Red light, green light, one-two-three

Did you play that game when you were a kid?  We usually alternated between Red Light and Mother, May I? on autumn evenings which grew more quickly dark as each day passed.  They were fun games to play during times, which I recall as, much more simple than today.  No batteries or cords necessary.

These days, I run for fun.  Unfortunately, negotiating my way around the streets of Albany isn’t always fun.  I play a different game now – Green light, red light, one-two-three.  Are you familiar with it?  It’s where you watch the light cycle through from green to yellow to red and then count “1, 2, 3″ before approaching the intersection.  If you fail to follow the rules, like the scofflaw driver blowing through the red light, you’re likely to get run over.  Really.

There isn’t a single time I’ve been out getting some miles in, when I haven’t observed drivers running red lights.  It is no joke.  I can appreciate the frustration with Albany’s lights which sometimes seemed timed expressly for making me late for my destination.  I get it.  But, seriously?  Is it really going to be worth running a person or animal over?  Drivers in Albany really need to drink a big old mug of slow the f*ck down.

Red light cameras are controversial and considered by some to be invasive, but I truly believe their value in potentially protecting lives exceeds their threat to privacy. Folks are concerned that the company which will be monitoring the cameras will be aggressively doling out tickets because they are a for-profit entity. So? Don’t run red lights and it will cost you nothing.

Albany is a fine place to live.  We have invested in schools and libraries and crosswalks.  There are cool new places to shop and eat and our mayor is committed to the arts.  Wouldn’t it be great if families felt comfortable moving into our city because they knew that public safety was a genuine priority?  I’m all for quality of life tickets a la Giuliani, jaywalking, bike riding in the wrong direction on the streets, drivers failing to respect pedestrians in crosswalks and red light runners.  Give them a warning then give them a ticket.  If the ticket comes from a camera monitored traffic light, give them the picture, too.  It’ll last longer, right?

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Filed under Albany, Local, News, Observations, politics, running, upstate New York

When everything changed

In January 2002 I hosted a dinner party to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was a Monday night and we had a wonderful evening of laughter, food and wine.  As the night progressed, I began to anticipate how tired and cranky I would be the next morning when my alarm roused me for work. I hate being off my game because of lack of sleep.

As I moved between the dining room and my guests, and the kitchen with its dish filled sink, glancing at the ever later time on the clock, a thought occurred to me: September 11, 2001 had been a Tuesday. Something inside me clicked with such force that it seemed impossible for the internal noise to have gone unheard by those sharing my evening.

We never know when our last night on this earth will be.

I knew, without a shred of doubt, that if the next day was when I met my end, I would rather die with a bellyful of celebratory food and the echo of an evening’s laughter in my ears than 8 hours of sleep. No regrets.

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My primary problem

I’m a teacher and a member of NYSUT.  I’m not always a fan of my union or some of the marketing with which they provide me.  Things like solicitations for rental car companies and insurance opportunities don’t seem like benefits as much as they feel like invasions of my privacy and personal information.  I don’t like it.

My union, however,  provides support to me and my peers when we are threatened with disciplinary action or termination.  Neither NYSUT or my local union guarantee me retention of my professional position in the case of an issue, but they do ensure my right to a formal process thanks to tenure.  On some primary level, they are working for me and I am appreciative of that benefit.

Our current governor, Andrew Cuomo, began his “tenure” with great promise.  The vote to pass gay marriage in the NYS senate was a thrill to witness and I have a number of friends who finally share the same right to wed that I’ve had my entire adult life.  An unequal situation has been rectified and all residents of New York now enjoy the same fundamental right.  Unfortunately, that’s the only example I can provide as an instance of when our governor worked to ensure that all New Yorkers shared the same opportunities.

Since that auspicious beginning, I have grown completely disenchanted with our arrogant and bullying governor.  Maybe it wasn’t completely his initiative, but during his administration, education was “improved” by instituting a new professional evaluation rubric, a new comprehensive curriculum was adopted and layers upon layers of new testing mandates were created. Along with a new tax cap, of course. We all know how easy it is to do more with less, right? His mishandling of the findings of the Moreland Commission was the “adult” equivalent of taking his ball home and quitting the game when the rules (or more accurately, findings) failed to go his way.  His recent behavior when approached by the politically unconnected professor who is challenging him in today’s primary, revealed his true colors to me in a manner which I find despicable.

Far from being the man who can clean up Albany, Governor Cuomo has instead contributed his own smear of dirt and mud on the political process and government of my state. Tuesday, 9/9, is the day when registered Democrats can send him the message that they don’t like what he’s doing to our state.  We can vote for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu and enjoy the sensation of bubbling in the circle(s) on today’s ballot next to those fresh new names. Even if they don’t win today because of their lack of experience and membership in the good ol’ boys’ club, it will be a pleasure to vote for someone, instead of against someone else.  I’ll never vote for Cuomo again.

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Filed under Albany, Education, politics

Claws out over catcalls

I’ve noticed some reporting recently about cat calls, social media buzz word stuff.  I haven’t yet had a moment to click through and read any of what has been written, but intend to momentarily.  Before I read what the discussion is, I wanted to express my own experiences and opinion without influence.I don’t remember when I personally received my first catcall, but I do know that each time I hear one these days, I laugh and wonder if it will be my last.  Catcalls don’t bother me.  They don’t make me feel objectified or threatened.  Usually, they make me laugh, once when I was about 8.5 months pregnant hard enough to almost pee myself.

Maybe I should define “catcalls.” I’m talking about a couple of complimentary words spoken in an appreciative tone of voice, not a barrage of filthy language.  That I most definitely find offensive.  I don’t know, maybe it was growing up around NYC or something, but a construction worker giving me a “Hey, pretty lady,” doesn’t  feel like harassment to me.

Ok, now I’ll go read some of what’s going on.  I’m back.

This seemed to be the article which helped to ignite the current conversation about catcalling.  The author must have been writing an ironic piece because I can’t imagine that a woman would truly encourage attention on the street in the way she did.  It had to have been intentionally hyperbolic, right?

This was written in response to a segment of some television program which I’ve been fortunate enough to have never had inflicted upon me.  The writer makes some excellent points and I can understand her perspective.

The focus here was primarily on Kirsten Gillibrand’s assertions regarding inappropriate comments made to her by other members of Congress.  The examples she provided were outrageous and demonstrated a complete lack of propriety and common decency, but I didn’t perceive them to be “catcalls.”  They were personal criticism and commentary about her physical self and as such were deplorable.

My conclusion after this minimal amount of “research?”  Well, we all have differing thresholds for what we are willing to tolerate.  In my mind there’s a vast difference between a light “Looking good” and detailed descriptions about “what I’d like to do to you, baby.”  Does this sort of reasoning strip me of my feminist crown?  Is it somehow demeaning to all women that one of my favorite moments as a young woman was when I received a standing ovation from a roomful of cadets at West Point, something I was given in response to how I looked and not related to my intellectual capacity?  Does the pleasure I felt at that moment somehow diminish me as a woman?  Only if I let it.

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Filed under aging, musings, News

Will it go round in circles?

You remember that Billy Preston song, don’t you?  I don’t think I’ve heard it or even thought of it in at least 20 years. Until about two weeks ago, that is.  The context that day was a theme park, a carousel, and a boy.  The song popped into my head and caused me to smile.
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The most recent mowing of my neighbor’s yard also featured circles.  I know I’ve shared before the artistic mowing for which, among his other artistic endeavors, my neighbor is known.  As soon as I saw the pattern from my deck, I once again heard that tune bouncing around in my brain.

During my run last night, the song came for the third time.  These things usually happen in threes, right?  I was reflecting on a personal situation and thought about the uncountable conversations which seem to consistently travel in a circular fashion.  Although I like to travel in a circle, preferring to take a different route home than the one I took during departure, when it comes to relationship interactions, circular is definitely not satisfying.

            Will it go round in circles?  Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

I just don’t know.

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Filed under DelSo, musings, relationships, Summer

Labor Day – sunshine and duck butts

After a summer spent working and vacationing, I elected to spend this holiday weekend, quietly at home. Friday night I ate al fresco at The Cheese Traveler, devouring my burger and merely indicating yes or no with the motion of my head. So good! Saturday, following a run, I ate at Mingle’s bar very much enjoying my salad and paella, along with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Sunday was a day for leftovers and binging on Orange is the New Black with a side order of tennis. It was definitely a lazy weekend, other than for Jeter who spent quality time each day at the Normanskill Dog Park.

Today needed to be different. I needed to burn some energy in the hopes that I would get a good night’s sleep tonight and feel fresh for tomorrow’s back to school activities. I decided that today was the perfect day to give paddle boarding a try – weather, opportunity, mood, it all added up and so, I hit the highway for Saratoga County’s Kayak Shack. I had a Living Social deal, bought earlier this summer for $20, which gave me 3 hours of paddle boarding for two. I was solo (do you think the businesses in receipt of deals for 2 being redeemed by only 1, tsk tsk silently and sympathetically?), which provided me lots of time to focus on keeping my balance, something of which I really need to remain cognizant in a general sort of way.

So, what was it like? I loved it! I had no issue getting on my board and moving from kneeling to standing. There was a strong current, with an accompanying wind, which made my trip out quite an exertion. It is a real abdominal workout, which I welcomed.  Seems like I’ve taken a few shots to the gut recently and any assistance in keeping that area defensively taut is welcome.  For every 4 or 5 strokes on the left side of the board, I had to take a dozen on the right side to remain on a semi-straight path. There were a couple of moments when I absolutely wobbled and fought to maintain my balance, usually when I neglected to pay attention to what was going on in the water around me. I dumped once, but welcomed the refreshing dunk in the lake and had no issue climbing back on board. Literally.

Here’s what I found kind of interesting – I grew up in lake community and feel like I have some experience with boating, be it from my teen years waterskiing or my brief time spent sweep rowing/sculling. Today, I discovered fairly quickly that motor boaters had no real regard for paddlers. There were all sorts of instances when a boat’s wake provided an experience similar to what one would find in a wave pool. It was mostly ok, but I still felt a bit irritated by the lack of respect for those of us with a paddle rather than a throttle in our hand.

I booked along at a pretty good clip as I worked to raise my heart rate and turn my fun into a true workout. The shore on both sides was marshy with leaves threatening to begin changing colors and tons of ducks greedily going bottoms up as they munched on some delicacy underwater. I paddled to a wider part in the water where things really started to feel a bit like the Wild West with motorboats and kayaks and stand up paddle boards chaotically strewn across the water. I grew up in a town filled with cowboys, but we had more of a sense of water traffic regs than most of the people I encountered today.

Bottom line – it was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. If anyone wants to give it a try some weekend before the water grows too cold to be described as invigorating, let me know. I’d love to go back.

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Filed under Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, ideas, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York

Making a spectacle of myself

I’ve been wearing glasses since 5th grade.  I probably should have gotten them even sooner, but my mother assessed my eyes and determined they were fine.  Fortunately, an ophthalmologist differed with her opinion and set me up with some glasses so I could read the chalkboard without needing to sit in the first row of desks in my classroom.

Do I just buy the same pair over and over?

Do I just buy the same pair over and over?

I get a new pair of glasses every couple of years and often have more than one pair in rotation.  My prescription has recently changed and, while I was tempted to simply have my lenses replaced, I picked out a new pair of frames.  My insurance kicked in generously and Buenau’s gave me a great deal, as they have been doing for more than 20 years.  I ordered them right before I left for Florida, planning to pick them up upon our return.

On our last day in Disney we visited the Animal Kingdom.  After about 6 hours there, we headed to the condo for some pool time before going out for the evening at Epcot.  I had been wearing my rx sunglasses for most of the day and couldn’t seem to find my glasses.  I looked in all of the pockets of my backpack and in the car and concluded that I must have lost them sometime after that dinosaur ride.  I called Disney’s Lost and Found office.

Thanks, Disney World!

Thanks, Disney World!

Imagine for a minute how many items get lost in the parks of Disney World.  Don’t forget to consider the water parks, too.  A lot, right?  Articles of clothing, cameras, phones, eyeglasses, keys… When I filed a report about my glasses, I was optimistic about their return since I had a pretty clear idea of when I had them last.  That being said, when I phoned back two days later and they had actually been recovered, I was pretty happily surprised.  When I received them in the mail two days after returning from Florida, I was absolutely thrilled.  Seeing is believing – it really is a Magic Kingdom!

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Filed under Random, Summer, travel, vacation