Tag Archives: rants

Don’t confuse Fake News with the genuine story

Over the weekend, more significantly on the first of April, there was a bit of a brouhaha in the Times Union Blogoverse. Chuck Miller posted a piece that day, as he has every single day for some remarkable length of time, that claimed that Kellyanne Conway would be the speaker for the University of Albany’s 2017 spring commencement. When the headline came across one of my feeds, without even clicking through, I discerned that it was an April Fool’s Day joke and quickly moved on to something else I was more interested in reading. There were a lot of funny things published that particular day and honestly, that toy soldier outfit of Conway’s from Inauguration Day is a real turnoff.

Later in the day I heard there was some controversy about Chuck’s post. It seems that the editor of the Times Union felt compelled to have the blog post removed from the website and to go one step farther by Tweeting out an apology along with a four sentence story on times union.com:

A community blog hosted by timesunion.com falsely reported Saturday morning that Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to President Trump, would be the commencement speaker at the University at Albany. As soon as we were alerted to the post, we removed it from our site and suspended the blog. We apologize to anybody who was misled by this post, which was not written by a Times Union staff member. Even on April Fools’ Day, there’s no place for fake news under the Times Union banner.

To me, the most outrageous part of this entire episode is this undeniable truth: the newsroom at the Times Union, a place once filled with professionals, is a ghost town. In the last few years, reporters and editors and photographers have left the Times Union faster than Donald Trump jets to Mar-a-Lago every weekend.

Look at this list of names – Paul Block, Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Michael P. Farrell, Bob Gardinier, Jen Gish, Paul Grondahl, Michael Huber, Tim O’Brien, Tracey Ormsbee, Ray Pitlyk, John Runfola, Cindy Schultz, Brianna Snyder and Dennis Yusko. All have left the Times Union in the past year or so. Yes, Rex, the offending blog post was not written by a Times Union staff member because, in fact, there are hardly any of them left.

When newspapers make the decision to buy printing presses and build community meeting space rather than pay professionals to cover real stories, what they become are blog hosts and slide show click bait. At a time when real news reporting has never been more critical, the editor of the Times Union and the corporation that owns it have become a media joke. Kind of like the blog post that started all of this.

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Filed under Local, News, Observations, politics, Rants

Paradise might be a parking lot

Whenever the conversation turns to city life you know that the topic of parking is going to come up. While many of us have no issue with doing a couple of laps, or even walking a few blocks from our car to our destination, there are quite a few people who absolutely will not venture somewhere without “convenient” parking. Truth.

As someone who is accustomed to considering a parking spot within a half mile of my location when in NYC to be a real find, I don’t completely understand that mindset, but as a business owner, I need to be cognizant of it. Since purchasing my Lark Street business, I’ve spent a fair amount of time eyeing the county owned parking lot a half a block from Lark Street. You know, the one between Lark and Henry Johnson on Washington Avenue that essentially is nearly empty beyond the county business day? Yeah. That one.

I’ve had conversations with the Lark Street BID, a person from the county, people from the city and someone from the parking authority. The end result: nothing. Zero progress.

Here’s the thing – some businesses in the neighborhood have promoted the evening use of that parking facility to their guests via social media. I’ve got pictures to prove it. There’s a nearby church that has a sandwich board which they place in the lot of Sundays inviting their worshippers to park in that very lot during services. Have they been given the green light by officials or are they merely rolling the dice and taking a chance?

I’m not going to lie – I’m really irked by the lack of consistency regarding both permission to park and the enforcement of the county’s policy that the lot is exclusively for county employees. It seems unfair, incredibly inefficient and it bothers me. Why is a prime asset to neighborhood businesses not being used to its potential? At a time when localities are struggling for revenue, wouldn’t it be logical to make this lot available in the evenings and on the weekends to potential customers and charge them a fair fee for the convenience?

Come on, Albany. You can and must do better.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Rant, Restaurants, Uncategorized

The urge to purge

db2f6261-f9f8-4a1f-9a59-bc0e490f0e79-12096-000007bb74a66c9d_tmpConfession: I have too much stuff, particularly clothing. These days when I look at the two-sided garment rack which is stationed outside of the closet large enough for me to step inside of, I feel weighed down and vaguely embarrassed. It’s too much.

I’ve defended my consumerism with numerous excuses – I lost weight and needed clothes that fit, I must have to different wardrobes to meet the needs of both my day and evening jobs, I rarely pay full price for anything and many of the pieces come from consignment shops or clearance sales, I consign my clothes a couple of times a year…

Whatever. In a world where too many have nothing, I have too much.

But, I’m feeling stuck. My avenue for consigning my clothes has hit a dead end since the store I previously worked with is no longer selling clothing. The idea of exploring other options overwhelms me right now and finding an alternate sales venue feels impossible in my current, crazed life. Maybe you have a suggestion?

Since I haven’t been able to dispose of my clothing without feeling as if I wasted money with my initial purchase, I’m working to commit to not buying new garments. Even when the sale is tremendous and the item “perfect,” I’m walking away empty handed. Buying new things isn’t filling me with joy right now, so why bother?

As weeks in a new year quickly move along, I feel myself trying to get another angle on lightening my load. Maybe It’s time to take an afternoon to make a few piles of clothes which I am willing to weed from my wardrobe, no matter the cost. You know, sorting everything into categories such as Not Worn in a Year/No Longer Fits or Flatters/In Need of Tailoring or Cleaning or Repair and then being relentless.

The idea of actually doing this is growing more exciting than formidable and I’m almost there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Filed under Fashion, musings, Random

My home is not broken

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

I attended a meeting recently and was struck to hear a colleague describe a student’s home as being “broken.” Of course, my reaction is personal and I’m probably just being hypersensitive, but it really bothered me, particularly since it was offered as an explanation for all of a particular child’s academic, social and personal issues. I mean, the end of a marriage can certainly be construed as a failure belonging to a husband and wife, but to present it as the ultimate reason a child fails to thrive, just doesn’t seem fair to me. What do you think?

To me, a “broken” home is one lacking in warmth, love and affection. Fortunately, that’s not my children’s experience. A “broken” home is a place where the parental relationship has eroded, or failed to grow, to a degree that the adults in the household are actively unhappy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a number of those types of houses, homes where a couple remains together “for the children” or due to financial reasons or for health insurance or other benefits. Is an intact, but painfully unsatisfying home life really considered to be a superior setting for raising children than two separate residences led by adults who are emotionally and personally fulfilled? I don’t think so.

Let’s stop equating ended marriages with homes that fail to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for raising children. They’re not the same thing.

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Filed under Boys, family, marriage, Rant, relationships

Taking my guests for a ride – cab service in Albany

imageTuesday 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.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, politics, Rant, Restaurants, soccer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York

The turtle that is Terrapin, Rhinebeck

imageTerrapin 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.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, friends, Rant, Restaurants, road trips, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

The meaning of Mass

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.

 

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Filed under California, musings, News, Observations, politics, Uncategorized