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Reporters' notebook: Bits & pieces of news ...

OLAF FUB SEZ: According to German scientist and astronomer Johannes Kepler, born on this date in 1571, "I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses."

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WORD POWER -- Start warming up your word skills, Scrabble lovers. Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County is kicking off its annual ScrabbleFest season from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 10 in Monkey See, Monkey Do Children's Bookstore, 9060 Main St., Clarence. All are welcome to attend. Admission to the competition is free, but players are encouraged to make a $10 donation.

This will be the first of many ScrabbleFest parties, most in people's homes, that will be held in January and February. A winner from each party will compete in the ScrabbleFest finals March 4 in the Central Library in Lafayette Square.

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PARTY DOWN -- The woman who holds the women's Guinness World Record for limbo dancing, Shemika Charles, also known as Queen Shemika, will be featured as the Caribbean Extravaganza Steel Drum Band plays for the New Year's Eve party Saturday evening sponsored by St. Mary's of the Lake Church, 4737 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg, in the community center of the church school building. Tickets are $20 and include appetizers, beverages, a door prize and a champagne toast at midnight. For info, call Sue Haas at 627-4649 or Georgia Pietrasczak at 997-9367.

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WARM THOUGHT -- Extending their annual appeal for warm clothing are the folks from Hearts for the Homeless. Collection barrels can be found at 11 participating Nationwide Insurance agents in Erie and Niagara counties, as well as at Amberleigh Retirement Community, 2330 Maple Road near Transit Road, Amherst.

"Warm clothing, especially for men, is needed more urgently at this time," says Nick Calandra, chief operations officer for the charity, which is based in Buffalo. All gently used clothing is welcome, he adds, but packages of new socks, underwear and other warm clothing are especially appreciated.

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ALWAYS OPEN -- Books, music and video can be borrowed 24 hours a day from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. All you have to do is download them from www.BuffaloLib.org. Downloads are free with your free library card. Don't have a library card? Download an application from the website.

"We expect to see a major increase in downloads this holiday season because many people have an eReader on their wish list," says library system director Mary Jean Jakubowski. "We currently have more than 8,000 downloadable eBooks of all genres."

Downloadable print items can be checked out for up to 14 days. If they are not available, they can be reserved on a "wait list."

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY -- Wendy Kelley, Lou Ann Delaney, Rick Ostrozinski, Jessica Halt, Nora Margaret McGuire, Justin Wnuk, Ken May, Carol Purdy, Sherri Oliver, Diane Raczkowski, Helen Kolodziejski, Tom Whelan Jr., Ethel Palaczewski, John Kiener, Reese Michaels, Jo Ledwin, Holly McNamara, Emily Zaranek and Mylie Zaranek.

email: olaffub@buffnews.com

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