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Posts Tagged ‘Syracuse’

Neil deGrasse Tyson Teaches Us How To Be Smart And Still Have Fun

A couple of nights ago my friend Scott and I took in a live event at the Landmark Theater where the one and only presenter was the fabulous Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC. His first question from the stage was “Do you people know what you’ve come to hear about?” It turns out I wasn’t the only one wondering about that, since I only remembered that he was coming and that we bought our tickets last fall.

deGrasse Tyson as cartoon

It turns out the tentative title of the event was The Best And Worst Science in Movies and Commercials. I’m glad he went in this direction because I’ve watched a lot of his lectures on YouTube over the years and even though I was ready and happy to hear him talk about all that same stuff again it was great knowing he’d put together something new. I also noticed that we weren’t the first people getting this lecture as one of his slides showed he’d presented it in Kentucky. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Snow Defines Us

We might as well stop fighting the funk and own up to it; the snowfall the central New York area gets defines who we are and the type of people we all. It’s not just regionally, but across the nation. I applaud the area for its prominence. lol

Syracuse Liverpool snow

You won’t believe this but last year the Syracuse area got around 73″ of snow, which was our lowest snowfall since the 2002-2003 season. That low and Syracuse still finished 2nd nationally; curse you El Nino!

So far this year Syracuse is sitting at 67.4″, most of that coming during the big storm in November, which counts towards the season. The last week temperatures have been in the 40’s… in January! Very un-CNY like, if you know what I mean.

Yeah, I know the north country gets a lot more snow than Syracuse does, but there aren’t any cities up there with a population of over 100K so that doesn’t count nationally. Still, I remember all the major snowstorms that used to hit Oswego when I went to college there, including one horrific day when I got on a bus just as a winter storm hit on the day before Thanksgiving that ended up being a 6 1/2 hour ride covering, what, 35 miles or so… and ending up at Wegmans on Route 57 and having my dad sitting in the car waiting for me (we didn’t have cellphones back then); win!

You want to know a secret? Have you ever thought about how Syracuse got to be known for its snowfall? It’s all about… sports!

Syracuse wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a destination before ESPN started broadcasting Big East basketball on its network back in the early 80’s. It quickly became a Monday night staple in basketball fans lives, and led to their having Big Monday games with other conferences across the country. Those early commentators often led with tales about the weather, which either mentioned the amount of snow or how cold it was and a legend was born.

Syracuse has won the Golden Snowball, which is a New York state fun competition for the snowiest city on a yearly basis, 11 out of the last 12 years, and 47 out of 75 years, although we get to throw out the first 11 years because, believe it or not, since the snowfall totals weren’t captured at the airport none of them are considered official for the contest. Winning 73% of the time isn’t all that bad. 🙂 Syracuse is also the 5th snowiest city in the world; now that’s saying something!

There are a lot of people in the Syracuse area who hate being known for snow. I’m one of those people who basks in its glory. It’s better to be known for something that ignored and thought of as… well, not something special. 🙂

Enjoy it people; unfortunately, this year I don’t see an NCAA visit for either basketball team… sigh…  

Are We Too Busy For Real Networking?

“Oh the times they are a-changing!” – Bob Dylan

I’m trying not to consider myself as being all that old. I’m also trying not to seem overly nostalgic. Yet things have changed, and not all of them for the better.

PMA Fresh Connections Retail 2016 Produce Marketing Association via Compfight

Last Friday I had lunch with one of my local buddies. He said that he hardly has any friends and doesn’t get out much except for work. I mentioned that I thought he was a great connector and he said that part was sometimes true, but that it was very hard actually getting people to get out of their comfort zone to actually meet him or others he’s trying to connect with each other.

I’ve noticed the same thing over the last bunch of years, but I had to mentally step back and consider this. I thought to myself “Heck, if this good looking young guy has this kind of trouble, then what am I griping about.”

When I first got into business on my own back in 2001, there was no shortage of places where people could and would network together. I really was just getting my footing at that time because I’d mainly worked out of town, so I didn’t know that many people in the Syracuse area. This was also before the days of social media, so maybe it was the only way we could connect with each other.

Back then, I was meeting someone new for lunch every few weeks or so. Occasionally it was with a new organization I was checking out, but for the most part it was one on one. Truthfully, most of the time it was with people who were hoping I’d become a client, which never happened, yet they’d know who I was moving on from there; I could live with that.

Then I left town for a year to consult at a hospital in Westchester County. When I got back home, I noticed that things had changed somewhat. It was harder to get people to meet individually for lunch. Some people wanted to meet for coffee before 8AM; that wasn’t happening since I not only try not to get up that early but I don’t drink coffee. However, it was a low number; most people just weren’t interested.

It was pretty quiet for a while there. Then we started having things like Tweetups and other organizational get togethers of hopefully like minded people, and that was pretty cool. We even had a Tweetup kickball game that was amazing (and hot!).

Then I left town again, this time spending 18 months in Memphis. Now it seems that even the planned networking events, such as the Liverpool Chamber events, don’t draw all that many people… at least not close to the numbers they used to.

Other events are also down drastically. Last year there wasn’t a single tweetup locally, and there was only one very small get together of a local blogging group that had a pretty successful start but fell pretty much off the earth. As far as I know, there are no plans for anything in 2016 at this point.

As for lunches… not counting my friends, in 2015 I met 1 person for lunch, and in 2016 I’ve now met 3. Two of those were people who asked to meet me, which means that my record for asking and getting people to meet me for lunch is pretty dismal.

Maybe I have it easier than most others since I mainly work from home. Maybe I’m living in the prehistoric era of networking since most people connect more with each other online, and when they have a free moment they’d either like being with friends and family or off doing something on their own.

I had thought it was only me until I had lunch last week with my buddy. Folks, it seems there’s a serious disconnect as it pertains to local networking. I refuse to believe it’s just here in Syracuse; this has to be more of a national thing. How funny it is that I can interact online with people all around the world yet I can’t get a local person who I’ve met at least once in person to meet me for lunch.

Oh well, life goes on. At least I’m not scared to eat lunch alone; Twin Trees loves me. 🙂  

5 Wishes For Syracuse / Central New York In 2012

I love Central New York and the Syracuse area. I love the lake and I love the life and I love the air and I love the size. I wouldn’t mind it being a bit larger because it’s possible that then it could sustain some things that we’ve had issues with, regardless of state issues.

Since the state saw fit to ignore my 5 ideas to address the financial crisis I figure that our politicians really aren’t the way to go. Trying to get real things completed is beyond me, and pretty much beyond them as well. Therefore, it’s probably time for some pipe dreams, some that might come to fruition by sheer luck. Hey, nothing wrong with dreaming big, right? So here we go:

1. Syracuse basketball wins the NCAA championship and not a single network mentions “BF”. You know who BF is, and luckily we haven’t heard anything about it or him in the last couple of weeks. But it’s coming. Instead, let’s pull for our local Orange team to run the gamut, maybe lose only 2 games all year if they must, and make that mad dash to the championship game. If a team this talented that plays 10 players can’t get it done, we’ll have to go back to the “one top guy with lots of help” mode again.

2. The Syracuse Symphony comes back and is totally self sustaining. Last February I called the closing of the symphony and I wasn’t happy about it. They started their fund raising too late, by about 3 years. What do we have now? I’m not actually sure to tell you the truth, but I think we still at least have the Syracuse Opera. We had a world class symphony, and I hope we get one back, and soon.

3. DestinyNY actually opens and someone decides to make it look less like a prison. I took my first walk through the upgraded facility last week and I’m less than impressed. It needs to be more than just bigger; it needs to be inviting. If I’m going to be doing all that walking, I need something to keep my attention more than a bunch of stores I’m not going into. The outside… ugh. And while I’m shooting for the moon, can’t we get a Ruth Chris Steakhouse in there?

4. Expand the Empire Zone program to help more small businesses get their start. One of the concerns people keep having about DestinyNY is that Carousel Center seems to have lots of empty store fronts. Have y’all taken a look at strip malls across our area?

Here in the Liverpool/Clay area even thriving businesses have had problems staying open for one reason or another. This kind of blight needs some attention. The way I see it, having small businesses open with consumers helps the tax base a heck of a lot more than leaving those spaces empty trying to collect too much tax from them. If you don’t believe that one ask the city of Syracuse how it feels now that there’s finally some real positive activity on the Near West Side.

Yeah, Empire Zone is done, but it needs to be brought back and revamped in some fashion and expanded beyond the types of businesses and locations allowed before.

5. This one is more personal. We as a collective group needs to start networking better with each other if we’re going to make this entire area as great as I feel it already is for real. There can’t be a divide between folks that work at Syracuse University and the rest of the city. There can’t be a divide between Syracuse and the surrounding suburbs.

Things like Syracuse First, tweetups, 40 Below and Prime Over 40 and the like really needs to find ways to not only sustain themselves but interact from time to time. More local chambers of commerce need to get together to network, and Centerstate CEO needs to embrace local chambers more, as well as small businesses like it did back in the early 2000’s.

Whew, I’m tired. I know others will have their wish list, but these are my top 5; I think I’ve covered a lot. Come on y’all, let’s get this done. And, of course, go Orange!


Armory Square; What Syracuse Is All About

I’ve lived in the Syracuse area for 36 years, and I have to say that the Armory Square area hasn’t always been, well, nice. As a matter of fact, for decades it was pretty barren, although I’ve always wondered if it was more than what it was by the time I saw it.

I used to work in the Armory Square area, a company called Onondaga Music Co on Clinton Street. The building is still there but the business is long gone. I’m not even sure who owns it now, but the family that owned Onondaga Music also owned the building when I was there.

It was really sparse back then. The Jefferson-Clinton Hotel, for which I can’t remember what it used to be known as, was a dive. However, in the early 80’s their little restaurant served a mean chili. And along Clinton Street there was this little Greek place that served some great salads. Even though I’m not a salad guy, when they put all that meat on it that made for a pretty nice lunch.

When I started working at the store the only other businesses in the building were the sheet music on the 3rd floor, which was strange since we also sold sheet music, and at the other corner behind us was what we used to call the “dirty book store”. However, they were close and they also sold candy bars, and I used to enjoy candy bars a lot.

The only other things I remember back then is that next to our building was this super large parking lot that charged you for parking, but luckily I had a prime spot behind the store. Months before I left a natural foods bakery moved in next to the dirty book store, which soon closed, and the stuff they made smelled wonderful, but I didn’t like it. I don’t remember much else there back then.

Fast forward to today. As you can see in the pictures, there’s been great renovation in Armory Square, to the point where other communities across the country have actually written about it, saying it’s what their cities need. As far as downtown revitalization goes, in one way this is what it’s all about. And one really can’t complain about parking because now there’s this large parking garage that will charge you $5 to park 3 hours 24/7; that’s really not bad when you consider it costs you $5 to park at Crouse Hospital for 30 minutes. A couple of these pictures I took from the garage. One of these buildings isn’t technically in Armory Square, but it didn’t use to be there so I had to put in here.

What a Bohemian area. Beer joints, restaurants, bars, all kinds of shops… it all used to be empty space. One of these shots is of the building on Fayette that’s on the fringe of Armory Square, where my dentist’s office and an office supply shop and a lot of empty space used to be, and now it looks all clean and spiffy and has actual retail inside. I keep wondering if there’s going to be condo’s in there someday, as I’ve heard there’s going to be above some of the shops in Armory Square.

And of course Armory Square now has The MOST (Museum of Science and Technology); man, I wish that had been there years ago.

When you have a place like Armory Square, a place where you’re hard pressed to find on-street parking because there’s just way too many people, yet everything’s within a very short walk, and one of the top restaurants in town in a place like Pastabilities, you know you’ve got something of quality. I need to one day just spend some time in this area to really look around, as it always seems I’m on my way somewhere and thus rarely stop to take it all in.

And yet I’m still amazed at the changes; sometimes all I can say is “wow”.  

Copyright 2011