Category Archives: Local

Save ladder 1! Save ladder 1?

Image: capitalnews9.com

What do you think? Are you aware of the current controversy regarding Mayor Sheehan’s budget proposal which will eliminate a ladder truck from the South End? When I first heard about it, in my typical fashion, I hastily concluded that taking this truck out of service would have a minimal impact. It seemed to me that the truck was of limited use since it only extended 6 floors and that a more versatile truck was just up the hill on Delaware Avenue. I also didn’t appreciate the heavy handed, dramatic response from the firefighter’s union. It just seemed too self-serving.

While at the Normanskill Dog Park the other morning, I struck up a conversation with a couple of women down there and they added some information to the argument. I gained a different perspective when one of the residents pointed out the general lack of services in that area and the fact that there are a number of high rise residential buildings which may be compromised in emergency situations. My opinion shifted.

As we continued our conversation, though, we started discussing the untapped revenue streams we personally witness. I know a number of people who own rental properties which are not inspected on a regular basis, as described here. Isn’t there some sort of registration fee on rental properties? How about the number of unlicensed dogs in the city? One of the dog park women no longer brings her dog to Washington Park because of the number of aggressive, unleashed dogs present. Does the dog warden stake out public spaces to confirm that animals are properly registered and licensed? I’ve also heard that there is a fee for satellite dishes and this (outdated) document seems to confirm that.

My ultimate conclusion? Revenue sources in Albany would benefit from better record keeping and greater execution of their duties. Maybe tough fiscal decisions, like the one Mayor Sheehan is now proposing, could be avoided if the various departments in the city were able to be more diligent in the enforcement of policies already in place. It would be great if no city resident were at risk of getting burned, wouldn’t it?

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Filed under Albany, Local, News

A fall morning, Normanskill style

This place is so special.  Feast your eyes on this morning’s beauty…

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, favorites, Local, Normanskill, upstate New York

An open letter to paleandpasty

(Dear readers: Please read this article, complete with comments, and then come back.  Okay, done?)

I’ve got some information for you, paleandpasty.  Take that fence picket out of your ass and have a seat.  I am so tired of people like you anonymously criticizing my city.  From your self-perceived superior, suburban vantage point, you make general statements about personal safety and outrageous property taxes in Albany.  Let me tell you a couple of things.

In the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Albany, I’ve been mildly physically threatened once.  Yes, once.  It was fairly recently and I related the details here.  While the situation was less than comfortable for me, the way I felt after that incident didn’t come close to approaching the degree of physical unease I experienced this week when I witnessed a brutal physical attack in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts on Delaware Avenue.  In Delmar.   At 3:15 in the afternoon.  Bad people and bad things happen to be in every community.  Stop trying to perpetuate the misimpression that Albany has the monopoly on such things.

As for taxes, I just wrote the check last week for my school taxes.  I paid 60% the price that a suburban friend paid.  Of course, their property and their school district are both valued higher than mine.  I understand that, but I certainly don’t believe that their cookie cutter ranch, which has less square feet and character than my home, or their mostly homogenous school system, which is more than a little white bread, is worth 40% more than what I paid.  My children have access to AP classes, courses through HVCC and opportunities to explore and experience community resources, too.  Those things are not suburban exclusives.

In closing, I’d like to add that my children are not being raised to believe it is okay to make anonymous statements criticizing the choices made by others.  I don’t know where you grew up or attended school, but that is a lesson you seemed to miss.  You are more than entitled to live where you want, but please stop trying to validate your choice by maligning mine.

Sincerely, Silvia Meder Lilly

 

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Education, Local, Observations, Rants, Schools

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

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

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