Category Archives: Albany

Has anyone seen the bridge?

That's "my" board - all the way on the right!

That’s “my” board – all the way on the right!

After vacillating for days, I made the decision Sunday morning to spend my afternoon catching some bonus paddle boarding time.  My early obligation of the day went surprisingly smoothly and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to get on the water for one more time this season.

I arrived at the Kayak Shak in Saratoga a little before 1:00 and was on the water, solo, 15 minutes later.  Unlike my previous two paddling adventures, this time I immediately headed east.  The less traveled path was definitely the way to go yesterday.  As I paddled along, the view on either side of the water was truly spectacular.  The leaves were popping red and orange and the sky was blue, blue, so blue.  As the creek curved and turned, there were times when there was nothing man-made to mar the scene – just trees, reeds and shrubs in various rainbow shades.  And turtles.  Lots of turtles.

The man who had set me up on my board said that two miles down there would be a bridge and that became my goal.  As I twisted my core left and right, left and right, the surprisingly mild water splashed my feet and enticing me to jump in for a refreshing dip.  I decided to indulge myself once I had finally reached that confounded bridge, and it was absolutely liberating when I finally made the leap from my board into the warmish water.  I’m certain that September 28th is the latest I’ve ever gone swimming in upstate New York, and I am so very glad that I seized the opportunity that Mother Nature provided.

If you haven’t attempted Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) yourself, think about giving it a try.  I think it is easier than it looks and, from what I read, it burns a fair amount of calories.  It is also the most fun core workout I’ve ever experienced.  I’m going to start investigating waterproof bag options because I really missed my camera yesterday.  I would have loved to have captured some pictures of Saratoga’s natural beauty on an early fall day which felt like summer.

So – does anyone have any recommendations for a waterproof bag to stash my Nikon in?

 

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, Recommendations, Saratoga, upstate New York

Censorship

image: anh-usa.org

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. The longer you live, the smaller the world becomes and the more likely it is that the individual spheres of one’s personal world will begin to overlap. Last night I helped train our new server at the Wine Bar. She is a former student. Sigh.

I obviously share a lot of my personal life and thoughts here, but it mostly feels anonymous. I don’t really know who reads this stuff and thus am often surprised when I meet someone in real life who knows about me or my adventures and antics. I do think, though, that I’ve done a decent job of keeping my day time school life separate from my night-time restaurant life. Until yesterday, that is.

I kind of pride myself about being ‘Me” wherever I am. That doesn’t mean, though, that I necessarily am comfortable being my blunt and sometimes bawdy self behind the bar with a young woman who used to attend the school where I teach. Must I now censor myself?

As I consider what I can  and can not say while in the presence of a former student, why don’t you take a moment to ponder the First Amendment and the right to free speech on a literary level?  Next weeks marks the  American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week.  While I figure out the best way to say what I want, you can maybe read a book by authors who have used their words to freely express themselves.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Lark Street, Local, Schools

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