Tag Archives: rants

Hustle and Jive – or dancing for $$

Last week, as I emailed Matt Baumgartner an excel spreadsheet with my availability to work his World Cup Block Party, I thought to myself, “Silvia, you really hustle to pay your bills and afford to travel.” There’s the full-time school job, the night or two a week at the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark, shooting photographs for the TU and their Seen galleries, consigning my clothing and the occasional chaperoning gig. My calendar is definitely pretty full, but I’m not complaining. My car is paid for and I’ve got no debt other than my mortgage which has less than 9 years left to go. I’m doing okay.

Talking about money is awkward. Unless you’re my brother or one of my closest friends, you’ll never hear me complain about being broke. I wish other people had the same impulse about finances and privacy because I really don’t know how to respond when someone says, “Oh, we can’t take a vacation because we can’t afford it.” Um…sorry? Am I supposed to feel guilty because I do have a trip or two planned?

We all have priorities.  We each make decisions about how to make and spend our money.  For me, being able to travel is paramount and I will pick up odd jobs to be able to afford 2 weeks at the beach, occasional weekends out-of-town and an annual “Mom and Me” trip with one of the guys.  It is important to me and I think of it as an educational investment.  Other people may choose to only work part-time in favor of remaining home with small children or perhaps give up a regular income to pursue artistic endeavors.  Whatever works, not my business or concern.

I respect an individual’s personal (and family’s) decision, but I refuse to be made to feel guilty because some folks may not have the funds to spend a couple of weeks frolicking in the ocean.  I work hard to make that happen.  It’s not my problem and I don’t appreciate anyone trying to bring me down because of their own life choices.  I’ll just keep paying my own way and dancing to my own tune.  It would be nice if others would do the same.

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Filed under Random, Rant

Up a tree

image: John Carl D’Annibale/Albany Times Union

I’m sure you’ve heard the saga of the Albany Bear.  A young black bear, with a history of repeatedly wandering into populated areas, was a deemed a “nuisance” and euthanized yesterday.  The last 24 hours of the bear’s life included being struck by a car, shot with both a shotgun and a tranquilizer gun and falling approximately 60 feet from the tree in which he had sought refuge.   It makes me so sad.

Have you ever seen a bear outside of a zoo?  I’ve been lucky enough to see one twice, both times from the safety of the car in which I was driving.  The first time, in a rural area of Massachusetts, the dog in our vehicle sensed the bear’s presence before we did.  When I saw the bear loping along, my heart lifted.  I had always hoped to see a bear and the glimpse I had of this one affirmed my belief in nature and all the wonders which she often holds secret.  I was elated.

A couple of years later, in a more densely populated area in Orange County, N.Y., I noticed a dog on the right side of the road barking furiously at something on the opposite side of the road.  The dog was maintaining a respectful distance, rather than approaching whatever it was that had attracted its attention.  I looked to my left and immediately saw it – a black bear lumbering through the underbrush, more than likely heading towards the nearby orchard.  Hours before this occurred, I had returned to the States after some time spent in Europe, a place I always feel is devoid of wildlife.  Seeing this bear was one of the best “welcome home” experiences I’ve ever had.  I was thrilled.

I understand the perceived threat of a wild animal in a residential neighborhood and the need for authorities to address the situation, I really do.  My struggle with what happened yesterday (just blocks from my home) stems from my sense that that bear wasn’t dealt with respectfully.  His tagged ears indicated he had prior experiences in local communities, but I can’t help but wonder how much effort was put into relocating him to a new home at a substantial distance.  We like to brag in New York State about our 6+ million acres of “Forever Wild” land in the Adirondack Park.  Couldn’t that bear been taken farther away from settled areas during one of his previous visits?

Was this really necessary?     image: http://alloveralbany.com

Why wasn’t there a more humane plan in place after 24 hours of officials monitoring the situation?  Was it really necessary for the bear to fall 60 feet to the ground?  How do we prevent another tragedy like this in the future? The bear may be the one to have fallen from the tree, but the authorities are really the ones who dropped the ball here.

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Filed under Albany, Local, News, Observations, Random, upstate New York

A pass and a fail

I had my car inspected this week.  It passed without any issues.  I was a couple of weeks late on taking care of things, but my reasons were understandable.  At least that’s what I hoped the police officer would think should I have been pulled over.

I initially delayed the process because I wanted to wait until the calendar turned to March. That way I would have gotten 13 months from my previous year’s inspection, a real “stick it to the man” move, right?  Of course, I screwed myself because days before the end of February (such a short little month!), a bulb went in my headlight necessitating a trip to the auto parts store and the efforts of three well-intentioned adults to successfully remove and replace the little halogen beauty.

A few days later, I left my car at the place around the block, Delaware Tire and Service,  for them to take care of the annual requirement.  I was a bit surprised to learn when I returned 90 minutes later that my car had a “few bulbs out” and also needed a new rear windshield wiper blade.  “Bulbs?” I asked, thinking how odd that I should have nonfunctioning bulbs, yet not have received a dashboard message light informing me of this deficit.   I mean, the reason I knew my headlight was out a couple of weeks ago was because my dashboard told me.  Were we now in a fight, my dashboard and I, and no longer talking?  I didn’t think so.  I thanked him for his time and drove home still without a valid inspection.

I next scheduled an appointment with my regular mechanic, the folks I’ve bought 4 cars from and relied upon for more than 15 years to maintain my vehicles.  Naturally, the day before my scheduled appointment, my Check Engine light randomly appeared.  I canceled the appointment and waited for the light to go off, as it reliably does.

I noticed Tuesday that the light was off and yesterday took advantage of an early dismissal to stop at Hoffman’s on my way home for an inspection.  Obviously, I didn’t mention or suggest any issues with my bulbs until after the new inspection sticker had been affixed to my windshield.  At that point, I questioned the technician to see if he had seen anything wrong with bulbs or wiper.  Not surprisingly, all was fine – nothing needed to be addressed or replaced.

So – my while my well maintained vehicle passed inspection with flying colors, Delaware Tire and Service gets a huge fail.  Wonder how many other innocent drivers have been victimized by this unscrupulous business?  You’ll want to give that garage a big pass.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Local, Observations, Recommendations

How much is that doggie in the window?

I’ve been stressing about getting a puppy.  There were the usual considerations, of course.  When?  What type of puppy?  From where?  Added to my dilemma was the criticism I received from a number of my friends on Facebook. Apparently, wanting a dog from a breeder rather than rescuing a dog from a shelter makes me a selfish person.  My response to that?  I’m sorry, but, bite me.

I do what I can to make the world a better place.  I don’t intentionally hurt anyone, nor do I thoughtlessly consume from, or sully, our planet.  When I have a pet, I take care of it – veterinarian visits as necessary, quality food, belly rubs and baths.  All of it.

That being said, I accept the fact that I can’t save the world.  It just isn’t possible.  I donate my time and money to charities which are important to me, and I respect those who work tirelessly for the less advantaged, be they humans or other living creatures.  I say that with complete sincerity.

There may be a point in time when I am in a position to offer a home to a dog who needs to be saved, but I’m not there right now.  I’m sorry but I don’t want an animal who has been abused or malnourished or neglected.  I’m not interested in rehabilitating or attempting to socialize a dog who has  been mistreated.  I’ve done that already, before I had children, and it was satisfying and wonderful, but this is not the right time in my life to do that again.

I reconnected yesterday with the lovely woman who provided us with Cassidy and the angst I felt about getting a new pet, and all the related questions, disappeared.  When I shared with her the life we had shared with the puppy she had entrusted to us, she cried.  The fact that I paid her for the privilege of raising an animal she brought into the world with intention, does nothing to minimize the importance of the relationship there was between our family and a special pet.

The reality is this: adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue outfit can cost hundreds of dollars.  While the decision is far from purely fiscal, I’d rather spend $200 more and welcome a pet who has known nothing but love into my house.  If you’re offended by that, it isn’t my problem. It’s yours.

There’s a litter of puppies due next month and I am hopeful that Happy Brady Lilly will be joining our family later in spring.  I don’t believe the fact that (s)he will come with papers is really a reason for you to write them, or me, off.

In closing – “Dogs never bite me.  Just humans.”  Marilyn Monroe

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Filed under Boys, family, musings, Rant

Keeping up with the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty – reality?

I don’t really watch a lot of television, but when I do it’s either a series like Mad Men or Downton Abbey, or sports. The only reality TV I watch, other than American Idol or the occasional episode of The Amazing Race, is on the Home and Garden channel.

I remember first becoming aware of the Kardashian family 5 or 6 years ago while having a manicure in a nail salon in the mall.  If I remember correctly, they were at some ski resort and there was all sorts of drama – fighting between the sisters, lying to one another, and lots of conspicuous consumption.  The sisters had a tendency to pose with the ever-so irritating duck lips  Yuck.  Keep up with them?  No, thanks.

Since that time I’ve become increasingly more repulsed by this family who makes a business of creating an impression of desirable beauty when in reality they are nothing more than exploiters of all things ugly.  It’s hard to tell which is more disturbing – the fact that this family is eager to sort their personal laundry on air or that millions of people are enthusiastic spectators to the mess that is their lives.  What does this say about our culture?

I’ve never seen Duck Dynasty, but I think I understand the premise – it’s the antics of a family who have created a family business of actually selling a product, some sort of duck caller, unlike the Kardashians who merely sell their souls.  From what I’ve seen in the media, the patriarch of the family has alienated some viewers with his outrageously homophobic opinions, which he presents as originating in his religious beliefs.

Here’s the thing – I don’t really know anything about this guy or his family. I honestly don’t care if he really believes that homosexuals are going directly to hell.   It doesn’t matter to me at all because his opinion holds no value in my world.  You see, my reality is populated with people who both maintain personal boundaries and value diversity, rather than exhibitionist mediawhores and judgmental conservatives.

Duck, duck, gross.  I’ll pass.

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Filed under News, Observations, politics, Rant, television

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