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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

First we take Maine

Here at Off Main Street, we like to point out trends when we see them.

At the risk of overstating one we have seen recently, we think it's safe to say that Western New Yorkers are taking over the world, one chunk at a time.

R. Carlos Carballada, who grew up in Buffalo, and is an alumnus of both St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Canisius College, this week was named the acting mayor of Rochester.

William J. Schneider, a 1977 graduate of Iroquois High School, is the new attorney general for the state of Maine.

Neil Abercrombie, a graduate of what is now Williamsville South High School, became governor of Hawaii Dec. 6.

Mohamed A. Mohamed, who lived on Grand Island and graduated from the University at Buffalo, was named prime minister of Somalia in October.

Four women, all Western New York natives, are Vermont state representatives and a fifth is the state's new tax commissioner.

We've never heard of a plan for world domination that suggests taking over two New England states, an island state in the Pacific Ocean, an African country and a smaller city 70 miles away, but we've always done things a little differently here.


Are we there yet?

The technological advances that have given the world such navigation tools as GPS devices for vehicles and websites like Mapquest have made it easier for us to find our way anywhere.

But beware of taking their suggestions too literally.

Take the case of the person who went to Google maps to find out the fastest way to get from Buffalo to Beijing.

The first part of the trip takes the traveler on the I-90 westbound for large parts of the journey. The continental portion of the trip winds its way through the northwest, finishing in Seattle, Wash.

Here, according to Google, the trip gets a little trickier:

Immediately after you turn right at NE Northlake Way, Google states, you should "kayak across the Pacific Ocean" for 2,756 miles until you reach Hawaii.

This could explain why coffee is so popular in Seattle.


Officer Fonzarelli?

The Elma Town Board had to correct a few errors on its organizational agenda this week. Nothing major. The board had to appoint a man to a seven-year term on the Library Board instead of five, for one thing.

Then there was this change: Change special police officer's name to Howard Winkler from Henry Winkler.

How did Officer Winkler's name get changed to the name of the actor who made the character of Fonzie famous?

Town Supervisor Michael P. Nolan 'fessed up to making the mistake, admitting that he is guilty of "watching too many 'Happy Days' reruns."


A side of snowflakes

Roy "Honcho" Gregory, his friend Robert Giordano Sr. and Giordano's kids got creative last weekend when they played in the snow outside Honcho's Witmer Road house at the Wheatfield-North Tonawanda line.

A snowman seemed far too routine, so the group built something closer to their hearts -- and stomachs.

They made a snow pig, using charcoal for the eyes, and a mix of milk and food coloring to turn their temporary outdoor sculpture pink.

"We are barbecue lovers," said Honcho, who runs the Smokin' Eagles International BBQ Festival in North Tonawanda and the Old Falls Street Ribfest in Niagara Falls.

They got the idea from Cal Phelps, editor of the National Barbecue News, who made a scrawnier version of a snow pig outside his house in Douglas, Ga., after a storm earlier this month. Phelps has visited Western New York barbecue events, and may feature Gregory's snow pig in an upcoming edition of his magazine.

What's more, Honcho and his friends are just warming up.

"Just wait," he said, "because we're working on a snow cow and we're working on a snow chicken."

Written by Bruce Andriatch with a contribution from Scott Scanlon.


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