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Doug Flutie’s Parents Pass

Within an hours time, former Buffalo Bill’s quarterback Doug Flutie lost both his parents to heart attacks. As pretty much everyone knows, I’m not a huge sports fan. I don’t really follow any teams religiously, though, I will wear some kind of jersey in Pittsburgh as urban camouflage. It was still sad to hear the news story about Doug Flutie’s parents.

The Buffalo Bills haven’t been a great team in my lifetime, however Doug Flutie helped brought hope with him! The last time the Bills were headed to the Super Bowl Doug Flutie was hailed as a local hero and sports savior. I remember wanting so badly for the Bills to win the super bowl. Not that I would be watching, playing in the snow at Super Bowl parties was always more fun. I did have a lot at stake though.

My teacher at the time had promised us no homework for a week. That was like winning the lottery for a middle schooler. How could I not want them to win? I had my mom buy me Flutie Flakes and I proudly called myself a “fan” without knowing anything about the sport. Of course, they didn’t win and I learned an important lesson about coping with disappointment.

I stopped following sports shortly after but that was an exciting and fun school memory for me. The thing is, people are always searching for a legacy. Some have children to achieve it while others create business empires. We all want to be remembered beyond our deaths to prove that we were here. Doug Flutie’s parents will be remembered through him and he will be remembered through everything he’s achieved in his athletic career.

What may seem like a tragedy actually seems like the happiest end they could have had. Neither of Doug Flutie’s parents will have to wait in a purgatory state to join the other and they were fortunate enough to go quickly. On top of that, their death has gotten recognition through numerous media outlets earning their loved ones some deserved sympathy. If only we could all go out on such a high note!

Shaun the Sheep Movie is Out

This movie came out in theaters this summer and I may have forced my youngest sister to accompany me to the theater to watch it. I think she actually wanted to see Straight Outta Compton, but a) I had already seen it and b) these two movies are practically the same.

Shaun the Sheep is one of the spin-off movies from the world of Wallace and Gromit. If you don’t know Wallace and Gromit, well, there is no hope for you. I kid, I kid. Let me explain. Wallace and Gromit were created by Aardman Animations, an animation company out of Bristol, ya know, across the pond.

Truth be told, I hadn’t really heard of the studio or seen much of their work growing up until about 7th or 8th grade when I started doing these fundraising events for band called The Rock-a-Thon. You might think that because this was a band fundraiser that The Rock-a-Thon involved endless music. Nope. It was actually all about rocking in rocking chairs. Honestly, I’d wager it was the most strategic kids fundraiser ever orchestrated.

See, there was only one rule to The Rock-a-Thon and that was you couldn’t leave your rocking chair and you couldn’t stop rocking. Pretty much an ideal way to ensure everyone stayed out of trouble and in sight.

Of course, there were activities like Rocker Races, but for the most part kids would bring games to play or chat. This was obviously before Netflix and millions of portable devices were available so the chaperons would play movies for everyone to watch. The top choices were Mr. Bean movies and Wallace & Gromit primarily for their limited or non-existant dialog. It meant that the volume didn’t need to be blasting for you to enjoy the movie.

Anyway, that’s where I first saw Wallace & Gromit. I’ll admit, I wasn’t that thrilled at first. It was only mildly funny to me (I didn’t have an appreciation for slapstick or British humor then!) The more I watched them though, the more I enjoyed them. It was really the animation style that caught my interest.

Wallace & Gromit, as well as other Aardman Animations pieces, is done in claymation. Not just computer generated claymation-like animation. No, real painstaking claymation. I was a bit of an art nerd in high school, as soon as I realized how much work went into each production I couldn’t help but love them.

I started going to see their movies in theaters, Chicken Run, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away, The Pirates! and more. The Shaun the Sheep movie was just the latest movie I have seen in theaters from this fantastic production company.

The movie itself was, in one word, adorable. There was no dialog, but I found myself laughing and tearing up. It’s a movie you could defiantly enjoy watching with a small child as an adult. In fact, it’s also just the perfect kind of movie for when you’re having a rough day and you need to watch something cute and light. So, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. It’s not going to be as exciting as a Fast & Furious movie, but it’s well done and enjoyable.

The Rochester Americans aka The Amerks

A year or two ago I was in Montreal visiting some colleagues, and of course the conversation of hockey came up. We were trying to decide where to watch the game that night as the Montreal Canadians were scheduled to play. Someone mentioned that the Montreal Canadians was probably one of the dumbest hockey team names. Or at least the most unoriginal.

Of course, no self-respecting fan would just take a comment like that so they quickly turned to me and said something to the effect of, “well you have The Americans!” I was genuinely shocked. Did we? That seemed like a pretty terrible name for all the same reasons. I of course asked for an explanation since I had never heard of this hockey team, then I realized my mistake. The Amerks was short for The Americans, or The Rochester Americans to be more precise.

For all the years I’ve lived in Rochester I had never gone to one of The Amerks games until this weekend. The place was packed! It may have had something to do with the fact that it was a special night for Veterans, but I was impressed nevertheless. I think the turn out was 2 or 3 times larger than the NBA game I went to see!

The game itself was pretty great, as in a fight broke out and we know the only reason people watch hockey is to see the ice turn red. I was more interested in finding out who The Amerks was a farm team for though. After the show I did a bit of research and had to chuckle when I saw that the team, while currently a farm team for the Buffalo Sabers (let’s go Buffalo!), originally started out as a farm team for The Montreal Canadians.

That’s Not a Ladybug!

Around this time of year I hear everyone telling me how they have “ladybugs” trying to get into their house. After a few years of this I started to sound like a broken record. “Those aren’t ladybugs,” is generally as far as I’ll go now.

The truth is they are technically a ladybug, but they differ from our general understanding of ladybugs. They are affectionately known as Asain Beetles and while they do some of the same tasks as other ladybugs (pest control most notably) they have no known preditors and some nasty manners. If you try to catch one you’ll notice they discharge a yellowish substance that will stink and stain whatever surface they are on. It makes removing them from your house a bit more of a challenge for sure!

Since the Asian Beetles don’t carry any known diseases you may consider just letting them winter over with you. I’d advise against that though. It’s been shown that the strange smell and discharge from the beetles can cause skin irritation or allergies in some people.

You don’t have to feel bad about killing these little buggers either. They can be particularly aggressive and attempt to bite you! While helpful to most agriculture, the beetles have become a problem for vineyards. During the grape-gathering process more beetles are being scooped up and their discharge is causing an off taste in the wine.

So how do you get rid of them? The best way is to vacume them up. You may want to use something with a hepa filter for your own sake. Other than that, try preventing more from making their way into the house by sealing up windows and doors tightly.

Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds Live in Rochester

Year ago I had gone to see Video Games Live with a few of my friends. It was an enjoyable evening for many reasons, most important of course is that I shared it with friends. Of course, when it was announced that Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds was going to be in the beautiful city of Rochester, NY my friends and I began planning to attend.

The concert itself was fantastic. Guest conductor Arnie Roth made sure to highlight important segments and emphasize the talent of Susan Calloway and the rest of the performers. I was slightly disappointed at a percussionist that was off-beat for a few songs, however the other performers were exceptional. I was excited, of course, for the Chocobo song compilation as well as the inclusion of the battle with Seymour music.

I was worried that the visuals might be distracting, but they helped me remember where some of the segments of music were from. At times the editing for the video was a bit sloppy. One example was when they showed clips of artwork with a black background creating a weird cropping effect to the aspect ratio of the screen. The video was not the primary reason for going though so I was much less upset by that then the poor performance by the percussionist.

I also had fantastic company both during the performance and afterward. While enjoying the show I spoke to a man who had traveled all the way from Oklahoma to come watch! He expressed his excitement that he didn’t have to go to Chicago just to see the show and complemented the theaters construction and decor. Hopefully Rochester left a good impression on him!

After the show of course I had a chance to catch up with friends over food and drinks. Too much time had passed since I had seen some of them! Ultimately, our time was brief as things go when it’s a weekday evening. It was a fantastic show that I would love to see again if I have the chance.

Franchises: A Dream Turned Nightmare

I’ve had a few people tell me that they would like to open a franchise of some well-known business in their area. In fact, people have even recommended I open a franchise instead of running my own business. I never want to go into a big rant, but I think many people are misinformed about how opening a franchise really works.

In general, the idea is simple. You get to use the brand, business model, and corporate connections to build what seems like an instant business. To most people, it sounds like the corporation is backing you up; that this is a sure-fire way to make money. The problem is that’s not usually how things pan out. Just look around your neighborhood and see if you can find a renovated pizza hut or KFC building. Franchises fail and it’s not the corporations that take the hit.

Most people who open franchises have never run a business or had formal training in business. It’s why they are drawn to the idea of having “someone else” take care of anything that isn’t day-to-day operations. This inexperience means they may neglect to do a market analysis for the location and brand. They may find themselves unequipped to handle hiring good candidates. The list of things that could be overlooked is nearly endless.

Once you have the business up and running the trouble isn’t over. Since you don’t technically own your business, you have to deal with a few more financial burdens. The first and most obvious is that you have to pay a monthly fee to maintain your franchise license. This is in addition to the up-front fee you pay just to open your doors. Another financial burden that makes running your business difficult is that you don’t get to set the prices. You may have a slight say in what is stocked or served, but pricing has to be standardized across locations in most franchises. That’s not always a huge deal though, right? After all, the market would dictate pricing if the corporate headquarters didn’t. However, the corporate headquarters also dictates your cost of goods. If you follow, the corporation controls your profit margin. That makes it exceedingly difficult to turn a failing situation around. Of course that’s not all though. The corporate headquarters also get’s to decide if you are running a promotion, though they might not communicate it to you. This happened a few years back with KFC and their free chicken promotion.

It’s obviously a struggle to run a franchise, but then, there is one last factor that tends to ensure failure for franchise owners. The corporate headquarters has the ability to close your location at any time without reason. They insist that they need this control to maintain brand standards.

After the dream of running a franchise turns into a nightmare, most franchise owners hope to sell their franchise license, maybe even for a profit. However financial failure or having your license revoked is more common than a franchise owner selling their license.

So if you’ve been thinking about opening a franchise, you might want to reconsider. If you have never had an interest in owning a franchise, then take this information out into the world. And, you might want to consider supporting local businesses instead of the cruel franchise model next time you go out shopping.

The Relationship Kids Have With School

Growing up I always thought school was exciting. Not really because of the teachers or lessons, though I won’t lie both could have a huge impact on how much I enjoyed school. I was usually excited to get up and get going because I knew I would see my friends!

That makes me wonder, do kids today know the same excitement? They get to talk to their friends nearly anytime night or day thanks to cellphones. It’s not the same of course, nothing beats face to face communication, but I do wish I could survey some kids and find out how they feel.

Maybe it’s this ease of communication that makes bullying  more prevalent. After all, it’s probably much easier to insult someone when you think there is an endless number of people that can replace them in your social life. People are so interesting and so strange.

Rochester Celebrating Marty McFly Day

So yesterday was the day that Marty McFly went Back to the Future. You couldn’t miss the endless Facebook posts and Tweets. If you’re on Instagram, then you even saw the costumes and excitement there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Rochester, NY. I love all of Western NY, but I do have a particular fondness for Rochester. It’s not flashy, it hardly ever makes lists like Best City to Live, Best City for Tech, or Best City to Raise a Family. I personally think that’s just because it’s one of the United States Best Kept Secrets. It’s got a slightly off-beat, west-coast, hipster vibe without drawing swarms of homeless people or greedy executives. It’s for that exact reason that I was able to truly celebrate October 21st 2015!

There is a fantastic bar called Lux in Rochester. It reminds me of something you might find in Austin and it’s extremely popular with the kind of people who are nerdy yet social. The perfect atmosphere. They were running all kinds of drink specials and the place was packed even as early as 9pm!

I got myself a couple great drinks like The Doc Brown and The McFly and enjoyed listening to 80’s music while chatting with all kinds of costumed patrons. They even went so far as to hand out cutout faces of Doc Brown and Marty. The best event though, was likely the hover boarding contest. Yes, they had a pimped out little platform where the more-than-tipsy fans were “showing their moves.”

All-in-all, it’s just another event that demonstrates what a great community this small city has!

One Year Older With More Friends Than Ever

I was astounded yesterday to receive a flood of birthday messages from people all over the world. Often times I feel as though there is no way I could make a lasting impact on people. I’m just me after all. It’s heart-warming to then receive so many well wishes from both distant and new friends as well as the old and close ones I have.

If you know me well enough to have gotten into this conversation then you likely know that I do think of people as the most important thing in life. They are the driving force behind changes all around the world for thousands of years. And people don’t only change their surroundings, people themselves change! The opportunities we have to get to know people are fleeting and should be seized at every opportunity because even meeting the same person at different times in their life can be like meeting different people.

The world is a cruel and painful place without friends. It doesn’t particularly matter how many you have or how long you’ve had them. What does matter is how much you show them you care. Be it though gifts, acts of kindness, or however else you show love; make sure they know.

To everyone I’ve meet over the years of my life, thank you. I love you all, the bad and the good, and you make life worth living.

The Eternal Flame of Orchard Park

Not far outside of Buffalo, NY is a place called Orchard Park. I often say that I’ve lived in this state my whole life and continue to find new things. This is exactly one of those times. Orchard Park is about an hour from where I grew up and this weekend I discovered a beautiful bit of nature with my family on a hike.

The sight is called the eternal flame and it’s pretty magical to see in person. The hike is a bit difficult and requires a trek through some mud, across some shale, and over a lot of fallen trees. When you get there you’ll see a beautiful shale waterfall with about 4-5 flames burning behind the falling water. On a fall day you really couldn’t ask for a more beautiful sight.

The flame is actually the result of methane gas leaking out of a few small holes. There are other spots where the gas escapes, however because of the water, there is only one small spot where the gas can be lit.

Scientists have come from as far as Italy to study how the gas is escaping naturally through the seeps. It was determined in 2013 that tectonic activity was what split the shale and allowed for the methane gas to be released.

The flame is visible year round, so I may have to visit it again in the winter time. For a surprisingly simple thing it’s beauty did draw quite a crowd.

Yelp for People App Earns Worst Idea of 2015

If you’re unfamiliar with the app, it’s an app that aims to let people review other people in the way that yelpers can review restaurants. The idea itself isn’t new, there have been numerous sites that have been created to help you rate ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, rate professors, rate politicians, or really rate any other person you interact with. Heck, LinkedIn to some extent allows you to rate your professional connections by their proclaimed skill set, so how is this any different?

Glad you asked. First off this is a personal review site nothing to do with a person’s professional skill set. That means you could say nasty things about someone just because your religious beliefs differ or maybe you just don’t like the way they dress. All someone needs is your phone number to review you. And I suppose that’s where this can get a bit sticky. See, most people use those phone numbers for their job applications, rental applications, and professional contact details. Now you’ve just given a landlord or employer an easy way to see if people are talking smack about you. Keep in mind, this may or may not be truthful information, it’s just easily available so why not check it out?

So maybe you’re just a student and you aren’t really concerned with getting an apartment or job. How about school bullies? Suicide is the 3rd largest cause of death among young people accounting for about 4,400 deaths per year in the USA according to the CDC. Do we really need to fuel that fire? It’s hard enough from kids who are being bullied to get away from their peers now that they are connected 24/7 to the world through cell phones and the internet.

Granted, Peeple (the yelp for people app) has declared that they have built in some extra precautions recently to reduce the likelihood for bullying to happen, but even still, why create that platform?

After much criticism, all online presence of Peeple was removed. Thank goodness, right?! How did any company manage to gain funding around this idea, especially to the tune of $7.6 million? Who actually was so void of emotion and so disconnected from society that they felt this was what people needed in their lives? Her name is Julia Cordray and she had previously founded a website for recruiting employees. You would think someone who built their career on a human resources website would understand the pitfalls of a project like this. However, she insists the project is a hoax, and that despite her many critics, she will be moving forward with Peeple. So even though you can’t find a website about it, make no mistake, there is at least one determined person to bring this platform to life.

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