Stuff to do this weekend!

Weekend Destination: Quebec City

weekend destination quebec city composite

By Julie Madsen

Why: Architecture, food, culture.

How far: Just about six hours.

If you found that you fell in love with the culture of Quebec in Montreal, why not visit the capital of the province...

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Here's why a helicopter will be lifting equipment to the roof of the Corning Tower this weekend

Corning Tower looking up, close up

A handful of roads will be closed near the southeastern end of the Empire State Plaza this Sunday because crews will be using a helicopter to lift materials to the top of the Corning Tower. (The road closures list is below.)

The crews will be moving equipment for a new maintenance rig for the Corning Tower. Joseph Brill, a spokesman for the state Office of General of Services, said the process is planned to include a series of nine lifts, starting at approximately 9 am, which will include more than 11 tons of equipment. The schedule is dependent on the weather.

Why the need for the equipment? Well, in short, it makes it possible to maintain the exterior of the 42-floor building. As Brill explained in an email:

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Talking about streescape upgrades along New Scotland Ave in the Helderberg neighborhood

New Scotland Ave Helderberg streetscape possible upgrades clip

A clip from a diagram included with the event page listing. Here's the full version.

The city of Albany has a public meeting lined up for June 25 to talk about proposed streetscape upgrades along the New Scotland Ave commercial strip in the Helderberg neighborhood. Blurbage:

Join the City of Albany Department of Planning and Development and consultants from Chazen Companies for a public meeting to discuss streetscape and pedestrian improvements to the New Scotland Avenue commercial district between Ontario Street and Quail Street.
This project intends to improve traffic flow and public safety. The potential improvements may include but are not limited to:
• New granite curbing and sidewalks
• New decorative lighting
• Improved ADA access to existing buildings
• New ADA compliant pedestrian curb ramps
• New street trees
• Improved streetscaped pedestrian crossing(s) at intersections of Ontario Street, Grove Avenue and Quail Street
• Potential widening of sidewalk along the north side of New Scotland
• New amenities including benches, bike racks, signage and trash receptacles
• Public safety improvements on Avenue A including enhanced lighting

The meeting is Monday, June 25 from 6-8 pm at the First Congregational Church of Albany (405 Quail Street).

Sections of the city such as downtown or Lark Street or the Warehouse District get a lot of attention as hot spots of activity and development, but Albany has a handful of smaller retail corridors that are vibrant and add a lot to their surrounding neighborhoods in form of services, walkability, and just local places to get something to eat and hang out. And this strip along the Helderberg neighborhood is a prime example.

Now, if there's some way to get cars to actually stop for pedestrians at the cross walk at New Scotland Ave and Grove...

Earlier: Studying one of the channels of the daily commuting tide into and out of Albany

NY Attorney General files suit against Trump Foundation, attorney accused of stealing from clients, jobs at risk from automation, the former mayor as Uber driver

NY AG files suits against Donald Trump and Trump foundation
State Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Thursday that her office is filing a lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation -- and its director, which include the President and three of his children -- alleging "a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump's personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations." The AG's office also referred the case to the IRS and Federal Election Commission noting possible violations of tax and campaign law. [NYS OAG]
+ The suit alleges the foundation was co-opted by the Trump presidential campaign, specifically highlighting coordination in Iowa ahead of the caucuses there. [Politico NY]
+ On Twitter Donald Trump called the lawsuit an act of "sleezy New York Democrats." [NYT]
+ The former head of the IRS nonprofit division to the Washington Post: The lawsuit is" "an extraordinary catalogue of how not to run a private foundation. There's little else [Trump] could have done that would have made it worse." [Washington Post]

Immigration
+ A group gathered outside the federal building in Albany Thursday to protest the Trump administration's policies related to separating children from immigrant families trying to enter the United States or requesting asylum at border crossings. It was one of multiple rallies around the country. [WNYT] [TU]
+ Local immigration attorneys say the decision by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse a policy that allowed immigrants to request asylum because of domestic or gang violence makes those immigrants even more vulnerable. [TU]

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Today's moment of summer

pink peony rain drops 2018 June

Gotta appreciate the last few peonies of the season while they're still around.

Stuff to do this weekend

musician Jack Johnson 2018

Jack Johnson headlines Mountain Jam this weekend.

Back by popular request: the weekend.

This time of year has the longest daylight, and the days this weekend are packed full of festivals, baseball, strawberries, and music. A big list is below.

Planning something you don't see here? Tell us about it in the comments.

And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend.

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"Writing Flash" at the Arts Center

section of laptop computer keyboardThis could be fun and interesting: The Arts Center is offering a "flash" writing course starting in July. Blurbage (link added):

For better or for worse, our culture is one with a short attention span. In this class, we will look at the shortest forms of writing, the micro-essay, flash fiction, or prose poetry. Writing flash can be a way to condense our experiences and ideas down to their most explicit core or their most delightful truth. We can only become better writers as we zoom in, learning to pay attention to each syllable and breath in our writing. By the end of the course, you'll have a series of flashes ready to send out for publication.

Maybe you can discover your own inner Lydia Davis.

The instructor for the class is Olivia Dunn, a writer and visiting assistant professor at Skidmore. (Here's a podcast interview with her from last fall about writing and micro essays.)

The first class is July 16 at 7 pm, and it meets Mondays for four sessions through August 6. The course fee is $125 for people who are not members of the Arts Center.

Drawing: Tickets for Hidden City House & Garden Tour + gift certificates for El Mariachi Tapas and Capital Wine

10 Thurlow exterior angle

10 Thurlow Terrace, next to Washington Park.

The annual Hidden City House & Garden Tour in Albany is coming up next Thursday, June 21. And we have a pair of tickets to give away.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: The prize package also includes a $50 gift certificate to El Mariachi Tapas and a $25 gift certificate for Capital Wine.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What's your favorite local street? Why?

It could be a major thoroughfare or a tiny block. It could be a street as it exists today or as it existed in the past -- or even as it might exist in the future. We'll draw one winner at random. That person gets the tickets and gift certificates.

This year is the 43rd for the Hidden City House & Garden Tour, a self-guided tour of gardens and homes in Albany's Center Square, Hudson/Park, and Washington Park neighborhoods. It's a collaboration of the Center Square Association, Hudson/Park Neighborhood Association, and Historic Albany Foundation. This year's tour includes "The Castle" at 10 Thurlow Terrace (above).

Tickets are currently $20 and available online. (The price increases to $25 starting June 16.)

El Mariachi Tapas is at 271 Lark Street and offers a menu of Spanish and Mexican tapas. And Capital Wine is a neighborhood wine store at the corner of Lark and State.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 17, 2018 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 9 am on Monday and must respond by 9 am that Tuesday.

The Hudson Canyon

New York Bight Hudson Canyon USGS

From the US Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Not local exactly, but connected to here and kind of wild: A submarine canyon -- the largest on the eastern coast of the United States -- extends from the end of the Hudson River out through the continental shelf in the New York Bight. From the Friends of the Pleistocene blog:

The canyon dates to the Pleistocene and is actually an ancient extension of the Hudson River. During the Pleistocene, sea levels were 400 feet lower (in part because of all the water locked up in glaciers). The reduced sea level meant that the Hudson flowed 100 miles further east of its present location at the terminus of Lower Manhattan. The canyon carved by the Hudson extends a remarkable 450 miles across the continental shelf, then connects with the deep ocean basin where it descends to depths of 3 to 4 kilometers. As the Wisconsin Ice sheet retreated from what is present day New York City, the mighty Hudson of the Pleistocene transported heaps of glacial discharge and carved the surrounding landscape in its path.

As the state Department of Environmental Conservation noted today on Twitter, the canyon is home to many species of cold water corals. (It's also become a collection spot for all sorts of pollution that's been dumped into the ocean and washed down the Hudson River over the years.)

Earlier:
+ Odd and notable creatures of the Hudson River
+ That time whales swam to Albany
+ Ice Ages at the State Museum

The ValleyCats open the 2018 season this weekend at The Joe

tri-city valleycats night game at the joe

The Tri-City ValleyCats open their 2018 season this Friday at The Joe against the Vermont Lake Monsters. It's schedule magnet night and there will be fireworks after the game. It's part of a three-game home stand that runs through Sunday.

The ValleyCats are a farm team for the Houston Astros in the New York-Penn League, which is the "short-season A" level. (Minor league baseball's levels go from rookie ball up to AAA.) And while that's a few steps from the majors, more than 30 one-time ValleyCats have ended up making appearances in MLB -- including Jose Altuve, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, Hunter Pence, and Ben Zobrist.

Many of the Astros top draft picks -- especially older players out of college -- end up being assigned to the ValleyCats. So it's a chance to see players with a real chance of someday making the majors.

Tickets start as low as $6.50 the day of game (you can save a buck or so buying ahead). And the most expensive tickets are $12.50. So it can be relatively cheap night out. The 'Cats regular season home schedule stretches through the last week of August this year.

And The Joe -- the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College -- is a nice venue.

Also: It's minor minor league baseball, so there are a bunch of promotions, wacky theme nights, and in-game fun like the mayors race.

Albany murder victim named, case tossed out again in Troy double murder, mother in Albany road rage case arrested for false statement, preliminary approval for SUNY tuition hike

Colonie road rage arrests
Police made two more arrests in an Colonie road rage case from last month, and one of the people arrested was the woman who claimed to be a victim. State Police say an investigation concluded that Natia Shim, the mother of the driver, who claimed she and her son were chased down by another vehicle and attacked physically and verbally, was not in the car when the confrontation occurred. Shim was charged with making a false statement to police. Four other arrests have been made in the case. This item has been corrected. [TU][Spectrum][Gazette][WNYT]

Case dismissed a second time in Troy murders
For the second time, a Rensselaer County judge has tossed out charges against two men who were charged with killing a pair of Troy roommates nearly two years ago, saying there was insufficient evidence to tie that crime to the men charged, and cited incorrect instructions given to the grand jury. The defendants will be held until the DA's office determines whether it will resubmit the cast to a new grand jury. [TU][Spectrum]

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Checking in with Bard & Baker, the board game cafe planned for Troy

The_News_apartments_Troy_1.jpg

The cafe will be in the street-level corner space of the old Record building.

The new board game cafe that's been in the works for downtown Troy -- Bard & Baker -- now has a location.

The developers behind the new News Apartments announced this week that Bard & Baker will be taking one of the retail spaces in the old Troy Record building at Broadway and 5th Ave.

The cafe's owner is Charlotte Guyton, who was a key member of the team at Clark House Hospitality (Peck's Arcade, The Confectionery). And Bryan Connor, who was a pastry chef at Peck's Arcade, will be the cafe's kitchen manager.

Guyton first publicly announced the plan for the cafe during last year's AOA Startup Grant content, in which she was finalist. Even though she didn't win, the judges were very impressed by both her and her methodical approach. And Guyton got a boost last month when she won a $1,500 grant in the business plan competition for the Capital Region Chamber's Entrepreneur Boot Camp. She's aiming to open in September.

So we're curious to hear about how thing are coming along, and what to expect when the cafe opens this fall. And we figured you might be, too...

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Tech and electronics flea market at TVCOG

Tech Valley Center of Gravity exterior 2016-JulyThe Tech Valley Center of Gravity is hosting a technology and electronics flea market June 24. Blurbage:

There will be a wide range of tech and electronics supplies: everything from PVC fittings and 3D printer components to model rocket parts and engines, all offered at steep discounts. Take a break from the crowds, peruse the market, and take a tour of our makerspace while you're here!

Tables are also available if you'd like to be a vendor -- they're $20. (See that link above for details.)

The market is Sunday, June 24 from 11 am to 5 pm.

The Tech Valley Center of Gravity is in the Quackenbush Building at 3rd Street and Broadway in downtown Troy.

Great Race
As it happens, that's the same day that the Great Race will be making a stop in Troy. It's "an antique, vintage, and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways."

William Kennedy and Hunter S. Thompson

That clip embedded above is William Kennedy talking with Hunter S. Thompson in 1997 when Thompson was in town for the NYS Writers Institute.

It's basically a recall of an exchange of letter between the two when Kennedy was running a new English-language newspaper in Puerto Rico and Thompson applied for a job as a sports editor. At one point there's mention of using a bronze plaque in a rather indelicate way. (Spoiler: They ended up becoming friends.)

More NYSWI videos
The NYS Writers Institute has a huge archive of audio and video from visiting writers, and it's been posting clips to its Youtube channel -- both from recent appearances and from the past.

Earlier: Here's how the NYS Writers Institute gets all those great authors to visit

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: suicide, life, a supply of stupid drivers, Electric Park, the cosmopolitan high school, Valcour Island, pooping while running, the Tour de Wing: Pine Hills, the many cuisines of Utica, Nighthawks, Scotia, and a favorite spot.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Noted: Bears can now open car doors

The video embedded above was posted on the I Love Old Forge Facebook page this week. And, yep, that's a bear opening the doors of a minivan. There's a second video where the cubs mosey on out and into the van to explore.

Something that's obvious from this video: The bear uprising is approaching and a full on Planet of the Bears situation awaits us.

Seriously, though, bears are intelligent, curious, motivated, clever creatures. And they have collectively learned how to how operate car door handles during the last 10-15 years. From a Guardian article last year about bears opening doors in Yosemite:

According to Kirsten Leong, an expert in animal/human interactions and behaviours at the national parks service, the ability to open car doors is the latest in a long line of adaptations by bears to the presence and behaviours of humans. "They learn very quickly, if there's a reward, how to get that," she said. ...

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Cuomo out front in Siena poll, APD investigating homicide, NXIVM's Raniere denied bail, back and forth continues of Albany bill for protest

Siena poll puts Cuomo ahead
The latest Siena poll shows Andrew Cuomo with a 19-point lead over Republican Marc Molinaro and a 35 point lead over Cynthia Nixon. [Siena]

Albany homicide
A 25-year-old Albany man is dead following a shooting in the city's West Hill neighborhood on Tuesday. [TU]

NXIVM
A judge has denied bail to NXIVM founder Keith Raniere. Meanwhile NXIVM has announced it is suspending all operations and planned events in light of recent sex trafficking allegations. [Gazette][TU]

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Pick-your-own strawberry season 2018

strawberries in basket straw closeup

Strawberry season is here! A few farms opened their pick-your-own strawberry fields this past week, and a bunch of others will be doing so this week or next.

It seems like this year's season is more or less on schedule, though a few farms have noted that some cold and wet weather earlier this year delayed things a little bit.

A typical strawberry season at many farms in this area only lasts a few weeks, though some farms have strawberries for longer stretches -- even most of the summer -- because their fields include a range of varieties that produce at different times. When you're at the farm stand, ask about the varieties the farms are growing. In our experience people are happy to talk about what's available, for how long, and why. It's also a good idea to call ahead or check the website before heading out.

Here are a handful of places in the greater Capital Region that you can pick your own strawberries. Know of a good place not on this list? Please share!

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All the Capital Region's sidewalks

CDTC sidewalk inventory map clip

We enjoy both maps and sidewalks.

So, not surprisingly, we were interested in this new map of all the sidewalks in the Capital Region. That's some 1,225 miles of sidewalk.

The map is the the product of three years of work by the Capital Region Transportation Committee. It was created primarily for compliance work for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and also to assist with planning for pedestrian infrastructure.

Also: It's a map of all the sidewalks.

Here's the full map and a few bits...

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More profitable than milk

S&S Farm Brewery in Nassau gets a mention in this New York Times feature about (former) dairy farms finding new life as sites for breweries. Barns have a plenty of space, some of the equipment can be reused, and people are willing to pay a heck of a lot more for a pint of beer than a pint of milk. [NYT] (Thanks, Jess!)

Looking for more? Check out the last week's worth of posts or the archive.

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