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Parkside Underground Transformer Fire
buffaloscan periscope video groundnews openness
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I figured the snowstorm scheduled to hit Buffalo today would be the most interesting event. Instead, an underground transformer fire just outside my house by one block put me in ground footage mode for Buffalo Scan. Here are the raw videos from the Periscope footage.

The fire apparently caused a power outage for some 800 residents on the Parkside half of the event (I live on the opposite side), and, at the beginning, even resulted in some evacuations of the immediate homes. I tuned in just as the fire crews were requesting National Grid and Buffalo Police for street closure control.

Ground footage of emergency response handling to
underground transformer fire on Amherst Street.

Fire on Richlawn

No sooner had I clamped the snow off my shoes after shooting the ground footage above, a fire broke out at a home on Richlawn Avenue. The street was close enough for me to jaunt to without much hassle, so I did. It took almost 15 minutes to get the car warmed and cleaned up enough to safely drive over, so the fire was knocked out by the time arrived.

Fire knocked out on Richlawn Avenue. No sound.

This video doesn't include sound due to a Periscope malfunction of some kind. But it's just as well. A woman skirted by to get closer to the fire but hurled an epithet at me in apparent disgust of someone filming the fire, in the process. I think this is the first time I've been admonished by a random member of the public (a police officer once guilted me for filming a patient being loaded into an ambulance), but, my stance on this remains. Some people are going to gawk at a non-media professional engaging in media collection events as they are unfamiliar with the emerging culture of ground footage 'buffs' or enthusiasts, and assume the act is as frivolous as it must look.

Someone Murdered in Our Neighborhood
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Crime scene at Vernon Place and Fairfield in
Buffalo - Click for Periscope Video.

Update 12/24/18 12:30 PM

It's finally mainstream media news.

What a Christmas Sunday. Last night two Buffalo Police Department SUVs roared up Amherst Street on the left of our house with lights and sirens. I went to the police scanner but didn't tune in in time to hear what it was all about. Normally I'd be glued to the receiver waiting for something to tell me what was so dramatic but as it was we were decorating the tree and doing other festive stuff so I couldn't linger.

Some time later, maybe an hour or so, I notice a Facebook ping to a neighborhood group that I belong to. Someone was reporting that police and an ambulance were convening on Vernon Place, just up the street and around the corner. The same posters began to detail a grim series of details that culminated in the report of a murder. According to the poster, a man had just killed his mother.

There wasn't -- and at this time even, a full 10+ hours later, still isn't -- any confirmation of that. But the reported details were telling and one of the posters happened to be extremely well sourced. Unless five neighbors decided to get together and paint the picture of a non-existent murder for benefit of hoax, which of course is highly unlikely, someone did in fact get killed.

The hesitation in the media could be due to the timing around the Christmas holidays, although, since then, at least one other murder in South Buffalo has made the news...one that occurred many hours after this supposed one. That leads me to wonder if the police still haven't figured out exactly what happened. Maybe someone died but it wasn't a murder?

In any event I was compelled to break the story first as part of my Buffalo Scan initiative. You can see the Periscope broadcast above. In it I avoid giving out virtually any details as I have heard them to be from the Facebook postings because, well, Facebook conjecture. Whatever we eventually learn, no matter how actually a murder it was or not, it is certain something dramatic happened. Police tape is strung up around the entire area, and car traffic was blocked from using the street for over 3 hours.

Even now I will not put out all the information as I know it to be circulating. However I believe I know the names of the victim, the suspect, and the actual house address. And from all this, I understand it to be a tragedy that shouldn't happen ever, let alone over Christmas.

I will update this specific entry when (and if?) there are any updates as to exactly what happened.

Trying Something Different
blogging lol periscope video
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Okay, let's try this.

In 2018 I am going to try summarizing my previous week's web activities here at my personal blog. This is part of my quest to understand where blogs can matter any more, if they can at all.

Here's the idea: My digital life is spent generating spurious spot content on Twitter, Facebook, and in countless discussion forums online. There's a ribbon above with icons that link back to my profiles on these forums -- it is in those places where I am actually digitally active each day, not here on the blog.

In some cases my comments at those sites read like full-fledged blog posts which are not, for some reason, posted here at the blog.

I know the reason of course. A large part of it is that I want the instant reaction in an active traffic stream (the forum I'm posting in) because narcissism, a want of validation and attention, a need to be seen and heard, like anyone. If I'm on stage with a comedy act and there's nobody in the audience, there's nothing in it for me. No reward, no dopamine release.

There's no audience here at the blog. I might be polite to myself and say "there's no audience like the audience at those places", but no, there's literally nobody hitting this blog on a daily basis for weeks or even months at a time.

So maybe the blog still has relevance in the context of an expression vehicle as a sort of "home base" to all that other stuff I'm putting out there, in a role that doesn't fan for attention, but rather, exists as a node for discovery among the interested. Who would "the interested" be? You can never tell. Old friends, new friends, potential clients and employers, the media, researchers, who knows really. But as this roadmap or archive of things I'm doing to keep the open web alive as just one person, it's important that I find out and keep tweaking to find where it matters.

Those facing the same internal question and struggle, keep an eye on this effort to see if it pans out.

Blogging Versus Facebook

With that being established, here's an embed response to a comment I just posted while searching for insight on the question of blogging versus "Facebooking". The search took me to this 2015 piece by Mitch Joel, The End of Blogging, and one commentator of the dozens and dozens hit the nail on the head insofar as I was concerned.

Here you go:

House Fire Down the Street

Early this afternoon a house caught fire down the street. When I'm at home I keep a police scanner running nearly all times. I'm keenly aware of what's happening in Buffalo at any given moment. It's a life long habit wherever I'm living.

Periscope Capture of Fire on Amherst Street

Today the call went out about the fire just a block or three up from me. Fullfilling my duty as a "content journalist" (known pre-web as "fucking nerd with a scanner showing up and getting in the goddamned way") for my BuffaloScan Twitter feed, I raced to the scene and began broadcasting.

Here's a link to the BuffaloScan Periscope "Fire Amherst Street Live".

Doing Education "As You Go"

In Disqus I waded into a thread with my recounting of how I managed to earn a college degree with very little, easily paid-back-within-a-few-years, debt. If you don't look too closely at what I've done with my college education, the achievement itself is one of my life's pride points. You can digest it here.

The gist otherwise:

So, I don't know how people get themselves into a situation where they wind up owing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars unless they literally believe that living responsibly to pay rent and to buy toilet paper, must somehow be a separate endeavor from living in a dorm for four years doing nothing but going to classes. To me anyone's post-graduation loan situation can be dramatically improved if they don't mandate a quick classical 4-year graduation timeline (one downside to my experience, but more because I'm a bit "slow" than anything, is that it takes longer to get a degree) for themselves and instead patiently pay for it bit by bit with current earnings and maybe a few short-term textbook loans as they go

I really believe in this college stuff mostly because if an actual idiot like myself can pull it off on the cheap, anyone can. What fundamentally spurred me to elevate myself this way back in my 20s? You'll just have to read that long-ass post in its entirety.

Fist Bump to the Online Slut I Admire

This one kind of hurts. There's this woman online I started following maybe a year or go or so on Twitter - @NYorNothing.

I followed her because she's "into" her life in New York City, something that sits well with my own experience and future aspiration to one day return. She totally gets it and embraces the awe and achievement of existing there day by day.

But it turned out, in time, that that wasn't the half of her online schtick. Turns out that embedded in her adorations of Gotham living she cranks out off-colored remarks about her sex life and retweets others doing the same. I mean, it's totally like I hit another kindered spirit kind of thing but, like, she has actual talent or something while keeping her nose to the grindstone on the docks of New York City of all places -- and if you take her tweets literally, maybe other places. I'm totally out on both - I left the city when I quit my boring desk job, and comedy did not save me! So yeah, I totally came to admire her rants.

Anyway, she's a slut humorist. Not that she is a slut (I mean, she could be, that material probably comes from somewhere though when it comes to comedy it's usually supposed to be a place of pain). What I meant was that there is a topic field of sluttiness , and she is a comedian in that field, apparently and effectively. Like Joan Rivers on steroids.

Anyway, on some impulse of affection and general pathetic-ness I begged her for Twitter re-tweet love and baited her by calling her -- a slut humorist.

I just wanted to join the fun!

She got it -- yeah she actually did! And I knew that she would. And she did re-tweet my remark which reached her audience who got it...not so much.

So I got a lot of flack for it. The only other time I had to endure Internet hate was when budgeteers (parakeet enthusiasts) lambasted me for running a webcam back in the 90s on two of my parakeets in a cage they noted was too small for them. I fixed it with a mammoth cage, and they were happy. In this case, I kind of apologized to her but figured I'll just leave the audience remarks alone. Internet hate is a lot more vicious in 2017 than it was in 1999.

Tweetdeck capture of my remark to Twitter comedian.

Tweetdeck capture of apology to @NYorNothing

So that's my digital week in review.

Somewhat to a lesser extent, you might be interested to know that I touched up WBRAIL and Tampa Rail too a bit.

If I can keep this theme up I'm changing the tagline to something like "A Blog About Me Talking About the Things I Talk About Online".

Total narcissism.

Live Video Searches
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Struggling to search Facebook Live this morning left me wondering if the pattern of a social media company providing a live streaming platform while simultaneously not providing a way to search for videos in progress is reflective of difficult technical logistics or a deliberate attempt to avoid providing a profitless dumb pipe.

Capture of Facebook live map.

Facebook will give you this somewhat inefficient map to "find" videos in progress, if you like.

Dumb pipe services like e-mail are why companies like Google with GMAIL deliberately invent a need to "make e-mail easier to use" over and over again, to the point of almost making it unusable. If all GMAIL did was send and receive messages there would be no gateways to monetization. I recall it is specifically this article that woke me up the concept.

So likewise, by making sure people can't actually search for live videos efficiently and straightforwardly, Facebook, to use an example, can build a better monetization apparatus (more clicking around to accomplish something equals more $$$).

If so it would be just another example of having evolved to a great power as a humanity, only to have it trashed or set back that much more by pure profit engineering.

Periscoped Rails to Trails Walk
periscope aroundbuffalo
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I've been itching to produce more live content to the web since exposing myself to the comedy performance circuit back in 2014 (read: I took a 6-week workshop, a few open mics at a single joint in the Village, and managed my way through a graduation class performance). I took on the idea fully understanding I completely suck, I mean at an inherently organic level, in verbal communication of any kind. Unless I take steps to mitigate it in my various narratives I sound "nasally". Dental work, a partial I wear in particular, make nearly all words coming out of my central orfice "mushy", unless, again, I take pains to mitigate. And, I should point out, I have yet to find a truly effective method of mitigation.

So these things like Ustream, Livestream, or more actually for my purposes, Periscope or maybe the upcoming mobile YouTube streaming service, are actually quite useful at honing down my faults. Being "live" forces someone like me to do it right in real-time and not be so hooked on edits to clean things up or to bury bad performances. I have to articulate, organize a narrative and yet try to do both while remaining animated and interesting.

The difficulty is in livestreaming consistently and densly enough to build on improvement, what with work and everything else going on. That's why the little opportunities and digestable livestream projects count, such as the embed below of me walking the Buffalo Rails to Trails. I am settling into Buffalo well enough now that I should be able to crank out little things like this more and more, with each getting better than the last for the sake of "performance creativity".

(Don't worry, only the thumbnail is sideways - it plays right when it starts).

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