn’t get any.

Guess the Western New York snowbelt is living up to its name. Here is North Buffalo, we are looking at pavement. Hamburg, Orchard Park are looking at a foot or more. This, to me, isn’t anything dramatic. I might have even lost my wonder to a degree, because I’ve seen it before. I think that makes us the snow waistline.

That song, think about it, somebody is getting slipped  a mickey, but this is still the best version.

That said, it feels a bit like old school western new York winter. I took this photo on the way into the sabres senators game this week.
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You could hear the water getting colder, but the wind chill was at your back at least. The walk back to the car? Not so pleasant.

So, I don’t get a little awed by the big snow fall that the southtowns are wrasslin with because that is sort of well, normal. When we got a few inches a week or so ago, we’ll instagrammed the beauty of it, but it didn’t slow anybody down at all.
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Despite the “Battering” that CNN says we took, the four inches basically amounted to a condition my dad labels Wednesday. I suspect NBC and CNN covered not for the snowfall, but because our wings are better than the ones where the snow was really falling.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas? No, it looks like Buffalo usually does in December. Winter Wonderland? No, single digit wind chills aren’t part of that song.

Even as I write this, (morning on December 12) and can still see pavement, the Today show talks about Buffalo being hit by snow. It would be more accurate to report that half an hour south of Buffalo they got some snow. Those of us in the city were just cold.

In these days of shortened attention spans, that’s an important thing this city resident got out of my car, walked to my door and didn’t hit snow at all.

Hailing to the Chief


C’mon, admit it, regardless of whether or not you like the office holder, it’s still pretty cool seeing this fly over the area today. This was a picture caught by a sharp eyed contributor to the Buffalo News website and it’s pretty awesome,Air Force one

I think it’s good when our leaders get out talk to us. By this point, nobody really remembers the speech as various restaurants pout about no motorcade for them. While nobody is compiling mp3s of the special themes used to intro coverage, it was nice for the area to get a little national attention.

And we should share the wealth. The White House press corp has gotten their share of LaNova’s, Duff’s and Charlie the Butcher. Good for some of those folks to get themselves a proper garbage plate.

Doesn’t matter who’s plane it is, Obama, Nixon, Bartlett, still cool to see it go past. The visit to Buffalo and the other areas, including nearby Scranton (thanks, MSNBC) ultimately don’t mean a great deal beyond the symbolism and soundbytes. Wouldn’t it be great if he announced college tuition became entirely tax deductible or something of that ilk? (Alas, Josh and Toby don’t work for him. He is right about the expense going on a runaway trajectory at some schools. I know a few could stand to be a little more efficient.

I saw a few posters who took that hallowed medium of facebook for everything from business failings in the Western New York area to sundry other drumbeats of the opposition parties. Everybody has their soap boxes for standing on, I guess. In the case of businesses failing, the state and the business operators can have some shares of the blame I think. But opinions are like tookuses in that regard.

Had he gotten into the city proper, I know we could have brokered a polar bear meeting.

Ball Four


It had to be in error. I was channel surfing and there were the Toronto Blue Jays on national TV. Over the winter, that baseball team up north threatened to be interesting to watch for the first time in a generation. They certainly did right by the Buffalo Bisons who are an absolute blast to watch these days. I picked up a Blue Jays cap and that might be responsible for the Jays’ start. Maybe they will get it together, but who will notice, as we don’t see them that often.

Major League Baseball has some oddball rules and responses to TV. You’d think they would want to have people see the games even from out of the way places like Buffalo. The screwy blackout rules allow for the Yankees and Mets to be beamed into Western New York. In the case of the Mets, I dunno if that is much of a favor, but I digress. But nary a peep at the progress of the Blue Jays, Pirates or Cleveland Indians, all three of which are essentially unavailable to us.

I know this isn’t the mystery of life being safeguarded or anything, but it does seem a little silly. There was some rule passed a few years ago that prevented duplicate airings of programs on border stations. That meant that if CBS was running over from Football, you couldn’t turn over to CBC to catch the show. It’s the opposite of the way it should be, but explains why the cableguide says one thing, but what’s on the air is something something else. Might have to roadtrip to see the Pirates’ home park which is one of the nicest looking in baseball.

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But you’d think the idiots running the asylum at Major League Baseball would want to cultivate more fans, show off what they got, and probably sell more caps, tshirts and the like by letting us see. I mean I read the column in the Buffalo News about the Blue Jays taking two games from the Giants, but it might have been nice to see a little bit of either, but no.

The evil overlords at TSN, MLB, etc don’t want us to do that, when we can see all the Mets we can handle…

Thanks, fellers

Crosstown Traffic


Ah, construction season, nothing brings out imagined importance in Western New York. We all start driving like cats that can’t remember what room they want to be. I was reminded of this driving into a traffic jam on Elmwood Ave. on the way home. The left lane was getting funneled into the right. I swung into the left and immediately put my signal on to creep to the right lane without being too much of a jerk. There wasn’t much point in proceeding too far in the left as you mostly had signs in front of you. I dared to let a few car lengths open up in the pointless lane and the minivan behind me went apoplectic. I saw a little space in the right lane and gunned my little buzzbox safely into it. Minivan is still having an anuerysm while missing other chances to move over.

Comedic relief further came from a jaguar of all things. The driver didn’t care about all the warnings and just came down the left lane and figured his spot would magically appear because his was a nice car. Not so, my well-financed friend. Your affluence doesn’t excuse you reading all the warnings the rest of us enjoyed. Because I know I’m a bit of jerk, I hung him out to dry. Because he is a bigger jerk, so did the next three cars. This made me laugh for the next two blocks.

George Carlin was right: “Nobody is driving MY speed.” It’s funny where the brain goes. I remember the rush of excitement when my 78 Mustang overtook a Porsche on Main Street, mostly because I had a considerable head start. I suppose it is one of those things keeping me from biking to work. As much as you worry about the people who step off the curb texting (my kids have all be threatened), the real bikers, and the wacky pedestrians (you know the ones, the folks who bolt into the street, assuming the Heisman trophy pose to ensure their safety.) we could all stand to chill.

Puck me


Well, puck you too, pal.

We couldn’t have been too upset at the dearth of professional hockey in Western New York. 10,000 people showed up for a scrimmage. It’s amazing how much some shop discounts can do. Absence did indeed make the hearts grow fonder. The Sabres actually didn’t start playing well till this time last year, so maybe playing half the slate will suit em.

If people wanted all kinds of concessions for not playing, is there any compensation coming for how poorly the Bills did play? I mean, you had to watch that?

And so it goes, I honestly didn’t think much about it, missed watching, but no so much I didn’t go and attempt other things.

So, here’s hoping for normalcy. Part of me hopes to get the call to don the usher togs to work the opening game. The Sabres’ home ice has been sometimes distant, with a lot of corporate seats in the lower bowl, but there have been other times where the place has a pulse, you can feel something in the air and the walls practically hum a bit with anticipation and excitement. The last Sabres game I worked was the comeback against the Leafs and it was one of those reminders how much fun this can be, how cool it can be to lose yourself in something bigger than you. The Sabres came back to tie and the collective heart rate at the effn center nearly caused it to vibrate off the foundation. When they beat the Leafs in overtime, you would have thought it was VJ day with all the spontaneous high-fives, hugs and new friendships forged, even temporarily.

I’m reminded of the line from Fever Pitch about loving a team that doesn’t really love you back. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, we’re basically rooting for laundry.

It’s good to have it good to go again. I know my wallet will like the extra shots.

Couldn’t Stand the Weather


In the school of thought about Western New York weather, I like all the seasons, but this area is having a collectively weirder reaction to news of snow storms. Not to go old man on you, but when I was a boy….

I had to lampoon the last mishagas of tweets and warnings that were flying through social media today. The thanksgiving snow storm in 2000 and the “surprise storm” of 2006 have understandably made folks a little jumpy, that “we have to remember our winter driving skills,” etc. It seems like when we get a taste of winter instead of just dealing,we do tend to overreact a bit. I made a little good natured mock of that on Facebook and was busted by one of the fine weather dudes. I felt a little bad about that, but wasn’t mocking the forecasting. I was mocking how weather angst can cause people to hear a forecast on a monday, and go on a stock the shelves mission like snowmageddon is setting up over us. It’s like the old story about the professor who tells one student a short story and instructs the student to pass the story along. By the time, the story gets to the tenth student, it is a completely different story.

A couple work colleagues were teasing me because I was a little indifferent to whether or not we received a white christmas. Given I’ve seen 48 of them now, whether or not snow makes it, isn’t that big a deal as it has shown up plenty of times previously. We did get a little spoiled about 10 or 11 years ago, we did get seven feet of snow between Christmas and New Years‘s and I don’t seem to recall it slowing us down at all.

Winter rain has no soul at all so some snow would be nice for the pictures, for the snowmobilers, snowboarders that I know of among my friends. Then, like the days getting longer (screw you, mayans) be gone before January.

Now that my daughter made it home for the holidays, it can do whatever it likes as nobody has to be anywhere tomorrow. I think the consequences of some of those other storms provided just enough variants that it messed with our mojo a bit. When the School district calls a snow day, I’m fine with it as with the 2000 storm, kids were trapped on buses and some spent the night in a supermarket on the west side. Better to be safe than sorry in that regard.

Supposedly, we might get some wind and snow tomorrow. If we don’t, somebody is going to grouse about that too, like it is an affront to the area’s manhood.
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That said, I did get some milk at the store tonight, right before I got to the beer aisle

Bipolar Winter


A weather forecaster actually said that Buffalo isn’t used to this snow the other night. I nearly did a spit take on this. Yes, snow in January is pretty flipping unique and certainly noteworthy in Western New York (please tell me that sarcasm was evident as you read it).

Sure, it hasn’t been a traditional Buffalo winter and I’m okay with that. Change is good. We got no break at all last year, which made the season stretch to the point where Spring might have been offended had we had one.

It cracks me up to read things like “Now it looks like January” or “Where’s ours?” when a storm does come through but picks on other portions of the region, like it’s a threat to our collective manhood that we don’t have driveways full of the stuff.

Now, I don’t have a particular interest one way or the other. I like all the seasons just fine, but I’m not feeling gyped by how often I have to clean off my car. In fact, it was nice to know that the sounds of windows being scraped on Monday didn’t include me (as my car was nestled in the garage).

When we do get walloped, it seems like the Buffalo mojo is a little askew in recent winters. I don’t the snow over the weekend seemed to confound people like the forecaster. I don’t know if the Thanksgiving storm in2000 permanently warped us, but to open my facebook list and see people bitching about temperatures in the 50s does make your head shake.

My winter coat got the day off. That is a good thing.

Midweek Mental Meanderings


And now a few moments without Andy Rooney

Remember when you were learning to drive, and more importantly, learning to parallel park? Yeah, me too. More importantly, remember waiting while somebody finished parallel parking, since you know there might be traffic coming the other way. Yeah, me too. I’m not sure when it happened, but apparently you are supposed to just go around the poor devil who is trying to park. This is troubling to me. If you take that chance, what if the parker messes up and needs to come out? What if you are the parker and the guy in the Humvee can’t wait and comes close to hitting you because he HAS to beat the traffic….into submission?

I see this on Elmwood all the time and watched as the folks at the marina over the weekend were routinely breathing down each other’s necks seeking parking.  Relax, ya’all, we’ll get there.

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Great slate of music in the area for the summer at next to no money. It’s funny since Western New York is such a sun starved people, there is a high population of folks who take in a show, not to see the show per se, but being seen at the show or saying they caught it. I was struck while mostly enjoying Pat Benatar by the sheer amount of people, just there, not particularly for the show, just to be there. I had a crappy vantage point of one of the tv screens for much of the night and dumbstruck when a sloshed woman came up to ask if I would be move because she couldn’t see the screen from her chair even further back. It’s a concert not a movie, fool.

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Social Media can be a funny thing. A guy who decided sight unseen that an untested intern would be better at my job than I would some years ago, now wants to be LinkedIn. That makes me chuckle as only one of us is working in this market.

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Not going to weigh in on the Casey Anthony case, as I’ve come down with a bad case of disinterest.