Category Archives: Rants

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

Time and $$ or Why I don’t fly out of Albany

My third-grader came home from school a few weeks back with a math project assignment.  My His task was to consider and solve a “real world” math problem.  We decided to use his math skills to create a budget for our summer trip to Florida, figuring out travel expenses, which parks to visit and where to stay.  We sat down at the iMac and got busy.

The first component of our trip was airfare.  I mentally estimated $300 a ticket, a generous number I thought considering the trip would be in August. I mean, who really wants to go to Florida in August?  Using Travelocity, I plugged in our dates and destination (trying both Orlando and Tampa) and was shocked by the result – $401 per ticket and 7+ hours of travel with 2 stops between Albany and either destination.  Are you kidding me?

I know that Southwest, an airline which wouldn’t show  up in a Travelocity or Expedia search, has a nonstop flight between Albany, but their schedule isn’t yet open for our late summer dates.  I decided to change our departure airport and see some other options.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that we could fly nonstop from Bradley Airport (84 miles from Albany) for a total of $340. That’s for both of us.

I quickly checked a couple of things – how much will parking be?  Approximately $7 or $8 per day.  What is the baggage policy of the airline (Jetblue) offering this stellar fare of $170 r/t? One bag free.  I mentally did some math…

Driving to Hartford should take about 2 hours, which means that ultimately it will be faster to drive to Connecticut, park my car and board a nonstop (2:50 minutes) flight than it would be to fly from Albany.  Parking will cost about $75, gas and tolls perhaps another $35 or $40 for a total of approximately $460, or $340 less than flying from the lovely little airport less than 20 minutes from my house.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I love to travel.  In the past two years, I’ve flown only once from Albany International Airport, choosing Logan (Boston), JFK, Newark and now, Bradley, instead.  If the difference in price is $40 or $50, I wouldn’t  mind spending a little more for the convenience of local, but when you’re talking about $100s, well, I just can’t do it.  Unfortunately, choosing local when it comes to air travel, isn’t nearly as palatable as choosing local for produce is.

$800+ to travel from Albany to Florida in August is a price I’m just not willing to swallow.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Local, Rants, road trips, Summer, travel, vacation

The sky’s the limit – two tales from my weekend in restaurants

I’ll begin with the planet piece, as in “what planet are you even from?” So, there was this party of five who wandered in from Lark Fest seeking a table.  They were neat in appearance and seemed reasonably intelligent.  Their preference was for a table on the back patio, but unfortunately we did not have one available to accommodate 5.  They were given a table inside and served water.   Three members of their party had stopped at the bar for drinks prior to sitting.

Imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, I went out to the patio and saw one of the women from the 5-top pushing tables together.  When I asked her if someone had told her it was ok to do that she said, “No.” I explained the reason she wasn’t given permission to move tables was because it wasn’t, in fact, ok for her to take it upon herself to do it.  I asked her to return to the table we had already provided for her and assured her that I would get to work on creating a comfortable spot for them.

I was able to combine a couple of tables, carefully arranging the chairs, without causing the rest of the patio to be “unservable.” I invited the group outside and explained the need to leave the chairs as I had arranged them to keep the remaining tables accessible.  Naturally, no sooner had I turned around when one of the women had moved her chair to the precise spot which would prevent anyone from sitting in the two tables behind her, in effect taking up 4 tables for a total of 5 people.  Seriously?

PS.  We served a single glass of $8 wine to the table.  Really.

Up next: the (Jake)Moon

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Filed under Albany, Local, Rants, Restaurants

Destination lame

image: planetware.com

My middle son is wrapping up his middle school academic career in a couple of weeks. There are a few events to commemorate the occasion, including a day trip to NYC, later this month.  When I was in 8th grade, we also went to the city.  I remember it vividly because I saw my first Broadway musical, Grease, and wore the brown sweater coat (the height of fashion in 1980!) my mother knit for me.  It was a special day.

On Friday, he brought home the permission slip which detailed the itinerary for their day. Basically, they depart from Albany at 6:30 in the morning, returning at approximately 9:30 p.m.  Their first stop is midtown where they have 2.5 hours scheduled at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.  From there they head to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.   I understand that not every kid has parents who believe in authentic experiences which reflect their locale, but doesn’t this sound incredibly generic? Is there anything about this that screams “greatest city in the world” to you?

But, wait, it gets better.  The kids then head down to the South Street Seaport – and this is the part that really rankles me, where they have 3 hours to wander around, using the “buddy system.” Now, I’m sure (right?) there will be adequate supervision of the kids, but this segment of the trip, the lengthiest one, is completely unstructured.  In the description provided on the permission slip, this cool, but small area, was heralded for its “mall and 15 places to eat.”  Really?!?  I’m sending my kid to New York to go to a mall and eat at some chain restaurant?

I’m pretty familiar with the downtown area where the kids are going to be.  The Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Center are right there.  Why aren’t they bringing the kids to either of these free, yet, significant places?  Maybe a ferry ride to Staten Island?  There’s so much history in that area!  How about Chinatown, Little Italy or the Tenement Museum, all of which are included in the 8th grade social studies curriculum?

Is it just me, or is this a true example of missed opportunity and lack of effort in planning?  What do you think?

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Filed under Boys, Education, Events, NYC, Rants, Schools

Soccer Mom Rebellion

image:juggernaut.com

Do you remember that movie Kicking and Screaming?  I think I lost the dvd in the divorce, but remember it as being about a kids’ soccer team and it was cutely funny.  Well, let me tell you something, being a soccer mom isn’t remotely amusing. Practice three days a week and double-header games that begin at 7:50 on Saturday night are not cutely funny to me at all.  As a matter of fact, they’re really annoying and inconvenient. Why are 13 year-olds beginning games at 9:20 pm?  Is the dome in Latham that heavily scheduled, and if so, shouldn’t some thought be given to building another one in addition to the two already in use?

I understand that team sports are a positive influence in my (any) child’s life, but I guess I’m a little new to the game.  I was pretty active as a kid, yet I don’t recall playing on any teams outside of school other than a softball team when I was a teenager – and I walked the 2+ miles to practice and games.  Uphill, both ways, naturally.  I don’t use my own mother as a yardstick for appropriate parental involvement, but don’t recall her ever coming to one of my games – or my even anticipating seeing her sitting in the bleachers. It just wasn’t expected.

These days, as Griffin follows a 90 minute morning practice with 3 consecutive afternoon/evening games kicking off at 4:40, I wonder how parents with multiple children with multiple activities do it.  Do they drive minivans because they actually sleep in them?  Is it that the parents have completely yielded their lives to managing their children’s lives?  I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in doing that.  Call me selfish if you will, but 5 hours of soccer leaves me wanting to do a little kicking and screaming of my own.   Where are my cleats?

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Filed under Boys, Exercise, family, moms, Rants, soccer

(Comm)unity doesn’t mean monopoly

image:alloveralbany.com

During my run the other night I got to thinking about a new building being constructed on New Scotland Avenue.  I think the previous building on this particular lot was affiliated with a house of worship, and this new construction is a church, I believe. What strikes me each time I run by, is the lack of a BBL or Columbia Development sign.  This building is identified as a Bunkoff project, a name refreshingly unfamiliar to me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no personal beef with either BBL or Columbia, but I am so weary of seeing their names on so very many of the building projects in this city, our city.  There must be other outfits out there capable and prepared to add to the landscape of New York State’s capital city, right?

It seems to me like Albany has been on the cusp of “happening” for decades.  The individual pieces grow tantalizingly close to falling in place, but something prevents them from locking firmly together.  Could it be the city’s leadership?  Is it possible that the mayor and his preferred business associates have been so busy taking care of each other that they’ve neglected to take care of anyone else?

A few years ago, federal funds came into my neighborhood and sparked a renaissance.  Streets and sidewalks were improved, lighting was added, and independent businesses started to find a home in the Delaware Avenue south area.   Individuals  invested their time and resources and together are forging an identity for our little piece of Albany.  Christ, I made up a word for it and it stuck – DelSo, my home.

Imagine if more citizens and neighborhoods start doing this?  What if other residents start taking ownership of their blocks?   If folks began saying that it isn’t okay for one builder or developer to “own” the opportunity to create the landscape we all share?  Maybe those established contractors could take on the task of mentoring some of the smaller outfits as they strive to get in on the action?   I know, I know, I’m an evil socialist or something, right?  That might be the case, but what definitely is true is that there needs to be a greater distribution of the opportunities presented by sharing a city of nearly 100,000 people.  It’s time for something new, folks.  Please share your thoughts.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Local, musings, Observations, politics, Rants

Attention: males over the age of 6!

When I see you wearing your baseball cap sideways, I know you think you look like this:

image:lefashionmonster.com

Hate to break it to you, but, in reality you look way more like this:

image:cedricstudio.com

 Now you know. You’re welcome.

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Filed under baseball, Observations, Rants