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5 Things I Wish Would Change At The NYS State Fair

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I’ve been going to the New York State Fair for decades. I’ve always had a good time, but over the last couple of years my wife and I have gone to the Fair and headed back home in less than two hours. At first I wondered what the problem was, but as I sat down to think about it I realized that we’re both bored with what we see.

20130901_111456_resized It’s not that we don’t like going, but I’ve gone at least 30 times over the years, and I’ve noticed how some things have changed since the first time I went, and not necessarily for the better. I also figure I’m probably not the only one who has some issues with the Fair. So I thought that I would spend some time listing five things I wish would change to maybe make things feel a little bit more fresh and festive.

1. Let’s get some new things for the Center of Progress building. Back in the day, you used to go to the Center of Progress building knowing that you were going to see some new technology along with some favorites such as the sand sculpture, the fudge in the corner, and of course all the government and special interest group booths. Last year they finally had something new, and yet it was something old, that being recliners that massaged your entire body; all of them hurt me in some way. Since Syracuse is trying to publicize itself as a technology center, it would be cool if some of that newer technology or newer products found a place in the building, and maybe move a lot of the things such as candy and peanuts somewhere else.

2. Someone’s got to say it, so it might as well be me. When it Syracuse suddenly become a country town? From my perspective it seems that the majority of the Grandstand major concerts every year are either country acts or teenybopper acts, and I can’t even remember the last time I went to a performance of anything. There needs to be more diversity in the major acts, and I’m of the opinion that people will pay more money for some performers who might not normally play for smaller crowds but might be willing to come play at an outdoor venue. I remember some major acts that used to come play in the 80s, so someone has to be willing to come play now.

3. Put more effort into advertising which animals are going to be on display on which days. The last couple years have been disappointing to me, and that’s saying something because I usually don’t like animals to begin with. However, I did try to go see the llamas and the sheep, and some other things I can’t remember right now, only to be told that they were displayed in the first couple of days and then sent away to bring in different animals that were more common. Maybe there’s a schedule posted somewhere, since those who display the animals obviously know when to bring them, but I don’t know how to find it and I can’t be the only one.

Mitch Touches A Cow4. Find a way to boost the energy both in the dairy building and the horticulture building. The butter sculpture is always pretty good, but the displays and booths in the building leave a lot to be desired, especially for us non-milk drinkers. And some of what I have seen in the horticulture building over the last couple years has been pretty boring and lackluster, and it has to take more than people being able to spend a dollar for a baked potato to really get our juices going.

5. Aren’t we New York? I’m of the opinion that over the course of 12 days there should be at least two days where there’s some kind of “wow” factor. Maybe it’s famous actors who were originally from the Central New York area; maybe it’s famous athletes who were originally from central New York, or played for Syracuse University. I think it would be great to bring in people like that, or even other famous people, to spend three or four hours somewhere signing autographs and taking pictures with the fairgoers. And if you advertise it far enough in advance, you’d probably get some amazing crowds and you’d give the public something that they’re not going to get at any other state fair in the country.

That’s what I have for now. Does anyone else have any ideas that they think would help to stimulate more interest and more fun at the New York State Fair?  

An Interview With CNY’s Lauren Greutman Of I Am That Lady

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Lauren Greutman is a star. She’s on Bridge Street often, has a very successful blog, and was highlighted in Syracuse Woman Magazine as the May cover story, was highlighted in a promo video for it, and also writes articles for them. She’s also a very nice person; the first time I met her in person, after we’d been talking on Twitter for a while, we hugged each other as if we were old friends. I hope you enjoy this interview.

LaurenG0021. You are that lady! How did you come to be I Am That Lady?

I was washing the dishes one night after teaching a coupon seminar where one lady asked me if I could start a blog. I thought to myself “I am just that crazy coupon lady” and that was where the name was born. I searched on GoDaddy to see if the domain iamthatlady.com was available and was shocked that it was!

2. I don’t remember how we first made contact, but I know I saw you on local TV, Channel 9′s Bridge Street. How did you get to do that and will you be doing it again some day, maybe on a more regular basis?

I think we started chatting on Twitter first, and then the rest is history :-)

I actually went on Bridge Street for my first time about 2 months after my blog launched because I was teaching a coupon seminar at a local event and they wanted someone to talk about it. They sent me and I was so nervous. I really hit it off with Chris, Kaylee and the producers and they just kept on inviting me on. They started asking me to co-host about 2 years ago and Chris and I loved working together. I was doing a weekly segment but it was just too much for me. I go on about once a month usually to co-host and try to put my own segment in there as well. I was actually applying to be the co-host after Kaylee left, but then I found out I was pregnant with my 4th child and knew I couldn’t do it all. I consider it a blessing that I got pregnant because my goals are much more focused on my brand now.

3. What prompted you and Renee Benda into starting up the local blogging group?

It is actually all Renee, I just helped her organize some of the social media elements.

4. You know a lot about the local businesses and also deals from national businesses that are in central New York. How do you get all of your information?

I get hundreds of emails per day from PR agencies, companies etc. I look through all of them and forward the ones that I know my readers will like onto my assistant who does most of the postings. It is tough work looking through them all and weeding out the good ones, but I try really hard to post only the deals that my readers like and that are valuable to the main goal of my website.

5. On my finance blog I wrote that sometimes a deal isn’t a deal if you have to drive too far for it with the cost of gas these days. You live in Oswego, which means you’re probably driving far for many of them. How do you reconcile distance with savings?

I totally agree! Since I live in Oswego I do most of my shopping there. I do not shop at Wegmans unless I am up that way. I do most of my shopping at Price Chopper, Aldi, and Walmart because they are all about 5 minutes away from my house.

6. How do you believe your online business grew to the point where your husband was able to leave his job and work with you from home? I know many people would love to be able to do that.

LaurenG003_1I think networking has been key in my success. I started going to blogging conferences and learning how the bigger blogs were doing it, I read all I could about SEO and social media. I had dedicated over 60 hrs per week for the past 3 years into my blog/business and it has paid off. My husband has been an actuary for the past 12 years and worked in Syracuse. He worked long hours and life was getting too stressful. We prayed about him leaving his job for over a year and after our 4th child was born, we knew it was the right time. I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to get through the tough times of being a business owner and blogger while being a mom. All my hard work paid off and we now get to live a life that is a dream!

7. I think you’d mentioned that your husband was going to become more of a writer for your blog so that different types of articles could be added. Will they be included within your normal content or will you set up different channels for it all?

We will be changing some things on the blog mid year which we are VERY excited about, but for now he is blogging under his name.

8. I know you’ve been working on a local blogging conference that, unfortunately, it looks like I’ll be out of town and won’t be able to get there. Can you talk about that and how you got into working to set it up?

Dan Morris is a blogging revenue coach that I met while in Atlanta 2 years ago. He is brilliant and has helped me learn so much. When I heard that he was starting his own traveling blogging workshop series I was SO excited to bring him here to Central New York. There are so many talented bloggers here that want to dig deeper into making money at this, and I knew that they would learn so much from him. We don’t have many advanced blogging resources in this area, so I thought it would be the perfect fit.

For anyone who wants to see what the seminar is about and wishes to sign up for it they can go to Blogging Concentrated and use the coupon code iamthatlady for $50 off!

9. I love when local folks get known nationally as well. Where have you traveled, who have you met, and are any of them as intriguing as me? lol

I have met many fabulous people. Last year I met with Michael Hyatt and John Acuff. I have bflown to Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta to meet with companies or speak at events. My blog was featured on air at Anderson Cooper’s day time show last year and I’ve appeared on the 2nd largest news program in the US in New York City. I’ve seen and met a lot of amazing people!

10. Talk about your book, why you wrote it, why people should buy it, and when it’s coming out.

We have an ebook coming out called ‘Budgeting That Works‘, which comes with 2 FREE customizable budgeting spreadsheets, a 10 day email course, a live webinar Q&A, sessions with Mark and me and much more. We’ve had to push back the launch for the book for now.

11. I’ve never done an 11th question but this is your time. What do you want people to know about you, your website, and anything else we haven’t already covered?

I want people to know that blogging is very hard work. Posting deals is the easy part and probably only about 10% of what I actually do. There is SO much that goes on behind the scenes. That being said, I am SO passionate about helping people learn how to budget and save money. I work very hard to bring only the best deals, coupons, and local products around and am very proud of what I do!

My blog is I Am That Lady, and you can also follow me on Twitter at @iamthatlady, on my YouTube Channel, and also at Facebook.  

My Top Ten Favorite Syracuse Basketball Players Of All Time

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You know, whenever one decides to put together a list like this they’re in trouble. Either you have trouble finding people to eliminate or you have issues with trying to get to 10 in the first place. Not that you didn’t have 10 people you liked, but you can get bogged down in your own minutiae and find that your own standards are suddenly too high to get to your magic number.

Then there’s the act of sharing such a subjective list. Everyone will have their favorite period, and you find that there are some players you might want to name that you never actually got to see play; that won’t work now will it? Or some players who are close to you in time and thus you think of them as your favorites without remembering until later just how much you enjoyed someone else.

I’m fearless like that, so I decided to undertake this task with some of my own rules.

One, they had to be players I actually saw play. This knocks out Dave Bing because I was only 7 years old when I could have possibly seen him, but my dad wasn’t a basketball fan so it never came up.

Two, no current players can be on my list. A couple of them might make it in years gone by, for for now I’m just going to enjoy them as a team that’s undefeated as of the time this post is going live, 23-0 with Pittsburgh on the horizon later this evening.

And three, to save myself a bit of agita, I’m not worried about placing them in a specific 1-10 order. Nope, not going there. Sure, they’ll be in some order, and I’ve decided I’m putting them in alphabetic order by last name just to save myself some grief.

Of course you can put together your own list on your blog so I can come by to pick on you, share some names in the comments, or tell me I’m crazy and why and move on with life. A bit of fun to warm things up on a Wednesday morning. Here we go:

Carmelo Anthony – Yes, this is alphabetical, but what more is there to say than the fact that he led Syracuse to the national championship? We only got to enjoy him one year here but he’s turned into a great NBA player and gave back to the university with the Carmelo K Anthony Center. Let’s see, how can we get juiced for this…

 

Roosevelt Bouie – Rosie stood out in more ways than one. Sure he was tall, but what a soft touch he had, along with that big afro. He was a pretty dominant force and one of the two cogs that actually brought not only Syracuse, but eastern basketball into real prominence on a continuing basis. You know his counterpart is on this list. :-)

Derrick Coleman – I loved watching Derrick play, and man, did he love getting those rebounds. I’ve never understood how so many teams forget that some players are left handed, and DC burned lots of teams because of it. And of course he helped get the team into the 1987 championship game and had 19 rebounds, almost double the next closest person.

Sherman Douglas – The General; what more needs to be said? He was the master of the alley-oop way before anyone else really seemed to be doing it with such proficiency, and he could score when needed. He led the team into the championship game in 1987 and scored 20 points.

Jonny Flynn – All anyone needs to know is that Flynn played 67 of the 70 minutes of that 6-overtime victory against Connecticut and scored 34 points to know why he’s on this list. I’m still of the opinion that if Donte Green hadn’t gone to the NBA after only one year this team would have easily gone to the Final Four. You know, we need a bit of that:

 

Gerry McNamara – Come on now, how could I leave G-Mac off this list? Those 6 3-pointers he hit in the first half against Kansas were big. Then in his last year he literally carried the ‘Cuse to the Big East Championship with a broken body. He gave it all and was superb in doing it; overrated my… hmmph!

Lawrence Moten – Talk about one of the smoothest players ever, and with those socks! I loved watching him play, and it seemed that he pretty much could score at will without effort. He wsa both Syracuse’s and the Big East’s all time leading scorer and the only player in ‘Cuse history to score 500 points 4 years in a row.

Louis Orr – You can’t have the Louis & Bouie show without Louie right? He had a smooth game as well but he also had a lot of heart. When Syracuse beat Tennessee and the vaunted Ernie-Bernie tandem it put Syracuse on the map for good and brought eastern basketball with it. And then all those great years with the Knicks; wonderful stuff.

John Wallace – Wallace was the man, lots of talent and heart and literally put the team on his back and led them to the 1997 championship game against Louisville. Take away that one bad call that gave him four fouls and led to his fouling out of the game eventually and we could have had that championship 6 years earlier.

Pearl Washington – Pearl! What more needs to be said? The most exciting player Syracuse has ever had, a guy who, when the moment was upon him, only failed once ever that I can think of (I still hate Walter Berry for that). I was at that Boston College game; nuff said. In his last year he led the team to a 23-4 record while leading the team in scoring, and a Big East Championship against Georgetown (you know how we feel about Georgetown). Yeah, we need some of this:

 

There’s my list; let’s see who’s on yours.  

Moe’s On Route 57

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I had no secrets about how much I was going to miss Friendly’s on Route 57. where I’d gone often since I moved to central New York 38 years ago. I knew that they were going to put a Moe’s Southwest Grill in there, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Moe's on Route 57To be truthful, I’d never been to a Moe’s. I didn’t even know where there was one in CNY, though I know there’s at least one. However, it turns out there’s a Moe’s in the airport where I’m consulting, which I hadn’t known was there because I usually get in through one specific gate and one day I decided to change up for a little variety. Once you take the escalators to the end Moe’s is sitting right in front, sharing space with a Cinnabon.

I decided that I couldn’t condemn them overall without at least giving it a shot. So I ordered something called Earmuffs; yeah, I know, it’s a goofy name. In essence it gives you the opportunity to mix pretty much whatever you want to into one of their large styrofoam bowl/plates, and some stuff might cost extra but hey, if you can afford the main meal you can afford the extra 30 cents here and there.

I don’t like hot spicy stuff but I also mainly like hamburger, so I got that, mixed lots of things I usually like including their queso cheese (anyone who tells me that queso and nacho taste the same is out of their minds lol), and it ends up looking pretty good. When I ate it while out of town I enjoyed it, though I had to add just a little bit of salt.

20131231_113045

Fast forward to the last time I was in town. This is a standalone building at the location where Friendly’s used to be so it looks different on the outside. I went with a friend of mine and when you first walk in, the people working there all yelled “Welcome to Moe’s”. I don’t know why but that made me laugh every time I heard it, probably because some of the people coming in jumped when they heard it.

My friend ordered some kind of burrito, which I forgot to take a picture of but I ordered the earmuffs because I was familiar with it. I didn’t want the chips that came with it but they gave them to me anyway so I took them. I ordered sweet tea, which I love but really shouldn’t be drinking, and we sat down in one of the booths.

IMG_20131231_113739I wrote a previous post about the difference between eating in the south vs eating up north, but I expected that since this is a national chain that the food would taste the same. Nope, I was wrong. Unfortunately, what I got was not only a bit spicier than I’ve ever had down south, it was extremely salty. Usually southern food is really spicy so that surprised me, but it was so salty that I couldn’t even eat half of it, and I went through two cups of iced tea. My wife asked me later why I didn’t just wrap it up, bring it home & cook more hamburger to offset the saltiness but I just wasn’t in the mood at that point.

Even saying that I’m going to be somewhat fair. Since I’ve had better tasting from Moe’s while out of town, I’m going to say that it was probably just because they were new that things were spiced the way they were. The freshness of the food was sound, so maybe it was just a bad mix on that day. The inside of the place was nice, clean and spacious, and one of the benefits if you’re having soda is that you can add multiple types of flavoring to whatever you’re drinking, since you serve yourself.

Because of that I’ll probably give it one more try. For my tastes it’s not like the Friendly’s that was there, which didn’t close at 9PM on Sunday nights (you other Friendly’s need to think about that) but it’s modern and fresh and I’m sure lots of people will enjoy going there.  

5 Wishes For Central New York In 2014

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Last year on this date I put out my 5 Wishes For Central New York In 2013 and not only did none of them come true, none of them seemed to even be addressed. This year’s list will probably be ignored as well but hey, we can dream right? Here we go:

Syracuse-New-York-21. Another Final Four, possibly a national championship for Syracuse basketball. Okay, that’s not really fair because only 14 or 15 people can take care of that one. Still, it’s usually on my personal dreams list every year and I didn’t mention it last year, and I figure it’s got as much of a chance as the things I mentioned last year did. I’ve loved what I’ve seen so far, and I feel like I’ve already gotten the best of what I could possibly hope for from this year’s men’s, and women’s, basketball teams.

2. Destiny USA becomes all that it’s meant to become. Although it has some issues, I’m not one of those people hating on having Destiny USA in town. Frankly, I think we should be proud of the accomplishment, and for all the people who say they won’t go there because it’s too crowded, well, it’s always crowded which means someone’s going doesn’t it? I really believe if they ever build that hotel and renovate what I call the canal area (because I can never remember what it’s really called) that it could help make Syracuse a center of tourism, which then means many of the infrastructure things I wished for last year would finally be addressed because we don’t want to look bad in front of the rest of the country now do we?

3. Solve the Route 81 issue. I’m not really sure how all of this is going to end up but I think it’s time someone made a decision and get to working on things. Right now Route 81 around the University area is a mess, and to be truthful it’s always been scary at that point where 81 and 690 converge, no matter which direction you’re going or coming from. I also don’t know if moving the road from where it is now will actually help the neighborhoods close to it because I can’t figure out how it could help; I don’t have that kind of vision. But let’s start doing something okay?

20130901_111325_resized4. Find ways to reduce taxes and encourage job growth. After hearing about the massive tax increase in Oswego and knowing that the Syracuse area still has way too many properties they’re not collecting taxes on, thus putting the area in a financial bind, I think it’s time for brighter minds to figure out how to increase revenue in ways other than higher taxation. I’m not an economist but my mind believes that reducing taxes by at least 20% and finding ways to reduce unemployment by at least 50% ends up bringing more money into the entire community; am I wrong here?

5. Start finding more positive ways to inspire kids in the area so we can stop stupid stuff like the Knockout Game. Why do kids do stupid stuff? Because they’re bored, unmotivated and uninspired. I don’t profess to know all there is to know about kids because I don’t have any, but I was a kid and I remember that back in the day we had Boys and Girls Clubs. I don’t know if that type of thing is feasible anymore because of liability issues but maybe it’s time to go into schools throughout all of central New York and ask the kids what they believe they need. If they continue getting into gangs, doing drugs, or causing general mayhem “just because”, it hurts all of us. Nothing else has worked so why not give it a try?

That’s all I have. I wish everyone a great 2014 and let’s make our community great!  

Copyright 2013