Category Archives: Albany

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

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

The pretension of DelSo

I’ve been doing this DelSo thing for close to 5 years and have been called a couple of things. I think interesting is my favorite. Over at Tablehopping I, along with my neighbors, I suppose, recently earned the title “pretentious.” Here – read it for yourself.

What do you think? Was dubbing my little neighborhood DelSo really an act worthy of that moniker? Why are Steve’s readers so damn negative?  I don’t suppose there’s a single answer to those questions, but let’s focus on the positive, shall* we?  We in the DelSo are getting a terrific “new” spot to eat in our neighborhood!

*Is “shall” pretentious?

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, musings, Random

7 years without a raise is too long

image: qlik.com

Those of you who know me are familiar with my tendency to become irritated or even outraged over injustices.  When something bothers me, I am inclined to obsess about it or reference it repeatedly to draw attention to it.

We’re at a moment in time when there are an overwhelming number of things occurring in our world which I find outrageous or offensive or heartbreaking.  African girls being abducted, children dying in the sands of the Middle East, unarmed Black men being killed by the authorities in the Midwest, a beloved actor not able to love himself…these are some dark times.

Who do you look to for information about events like these?  For me, Twitter has become the spot to which I go first.  Within minutes I can get perspectives from dozens of sources, some of whom are affiliated with or representing print publications. I don’t necessarily have to subscribe to a newspaper because I can follow a writer.  Things have changed.

In the past couple of years, I’ve done some work for the Albany Times Union.  I shoot photos for some of their Seen galleries and had a writing gig that actually came with compensation.  I ended my relationship with Moms at Work following many months of being expected to do the work of two “Moms” but being paid for only one.  No, thank you. Because this was an income that was supplementary, I was in a position to simply walk away.  But what if that wasn’t my situation?

Each time I am subjected to evidence of the Hearst family’s generosity, their noblesse oblige, I feel a piece of my heart harden.  What ever happened to “charity” starting at home?  If one considers how much the price of daily essentials, things like gas, groceries, health insurance premiums, have risen in recent years, how can any employee of the Times Union sincerely celebrate the public unveiling of a new hospital wing or the purchase of a cutting edge printing press when they haven’t received a raise in 7 years?

When I browse my Twitter feed I see a lot of activity from the Schenectady Gazette – photos, articles and breaking news.  Their online presence, despite a paywall, is pretty remarkable and I find myself clicking through and reading some of their stuff even though it isn’t necessarily providing coverage of my neighborhood.  Some of the people I follow, for instance Mark McGuire, Jimmy Veilkind and Michael Janairo, once were TU newsroom employees. They, along with other writers, photographers and advertising salespeople have left the Times Union for new opportunities and, I imagine, the hopes of being better compensated for their talents and efforts.  I’m certain they are missed.

Those who remain at the Times Union, including Paul Grondahl who I consider to be the best newspaper writer in our region, continue to produce excellent copy, despite their lack of monetary appreciation.  They are professionals and as such, they continue to do their jobs writing, Tweeting and blogging, but it must be difficult to remain positive and committed to an organization which fails to reward their talents with more than lip service.

When I casually, and completely unscientifically, compare the online activity (specifically Twitter) of the TU and the Gazette I sense a difference in the level of eagerness present.  The employees of the Gazette seem to produce material which they know will be acknowledged and appreciated – both by the public and the corporation for which they work.  The Times Union folks seem to be driven to write because that is who they are – journalists, but there is also an underlying absence of  enthusiasm.  It must be hard to continue to produce, to in fact expand production to new forms of journalistic media, when one hasn’t had the benefit of a raise in 7 years.

Maybe Hearst can use that fancy press to print his employees some money – or at the least a new contract.  Shameful.

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Filed under Albany, Local, Moms@Work, News, Observations, Rant, SEEN

Baby, you can drive my car

image: stationwagonforums.com

I bought my first car when I was 20.  It was a 1973 Volkswagen wagon, a model in which the engine was still in the rear of the vehicle making the large space under the front hood a deep trunk perfect for road trips.  Sadly enough, the powder blue jalopy took me on only a single (aborted) road trip before it died, necessitating an expensive tow and the unfortunate conclusion that my newly purchased car had spent some time under water. Literally.

I didn’t venture into car ownership again for years, instead relying upon public transportation, my feet and the occasional rental car. Since buying that Ford Escort wagon (are you seeing a pattern?), I’ve pretty much always had wheels available to me, but little makes me happier than a day when I do not drive.  That’s why I live in the city, my friends.

On Friday, I needed to pick up a couple of things so off I went on foot.  I finally made it to the awesomely adorable Fort Orange General Store where I picked up a little thank you gift. I’m not a gift store sort of person, but the clean appearance of this spot is more stimulating than overwhelming and it is a treat to have such a place in the DelSo.  On my return walk, I ventured into the Asian market and scored a bottle of sweet soy sauce, a condiment with which my entire family is obsessed.  Nice to know I don’t have to drive to Central Avenue to get our fix.  My last stop was at the auto parts store to buy a replacement headlight bulb for my car.  I still haven’t put it in, because it is a bitch to do, but I’m getting there!

On Sunday I had a hankering for a burger that would not be denied.  The Capital City Gastropub was calling my name – and, quite frankly, I don’t care how much their burger costs.  Yes, it was nice to get one for half price, but seriously?  I don’t really eat burgers that often and they always make mine perfectly – uber rare, no bun, with fries served hot and well-salted.  At $15 it might seem a bit expensive, but for the quality, it’s a more than fair price.  Do you really think anyone is getting rich selling $15 burgers?

I didn’t feel like driving (especially since it was getting dark and I’m lacking a low beam!) so I grabbed my bike and headed over. Although I only had one beer, it was nice to know I could comfortably drink more since I wasn’t driving.  I sat on the patio with my bicycle in arm’s reach and completely savored my meal and the beautiful evening.  Then I hopped on my bike and “drove” home.  Beep beep’m beep beep yeah.

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Filed under Albany, biking, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, Local

Urban Raid, 2014 edition

photo(173)Well, I survived it sore, but generally unscathed.  Actually, I finished a respectable 10th out of 46 in my age bracket, which is nothing to be ashamed of, I suppose.  But…

…it was really hard!  Here’s the blow-by-blow:  My wave took off at 10:35 from a different starting line than last year’s spot on State Street between the ESP and Capitol.  For 2014 we began (and finished) inside the Times Union Center, which meant that the first .75 of a mile were unrelentingly uphill.  Did I mention it was hot out and that I much prefer to run late in the evening in the dark? Yeah, that.

I muscled my way up the hill, carefully tracking who passed me and who I went by.  It wasn’t a big number in either case, but I quickly lost the ability to count anything much beyond how much further it would be until I crossed the finish line.  The first obstacles were closely spaced hurdles, which, incidentally really take the wind out of a person.  While plenty of folks did a slow step over them, you know me, I leaped like a semi-graceful deer over them quickly burning my lungs in the process.

After finally reaching Madison Ave, there was a bit of a reprieve from the leaps and hills and I enjoyed a little downhill action.  I hit the first water station and reinvigorated myself enough for the next task – carrying a sand bag up and down a bunch of steps.  The subsequent obstacles came fairly quickly and I shimmied and crawled and grunted my way through them.  There was more of the same with monkey bars to swing across and huge heavy tires to move with my favorite challenges still to come within the arena.  Within the arena – doesn’t that sound so gladiatoress?

See that bruise there?  I earned that!

See that bruise there? I earned that!

I began keeping track again of whom I was able to go around, feeling particularly gleeful when it was a man.  That minor in Women’s Studies sometimes aligns beautifully with the slightly competitive streak I normally keep in check.  I loved the knotted rope climb, despite the injured dude on the ground in front of two of the possible ropes choices, and the wall clamber and net were awesome – so fun!  The stairs and the stairs and the stairs were dizzying, but I prevailed and clocked in with an official time of 41:33, finishing 192nd of 517. Not too shabby.  How about you?  Did any of you take part in the fun and games?

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Filed under Albany, Events, Exercise, running

Don’t. Stop. Believing.

imageEvery year when it is time to drive west from wherever we happen to be on Cape Cod, I don’t want to leave. It doesn’t matter how much I miss my own home or that I already have a place booked for the following summer – I don’t want my beach time to be finished. As I approach the Sagamore Bridge I reliably feel my eyes fill with tears, which I don’t release, of course. I don’t need to further convince my kids that I’m getting soft in my middle years.

Each and every time I run through my neighborhood I witness cars running red lights. I’m not even talking about lights that are stale yellow, I mean lights that changed to red while the approaching car was at least a half block away. Red light cameras? Yes, please! People need to learn how to stop.

I am at the point in parenting when I very soon will have a household of boys who no longer indulge me by believing in any of the wonders of childhood. No tooth fairy, no Easter rabbit, no Santa Claus. All done. I’m taking a final shot later this month when my youngest and I head to a most magical place – Disney World. I’m hopeful that Quinn will be impressed by something there – the rides, the fireworks, the characters, and decide that believing is sometimes worth the suspension of reality. Dreams can still come true, right?

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Cape Cod, Local, musings, Observations, running, vacation