Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All Is Quiet on New Year's Day (and Eve)

Val and I are spending New Year's Eve and New Year's Day here at the Dunne-Hosey Estates, watching the Wisconsin-Michigan basketball game on DVR (Wisconsin won, 73-61), cooking (we made our "special" New Year's Eve dinner of homemade ground turkey burritos) and watching movies and sports.
From our home to yours, a quiet and joyous Happy New Year and we hope that you spend it in peace, safety, love and friendship.

When It Snows, It Flurries ... or Squalls

I took today off from work, so, of course, any chance of me sleeping in past 7 a.m. was buried in the new snowfall I am about to go outside and shovel.
I don't want Val to have any additional problems getting to her car to go to work, and Walker Evans needs to go to The Puppy Playpen for his weekly dog day care/romping with the pups, so of to shovel I go.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Doing My Part for the Economy

With tough economic times, I believe, according to some elected officials, it is my patriotic duty to keep the economy going, and I have found a few ways to do so besides Christmas/holiday and family birthday shopping.
Recently, I have sustained/caused lovely 90-degree, 1-2-inch cuts in the outer layers of both of my Land's End hooded parkas, and have worn holes in both pairs of my heavy gloves, necessitating me to buy a new coat and pair of gloves. Christmas Eve, I somehow put a 2-inch tear or hole in my black boots, which I was able to stick a finger through.
Fortunately, Land's End had a sale, at which I saved about $50 on the coat and boots, and by serious comparative shopping, I kept the boots to $30 yesterday. But geez, my personal economic stimulus package to the economy can stop now.

But She's a Fighter

Val had to come home a bit early from work yesterday due to some MS complications, but she will be heading back to work today.
I may have written it before, but Val is a wonder to me; she fights this condition every single day and never gives in to it or uses it as an excuse. She works full time, has her own photography/graphic arts business and just amazes me every day and makes me love her more.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Watch on the Erie

Another Buffalo Bills season has ended, and another disappointing, losing season has gone by, making some of us wonder why we enjoy professional football so much and why we still support this team as we do.
The big question at the moment with the Bills seems to be if owner Ralph Wilson will fire coach Dick Jauron, who has now finished with three straight 7-9 seasons as the Bills' head coach. Some of the calls, including a running play with about 20 seconds left in the first half with no timeouts remaining yesterday in the 13-0 loss to the New England Patriots, which did not allow the kicking team time to get onto the field to try a field goal, seem to point to Jauron's dismissal, but I wouldn't even try to predict what Wilson will do nowadays.

Happy Birthday, Jenn

One of our favorite people, Jennifer Smith, is celebrating her, er, um, birthday of a certain status today. Val and I wish her the best and happiest of birthdays and hope she is too busy with fun stuff to see this message for a while.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Few Dollars for the Wolves

During Monday's Versus broadcast of the Buffalo Sabres-Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game/Sidney Crosby love fest, a Toyota commercial came on that made me immediately sit up.
"Damn, that sounds like Los Lobos," I said to Val, who was writing something on her laptop computer and missed it. The song sounded very much like "Good Morning, Aztlan," and indeed, it was that Los Lobos song being used in the commercial.
I used to rant and rave about commercial exploitation of music and selling out, but it is the art created by the band and they have that choice of how to use it. I hope it also exposes Los Lobos' music to more people.

Proving the Cliche

Especially during the winter, you get to hear this old bromide about Buffalo/Western New York way too often: "You don't like the weather? Give it a minute and it will change." Of course, if this was true, then winter would not seem too long to most of us.
But the weather can take us on some serious journeys to what seem like uncharted locations, including this past week. After two major snowfalls, accompanied by single-digit temperatures some overnights, we had high temperatures in the 40s Wednesday, highs of low 30s and no precipitation Christmas Day/Thursday, and we have a high temperature of 40 degrees predicted for today. But that doesn't start to describe Saturday, with a predicted high in the mid to upper-50s and 45-50 for Sunday.
The flooding from Wednesday's thawing got a bit extensive in our neighborhood, but by very early Christmas Day (2:30-3 a.m.), when we got home from Marty Boratin and Susan Tanner's annual Christmas/holiday party, most of the water had receded around here and the rest froze over.
Let's hope no canoes are needed Saturday or the rest of this weekend.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Silent Night, Peaceful Night

Val and I wish all of our readers and everyone we know or will know a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, or joyous, meaningful celebrations of Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or, if you do not mark a specific holiday, peace on earth and goodwill to all people.
Speaking of silent night, after we got back from Val's mom's house from the second family holiday celebration (we went to my mother's house yesterday), a little more than an hour ago, I took Walker Evans on his neighborhood jaunt/walk. Except for our several blocks down Elmwood Avenue (between Lexington and Hodge) that we walked, we saw one vehicle, a City of Buffalo truck, the entire time, and less than 10 people.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Puffing My Chest Out a Bit

I saw that there was a new 1-2 inches of snowfall on the driveway and sidewalk when I got home from work last night, but more ominously, the city snow plows has gone down the street again, so in addition to the 3-4 feet of new ice and other stuff blocking most of our driveway, there was new material filling in what I had cleared.
So, after swearing and taking Walker Evans on his walk, I attacked the frozen mountain and other snow; still feeling tired and sore from thje previous day's shoveling (as many of you did), I wondered if I would need to do this in 2-3 shifts. But things started good (the looser snow and ice moved easily), and in less than an hour, I had cleared the driveway and shoveled the other new snow.
In addition, I was able to get inside, decompress for about a minute, make and eat dinner our dinner and wrap a whole lot of gifts, with a few more to go today. Provided my arms and back still work, of course.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Penguin Programming?

Val and I watched the Sidney Crosby Show on Versus last night, formerly known as the NHL on Versus. The (freaking) Penguins defeated the Sabres in overtime, 4-3, making it just a lovely night of hockey viewing all over.

Another Shoveling Complaint

I figured that the theme of shoveling snow is not fun could go away soon, but I didn't expect there to be this kind of excitement awaiting me at home yesterday.
I knew that the snow plows would finally come by (except for one less that comprehensive visit Saturday morning), so I figured I would need about an hour to clear out the new snow and extra snow chunks. When I got home, I saw about 3-4 feet high piles of snow, ice and who knows what chunks (possibly pedestrians), sneering at me and covering the bottom of my driveway maybe 10 feet back.
After about an hour of shoveling it, I was less than half done; I made sure that there was a pathway through the middle of it for Val to walk through when she got home, but I have a lot more work ahead of me when I get home from work tonight. And gee, it's snowing right now.
This is the kind of stuff that discourages people, makes them crabby and gets them behind in their Christmas wrapping and even head shaving. Or did I mean me?

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Bills ... Won?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your monitors, but the Buffalo Bills rallied from a 13-0 deficit to defeat the Denver Broncos in Denver yesterday, 30-23.
To quote a great man, Frank Barone, "Holy crap."

Morning Fun

My final shoveling session took me until midnight, and after coming in to feed Walker Evans, I had to finish up the laundry (folding two loads and redoing a couple of items that did the famous "sucked up too much detergent that won't wash out" trick), so I didn't exactly get a whole lot of sleep before getting up at 6 a.m.
At least I didn't have to get up at 5 a.m., as I expected and worried I'd have to do, because the lake effect snow and blowing winds died down here 3 a.m. It looks kind of peaceful and pastoral outside this morning just before the sun tries to light up things, although I think we know how unheavenly the drive to work and shoveling out of the driveway after the full plowing finally gets done on our street when I get home will be.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weather Update

Let's see; I'm tired and sore from shoveling too many times (with more to come tonight), it's cold, windy, driving is tough, someone parked in front of and blocked our driveway most of Friday and Saturday and my mother is complaining that she can't get out to get more food for her cat (even though she has some cans left and bags of dry food in the cupboard).
Yep, it's December in Buffalo, and as of yet, work was not called off or cut short Friday and won't be tomorrow, we didn't get a plow until Saturday and fortunately, my Christmas/holiday shopping is done. Also, Val and I went to a great party thrown by Katie and Frank Quebral last night.
The more things change ...

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Snow Is Coming, the Snow Is Coming

I doubt there is anyone who doesn't believe that the Buffalo/Western New York region will get a decent amount of snow today, but let's see just how much and see if the screaming headlines and broadcast stories for days and warnings of the apparent burial of Buffalo in white will occur.
Being a loyal Erie County employee, I will be heaiding off to work soon and no doubt be having a great day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All of Our Sympathies

Val and I want to express our deepest sadness and sympathy for Jenn at the death of her beloved grandmother, Gma Baker, who died yesterday, December 17. As everyone who knows Jenn realizes, she has a large group of family and friends who hope they can make things a bit better in this difficult time.

How About Calling It Snowfall?

It is amazing the number of different terms that weather people use to call snowfall, well, snowfall.
I understand the use of terms like"blizzard" or "lake effect snow" due to their differences (high winds and the heavy amount of fast falling snow), but while weather people and meteorologists love to use terms like snow flurries, snow showers, snow squalls and so on, without explaining them often or in depth, do they really help people understanding what is happening? Also, please stop using the term "fresh snowfall." First, if it just fell, obviously it is fresh; second, stop trying to make snow sound like a Hallmark Card or Saturday Evening Post cover.
If there may be 3 inches of snow in a one- or two-hour period, just say that. And please, stop creating lofty sounding terms for snowfall such as "snow event" or "precipitation event." The use of terms such as hail, sleet, icy snow, snow pellets and the like probably deserve to be used, but again, some explanation would help.
And don't get me started on the titanic amounts of snow, at least 99 percent of the time overestimated, some broadcast outlets regularly predict.

Still Feeling Better

As of 6:55 a.m., I am feeling pretty good and about to eat breakfast and go to work this morning. Except for a very minor nosebleed due to air pressure changes and probably shoveling effects, I seem to have a clean bill of health so far today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Here and Functioning Again

I missed this morning's (and afternoon's) writing deadlines because I was feeling a bit under the weather and did not go to work today.
At about 2:15-2:30 a.m. today, I woke up and went into the bathroom; it takes a lot to get me out of bed at that hour. Almost nothing happened despite my concern, so I went back to bed. I told Val to set the alarm for 5 a.m. so I would have time to shovel the snow and still get into the shower by 6 a.m., but I felt a bit of a chill at 5 a.m. and the snow looked less deep than it was, so I went back to bed.
When the alarm went off at 6 a.m., I still felt a bit chilly, so I e-mailed work, went back to bed for another hour or so and got up to shovel the driveway, sidewalk and stairs before Val left for work so she could walk without slipping.
I kind of wish I had gone back to bed, but I was awake by then and accomplished a few things and had my coffee, as I apparently wasn't falling back asleep any time soon. By midday I felt better and I was able to make dinner (chopped up chicken, rice and coconut curry sauce from the Lexington Co-Op) and feel better still.
The Sabres' loss to New Jersey, 5-3, certainly didn't make me feel any better, but as of now, I will be going in to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two Good Guys Gone

The Buffalo music community lost two good people recently; Mike Bannister died a few weeks ago and John Dieckman died over the weekend.
Bannister was a fine drummer and even better person who was born and grew up in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg; he was friends and played with Peter Case, Gurf Morlix, Jim Whitford and Mark Winsick, among others, before move out first to Texas. Indeed, Bannister introduced Gurf to Lucinda Williams while he played drums for her. He was a very nice, friendly and funny guy who I first met one morning when he was staying next door with Whitford during a visit back home that included a gig with Case. He was just sitting on Whitford's front stairs, smoking and first said hello to Val, who he previously knew.
Dieckman was best known for his steel guitar playing with the Steam Donkeys, Rex Hobart and the Wrecks, Stone Country and Ed Bentley, and for his warm, friendly personality. When I first met him, it was not through music (although I had heard him play live at that point), but as a math professor for Val. Not a major math fan, Val noted that not only did she earn good grades from Dieckman, but she learned math from him.
Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lower, For Now

It was a pleasant surprise to drive down Elmwood Avenue this weekend and, besides seeing lots of holiday shoppers, noticing that the price of a regular gallon of gasoline had fallen to $1.999.
While the Buffalo/Western New York area is still way too high for gasoline prices, we have fallen out of the lead in the nation; as of the last survey, I believe Buffalo had fallen to third place in the highest per-gallon price of regular gasoline in the U.S. Yay, us.

Ooh Ooh, That Smell

The situation may not be as dire as the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, but the Buffalo Bills' 31-27 loss to the New York Jets yesterday stunk up to high hell and is a game Bills' fans will not soon forget for its jackassery.
After rallying to grab a 27-24 leads, the Bills conducted an absolutely classic implosion, thanks mainly but not entirely to quarterback J.P. Losman and coach Dick Jauron. The collapse ranked up there in futility with just about anything the Detroit Lions have done this season.
As much as I hate cliches, the Bills' loss was a perfect example of snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory; ugh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is It Easier to Harumph or Yawn?

Following a long, drawn out, sometimes contentious week at work so far, I am really tired and annoyed by some things, but I will be at work again in an hour.
Normally, this wouldn't mean much of anything out of the ordinary, but I worked 8 a.m.-8 p.m. yesterday and barely feel like I have been home for long. Instead of making a decent dinner for Val and I, I had to stop for slices of pizza for us; I like pizza a lot, but would have preferred the food we had planned.
We also have holiday shopping and other things that we should have gotten to yesterday/last night that are piling up, and Walker Evans is still a bit unhappy that I didn't get to walk him Thursday.
I could use a quiet Friday, but I already know it won't be.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sabres Win Third Straight

At least things on the hockey front are looking a bit better; the Buffalo Sabres won their third game in a row last night, coming from behind to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2.
The Sabres were led by two goals from Thomas Vanek, who leads the NHL with 22 goals, and there were several spirited fights and skirmishes, a reassuring show of emotion from a team that needs to play with this emotion and work ethic every night.

But Wait, There's More

Despite the budget being passed and the budget override votes being successful, things have not slowed down for me at all at work, with a session today and more meeetings and assignments still coming up this week.
So, don't look for the "wow, things have slowed down at work" or any relief from getting a slower week or so post from me, because that will not be coming from this account or person. Excelsior, onward and upward, here's loking at you, kid, and so on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Music: Damn Right It's Therapeutic

After coming home from work (a longer day that usual) Wednesday, with the necessary budget action taken and approved, I was feeling a bit high strung.
Fortunately, it was too warm for snow to accumulate and have to be shoveled, so I was able to rest after walking and feeding Walker Evans and making dinner. The two greatest routes to my relaxing? Being and talking with Val, and listening to Al Green; I felt a lot better.

Up Your Nose With a ... Netti Pot?

Val has been using the netti pot every day since she bought it at the Lexington Co-Op Sunday, and she says she is feeling better from the water going in one nostril and out the other.
My main coincern and one that she had was the comfort level, and it appears that the pain and discomfort of running water through your sinuses is not as bad as was anticipated. I just hope she feels better soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Let's See How This Goes

Those of you who know where I work know that this past couple of months has been the busiest and possibly most stressful part of my work year, and today sh0uld be a rather interesting cap to it all.
Hopefully after today, things will get a bit back to normal; they will still be very, very busy for a while, but I may be able to get off of my ass and have no more excuses to get to some of the writing and other priojects that I have let fall behind in these recent weeks.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Netti Pots and Smiles

Val has been suffering from another bad cold and after a few weeks, she decided to take the plunge and take the advice of several friends and tried using a netti pot yesterday.
She said that the pouring in of the water of one nostril cleaning the other (my very rudimentary understanding) has her feeling better as of 15 seconds ago as she told me on her way to the shower, and she reported feeling better last night as well. For this, we thank Jaquandor, among others.
Strangely, the photograph of a woman on the box of the netti pot we bought at the Lexington Co-op demomstrating/using the product shows a big smile on her face as she pours the water in her right nostril and as it comes out her left nostril. As good as this product apparently works, I can't imagine anyone smiling like that as the water goes from one nostril, in the sinuses and out the other nostril.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It Still Hurts

It used to be a happy, positive way to mark the beginning of the holiday season, and now it is a somber one; yesterday, December 4, is my late father Edward's birthday, and he would have turned 80 yesterday.
It's been more than 4 1/2 years since he died, and all of us still miss him, my mother, Sheila, in particular, and while I had a few other items I wanted to post about yesterday, it didn't seem like any urgency behind them could override my thinking about my dad.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

They're Back and Still Sucking

With this being the Christmas and holiday season, several traditions return: holiday music, exchanges of alleged good will, decorations, good works for those in need, excessive gift shopping, a few good seasonal television programs, cold weather and snow, and food.
Oh, and also, to ruin too many people's holidays and to prove that people will still spend big dollars on mindless, awful, unoriginal progressive rock of the worst kind Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Kansas play, dressed up as holiday classics, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (not even deserving of a link).
I am fully sick of their music in general and specific, as well as advertisements for their shows, commercials using their music and hearing/hearing about the band in general. No, I don't go up to their fans or anyone else uninvited and say these things, but there are still those who ask me if I've heard this great rock band "do" Christmas songs and how amazing their light show and sound are, etc. They seem hurt when I tell them that I don't like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but I have always had a nasty streak of honesty in me.
Musically for the holidays? Give me the original soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio or some traditionally sung or performed Christmas carols in moderation. Oh, and absolutely, positively no "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wiping What Now?

I see that Buffalo Sabres' coach Lindy Ruff wants to "wipe the slate clean" after the Sabres' awful 2-0 loss to Nashville Monday and get his hockey team back on track.
While I can't disagree with Ruff's sentiment and certainly hope that the Sabres have nowhere else to go but up from here, I'm not sure it was a slate being wiped by the Sabres on the ice Monday. Get those Zambonis working fast and use some lather, guys.

Dumb on Display

Being a writer and former editor and reporter, I absolutely hate being wrong on things like names, spellings and times, so when I mistake the name of a person I have known for several years on this blog, I really feel cretinous.
I thank Alex for her kind correction and apologize to Jim and Leslie, and for a person as anal as me as well as normally tough on others for similar gaffes, freaking oops and mea culpa.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sabres Suckage

After a two-game winning streak got us fans up and hoping again, the Buffalo Sabres have comeback to NHL Earth by now losing their last two games, including being shut out by Nashville last night, 2-0.
I've been to shutout games before, both when the Sabres were shut out and when the Sabres shut out an opponent, and obviously the Sabres winning by a shutout is better. It is awful when you watch and even worse when you go to a game and your team does not even score or really give you any reason to cheer. Without goals and fights last night, ouch, it must have been painful.

And Another Happy Birthday

Val and I also want to wish Alan Bedenko, best known around these and other parts of the Buffalo Prefecture of Blogistan as Buffalo Pundit, a happy birthday today.
It was interesting and pleasant as always to see Alan in the hallowed halls of the Erie County Legislature Chambers yesterday during part of the budget vote, and it was even more interesting to see him in a pleasant, joking conversation with Republican County Legislator and State Senator-Elect Michael Ranzenhofer after the meeting. Bedenko ran a spirited but unsuccessful campaign against Ranzenhofer in 2007.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Happy Birthday

Val and I want to wish a very happy birthday to our good friend, singer Alexandra Manias, better known as Alex Lynne. Seeing she is still in her 30s, we aren't accepting any old age complaints from her.
We were able to spend some time celebrating at her house Saturday with friends Paul and Leslie Curtin and Alex's fiance, Richard. Unfortunately, we chose to get together to watch the Buffalo Sabres lose to the Montreal Canadiens, and then watched part of "The Empire Strikes Back" and the TLC program on the Duggar Family, "17 and Counting." The six of us almost died laughing and shaking our heads at "17 and Counting."