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

1. The UB 2020 plan is due to get another push this morning from Western New York's delegation to Albany. Before they talk snow emergency procedures with the Thruway Authority, State Police and the state Department of Transportation in the University at Buffalo's Center for Tomorrow on the North Campus, our state senators and assemblymen will take a few minutes to stand together and declare that, no matter what else they agree or disagree about, the UB 2020 plan is a top regional priority for the 2011 legislative session.

2. The weather's just right for "FLURRIOUS!," the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy's first outdoor winter festival in Delaware Park. A weekend of events kicks off with a party at 5 p.m. in Parkside Lodge off Parkside Avenue. It includes food from the Lunch Box Cafe, music by the JT Blues Band and, at 6:45, a Skivvy Snowball Fight in which a bunch of people strip down to their unmentionables and pelt each other with snowballs. For info and a schedule, visit

3. Celebrations of the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continue throughout the area today. The VA Western New York Healthcare System will hear the Rev. Dee L. Perry deliver King's "I Have a Dream" speech at 11:30 a.m. in Freedom Hall at its Buffalo hospital. And the Western New York Coalition of Blacks in the Courts presents "What Would Martin Say?" at 12:30 p.m. in the ceremonial courtroom in old Erie County Hall. Guest speaker is the Rev. Timothy Brown of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Niagara Falls. Both events are free and open to the public.

4. Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown will swear in a group of 30 Buffalo AmeriCorps members at noon outside City Hall to kick off their Martin Luther King Day of Service. For their service Monday, AmeriCorps members and volunteers will do asthma screening and home assessments for two low-income families on Buffalo's West Side and do renovation work for Vive La Casa, the refugee shelter on the East Side.

5. The word got out weeks ago that the U.S. Postal Service was planning to turn all of its stamps for first-class mail into Forever Stamps, without a price denomination. Today, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe makes it official. The first of the new Forever Stamps will come out Jan. 22 in honor of the Lunar New Year -- the Year of the Rabbit. It will be followed by stamps commemorating Kansas statehood on Jan. 29 and, in February, the centennial of President Ronald Reagan's birth.

6. The buildup to the Academy Awards continues today with the announcement of the winners of the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, which are bestowed by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. The association prides itself on its ability to predict which films will be nominated for Oscars. Judging from the number of Critics' Choice nominations they got, it looks like three films are going to dominate the award season -- Natalie Portman's ballet drama, "Black Swan," got a record 12 nominations, while "The King's Speech" and "True Grit" have 11 nominations each.

7. The ice in HSBC Arena makes way for dirt as the Thunder Slam Monster Truck & Motorsport Spectacular arrives for two nights of racing, vertical wheelies and other stunts, plus what's described as "huge, dirt-slinging power donuts." The legendary giant truck Big Foot will be there, as well as trucks with names like Crushstation, Ghost Ryder, Viper and Toxic. It revs up at 7:30 both nights. Regular tickets are $17.50. VIP tickets, which include a pit pass, are $22.50.


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Visit to watch two master chefs who taught at the Culinary Institute of America share some of their wisdom with some Western New York students.

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