Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the first president to die in office, but he was the first president to be assassinated. While credited as being the president who unified a divided country and cementing the notion of a single United States of America rather than a group of states united on the American continent, he came into office as one of the most controversial and divisive presidents. Yet, today, we revere him for his character, his wholesomeness, and his willingness to make personal sacrifices to get the job done.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky and, unlike William Henry Harrison, was a true frontiersman, having grown up in Kentucky and Indiana before moving to Illinois. During the era when we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday as a separate holiday, we’d hear stories of his life. Whether apocryphal or true, it didn’t matter, for they burned into our minds and hearts an ideal we were inspired to make as our own life’s work to continually strive for. The totality of Lincoln’s life offers many lessons. Here are just three:Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln”

It was 50 Years Ago Tonight I Decided to Become an Astronomer

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Ever since I can remember I loved science. All sorts of science. My mother was a substitute teacher. Before I went to kindergarten she would bring home books from her third grade class and teach me to read. My favorite book was the science text book. I particular enjoyed reading about dinosaurs. When you like dinosaurs, you tend to like fossils and rocks. When you like fossils and rocks, you tend to like volcanoes and earthquakes. When you like volcanoes and earthquakes, you tend to like hurricanes and tornadoes. When you like hurricanes and tornadoes you tend to like weather and atmospheric phenomenon. When you like weather and atmospheric phenomenon, you tend to like planets and stars.

Yep, I liked science. But of all the flavors of science, I liked astronomy the best. Growing up in Buffalo, I just happened to be in luck. In 1966, SUNY launched a pioneer program in what could only be described as one of the first distance learning experiments in the country. Called University of the Air, the pilot program contained only two courses with credite and was available only to the Buffalo and Albany campuses. The courses would be aired on the local PBS station. Now here’s the twist: one of those courses was an Continue Reading “It was 50 Years Ago Tonight I Decided to Become an Astronomer”

Why I Can No Longer Stand the Buffalo Bills

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After living above the Pizzeria on South Park Avenue in Blasdell, my grandparents moved to Lake Avenue in Orchard Park. It wasn’t more than three miles away, but they decided to go to a new parish, one closer to their new home. Our Lady of Sacred Heart sits on Abbott Road just north of the intersection with Lake Avenue, about a mile away from what would soon become Rich Stadium, home of Western New York’s National Football league team the Buffalo Bills.

At the time the Bills still played their games in downtown Buffalo on a field lovingly referred to as “The Rockpile,” (it was officially known as War Memorial Stadium). However, the team Continue Reading “Why I Can No Longer Stand the Buffalo Bills”

The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl

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mudbowl-1434436-1598x1062Bring an old weathered football up to your nose, close your eyes, and take a good whiff. Can you smell it? Do images of sweaty muddied gruff men, caked with sweat and blood, move in slow motion within your brain? Do your muscles tighten in pleasant anticipation at the thought of the gridiron? If so, then congratulations. You are part of a dying breed, a member of a secret society that long ago closed its doors to new applicants.

Well, not exactly. Those doors  remain open today and they will forever stay open. It’s just that, in an era of prefabricated microwave cooking, no one wants to go through the Continue Reading “The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl”

Deeds, Not Words

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you think that title might sound heretical coming from a wordsmith, just wait ‘til you read the rest of this column.

Say what you will about former Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone (I never thought he was cut out for the job), but he did leave one indelible mark in my brain: “Don’t confuse effort with results.” This was one of the bromides that he posted on the walls of the Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse for all his players (and Bills fans) to stare at. In a nutshell, it’s what Yoda told Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: “Do or do not, there is no try.”

We’re all told to try our best. That’s fine. But we need to accept that it’s not good enough. When you try something, the result is you either succeed or fail. That’s all there is to it. There is Continue Reading “Deeds, Not Words”

A Whole Greater than the Sum of Its Parts

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Now that we’ve marked the boundaries of Greater Western New York, the fun really begins. First, we can delineate the counties included. Greater Western New York contains 17 counties. These represent all the counties west of or touching the correct Pre-Emption Line. Those counties are:

● Allegany             ● Chautauqua
● Cattaraugus      ● Chemung
● Erie                    ● Genesee
● Livingston          ● Monroe
● Niagara              ● Ontario
● Orleans              ● Seneca
● Schuyler            ● Steuben            ● Wayne               ● Wyoming            ● Yates

We should note that Pre-Emption Line marks the western border of both Seneca County (maybe, depending on who owns Seneca Lake) and Chemung County. The Line slices through the counties of Wayne, Yates and Schuyler. As it stands, the eastern borders of Wayne, Seneca, Schuyler and Chemung form a fairly straight line from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania line. OK, maybe it’s not quite straight enough to convince an officer you’re not unduly influenced, but it’s close enough.

What exactly does this constellation of the 17 western-most counties of New York State tell us? I discovered this particular hidden gem while preparing for a January 2004 Continue Reading “A Whole Greater than the Sum of Its Parts”

Will Bush Use the No-Huddle?

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the February 7, 1991 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259The following might have been more apparent if the Buffalo Bills would have won the Superbowl, but the concept holds nonetheless.

In the week prior to each of the three playoff games in which the Buffalo Bills participated, sports reporters from across the nation asked Head Coach Marv Levy if he intended to use his quick scoring no-huddle offense from the outset. With a poker face, Levy regularly answered, Continue Reading “Will Bush Use the No-Huddle?”

Throwback Bills Fans – What’s it Mean?

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A funny thing happened on the way to the Bills game this past weekend. Actually two funny things, which, in of itself, was a funny thing. Not once, but twice, while Bills_Win_2010.10.14_300ambling on down the New York State Thruway, we saw a car pull over and a well-padded passenger disembark to visit some nearby woodlands, soon to be wetlands.

I hadn’t seen this scene in quite some time. At first, I wondered what would cause an obviously well working auto to suddenly yank itself to the shoulder of the road. After another slug of my Snapple, a thought popped into my head.

How far had these “relievers” been traveling? How much did they have to drink? Was there any doubt they were going to the game?

Once we got to the game – and despite the repeatedly failed attempts by the Bills to Continue Reading “Throwback Bills Fans – What’s it Mean?”

Misleading Headline? Baseless Buffalo Bills Bashing? Or Both?

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With friends like these, who needs enemies? It’s bad enough we find our region at the butt end of many late night comics’ monologues, but why does the local 1244775_46838866_glass_half_empty_300media have to gratuitously chime in, too?

Did you see the article “Buffalo Bills struggle to make dent on national TV map” in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in Sunday, September 19th? Placed on the cover of the sports section, it featured a map of the continental United States. The country, bathed in red, was speckled with smaller splotches of various other colors. A beautiful graphic, you would think the D&C would have been proud to have included it in the on-line version of the article. Alas, they didn’t and the article suffers.

But this isn’t about vivid art in a hometown newspaper. This is about the reckless Continue Reading “Misleading Headline? Baseless Buffalo Bills Bashing? Or Both?”

Surprise! Buffalo Bills Score in Nielsen’s New NFL Ratings

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When you look for smart business reporting, you look to the Wall Street Journal. Likely to have been Sergeant Friday’s (“just the facts, ma’am”) favorite 100_3118_Bills_vs_Bengals_300newspaper, the WSJ sets aside all numbers and focuses squarely on cold, hard numbers. So, when this truly national paper of record offers a story (“Dallas Cowboys Are NFL’s Most Popular Team,” Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2010) spelling out how all 32 NFL teams rank in terms of popularity, you can be sure of one thing – no one gets extra points for rabid enthusiasm. It’s all about the bottom-line. And, unlike Forbes, this bottom-line is more than just money, it’s eyeballs. For the first time ever, Neilsen – of the famous TV ratings – ranks the NFL teams by incorporating both TV coverage and internet buzz.

So, where do you figure the Buffalo Bills – perhaps currently the worst team in the NFL – fall in this survey? It shouldn’t shock you Ralph Wilson’s team doesn’t find itself in the Continue Reading “Surprise! Buffalo Bills Score in Nielsen’s New NFL Ratings”