Very Small

Good morning.  How are you?  Well here!

I drove to the hardware store to buy corn gluten for the fall lawn application.  I asked if the snow shovels were out and both employees within earshot burst out laughing.  “It is only October!” and “Do you know something we don’t know?” It was intended to be good natured ribbing, but I wasn’t in the mood.  Truth be told, I do know some things they don’t know.  For starters, I don’t take my car out but once a week, if that, so each trip has to count (even if that means buying a shovel a month or two early).  Second, their store is too far from my house so I won’t be in again until spring, when I return for another bag of corn gluten (I used to buy two at once until I learned that mice love eating corn gluten).   Third, I wanted to buy a snow shovel from them, while I was there, and now I won’t.  If I were quicker on my feet I would have shared this with them, but I am not and did not.  I just thanked them and paid for the corn gluten.  I sometimes wish I had never worked retail and learned along the way that the customer is always right.  That expectation is always causing me trouble.

I stopped at a new to me Shop Rite on the way home.  I love grocery store tourism.  I walked every aisle and came away with one thing.  But what a thing!  Lesserevil Brands Snack Food Co.’s Buddha Bowl Himalayan Pink.pc

In Wilton, Connecticut, they are popping organic popcorn in organic coconut oil and adding Himalayan pink salt.  Nothing else and nothing else needed.   Absolutely wonderful.  I was expecting a less than perfect texture, it having been popped and bagged a state away, but they have it down.  Perfect.  Strange that I should run into this just now, having recently enjoyed the same snack at the Madison Theater (except it is probably the case that the Madison is using a less precious salt).  I’ll be making the same here at home, but if the Co-op carried this I’d be a regular buyer.  fap

That’s enough.  Please take care.

Close

Lacey and I went to the Madison Theater yesterday (our first trip since the new owners and their renovation).  Two thumbs up!

The popcorn!  Popped in coconut oil and salted just right, it was the best I’ve ever had.  No butter needed.  They also have Izzy soda, vegan candy bars and are working to get a license to sell beer.

Loved the reclining seats, the massive screen and the terrific sound.  A leaps and bounds upgrade over the previous iterations of this theater.

We saw Lucy.  I’m not a big fan of action films but this one is a winner.

If you haven’t been to the Madison Theater since the new owners, you need to check it out.  They’re starting to show first run films and, at $5 and so close to home, I couldn’t be happier.

Later!

A Few New Things

On Sunday we visited the Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park.  An easy 25 minute drive and worth the trip.  It wasn’t until we got back that I realized I had opted to drive to drink beer on the same day thousands marched for action on global warming in New York and other cities.  Does it help that I had filled my car with three other people?  I didn’t think so.  Sorry!  Oh.  I should also point out that I drank only 6 0z. of beer, as I was the designated driver.

The tasting room offered flights of five 6 ounce beers for $10 and for that you get to keep the glass.  They served four beers on tap and had a fridge full of bottles that they’d open to add to your flight upon request.  I enjoyed everything I tried (I had a sip of two others), even the offerings that veered off the beaten bath.  I visited on a Sunday so they were holding their Beer with a Shmear.  Buy a flight and get a bagel, cream cheese and/or crackers, cheese and olives.  Nice spread!BV

The free tour was terrific.  Shane hosted and was a delight.  Very fun and lively give and take.  I missed the intro but based on his references to “my recipes” I got the sense he was the brew master.  If he isn’t, he could be.   Remember to bring a glass from the tasting room and he may offer you free beer during the tour.  Highly recommended.AB

In other news, yesterday I attended a public hearing before the traffic safety committee of the Albany Common Council to learn about red light cameras.  Legislation has been drafted, but it has not yet been presented to the Common Council for a vote.  Here is the bill in the form provided at the meeting:  45.92.14

Michael Cox, the deputy chief of police, started things off.  He gave a good presentation the punchline of which is he’s in favor of them.  The second speaker drafted the proposed legislation.  The third speaker was from AAA.  He shared a ton of stats which he characterized as supporting red light cameras.  The “preponderance of the evidence” supported them, was his exact phrase.

Members of the public safety committee were then given the chance to ask questions.  I got the sense that most were in favor with one notable exception.  Judd Krasher hates them.  His objections centered around 6th Amendment concerns (specifically the right to to be confronted with the witnesses against an accused in a criminal proceeding).  Thing is, the proposed legislation as currently drafted, Ordinance Number 45.92.14, imposes a penalty of $50 (aside:  parking tickets are $42 with the service fees–$50 is a bargain for endangering the lives of your neighbors).  No summons to appear.   Just a ticket, like a parking ticket.  In fact, the Parking Violations Bureau would be in charge.  To quote:

An imposition of liability under this section shall not be deemed a conviction of an operator and shall not be made a part of the operating record of the person upon whom such liability is imposed nor shall it be used for insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance coverage.

All of that suggests to me that the 6th Amendment protections should not apply as there is no criminal proceeding.

Judd was also concerned that the collection of $50 for running a red light is a regressive tax.  I don’t see it.  Regressive taxes are a problem when imposed on things people need (say food), but in this instance the “taxpayer” can opt out.  Don’t run red lights and you won’t be taxed.

Roughly 25 members of the public were there and about half took the opportunity to speak.  About eight were against and four for.  Of the eight against, four were from out of town, so local feedback given at the meeting was about even.

The against camp frequently asserted privacy concerns.  Fair to be concerned, but the current state of constitutional law doesn’t provide much cover.  Rights to privacy in public are severely limited and do not generally extend to things that are in plain view.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe officers can look into cars (through the window) without a warrant.  This proposed legislation requires the demonstration program to ensure, to the extent practicable, that photographs produced will not include images that identify the driver, the passengers or the contents of the vehicle.  This safeguard should look pretty good in comparison to the current practice of collection of images and data from stationary police cameras and cameras mounted to police cars.  Point is, we are already being watched so I am not concerned about more cameras designed to improve safety on our streets.

The against camp also suggested the data doesn’t support the assertion that red light cameras make roads safer.  Principal concern is that rear ending accidents go up as people begin to stop for red lights.  Easy solution–stop exceeding the speed limit, tailgating and assuming the car in front of you will run the light.  It will still happen, but it isn’t right to blame the camera.  The person behind is always at fault in a rear end collision.  End of story.

They were also concerned about giving money to a private contractor who would be retained to install, maintain and operate the cameras.  In round numbers, it sounds like the contractors get around 40% of the revenues generated.  Still yields millions of dollars each year to each municipality that has installed them.  Nothing to sneeze at.  And if you are against public private partnerships, you’ve really missed the boat.  Private contractors have been providing services to municipalities for as long as municipalities have been around.  Maybe the objectors were public employees and fear more outsourcing?  They did cite corruption experienced in other municipalities.  Surely a risk here, but if we tossed out every service tainted by malfeasance we may be without services altogether.

Another oft cited concern was that red light camera programs are intended only to generate revenue.  Fine with me.  Albany needs cash.  The AAA rep stressed the importance of earmarking money raised by the red-light cameras to fund further advances in traffic safety, including engineering improvements and education.  Sign me up.  WS

This marked the first time I’ve attended a public meeting.  I may be hooked.  I expected boring but got impassioned speeches, some accusations and heated defenses.  I wasn’t bored for a minute of the two hours.  If you haven’t tried it, do.  I think there is another public meeting on this issue on October 8.  Check here.  If the safety committee (say…isn’t this a code for something other than safety?)  approves the legislation it will be presented to the full council for a vote.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Red Lights

A friend forwarded to me a note from a member of the Albany Common Council.  The councilperson was reaching out to individuals with concerns about traffic safety and in particular red light running.  It got my attention, as I am fully behind adding the cameras.

The Council’s Public Safety Committee meets this Tuesday, September 23, at 5:30pm in the courtroom, 2nd floor of City Hall, to discuss the Red Light Camera legislation currently being considered by the Council.  The Council is encouraging individuals who are supportive of red light cameras to attend and speak out during the public comment period.  There will most likely be others speaking out against red light cameras so the hope is to present a balanced view of the issue.  If you cannot attend, please consider writing an email to the entire Council through their Legislative Aide, Cashawna Parker at parkerc@ci.albany.ny.us.
I hope to be there.  You?

 

Argh!

I brought one motorbike with me to Albany, but sold it a year later.  I was perusing Craigslist today and I see it is being sold again!  Still looks good.  Of course I thought about buying it back, but so far so good.  Honestly, I’d rather have this in my garage, or this in my driveway, but I should be able to resist those as well.  Things I am not buying.  A heck of a post, right?  Why are you even reading this?

Go do something better with your time.

Solved

Here I expressed misgivings regarding the net benefit of a protected bike lane proposed for Madison Avenue.  Intersections concerned me the most.  Of course the Dutch have sorted it.

(from Momentum Magazine)

I wonder if we can get protected bicycle intersections at the same time we get protected bicycle lanes?  For what it is worth, my hands would be in the air.fig

And then there’s this.

Take care.

 

Uncool

Oh the Google.  I’ve had an account with Youtube for years.  Then, as you surely know, Youtube was acquired by Google.  Later, Google created Google+.  For some time I’d log onto Youtube to post a video and I’d be badgered to create a Google+ account and link the two accounts.  I tried to say no but at some point I was signed up.  As bright and careful as I am, Google was too sneaky and it happened.  Then I’d get invites to join friends on Google+ even though I had not once looked at Google+.  That kind of bugged me.  Did a Google+ page exist for me that people were viewing?  What was on it?  I had no idea.  I just wanted it gone.

Yesterday I read about how to deactivate my Google+ account.  To save my Youtube account, I needed to delink Youtube and Google+, which I did according to directions from Google+.  Then I deactivated Google+.  Apparently the unlinking didn’t happen and now my Youtube account is gone along with all my videos many of which were shared on this blog.

The deactivation notice said I could reactivate.  I tried.  One of the security questions was when did I create my Google+ account.  Pretty sure I didn’t create it and, if I unwittingly did, I have no idea when.  Punchline–I can’t reactivate my Youtube account.  Kind of evil of Google, don’t you think?

Time to look for other services.  I’m thinking Vimeo for videos and Duck Duck Go for a search engine.  Let me know if you know of reasons I should look elsewhere.

I spent some time deleting from my posts embedded now blank videos.  I only made it back to April, 2014.  It is an annoying process so I will probably just leave older posts alone.  Not a big deal.  All of my videos were little things that were only meant to make the world a more quiet place and what could be more quiet than no video at all?

Today is supposed to be a perfect day, weather wise.  I hope you get out there and enjoy it.  Me, too.photo

Take care.