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Fair Fun And Fair Wishes Reviewed…

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Between my back pain and the heat, my wife and I still had a very good time at the New York State Fair this year. Although walking was a chore, we got around to see what we wanted to see, even if I didn’t get my chance to touch a pig this year, which was my goal last year as well, because it was the day of the horse, and horses and I don’t get along.

20140830_122745 Before I get into my thoughts and what I did at the Fair, I’d like to quickly review a post I wrote in April regarding 5 things I wish would change at the Fair and whether any of them happened. Let’s see…

1. There was one major thing at the Fair that was pretty neat. A company called Victory Lifts, the people who created chairs that could carry people up and down the steps when they couldn’t walk it safely anymore came up with something else that was pretty cool that they exhibited. It’s a clear small elevator that’s either made of plastic or fiberglass, and though you’d have to stand in it instead of sitting down, it will get you upstairs much quicker and you can carry things easier also. They were giving kids free rides up and down, though it didn’t take them too far up since they had to cap its size but I could see the benefits of this bad boy. I could only see one negative, that being what if it stopped and left you somewhere in the middle, as there was no alarm pad. However, there might be one that they didn’t need at the Fair; I don’t really know. Still, it was cool and something new.

20140830_1305432. There was a greater mix of music this year, even if I missed it all. Having Journey and Cheap Trick playing is a major coup as far as I’m concerned, and my Twitter feed blew up when Bell Biv Devoe played at Chevy Court; yup, I was feeling some jealousy as that’s the day I went, but my back just couldn’t handle it all. Attendance was up throughout the Fair, and that was before Monday’s dollar deal.

3. I still don’t know if they advertised the animals all that well, although I wasn’t in town to go any earlier than the final Saturday. I do know that the program we got when we went through the gate didn’t mention any special events, and the only thing I saw while walking around was calf birthing… no thanks! lol

20140830_131327(0)4. I missed the Dairy building this year and it wasn’t until hours later when I was at home that I remembered it; oy! I still don’t know what the butter sculpture was; now that’s a shame. I liked the flower displays this year in the Horticulture building but I still wanted to see more; maybe I’m just greedy.

5. There were some basketball players there on Saturday but I didn’t know any of them; that’s sad. I know that there were some celebrities who showed up this year, one being this lady from the Food Network (I don’t know who she is) but otherwise, my request for more New York celebs wasn’t met I don’t believe. I think this would be a very wise move… maybe next year.

20140830_132041General impressions… it was hot! lol Actually, it’s pretty amazing that central New York is home to many of the fried “whatevers” that were everywhere this year. This included the one and only Twinkie stuffed with a Twix bar and wrapped in bacon that there was no way I was trying this year. One thing I’ve learned is that every booth offering these types of things has their own batter for frying them in and last year when I tried something I was greatly disappointed because of that fact. Still, I almost pulled the trigger on the Oreo sandwich with the Reese’s peanut butter cup in the middle, but instead stuck with getting an apple dumpling with a scoop of ice cream, since I missed out on that last year.

20140830_122804I loved this year’s sand sculpture in the Center of Progress building, all about Dr. Seuss and his many characters, and think it was one of the best ever. Maybe if I could have gotten that back massage I’d have been better off but there was a long waiting list both there and in the building with the quilts and such (what is the name of that building anyway?) and I didn’t want to wait for any of it. If there was one disappointment it was in the corner where fudge has always been sold and where they were always making more, which I always enjoyed seeing, but this year they were just selling and not making and maybe I got there late overall because they didn’t have much to sell. So, for the first time in maybe 10 years I didn’t get any fudge, which made my wife happy.

20140830_131609As always I loved seeing the quilts and the images, but I missed out on the trains, if they had them. I also skipped the dinosaur exhibit but overheard a guy telling his son that he’d make sure the dinosaurs didn’t eat him as the boy was pulling away and crying; nope, that kid wasn’t going in there. My wife walked through all the tents selling stuff and walked through the Indian Village at the beginning, but I didn’t know there was supposed to be a new look to the Midway until I got home and, sad to say, we missed it. No rides for me ever, but this year there was one where two people got into a ball and were slingshot into the air, like a reverse bungee, and I have to admit that was pretty cool to see but my back would have broken; sigh…

We made it almost 2 1/2 hours before we decided to head out before it really got hot and crowded, but I’ll just say there was plenty to see and leave it at that; ouch! I hope next year I’m home for the early part of the Fair because I must touch that pig, or something else exotic… and I don’t mean those nasty butterflies! :-) Good job NY Fair people!  

Local Traveling Art Shows

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A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being invited to go to an art show at the Spark Contemporary Art Space at 1005 E Fayette St, which just happens to be across the street from Collins Barber Shop, where I’ve been going for haircuts for almost 39 years; small world. One of the pictures below will show what it looks like on the outside; very cool.

20140613_201833The guy who set it up and invited me was Isaac Bidwell, who I’ve interviewed twice on this blog, who’s an artist in his own right, and had a few pieces he was exhibiting at this show. It cost $5 to get in, and he was telling me that they do these art shows every couple of months in different locations, always with a different theme.

The theme on this particular night was art talking about the 1980’s, a period I know well, although I’ll admit that there were a few pieces I didn’t understand or didn’t get right. For instance, one picture I thought was supposed to be Howard Stern and was told it was Joey Ramone, who I’ll admit I didn’t know as well.

80s cartoonsMy favorite piece of the evening was by a young lady named Marjorie Countryman, who did a nice composite of 80’s cartoon characters, many of whom I knew from a different era but the overwhelming majority I didn’t know; and I thought I knew the 80’s. lol

There was also music. This guy named DJ Stay Gold did some interesting mixes of music. By that, I mean he would play the music of one song by a particular artist and over that he’d play the lyrics and singing of a different artist. I thought that was really cool, as I remembered something like that from the 80’s when a DJ somewhere in the country first mixed the voices of Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand from two different records on a song called You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and turned it into a hit. This guy was amazing to say the least.

20140613_200716For someone like me, one of the other benefits is seeing the types of people that show up for these types of shows. Tattoos are the norm these days, although I’m still stunned a little bit here and there when I see nice looking women with tattoos all over the place. I’m fascinated by it, and I got a picture of this one lady named Meghan who really intrigued me… with permission of course. :-) I have to admit that many of the people were more fascinating than some of the art.

I’m not sure just yet if there’s a central place to find out about upcoming shows but I’ll reach out to Isaac to see if there’s something and I’ll update this post with that information if I get it. I love being able to support local artists, and I hope that one lady, who I gave some encouragement to in showing her art, does so.  

Breitbeck Park In Oswego

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I love Oswego. I went to college there, and I’m always heading up there for calzones from Pizza Villa, or a drive around the lakefront, or going up later in the afternoon every once in a while just to catch a sunset.

Breitbeck Park

Breitbeck Park

What I never knew about before, which is strange because it turns out I’ve been there often, is Breitbeck Park. I know you’re asking how I could not know about a place I’ve been. Because in the 90’s I used to go up to Oswego every summer for what’s called Harborfest, which is pretty much an all weekend party and sales fest throughout the city on both sides of Bridge Street, but mainly on the west side of the city.

Kingsford Bell and Tower

Kingsford Bell and Tower

At night they have concerts, and on Saturday night they have a major fireworks display. Every year I’d go see the fireworks display to this one place where I could sit with friends on kind of a hill that led down to the docks where all the boats sat. I always knew where to go after the first couple of visits but I never knew it was called Brietbeck Park, and the one time I went during the day I was more interested in seeing KC & the Sunshine Band than in knowing where I was; that’s called focus!

Anyway, it’s a beautiful park at the end of north 5th and 6th Streets, small and intimate but spacious enough most of the time for people to come eat, walk their dogs, have a little picnic, walk around to look at the boats or the lake and pretty much just chill and watch one of the beautiful sunsets. Saturday I went up with my friend Scott and his wife because he had to pay off our Super Bowl bet, which was a calzone from… well, I mentioned them already. :-)

Rosemary Nesbitt Monument

Rosemary Nesbitt Monument

On this night we ate those calzones in a tiny pavilion that has plastic picnic benches, and then walked around taking in the few natural sites and some of the monuments. One that threw me off was a tribute to a former theater teacher and director who I knew because one of my friends was her favorite actor in the area, and I thought that was a very nice tribute. I also finally noticed the Kingsford Bell and Tower; how the heck had I missed this before?

It was also the first time I really paid attention to where the nuclear plant and the industrial plants were. I always knew about both of them, but rarely paid much attention; that happens when you’re in college, as I know many people who went to college in Oswego yet never made it to the east side.

Oswego SunsetThe sunset was interesting in that it was a cloudy evening, so we didn’t get to see the sun fully falling into Lake Ontario. But as it got a little later in the evening the full sun finally came out of the clouds and we got a good 10 minutes of it in all its red glory before it finally sank into the drink. We also got to see a lot of boats coming in; I guess they didn’t want to be out in the water in the dark.

It was a great time, peaceful, and I know I’ll be heading back up another time. It’s a different view of things than where I normally go, which is the Loop where the fish and ice cream places are, close to the university. The things I keep learning about Oswego; yeah!  

Cinco De Mayo Tweetup

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After being on the road for about a year, and still being on the road, it was not only nice to have a full week and a half at home but to actually get to go to an event put together by people I know. In this case it was the Cinco de Mayo Tweetup on Monday May 5th, my 2nd on that date, that was promoted by Sunny Hernandez @SunnyInSyracuse and Renee Benda @cusecomm. The event was held at J Ryan’s Pub, where I’d participated in a couple other things, including a previous tweetup.

Me and Sunny

Me and Sunny

The first guy to show up was Christopher Malone @Chris___Malone, and I know that because the 2nd and 3rd people to show up were myself @mitch_m and Kelvin Ringold @ kelvinringold. Eventually Sunny and then Renee showed up, and after that it was a slow and steady trickle of folks that came in, some I knew and some I was meeting for the first time. All of the people except for Kelvin I hadn’t seen in a very long time, so I was happy to be reacquainted with all my buddies and happy to meet new people.

Like who? It’s always risky when you start naming names because you’re going to leave someone out, but I’m going to do it anyway, since I’m still going to list everyone in this post somehow.

I have to start with the guy I thought was the most compelling person of the evening for me, Justin Piscitel @jpiscitel, who told a harrowing tale about being in a major motorcycle accident, his recovery, and his dreams of jumping out of airplanes and climbing mountains; wow!

Katie and Nikita

Katie and Nikita

There was Justin Ryan Lynch (imagine, two Justins in one place lol) @justinryanlynch, who I initially thought might be part of the restaurant but actually handles some of the social media management for Visit Syracuse, a site which helps promote the home city and has its own Twitter handle, @visitsyracuse. Later someone else showed up, the only person I didn’t get to personally meet, named Nikita Jankowski @NikitaJankowski, who also works for them.

There was Zainab Storms @blahnikbaker, a young lady who’s studying neuroscience at SUNY Upstate, a field I know is tough as my wife works in it. And Stef Noble @stefnoble, whose name I’d seen often over the years on Twitter but had never seen, and I only got to say a couple of words to her.

The final two people I’d never met were Mike Vormwald @vormwald, a software developer whose name I kept having problems pronouncing, and to whom I introduced myself as Busby Berkeley (Sunny would like that one) and Matt Wheeler @SaltCityFanboy, of whom I don’t remember what he does but I did introduce myself to him as James Earl Jones (inside joke that he didn’t question). Lol

The rest of the folks? Well, I had to reintroduce myself to Katie Krames @KatieKrames, who has one of the best smiles ever and whom I’d actually met during the big kickball game in the summer of 2011. And of course my buddy Kevin Magdon @kevinmagdon, who also writes on Twitter for the Doubletree off Carrier Circle (@SYRDT) and who gives me free cookies from time to time (shhhh…).

Renee, Frank and Josh

Renee, Frank and Josh

The rest of the gang were Teri @Mama_T_Says and Lorne @zbdaddy Coon, Frank D’Agostino @dagsly, and the soon to be wedded couple of Jenny @jennyshear and Josh @joshshear Shear.

It was a great time and the event lasted just over the 2 hours we’d allotted. You can look at how many people showed up to know that it was a great success. And I think I might be the only person who got out of there without imbibing an alcoholic drink; it not, maybe one of the folks here will tell me about it. I can’t wait for the next one… whenever I get back home again that it.  

2014 SOHO Show

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Last year I wrote about the SOHO Show (Small Office/Home Office) at the Oncenter and I decided to write about it again this year, though it probably won’t be as much as I wrote last year, and I consider last year’s post one of my short ones.

20140501_120857 This year I not only went with my wife, but I was representing my consultant’s group, the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York. I manned the booth for about an hour, which felt a little strange for two reasons. One, I’ve never manned a booth at something like this, and two, I hadn’t seen any of these guys since October, as I’ve been out of town most of the time, so I felt like I was getting reacquainted with people as well as meeting some new people.

I’m certain not shy when it comes to meeting people in a business situation but I was hampered by a bad back, which I know had me swaying back and forth. Near the end I got a lesson on how the greeting process should go, which I could have used earlier, and it’s an interesting lesson for everyone to learn for their businesses.

People would ask me about the group and I’d tell them, along with giving them information and encouraging them to check us out and to come to a free meeting. The guy I was with, pretty much a master salesman, said that the better way to go would have been to state the name of the group, give a short preamble, and then ask them what it was they did. His take was that pretty much anything they responded to would lead you back into talking more about the organization, and possibly get them more engaged and get them to fill out the form for a free membership. Hey, I did get some people to fill it out, so I wasn’t all that bad, but he got more; lesson learned.

After my hour was up I decided to walk around with my wife to check out the booths which, like last year, went really fast. Well, because of my back hurting that was kind of a misnomer, but I only spent time at one booth, even bypassing my normal stops at the Dinosaur booth and the Chocolate Pizza booth. I stopped at what turned out to be the Business Journal News Network, which most of us just call the Business Journal, and got a massage in one of those comfortable cushy chairs from Gustav Hoffmann, who’s not only an account manager for them but the son of former politician Nancy Larriane Hoffmann; cool right? I met her only once in my life, at a fundraiser for another politician, and she was nice as could be.

I barely made it around in an hour, which means I was at the event for 2 hours, and that was all my back could handle. Because I was manning the booth from 11 to 12, I missed a presentation by a lawyer friend of mine, Todd Engel from Engel Law Offices; maybe next time. I missed all presentations; maybe next year I’ll be able to plan better, since being home was a fluke.

In any case I’m glad I got to go, and probably the only downsides were the weather and it would have been nice to have more people. On that second issue… parking! And look, this is longer than last year’s article; yay!  

Copyright 2014