Tuesday night we had a number of diners who were decompressing after Day 1 of the NYS Bar exam. It’s always interesting to meet and talk with young attorneys from literally around the world who are seeking credentials to practice in my home state. A table of six the other night really stood out in my mind. The group consisted of Brazilians and Argentinians and they were full of life and appreciative of the hospitality we bestowed upon them. They loved our patio and enjoyed the cocktail of the month and our pasta special and it was great to witness their relaxation.
As they were departing Lark + Lily, they were talking about football. You know, soccer. I mentioned that Albany has a terrific soccer bar, Wolff’s Biergarten, and suggested that they might enjoy visiting there after the second day of the exam. One of the men quickly responded that he planned to come back to my place the next night – and he did, bringing four different test takers with him.
After their meal, we were talking together and they related some stories about their experiences taking cabs in Albany. If you’ve ever taken a cab around here, you know what’s coming next… They were completely shocked by the condition of the cab (“the car looked like it had been in a bad accident”), the rudeness of the drivers (“this is how we do it here. I don’t know what it’s like in your country”) and the practice of picking up passengers all around town (“I used my map app to confirm that we were going around in circles rather than directly to my hotel”). Yes, indeed, welcome to Albany, the Capital of New York State.
I agreed with their assessment and apologized for the wretched cab service available in my city. I noted that it is on par with what I would imagine would be present in a third world country. Laughing, they said that they represented 3 third world countries and that their service is far superior to ours. Wow.
When they were getting ready to leave, they asked if the Biergarten was nearby. Could they walk there? I explained that it was some distance from the restaurant and that the walk might be a little ambitious. Seeing the disappointment on their faces, I immediately made the sincere offer to give them a ride. Their disappointment changed to astonishment. “Really?,” they asked. Absolutely.
My friend, who had just arrived, and I piled them into the car and gave them the 10 minute tour of our city. We drove down Washington Avenue to State Street and then across Broadway, filling them on the architecture and history of what is a lovely, lovely city with shitty, shitty cab service. While I completely enjoyed giving them a ride (I’ve been the recipient of many kindnesses myself while traveling and was happy to return the favor), it sure would be nice if visitors and residents of Albany had available quality transportation. Until then, I’m just glad I have a station wagon.
Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, politics, Rant, Restaurants, soccer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York
Terrapin restaurant in Rhinebeck has been around for a long time, maybe 15 years at their current location inside a beautiful old church right on Route 9. Many years ago, I had dinner there with three other people and was completely put off by the service. I don’t remember anything about the food because the experience was so overshadowed by the snippy bartender and the inexperienced server. I vowed never to go back, a promise easy to keep since A. I don’t go to Rhinebeck frequently and B. There are so many other options in that area.
Today, though, I met one of my besties in Rhinebeck for a bite to eat and some catching up. I offered her two options – Gigi Trattoria, where we’ve been happy before, and Terrapin for a fresh chance at making us happy. She checked out their menus and decided on Terrapin and we agreed to meet at about 4:00.
I arrived first and found a seat at the bar, not a challenge with at least half of the bar stools open. Within a minute or two I was given a cocktail menu on my request. I started reading, pleased with the beer and wine selections. I wondered about their carafes and if they were filling them from draft lines and planned to ask whoever took my drink order about the set up. The man two seats away from me finished his drink and ordered another, as I was told by the bartender that she would be “right with me.” She wasn’t.
I changed my mind about the beer I had been thinking of ordering and selected a glass of wine instead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share my decision with anyone because the bartender had yet to come over to take my order. The man near me began drinking his fresh Patron margarita, inspiring me to look at the cocktail list. I reconsidered my wine choice and began perusing the “available” cocktails. The sour cherry Manhattan caught my eye…
My friend arrived and I shared my menu with her. The bartender told us she’d be right over. She wasn’t.
The man next to us finished his drink and asked for a check. The bartender took care of that. We sat there, me with probably 15+ minutes invested without even the reward of a glass of water, another moment and then picked up our bags and left. I will never, ever, step foot in that restaurant again and this time I mean it.
There are some words in the English language which have so many meanings that they are impossible to accurately interpret without context. “Mass” is one of those words.
I suppose my first definition of mass would have been religiously based, mass as a noun, as a destination on Sunday mornings and holidays like Christmas Eve. It is a place of peace where rituals provide comfort to the faithful. As someone who doesn’t even practice a formal religion, I find mass to be a safe location for spiritual exploration and community. Mass is good.
When I was a student, I struggled with understanding the word mass when it was used scientifically. Mass and weight confuse me the same way medians and averages do, I don’t really get it without making an effort. Mass can be difficult to comprehend.
Often mass is used as an adjective. I’m certain you’ve heard the phrase “mass hysteria” or “mass appeal.” Mass can convey a state of contagious or collective behavior, a condition that typically defies logic or explanation. Mass, when used as a describing word, can suggest downright madness.
Today, I sought the definition of yet another use of the word “mass,” as in “mass shooting.” I was curious to know what that term meant; especially after hearing our country had hosted 355 of these in calendar year 2015 alone. Yes, 355, more than one a day, every single day. How could that be possible?
Well, it seems that there are different definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting. Is it an occurrence in which a minimum of 3 or 4 people have been killed or injured in acts of gun violence? Do we include cases of domestic abuse? How about gang violence? Should we only count the indiscriminate acts, like the ones we witnessed in Sandy Hook or Colorado or do we merely focus our attention on the ones which are perpetrated by shooters who don’t resemble “us” in color or creed?
I don’t have any answers only a wish that mass could once again be a word that describes a place of refuge and sanctity rather than a situation which is impossible to understand and wrought with insanity.
If you’re anything like me, you must occasionally observe the actions of others and wonder to yourself “Who are those people? Where are they from that they were taught that that sort of behavior was acceptable? Who raised them?!” There have been a few things in the news, and in my travels, recently that left me shaking my head and clenching my fists. Maybe they prompted a similar response in you?
People who harm or kill animals –
On a local level, think of Hudson who, along with two litter mates,was found at approximately 3 weeks of age nailed to train tracks. Or, maybe the “man” who was recently convicted of spraying his unnamed dog with alcohol and then setting it on fire. How about that abomination of a human being who killed Cecil the lion, along with numerous other majestic and rare animals, for “sport?” How can our world still be populated by humans who participate in canned hunts? I can’t imagine how anyone can perceive the act of killing a wild animal as something to be lauded. They truly make me sick to my stomach.
On the side of the yellow brick road, 8/15
People who litter –
It is impossible to walk or run around Albany without confronting trash. The array of discarded debris is remarkable – from straw wrappers to empty beverage containers to flat screen tvs, all tossed by the roadside. What makes people believe the world is somehow their personal landfill? You know what? I kind of hate them.
The subject of trash is the perfect segue to the latest “reality” television family implosion…
The Dugars –
I’ve never watched this show but it has been impossible to avoid hearing about this enormous family. Their homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic perspective on life was apparently popular entertainment for nearly a decade until they collectively revealed that their feet were made of clay. Or maybe mud would be a more accurate descriptor. I really wish that the fad of looking to families who are willing to prostitute themselves in the media as positive examples would end. Immediately.
So, tell me – who are these people and, more importantly, how do we make them go away?
On more than one occasion, I’ve listened to people complain about how much money teachers get paid. Maybe you’ve been part of such a conversation – it usually involves noting the short work day teachers enjoy, the health insurance and other benefits they’re given, and the excellent calendar which allows
me them to have summers and holidays off. I’m familiar with the litany of complaints about teachers, even without the governor leading the chorus, thank you very much. I have a Master’s Degree along with nearly 20 years in the field and I just broke the $60,000 mark last year. Does that really sound excessive?
There have been a couple of things I’ve read or seen recently that make me a little insane when it comes to income or salary. For instance, the 14 wealthiest Americans increased their net worth in the last two years by $157 billion. That increase is equal to the entire holdings of the bottom 40% of Americans. Does that even seem right?
Did you know that Disney CEO Robert Iger made almost $44 million last year? The median salary for Disney workers is less than $20,000 a year, but I’m sure that he does 2,238 times more work than everyone else, right? How is this ok?
I’d love to share the income of one of our local billionaires, George R. Hearst III, but since his family business is privately held, that figure is impossible to determine without a subpoena or peek at his tax returns. Suffice it to say, his family’s worth is estimated to be in the area of about $35 billion. And, yes, this is the same guy/corporation that hasn’t given their local employees toiling away at the Albany Times Union a raise in more than 7 years. Really??
I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand why a small percentage of our population holds such a disproportionately large share of the wealth. How much do they need? How can anyone justify a CEO-to-worker compensation ratio (in 2013) of to 295.9-to-1? All I can say is Bernie Sanders. Enough.
Ok, people, I’ve arrived at that place where many of you have been for weeks, if not months – I’m done with winter. As I look out my sliding glass window at the still light at 7:15 pm sky, I want to feel enticed to venture outdoors, to take a walk or run. Instead, I’m cozied up on the couch trying to decide which comes first – a hot shower or a quick nap. This does not make me happy.
Last month when it was barely 12 degrees for my son’s sledding party, I didn’t complain. During my winter break a few weeks back, there were a couple of days when it was literally too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes. I accepted it. On the first full day of spring when Mother Nature spit snow from the sky, I responded by simply changing from my Frye boots into a pair of Doc’s. No big deal.
But, today? When I went outside and felt the bone-chilling wind cut through my three layers of clothing? As I reached, again, for a hat and gloves and warmed up my car prior to going to work? I felt pissed. I’m tired of my winter wardrobe, sick of socks and wearing leggings under my jeans. I’m ready for bare legs, crisp cotton sheets and open windows, aren’t you?
It’s time, Jack Frost. You need to go.
- I’m angry that Sheldon Silver was given the courtesy of sitting in a position of prestige at this week’s State of the State address when the state’s teachers are not invited to sit at the table and truly participate in education reform and improvement.
- I’m angry that Sheldon Silver, along with the governor and other elected officials, is responsible for the educational, social and financial policies of NYS, a task with which he doesn’t deserve to be trusted.
- I’m angry that for the last 5 years or so my profession has been under constant attack while Speaker Silver has been profiting from illegal business deals for decades.
- I’m angry that Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly maligned the teachers of this state while protecting those he promised to prosecute.
- I’m angry that dedicated and experienced educators have been made to feel like criminals when, in fact, the real felons are drafting absurd policies to evaluate how we are doing our jobs. I’ve been a librarian for nearly twenty years and the measure of how well I do job is going to be based upon a test that I give students who want to check out a book or need research help? How about that facility I manage?
- I’m angry that 7 of the 12 charter schools in my district have closed, yet the governor has tied an increase in educational state aid to an increase in the number of charter schools permitted, along with the removal of limitations regarding how many such schools can be placed in a particular region.
- I’m angry that other sitting New York State Democrats have not expressed their commitment to eliminating corruption and ridding our government of politicians who think that holding public office means that they are somehow above the law.
- I’m angry that more people don’t vote.