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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. The unusually warm weather last month has advanced the season for another summertime favorite -- the Maid of the Mist boats. Three weeks earlier than usual, they start cruising from docks on the American and Canadian sides of the Niagara Gorge up toward the base of the Horseshoe Falls this morning. It could be the last summer for the locally owned company that has operated the boats for the past 127 years. The Canadians have turned the franchise for their side of the river over to a California company, which will start operations in 2014, and there are no storage facilities on the U.S. side.

2. Just Buffalo Literary Center's Babel series concludes with a writer unlike the other Babel speakers. Born in what used to be Rhodesia and now living in Scotland, Alexander McCall Smith is more prolific (90 books and counting) and better selling ("The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series) than the usual speakers in the series. For his visit to Kleinhans Music Hall at 8 p.m., he won't be reading from any of them, but rather engaging in a what promises to be a lively and enlightening conversation with Just Buffalo's incoming artistic director, Barbara Cole.

3. Crawford Furniture, having declared bankruptcy and closed all its stores, starts selling off everything that's left today at steep discounts in a "dock sale" from its Jamestown warehouse. The sale of finished hardwood furniture -- everything from bedroom sets to dining room tables, chairs and china cabinets -- will be held from noon to 8 p.m. and continue for eight days, through next Thursday. The warehouse is at 1021 Allen St.

4. Tom Wopat and John Schneider, the stars of the 1980s TV series "Dukes of Hazzard," open a two-night stand at 8:30 p.m. in the Avalon Theatre in Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont. Schneider and Wopat can be expected do some of their Bo and Luke Duke routines and, as fans know, they also sing country songs. They return at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets start at $25.

5. Hawaiian-shirted comic Gabriel Iglesias, nicknamed "Fluffy" since his "I'm Not Fat I'm Fluffy" tour, makes up for his postponed Sept. 22 date here when he appears at 8 p.m. in Shea's Performing Arts Center. This time he's heading an ensemble of comedians under the banner of "Stand-Up Revolution, the Tour." Tickets are $43.

6. Tina Owen, founder and lead teacher of The Alliance School in Milwaukee, the first school in the nation started with a mission of reducing bullying, begins a three-day visit to Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst, with a program entitled "Responding to Hate" at 7 p.m. in Alumni Lounge in the Wick Center. Owen and members of Daemen's Multi-Cultural Association will lead a discussion focusing on hate crime laws, bullying, racism and homophobia. It's free and open to the public. For information, call 839-8208.

7. A ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. will mark the completion of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center's half-million-dollar renovation and upgrading project at its Summit Outpatient Center in Summit Healthplex in Suite 550 at 6934 Williams Road, Wheatfield, across from the Summit Mall. The center now features a full-field digital mammography service, new ultrasound equipment, a new outpatient registration area and renovated laboratory services and diagnostic imaging areas.