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Category: holiday

12/24/08 12:00 - ID#47170

Muppet's Genocide and Cookie Poo

Or as originally titled, "movies I rented and cookies I made"

I made Sugar cookies- rolled out and used cutouts of, course! Christmas trees, Stars, Bells, Snowmen and Stockings (Santas and Angels never really look like anything to me, so I pass on those). Then frosted and decorated. A few or more eaten here and there. A different recipe was used this year and they were extra yum.

Gingerbread cookies. Again, rolled out and used cutouts. Among my regular cutters, I failed to realize that I did not have a "gingerbread man" shaped cutter. A run to the grocery store was almost fruitless, until I spotted one- a tiny package of six miniature cutters, one of which had a "gingerbread boy". Other shapes included a bell, star, tree, candy cane and holly. I used half of those shapes. Gingerbread Boys were made crispy then iced. The other shapes were made to be soft, then left alone as is. All yums.

The above cookies were all that I was going to make, then I decided to try out a few other kinds.

Among the extras, this included a peanut butter cookie, a chocolate mint cookie, some peanut butter drop cookie that was made with cornflakes- odd but kinda good, a shortbread with walnuts and then something of my own creation which included among the other standard ingredients, butterscotch chips, mini semi sweet chips, walnuts and almond extract.These turned out really nice, and I gave them all away. I pretty much kept all the "reject" cookies. Poor Snowmen getting decapitated mid decoration and the such.

As for my movie rental selection, I did not have a whole lot to choose from as others have done the same, but I picked up a few:

1. Muppet Christmas --the newer one, not the Muppet Christmas Carol, although I could have, should have, gotten that as well. Anything Muppets is sure to be a great pick. I agree, (e:james), something along the lines of, "Muppets: Gateway to Genocide with Kemit the lovable green Dictator" would indeed still be.. spellbinding-ly cute.

Heil Kermitler?

Speaking of Muppets-- EMMIT OTTERS JUG BAND CHRISTMAS!! ok, so I totally didn't find it, but I know that I can buy it at a local store, so hopefully I can still do that yet at some point soon. I havent seen that movie since I was a kid, and I LOVED it. It was awesome to see that as a suggestion, (e:matthew) and (e:iriesara)!

2. Elf. --Love that movie, haven't seen it in a long time, so this will be fun to revisit. Love Will Ferrel in it. "It's SANTA!!"

My bf has, Charlie Brown Christmas and "Polar Express", which we just watched. I enjoyed that a lot- very dream-like. I think that will be a 'once a year' sort of movie for me. Fra ra ra ra ra..!

I did not want anything with horror or nudity (i really don't like nudity in my movie watching- maybe if there was a more equal nudity factor, but really, I don't like looking at naked women. ever.So rare is the male nudity glimpses, right? Also, not what I was looking for in a Christmas themed movie.)

(e:mrmike), I passed on, A Christmas Story. There were a lot of those left. Maybe I will learn to like it. Maybe I would if I watched it now, as I haven't seen it in numerous years. Perspectives change. I just never really got into it. Might be the annoying look of the main character. As a kid, I was rooting for him to shoot his eye out. heh

You are correct, (e:metalpeter), the first Die Hard takes place on Christmas (or maybe Christmas eve).

I had to look up, Trapped In Paradise, as per (e:drew)'s suggestion. It sounded so familiar to me. IMDB helped me to remember that I have seen it. Good stuff!

I would have rented the Santa Clause (I think there are a few of them?) if it was there and possibly the first Home Alone-- but nada.

so, since I was open to a lame but feel good sort of movie, I was therefore open to RomComs.

I have, The Holiday, and it perfect for that need. I've watched it once recently and have had it on "as background" for a few days on and off. (I don't have cable or antennas to tune in to local channels)

3. Last Holiday- Queen Latifah, LL Cool J and others. She is told she is dying and has three weeks to live, so she takes all her money and lives out her last few weeks... Cute, but not as good/cute as I wanted. The idea was there, but it wasn't fully pulled off, for me.

4. Love Actually. eh, didn't really do anything for me. But Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and Alan Rickman.. that was worth the watch, but I wont revisit it. It was so .. blah to me. I had high expectations though. Enough of Hugh Grant already.

5. A Wrinkle In Time. (2003, i think) Not a "christmas movie", but I have been wanting to watch this for some time now, and I actually thought to look for it while at Blockbuster (I rarely rent movies). I was pleased to find it, and I am eager to watch it. I hope it follows the book and really brings the characters to life. A tesseract! I'm so excited!

I REALLY wanted to rent a few classics. Such as, A Christmas Carol like (e:janelle) suggested. Or Miracle on 34th or It's a Wonderful Life, as (e:jenks) suggested. Nothing. Only a few remakes- but I didn't want that. I don't want to see known current actors and actresses do their version of the classics. One that I can't remember the name for, was not only a redo of a classic using known people, but it was also turned into a musical (not a big fan). I should find those to buy- just build a holiday themed movie collection.

I caught a few of the classic animated ones recently on tv- Frosty, Rudolph, Heat Miser.. Those are so cool. I remember waiting for all of those to come on tv each year. Everyone knew when it was on, what channel and so forth. We tuned in. It was a special thing. Friends talked about it the next day in school. Now, we see things whenever we want to, losing its 'specialness', if that makes sense.

I look forward to watching the rest of what I rented. Hopefully I will quickly finish up what I need to in preparation for Christmas, and then I can relax to a few good/fun movies. Ahhh, wrapping time, here I come.

Stay warm!

Hmmm, how could I have possibly failed to take a picture of the end product? maybe somewhere..
the beginnings anyway:

ha, I just noticed that I jotted down recipe/ingredients on my
Cookie Monster paper. Fitting, right? :) Cookie Monster is so cool.

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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: silliness

12/23/08 11:12 - 16ºF - ID#47148

I think you are right, Jason

The King has borrowed from Burt.

I had to go and check this out, and this is is what I found:
(sorry (e:jason), probably not what you- anyone- wants to really see)


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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: silliness

12/22/08 11:52 - 14ºF - ID#47138

Have it Your Way .. Flame Mmmm Meaty

as in,
"the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

Yes, read it again. What we have here, is that Burger King has ventured into perfume, or rather "Men's body spray"- Or is that, La Vache De Toillette? That is as hilarious as it is disturbing.

Burger King launches beef-scented body spray
Thursday December 18, 7:27 pm ET
Where's the beef? A new meat-scented body spray makes men the answer, courtesy of Burger King

NEW YORK (AP) -- Looking to beef up your mojo this holiday season?

Burger King Corp. may have just the thing. The home of the Whopper has launched a new men's body spray called "Flame." The company describes the spray as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

The fragrance is on sale at New York City retailer Ricky's NYC in stores and online for a limited time for $3.99.

Burger King is marketing the product through a Web site featuring a photo of its King character reclining fireside and naked but for an animal fur strategically placed to not offend.

The marketing ploy is the latest in a string of viral ad campaigns by the company. Burger King is also in the midst of its Whopper Virgins campaign that features an taste test with fast-food "virgins" pitting the Whopper against McDonald's Corp.'s Big Mac.

Burger King Holdings Inc. shares rose 15 cents to close at $20.53

I'd totally buy it as a gag gift.

awh, yeah.. you can almost see it..
.. and you can almost taste it.

ew. haha
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Words: 270
Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: holiday

12/17/08 12:36 - 32ºF - ID#47089

Christmas Movies- Your Faves?

Movie suggestions?

I have such an urge to watch holiday themed movies. I don't really own any (unless you count Die Hard with its taking place on Christmas Eve, heh) so I will be heading out to Blockbuster or somewhere to pick up a few.

I recently saw for the first time, Polar Express, so that is out. I will likely watch it again, but that won't count towards my movie renting adventure queue, as with Charlie Brown Christmas.

"Elf" will be on my list- Will Ferrel just cracks me up in it.

But what else? I'm open to anything- new, super old, classics, funny, raunchy, dramatic, cartoons and/or even silly/lame romantic comedies (I own, The Holiday, now that I think about it- Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, Kate Winslet)

I'm looking for a list of movies on line to choose from right now, but this will be so much better to have your input!!! :)

So, what are your favorite Holiday/Christmas themed movies???

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Words: 167
Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: holiday

12/15/08 07:52 - 32ºF - ID#47071

Parties, Food, Cooking, anti Shopping

So many parties and gathering abound. Not sure which I will attend of anyone's, and which I will pass on, for various reasons. I did however go to one this past Friday as I have known about it for months. The holiday party I attended with my bf for his work was really quite nice. As per last post, I was just fine in the social arena. I faked being 'not shy', and as usual it worked out fine. People were curious about me, as no one had yet met me although they very much knew about my existence. It was equally nice to put faces to names and stories I had heard about. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and everyone I talked with.

The night was cold and snowy going there, but leaving, the sky turned amazingly clear and starry, a nice backdrop for a full vibrant moon. I wore a cute but modest cocktail (tube?) dress and heels. Black with a hint of glimmering purple. The bodice went straight across my chest without any glimpse of cleavage, which I prefer for most all of my clothing. Directly under the breast area yet just above the waist was a black bow detail. It was/is really cute and I would like to wear it again, otherwise it will just sit in my closet. Suppose I could always sell it. So overall, I ended up spending more money on everything than I anticipated. Not a bad thing, it just isn't where I usually spend my money. I originally planned to wear a super cute dressy skirt and pair it with a new blouse or sweater, but in my shopping endeavors, I didn't find anything that I was comfortable with. So when I decided to try this dress on for the fun of it, I was greatly surprised how it would be perfect for the occasion. So I went for it. Really, I have more than a closet full of clothes but I wanted something new. I have SO many clothes, but I pretty much stick to the same things regardless of what the event calls for. I love clothes seeing different fashions and such, but I'm more of a casual, functional, adventure ready sort of attire wearer. In heals, I am pushed up over 6 feet tall, and I'm really more comfortable in flats and maintaining my 5'10" loveliness. But I do sport the heals on occasion, preferably when I know there wont be a lot of walking. I like to walk fast and without worry of toppling over. Anyway, all in all, I was pleased with my find and the end product. I may or may not have pictures. Although my bf always has a camera on him, we failed to get any of us at the event. Before hand, we set the camera to take a pic of us, but it wasn't a full body shot, something I wanted so I could post over at a fashion community group at Live Journal.

So we arrived at a nice banquet facility- I do not remember the name, and I plan to find out as it was small, classy, cozy, and well laid out. Hors d'oeuvres of stuffed mushrooms, clams casino, meatballs, vegetables were displayed and delicious to consume. I was craving more of the clams all weekend. An open bar provided for any sort of concoction one desired. I had two rounds of a vodka-soda with lime. A super cool magician guy kept us entertained. I was seriously baffled at times, which heightened my amusement. Later, dinner was a nice spread of all sorts of yummy food and continued conversation.

The company did a gift exchange, which was entertaining to watch. Everyone who wants to participate brings a gift. A bowl full of pieces of paper with a number written on each are circulated around to everyone. Each person draws a number, which indicates when it is your turn to go up to the gift table to select a gift. For example, person number One goes up and selects any wrapped gift they choose and opens it right there. Everyone sees it. At this point, they must keep the gift, so they go sit down. Person with number Two then goes up to the gift table and selects a wrapped gift, and then decides whether to open it and KEEP it-- OR (and this is where it becomes entertaining) if they prefer person number Ones opened gift they hand over their chosen unopened gift over to person number One and trade (which person number One has no choice- their gift might be snatched from them, and handed the unknown unopened gift that person number Two selected). So on it goes. Person number Three then goes to the table, selects a wrapped gift then decides to open it and keep it, OR before opening it, swap with either of the others gifts that have been opened already by person One or Two. And so it goes from there. There can be all sort of swapping and you never know what you have until the very end. The last person to have the option to swap, it the person who went up to begin with, person number One. Starting off as the number One person you have no choice, as no other gifts have been opened. But in the end, you have the ultimate choice, as you can choose from any of the other gifts that were opened through every last person having their turn. In this case, 15 people participated in the gift exchange. When our turn came, my BF chose a package and handed it to someone who had previously opened a gift of Baileys liqueur. So for a little while we had giant bottle of Baileys in our possession before it got swiped out by someone unknowingly holding a package of flashlights, which we had to open and keep (no more swapping by choice beyond the initial gift selection) and went home with. It was fun. There were some gag gifts of the sort and some really nice stuff and a few things in between. The Baileys would have been fun. The flashlights could be fun. Baileys and flashlights would be most fun.

I still have yet to get any shopping done. Well, I picked up one thing for a friend, and a movie for my mom, but that is all so far. I have to really think about what I want to get and then take care of it all this week- and then tie up loose ends next week. I am NOT going out this weekend- as anyone else who has put it off is likely to be out on the final weekend before the holiday! I'm not a 'shopper' and usually prefer to stay out of stores, unless it is for me- books, techy stuff, and occasional late night jaunt to wander Wegmans when I feel like I have the place to myself. Speaking of which..

I've been cooking a lot more lately- last week it was a green chicken/veggie curry over jasmine rice (perfect) and this weekend it was a beef stroganoff made with lots of sirloin and sliced baby portabella mushrooms. Everything I make is made with as fresh of ingredients as possible and from "scratch"- unless it is otherwise redeemed ridiculous, time or money consuming. I pretty much guess at what goes into my concoctions and I measure nothing, unless baking, then I follow more closely. I consult a recipe prior to shopping just to see what I might want to make sure goes into a dish- but I will add and take away as I feel creative. That is what I like about cooking- not so much anything to fill my belly, but to experiment and create. A nice balance of Art and Science, if you will. There is an end product, and it can be appreciated by others. I do less cooking if there is no one for me to share it with. Considering how well the last few things I have made turned out (seriously so yummy), I would be wise to write down as much as I can remember as to what went into it (still wouldn't know how much measurement wise). Also, I keep kicking myself for not photographically documenting the process. I know how many of us love some good food-porn.
This week, I aim to make lasagna and/or chili, if I have the time, money and ambition to buy what is needed. I have noodles and beans I want to use up, so it will be a matter of finding the remaining ingredients at the store. I am also trying to make a couple of different things using what I bought for the original intent (ie, I made a beef barley soup from rationed off stroganoff ingredients. Made a killer omelet using some of the veggies from previous curry recipe, etc). My mind feels more organized when I do that as well and besides, the food (and tastes) goes farther when I can make a couple of smaller batch items than one giant batch of something. Good stuff.

I still want to find some mistletoe- I entirely forgot when I was out last week shopping for an outfit for the party. Actually, I have a bit of "un-shopping" to do, as I purchased extra items for my outfit (as extra choices) that I certainly don't need (ie jewelery, stockings, bra-nothing worn, just decided against some of the things I purchased). So that will be a nice chunk of change back into my account that I can use to start/finish gift shopping.

That's it for now. Stay warm- don't blow away. it was so crazy windy this morning that the sounds of the wind/rain morphed my dreams. Eery stuff.

PS. I just realized that I have never had eggnog. Have I been missing out?

thought this was kind of cute when it was circulated in an email recently:

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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: holiday

12/11/08 12:17 - ID#47023

two weeks- also where to find mistletoe?

So I look at the calender and realize that in two weeks today is Christmas. Seems I am always losing a couple of days here and there- the dates of things seem to sneak up. As with most major holidays, this one isn't a big deal. I mean, I barely have any family in the area.
The holidays were a bigger to-do back a decade or so, when there were more family, extended family, friends and so on. So while those were some fun times, it is nice not to have the craziness of this time effect me like it does others. I can go out in one afternoon a shop for the few people on my list. No anxiety in dealing with crowds, finding gifts or wiping out the bank account to do so. I can make cookies or not. There aren't any big dinners or gatherings to enjoy/suffer through. Some of those things can be fun, and so with that, I want to make some cookies, maybe get around to sending out cards (I'm terribly inconsistent with giving out cars- however, i found some super cool FESTIVUS cards last year that I want to use!) and I will do a little shopping soon, maybe even today.
My boyfriend doesn't have any family, but he does have a three year old son (who he sees a few days of the week- and will likely be with his sons family for the holiday). Anyway, kids are fun for all the creative coolness I enjoy, so I look forward to getting out some art supplies and having us make some "ornaments" for the small tree I put up at my boyfriends. Maybe the little one can help decorate a few cookies.
So although I don't fully celebrate like others do, not feel the need to get so into it (nor do I have a basis to), I enjoy the creativity that can comes of this holiday, as mentioned above. I also like sparkly stuff- so putting up a very simple tree, yet looks really nice lit at night, humors me. It is nice to sit in quiet contemplation and look at the lights within the tree. Reminds me of my childhood, when I would lay among the gifts under the tree, I would look up through the tree branches and day dream to the twinkling lights. I loved doing that so much- getting lost in my thoughts- wish I could remember what I thought about.
Today I head out to pick out something to wear to a Christmas party tomorrow night for my BF work party. I'm so socially retarded that I have some anxiety over this. I can pretend to be 'not shy', but the feelings still swirl around inside. I'm often ok once I am in the midst of everything, but not always. Being more hermit-like is so much more comfortable! But I will do alright, even though I will be around a bunch of strangers, dressed up and inwardly freaking out. I think I need to start mentally prepping myself now, haha.

While I am out today, I want to find mistletoe- anyone know where I can find some?? I think I just stumbled across some in previous years.I want to buy several bunches of mistletoe to hang all throughout his place. I need to be a little obnoxious, right?

Stay warm!

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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: local

11/19/08 07:20 - 28ºF - ID#46762

Buffalo Architecture NYT

I meant to post this yesterday. I read the following article from the New York Times pertaining to the history of Buffalo architecture and preservation, experimentation and economic recovery. Thought I would share this for those interested. A quick read:

(edit: ack, it isn't linking. Here is the article copied/pasted)

November 16, 2008


Saving Buffalo's Untold Beauty



ONE of the most cynical clich�s in architecture is that poverty is good for preservation. The poor don't bulldoze historic neighborhoods to make way for fancy new high-rises.

That assumption came to mind when I stepped off a plane here recently. Buffalo is home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with major architects like Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright building marvels here. Together they shaped one of the grandest early visions of the democratic American city.

Yet Buffalo is more commonly identified with the crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes and dwindling jobs that have defined the Rust Belt for the past 50 years. And for decades its architecture has seemed strangely frozen in time.

Now the city is reaching a crossroads. Just as local preservationists are completing restorations on some of the city's most important landmarks, the federal government is considering a plan that could wipe out part of a historic neighborhood. Meanwhile Mayor Byron W. Brown is being pressed to revise a proposal that would have demolished hundreds of abandoned homes.

The outcome of these plans will go far in determining the city's prospects for economic recovery, but it could also offer a rare opportunity to re-examine the relationship between preserving the past and building a future.

Buffalo was founded on a rich tradition of architectural experimentation. The architects who worked here were among the first to break with European traditions to create an aesthetic of their own, rooted in American ideals about individualism, commerce and social mobility. And today its grass-roots preservation movement is driven not by Disney-inspired developers but by a vibrant coalition of part-time preservationists, amateur historians and third-generation residents who have made reclaiming the city's history a deeply personal mission.

At a time when oil prices and oil dependence are forcing us to rethink the wisdom of suburban and exurban living, Buffalo could eventually offer a blueprint for repairing America's other shrinking postindustrial cities.

Touring Buffalo's monuments is about as close as you can get to experiencing firsthand the earliest struggles to define what an American architecture would look like.

The city's rise began in 1825 with the opening of the Erie Canal, which opened trade with the heartland. By the end of the 19th century the city's grain silos and steel mills had become architectural pilgrimage sites for European Modernists like Erich Mendelsohn and Bruno Taut, who saw them as the great cathedrals of Modernity. In their vast scale and technological efficiency, they reflected a triumphant America and sent a warning signal to Europe that it was fast becoming less relevant.

Yet it is the parade of celebrated architects who worked here as much as the city's industrial achievements that makes Buffalo a living history lesson. Daniel Burnham's 1896 Ellicott Square Building, with its mighty Italian Renaissance facade, towers over the corner of Main and Church Streets. Just a block away is Louis Sullivan's 1895 Guarantee Building, a classic of early skyscraper design decorated in intricate floral terra-cotta tiles.

Across town, Henry Hobson Richardson built his largest commission: the 1870 Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, composed of a pair of soaring Romanesque towers flanked by low brick pavilions. Light and air poured in through tall windows; spacious 18-foot-wide corridors were designed to promote interaction among the inmates, an idea that would be refined by Modernists in their communal housing projects decades later.

But it was Wright who made the decisive leap from an architecture that drew mainly on European stylistic precedents to one that was rooted in a growing cultural self-confidence. Wright built two of those great pillars of American architecture here, the 1904 Larkin Building and the 1905 Darwin D. Martin House.

Although torn down in 1950, the Larkin Building, designed as the headquarters of the Larkin Soap Company, remains one of the most influential designs of the 20th century. Wright invented floor-to-ceiling glass doors, double-pane windows and toilets affixed to the walls for this monument to American business. Massive, forbidding brick piers anchoring the exterior signaled a break with classical historical styles. The light-filled atrium piercing its five floors, with managers visible at their desks at the bottom, turned the traditional office hierarchy on its head.

The Martin House, a Prairie House complex of five buildings on a vast suburban lot, is the domestic counterpart to this vision. No European architect had come close to imagining such a fluid world. A composition of low brick structures, terraces, pergolas and gardens in which man and landscape were in tune, the design celebrated a democratic ideal of family life in which traditional social barriers, and the walls that reinforce them, were finally torn down.

Yet Wright's genius lay in his ability to accomplish this feat while conveying a profound serenity. The low roof and broad cantilevered eaves both beckoned to the horizon and provided shelter. The grid of wood beams in the living room, set just below ceiling level, visually broke down the space into discrete rooms while maintaining a sense of openness. Above all this architecture represented freedom both from Europe's suffocating traditions and from the feelings of cultural inferiority that had defined American architecture since the earliest days of the republic.

This departure from recycled European precedents is reflected in the city's late-19th-century urban planning as well. Buffalo's original plan from the early 19th century was loosely based on Pierre Charles L'Enfant's 1791 plan for Washington, an Americanized version of Paris's system of radiating boulevards. Its civic core, dominated by a mountainous City Hall, reads as an isolated fragment of a City Beautiful plan that was never fully realized.

Olmsted, as much social reformer as landscape architect, had visited John Paxson's Birkenhead Park near Liverpool, a pioneering project designed to better the lives of the city's working class. When he returned to New York, he expanded on that vision in his designs for Central and Prospect Parks, which he conceived as realms of psychological healing that could also break down class boundaries.

In Buffalo he realized an even grander ambition, creating a vast network of parks and parkways that he hoped would have "a civilizing effect" on the "dangerous classes" populating the American city. Flanked by rows of elm trees, the parkways were broken up by a series of gorgeous landscaped roundabouts, slowing the city's rhythms of movement into something more majestic yet distinctly democratic.

It didn't last of course. By the 1950s Buffalo's economy had already embarked on its long path to disintegration. The completion in 1959 of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which created a more direct route to the Atlantic Ocean, made the Erie Canal obsolete and deprived the city of its commercial lifeline. Economic decline was exacerbated by race riots in 1967 and white flight to the suburbs. By the mid-1970s the inner city was being abandoned.

Even so, many of the city's most revered monuments survived. Despite the destruction of some surrounding structures, the main house at the Martin complex remained intact. Richardson's asylum closed in the mid-1970s, and though one of its wings was demolished to make room for a new hospital next door, the bulk of the building still towers over Olmsted's park.

Today Buffalo is a collection of fragile museum pieces with a covey of local stewards struggling to preserve them as a means to help save the city.

It would not be the first place to see its history as a means of attracting tourist dollars. (Boston and New Orleans are among the obvious precedents.) What makes this historic revival so heartwarming, however, is that it is driven by genuine civic pride in the face of daunting odds.

When a group of private citizens took control of the Martin House in 1992, for example, their ambitions were relatively modest: to restore the main house, one of three structures that had not yet been demolished. As time wore on, the group began to see the entire complex as a singular vision that could not be understood unless it was fully brought back to life .

In the early 1960s its conservatory and pergola had been ripped out to make way for an unsightly apartment complex; in 1994 the group raised the money to purchase the structure, tear it down and rebuild the elements of Wright's complex that had been destroyed. A few years ago they bought the small gardener's cottage that anchored the northwest corner of the site as well.

The project's overall cost soared to more than $50 million from $10 million. But most of the structural and exterior work is now complete, and now, for the first time in decades, you can fully glean the genius of Wright's work.

Other projects have been less high profile but equally exemplary. On the October day I arrived, I met with Monica Pellegrino Faix, a representative of the Richardson Center Corporation, a local nonprofit group trying to save the asylum. The state has committed $76 million to help restore the complex, and the group is now trying to come up with potential uses for its vacant buildings, including using one for an architecture museum.

Later that day I met with a group of local activists who have been rebuilding single-family houses in some of the city's most run-down historic neighborhoods. On Richmond Avenue, one of Olmsted's grand decaying parkways, Harvey Garrett, a strategic planning consultant, spent several years renovating a 19th-century Victorian house before an arsonist set fire to it in 2006. He rebuilt it, and he is now one of the city's busiest community organizers and strongest preservation voices. Dozens of houses are now being renovated along the avenue, and an entire neighborhood that was once considered crime ridden is now livable again.

In a mostly abandoned factory area not far from downtown, Douglas Swift, a developer whose family has lived in Buffalo for generations, recently completed the restoration of a former Larkin warehouse, an early example of concrete frame construction; the project, which is now an office complex, has spurred a range of new development in the area.

What we see is a more egalitarian, diverse and socially tolerant vision of the city. It is both pro-density and pro-history. These residents have come to recognize through firsthand experience that social, economic and preservation issues are all deeply intertwined.

Sadly, not everyone has been so enlightened on this issue. Preservationists raised an outcry this year when Mayor Brown unveiled his plan to demolish 5,000 houses over the next five years as part of an effort to clean up some of the city's poorest neighborhoods. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the mayor's office are now trying to hammer out a compromise.

And as the preservation movement has grown, it has inevitably gotten involved in bigger, more complex urban issues. The federal Homeland Security Department has proposed an expansion of the entrance to the Peace Bridge, the city's main border crossing into Canada. Preservationists balked. The project, which includes a vast new parking plaza for commercial trucks, would require razing five blocks of Columbus Park, a neighborhood of historic houses mostly built from 1860 through the late 1920s. A 20-foot-high berm would also be built alongside Olmsted's Front Park, which flanks one side of the neighborhood, blocking out sublime views of Lake Erie and the Niagara River.

The National Trust, which opposes the plan, has suggested moving the new parking plaza to the Canadian side of the border - a possibility that the Canadian government says it will consider - or rerouting traffic to one of four other bridges. But those prospects appear doubtful.

Meanwhile the city has begun to take a few cautious steps into the present. Toshiko Mori, a New York architect and the former chairwoman of the architecture department at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, is putting the finishing touches on a gorgeous new visitors' center at the Martin House. Gwathmey Siegel & Associates of New York has designed a sleek new zinc- and cast-stone-clad home for the Burchfield-Penney Art Center near the historic district of Elmwood Village, which opens next Saturday.

But how these projects will be forged into a cohesive vision for the city's future is less certain. The best-intentioned preservationists, however determined, can accomplish only so much. Often developers co-opt the achievements of these trailblazing individuals and nonprofit groups by dolling up historic neighborhoods for private gain. The city's rough edges are smoothed over to satisfy the hunger for more tourist dollars. Shiny new convention centers and generic boutiques follow. Yet schools, roads, bridges and electrical and power lines continue to crumble.

Buffalo is an ideal testing ground for rethinking that depressing model. Its architectural heritage embodies an America that thought boldly about the future, but believed deeply in the city as a democratic forum. What's needed now is to revive that experimental tradition.
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Permalink: Buffalo_Architecture_NYT.html
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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: health

11/18/08 12:12 - ID#46739

adventures in health

I returned to the gym yesterday.

I had a several week hiatus- for several real reasons and excuses. Amazing how quickly the body changes one way or another. I have to keep that in mind as I sweat all over the exercise equipment..

Physical exam and tests proved beneficial in my wanting to get back into my beloved gym routine. As usual, all things checked out great. Awesome blood pressure, complete blood count results, cholesterol, pulmonary and so on- all good to great. A few areas to tweak, but otherwise nothing that a conscientious lifestyle change can't help. And so I simply want to keep it that way. Altering the physical shape is just a bonus, really.

Putting the halloween candy down is good too.

I was giddy to be back in the determined energy of the atmosphere, which is mostly made up sweaty grunting college guys yet otherwise quiet against the backdrop of machines whirring in use; so many people in their own world. I felt silly breaking out into a grin as I stepped onto my much missed elliptical machine. Everything fell back into place. Other than going at a lesser resistance than I had left off from, I finished out my hour successfully. I refrained from using the weights this session, choosing instead to skip straight to the track for several laps of quick walking- sluggish jogging with my MP3 player full of high energy awesomeness (oh how I missed using you!!).

I admit that I did not stretch as well after my workout as I normally would have. I was sore last night, everything ached by the time I went to bed, but I think it had more to do with getting back into sustained physical activity than anything else (certainly more than any cleaning, yard projects, long walks and hikes can offer). This is also why I chose to ease myself back into using weights and weight machines. How awful it is/would be to be so sore that I couldn't move for a couple of days. Perhaps today I will, but likely not.

Hopefully soon I can add swimming back to my routine.Over the summer, the facilities were often used for swim meets, which made the free swim lanes congested with regular users and therefor difficult to get in when I wanted. Last winter it was usually perfect timing- no one really wanted to swim in the cold winter months, so I am hoping for more of the same this year.
However, I realize from this past year that I need a new swim suit. The one I have now barely stays on- not so much from it being too big, the suit just isn't made for lap swimming, so it lets everything fall out or it slides off. It had been ok for simple water exercises but not good at all for longer swim laps. It is annoying to constantly pull up swim straps every few feet, or to hope that no one is looking as I feel the suit slide over my chest, exposing more or all than I ever care to anywhere.

So that is my little update. Now I am off to charge my iPod and get ready to head out for another session, even if my shoulders are protesting..

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Permalink: adventures_in_health.html
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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: holiday

11/09/08 06:13 - 42ºF - ID#46617

Snarky not Ranty

I'm sitting at Panera at 5:00 pm and it is so dark already.

I forget that it is November and that such things as rapidly diminishing day light occurs at this point in the calender. Now that I think of it, I still haven't changed more than 90% of the clocks in my house. My bedroom clock is the only one that has been set back so far. A rebel? An affinity for simple math? Nah, it just takes me a little while to get to it. I'm easing off of being a "procrastinator" to one who is "selectively productive" ™ April is my deadline, heh

Anyway, much to my distaste, I now see many neighborhoods peppered with full on outdoor 'Christmas' decorations. Seriously, it's a little early for the GIANT PLASTIC SANTA ornaments plopped on your lawn. Perfect weather for outdoor work aside, it is still too early to see those decorations for any reason on route to anywhere. Sure, string your lights while your ladder is still free of ice, but DO NOT turn them on.


Where is my "marshmallow assault rifle" when I need it?
Essentially a passive-aggressive toy, but I want it. Actually, been wanting it forever now, but am too cheap/lazy/cheap to order:

I love ThinkGeek.

I'd rip into the numerous stores/ads/sites that are/have been heavily pushing decorations and gifts 'perfect for the holidays', but alas that along with the above mentioned, is a moot point. It is expected by this time, but I need my moment to snark at it because it has been going on for much longer.

AND..As much as I love (love love love) Chocolate Peppermint cappuccinos, and the occasional "Gingerbread latte", I'm still enjoying the flavors of fall. A nice Pumpkin Spice hot drink is still welcome. I want to see again each Charlie Brown episode to its respective 'holiday'. That November day of sweet glutton seems so lost. What is it called again? Please, just slow it down a bit- there is no need to have three months of "Christmas". Yes, holiday "season" really is more appropriate, time wise, isn't it?

Oh, yes friends, we are just moments away from hearing Jingle Bells. Maybe you have already???

(if I were feeling sadistic.. and masochistic.. I would upload it as my user song, yup)

In a few weeks, I will be all for it. Music anyways. Feliz Navidad!

until then, gobble gobble.


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Permalink: Snarky_not_Ranty.html
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Location: Youngstown, NY

Category: weather

11/06/08 07:04 - 59ºF - ID#46577

Fog Rolls In

Starting my day out in the town of Lockport then heading to The Summit in Wheatfield for a business workshop, I loved driving in the bright sunshine. Music sounded extra good with the day being so warm and pleasant out. What little walking around I did, I enjoyed kicking my shoes through the crispy fallen leaves. Between yesterday and today, I found myself wishing for more of these perfect temperature days. I would have rather have been home working on some outside projects, but I did not want to miss any of the workshops I signed up for either. Besides, I knew I would have a couple hours of daylight once I returned home.
or would I?

Coming home (after being gone since Tuesday eve in general) from a business workshop (in specific), as I went down Lewiston Hill, I noticed a wide spread haze hovering over Lewiston, Youngstown, and Niagara Falls, Ontario. The entire view of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario could not be seen. I was curious as to what I would find once I got into my little neck of the woods. Looks like some heavy fog was rolling in.

I took these shortly after getting home-4ish. Within a half an hour, there was little to see at all.





Just whitish-gray. Then a little while later, the darkness settled in for the night. It always takes me awhile to adjust to the shorter days, feels so much later than what it is.

My hobbies tend to be cerebral. I really need to get back to the gym (especially after the Halloween candy consumption fiasco!). I love being there- it is so energizing and it simply feels good to do something, but I haven't in quite some time for various reasons (and excuses). Anyway, it is just turning 7pm and I want to curl up in bed with a book until I fall asleep. That sounds soooooo good right now. It will be even worse once the cold officially sets in. Maybe I can counteract the need to go to bed early by waking up early.

not likely..

That's it for now!

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Permalink: Fog_Rolls_In.html
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