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Free Home Tours Saturday

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Engage in some shame-free real estate voyeurism Saturday with the Buffalo LIVING Tour.

I love checking out homes at realtor open houses but hate having to admit I'm not in the market for a new place and am there to gawk instead. So this free tour of condos, lofts and suites in adaptive re-use buildings in Buffalo is right up my alley.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., several high-end living spaces will be made open to the public. Folks are encouraged to walk from one location to the next, but two vintage trolleys will also be provided for transportation, originating from Horsefeathers Market & Residences, 364 Connecticut at Normal St.

The buildings will include the Frizlen Group’s Horsefeathers Market & Residences, 364 Connecticut; Ellicott Development’s The Antonio, 257 Pearl Street; Green Leaf Development & Construction’s 1040 Delaware; Buffalo Management Group’s EB Green Residences, 230 North Street and Ellicott Development’s 10 Symphony Circle.

Free parking is available at D'Youville College's lot C on Connecticut Street, two blocks north of Normal Street.

Pick up a tour pamphlet at any stop or download it here.

Meet Nik Wallenda Sunday

WallendaLooking for something fun and free to do this weekend? Watch the wire walk on ABC tonight, then bring the kids to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls Sunday for a chance to meet daredevil Nik Wallenda. Here's more from the mall:

Two days after daredevil Nik Wallenda makes his historic high-wire walk from the United States to Canada over the Falls, visitors to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls will have an opportunity to meet him in person.

Wallenda will be conducting a free meet and greet at the outlet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. The event will be located in Fashion Avenue inside the mall and is first-come, first served during this limited time-- so get in line early.

KidsThe 33-year-old aerialist from Florida, part of the Flying Wallendas, will walk 1,800 feet across Niagara Falls at 200 feet above the gorge bottom on Friday evening. He will be the first to cross over the brink of the falls. More than 100,000 spectators are anticipated to attend the high-wire walk on both the American and Canadian sides.

The walk, which is scheduled to begin about 10:15 p.m. Friday and take between 30 to 40 minutes to complete, will be televised nationally by ABC. Tickets to attend the event and get a glimpse of the historic walk are no longer available.

However, on Sunday, members of the public will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Wallenda in person at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, 1900 Military Road.

Crisis PR in the Internet age

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Director Kevin Smith has brought a firestorm down on Southwest Airlines after being ejected from a flight for being too fat, demonstrating the power consumers wield with social media.


Southwest got some practice implementing crisis control in the Internet age after Kevin Smith sent out a flurry of Twitter messages to his legion of followers. Fans were furious, the media picked up on the story and the rest was history.


Southwest Airlines has apologized in blogs and defended itself in the face of furious Tweets. The fracas brought so much attention, it crashed their feedback page.


So many public relations people diligently make a daily practice of blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking, mostly to an audience of no one. Only when things fall apart is the importance of having those established networks made clear.


But the true test is whether Southwest's spin control was able to smooth the feathers it ruffled. Are you satisfied by Southwest's reaction? Do you think Smith was making a big deal over nothing? Do you think Smith got the reaction he did only because he's famous, or do you think an average consumer could have made the same impact?


Still, Smith doesn't think Southwest handled things very well. But in a situation like this, who gets the last word?


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Santa is taking requests by text

OMG! Who knew Santa was a text messager?

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AT&T customers who text the word "SANTA" to 1224 from now until Christmas Eve will receive free messages from Santa Claus and the ability to text him their Christmas wish lists.


If you prefer to send Santa a letter the old fashioned way, here is a list of addresses from the U.S. Postal Service's Operation Santa. 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

How to get your "Baby Einstein" refund

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Parents who bought "Baby Einstein" toddler videos or DVDs between June 5, 2004 and Sept. 4 found out last week they can return them for up to $15.99 in cash, exchange them for a "Baby Einstein" book or compact disc, or use them toward a 25 percent discount on "Little Einstein" merchandise.


To take advantage of the refund, click here. You will be prompted to print, fill out and mail a form, which must be postmarked by March 2010. There is a limit of four refunds per household. 


The upgrade to the Disney-owned company's return policy came after the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood raised concerns about claims the videos were educational.


Research has shown that watching an hour or more of "Baby Einstein" actually delayed development. Doctors suggest children under two years old spend no time in front of the television.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Give your furniture the old switcheroo

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Want a home makeover, but don't have the cash?


Who needs new furniture when you can artfully rearrange the stuff you've got? Moving things around makes a room feel fresh and can give your spirits a lift. The best part is that it doesn't cost a dime.


Among several interior design software tools available on the Better Homes and Gardens Web site is Arrange-A-Room, an awesome, free program that helps you try out room configurations without having to lug heavy furniture around the room.


All you do is pick your room shape and size, add furniture and colors and voila! You've got a pretty good idea of what you're dealing with. The site also have lots of great tools to help you try out paint colors, new kitchen cabinetry and other improvements before making a purchase.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free night of theater

As a push to cultivate new audience members, theaters in Western New York and across the country are offering free tickets for shows held during the month of October. And even though some performances are sold out, it's not too late to reserve your free performance tickets through Theatre Alliance of Buffalo's partnership with the nationwide Free Night of Theater initiative.


Participating theater companies include Ujima Theatre Co.,Jewish Repertory Theatre, The Kavinoky Theatre, New Phoenix Theatre on the Park, Irish Classical Theatre Co., Theatre of Youth, Road Less Traveled Productions and MusicalFare Theatre.


Click here to find out what tickets are left and to get your own. Listings will change as performaces sell out and as seats are added.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free College Sports Channel Preview

Digital cable consumers served by Time Warner Cable will get a free preview of the CBS College Sports Network Monday Oct. 5 through Sunday Oct. 11 in honor of its Armed Forces Appreciation Week coverage.


Saturday's programming will feature the Vanderbilt at Army, Navy at Rice and Texas Christian University at Air Force football games. 


Time Warner Cable customers can tune to channel 130 (or channel 175 in Olean) and to channel 776 for high definition.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Movie Rentals

As summer winds down, we've got lots of chilly nights at home to look forward to. Redbox, those movie rental kiosks you find at grocery, drug and convenience stores, offer $1 rentals with no late fees.

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But for those of you clinging to every penny, a Web site called InsideRedBox.com compiles coupon codes that can be used for free, one-day redbox rentals. If you choose to keep the movie longer, you'll be charged an additional $1 per day.

You can check the site each day to look for new codes, or become a member and have them sent to you. Membership is free for one year.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Burlesque Show Tonight at the Riv

Looking for something to do tonight? The Riviera Theatre at 67 Webster Street in North Tonawanda will host Eye Candy Cabaret, a modern burlesque dance troupe. The show is free, and starts at 9:30 p.m.


There is no nudity, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to bring the kiddies. You could bring your grandparents, though. In fact, you might want to head over with them early, because the Riv is also showing the Paul Newman movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" for $3 at 7 p.m.


                                              Eyecandy

The show is presented by Buffalo's Pole Play Dance Studio, which teaches pole dancing fitness classes. Promising to be "good for the teeth, bad for the heart," the free show is part of the Tonawandas' Canal Fest activities.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann