Have fun storming the castle.

AG calls for reform after death of man in Schenectady police custody, focus on working conditions of EMTs, Albany family forced from home by demolition, the pet finder

Review of man's 2017 death in Schenectady police custody
The state Attorney General's office reported Friday that a grand jury had declined to hand up charges in the 2017 death of Andrew Kearse in Schenectady police custody. Kearse died of a heart problem, and in its report the AG's office says it consulted with a cardiologist who determined that there had been "a limited window of time in which appropriate medical intervention could have saved his life." [NYS OAG]
+ From a released statement by AG Barabara Underwood: "Regardless of the grand jury's decision, Mr. Kearse's death was a tragedy that never should have happened, and reforms must be made to prevent similar future tragedies."
+ The AG's office also released video associated with the case. [Daily Gazette]
+ Kearse's widow said she was disappointed there was no indictment, but hoped his death would inspire reform. [Daily Gazette]

EMT working conditions
A look at the hours, strain, and pay that EMTs face as their union pushes for higher pay and changes in working conditions with Mohawk Ambulance. [TU]


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The week ahead

Sujatha Gidia Ants Among Elephants

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (chilly), to spooky tours, to films, to science, to politics, to music...

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Gawking at the new Schenectady train station


In a bit of a surprise the new Schenectady train station opened this past Wednesday, a few weeks ahead of the announced schedule. The $23 million station is the replacement for the old 1970s station that was demolished last year.

We had a few free minutes in downtown Schenectady today, so we stopped by to gawk at the station. It's small, but nice. And it has that new station smell.

We've included a handful of photos if you'd like to have a look.

The design is said to be inspired by the old-old Schenectady train station -- Schenectady Union Station, the one built in 1910 -- that was knocked down in 1971. For a while Schenectady's train service was moved to a stop in Colonie. See Carl's history of the demise of the old-old station.

As nice as the new station is, the best thing about it might be its location downtown just off the corner of Erie Boulevard and State Street. Of the Capital Region's four core cities, Schenectady is the only one that still has an operating train station right in its downtown. It's a reminder of what could have been for a place like Albany.

It's kind of great that you can walk to a train in the heart of Manhattan, say, and hop off right in downtown Schenectady and walk to a destination there.

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A little push up the hill

By Greg

Wrapped into my update this past week about what it's been like to use a bike as one of my primary ways of getting around town was a lament/complaint/whining about pedaling up the rather large hill in downtown Albany.

Because of that -- and because it's Friday afternoon -- here's a video of the CycloCable, sort of a ski lift for bikes, in Trondheim, Norway. (See also this CityLab article about it a few years ago.)

The odds of something like this being built in downtown Albany are essentially zero, and probably for some good reasons. But part of me kind of wants to see it proposed just to watch the reaction to the idea.

I mean, it's no gondola...

A collection of castle day trips

castle day trip composite Julie Madsen

By Julie Madsen

This part of the country is dotted with castle-like structures, full of history, mystery, romance, and fairytale.

Here's a handful of castles that are within day trip from the Capital Region...

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Classics of Science Fiction at The Linda

UAlbany 2018 Classics of Science Fiction posterA multi-day get-together called Classics of Science Fiction will be at The Linda in Albany November 1-4. Blurbage:

Guests include authors, artists, podcasters, cosplayers, business owners, and professors. From November 2-4 at The Linda we will screen a diverse selection of international science fiction films, short lectures, open discussions, artistic creations, live music, a silent auction, live podcast tapings, and a Benefit Masquerade Ball.
Long before Le Voyage dans la Lune took early film goers to the moon, writers of science fiction created Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, and Captain Nemo to captivate their audiences. Now there is no corner of the arts where science fiction does not reach, from painting, literature, and music to video games, television, and scientific innovation. Through science fiction we dream of the "what ifs" that drive society to create, to explore, and to render through artistic and scientific media the hopes, dreams, fears, and fantasies of a society. Come see and discus some of the diverse and influential science fiction films that have shaped the ways in which we dream as a culture, and celebrate Albany's own spirit of innovation and discovery.

There's a full schedule at the link above.

The lineup includes a talk with Eugene Lim, author of Dear Cyborgs, and screenings of films such as the 1902 Georges Méliès classic A Trip to the Moon, Fritz Lang's Metropolis with live score, Ridley Scott's Alien, Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, and the Alfonso Cuarón masterpiece Children of Men.

The event is organized by the Department of Writing and Critical Inquiry at UAlbany, and Eugene Lim talk is part of the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series.

Admission is $2 per screening / $5 for a day pass / $10 for a weekend pass / free for students with valid ID.

Cuomo leads in Q-poll, NTSB still hasn't examined limo from deadly Schoharie crash, Schenectady and GE

Q-poll shows Cuomo with strong lead
The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Andrew Cuomo with a 23-percentage point lead over Republican challenger Marc Molinaro. [Spectrum]

Molinaro suing JCOPE
Gubernatorial candidate Mark Molinaro and chairman Ed Cox are suing JCOPE in an effort to force the ethics board's commissioners to vote on launching a probe into whether convicted former Cuomo aide Joe Percoco used state government resources while managing Cuomo's 2014 gubernatorial campaign -- and whether the governor was aware of any potentially illegal activities. [TU]

Schoharie limo crash
+After nearly two weeks,investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board say they have still not been able to get access to examine the limo involved in the crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie. The car remains in the custody of the New York State Police, who say it may be a few more weeks before the NTSB has access. [TU][Spectrum]

+State and federal lawmakers are calling for new safety regulations for the controversial stretch of road where the limo crashed. [Spectrum]

+A family copes with the loss of four sisters.[NYT]


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Today's moment of autumn

Tivoli Community Farm Tivoli Preserve Albany alpaca

Had a few minutes to spare Thursday afternoon, so we stopped by the Tivoli Preserve Community Farm. Got a look at the alpacas. One of them was like, "What are you looking at?"

Queen Size Swap fall 2018

Queen Size Swap

The semin-annual Queen Size Swap returns to The Hangar in Troy this Sunday, October 21.

It's a clothing swap. About blurbage:

Queen Size Swap is a plus size clothing swap for folks in and around the 518. They are the perfect reason to clean out your closest and get rid of those clothes you no longer wear while going home with some great new-to-you items! QSS include sizes 10/12 and up. Clothing to swap should be clean with no rips or stains. All seasons welcome! Accessories also accepted and shoes of any size! ...
Queen Size Swaps are body and size-positive event! All genders welcome. The events are handicap friendly and 100% accessible. ...
The remaining clothing and shoes from events are donated to the Interfaith for the Homeless clothing pantry.

Here's how the swap works. It's not person to person -- items go on tables and then people take what they want, first come, first serve.

The swap is Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm. Admission is $10 ahead / $15 at the door.

photo via Queen Size Swap

Stuff to do this weekend

Justin Timberlake Man of the Woods

JT is at the TUC Saturday. / photo via Justin Timberlake Facebook

It's the weekend. Pass the cider donuts, grab a pumpkin spice something, and pick a few things to do from our list below.

Planning something you don't see here? Share it with the rest of the crowd in the comment section. And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend.


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Washington Park Lake, up and down

This CNBC segment highlights the automated system the Albany Water Department is using to lower the level of Washington Park Lake ahead of storms in order to better store stormwater when it rains a lot in a short amount of time. The department has been pursuing other projects like this around the city. But as some of the storms this past summer showed, there's still a lot of work to do. [CNBC] [TU 2018 July]

It's looking like it could be a relatively warm winter. Probably.

NOAA winter outlook 2018-2019 temperature

The map represents three ranges of outcomes: cooler than normal (blue), normal (white), and warmer than normal (orange). / image: NOAA

The federal government's Climate Prediction Center released its outlook for the upcoming winter in the United States today and it's pointing to a relatively warmer winter in this part of the country. Overview blurbage:

A mild winter could be in store for much of the United States this winter according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. In the U.S. Winter Outlook for December through February, above-average temperatures are most likely across the northern and western U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.
Additionally, El Nino has a 70 to 75 percent chance of developing. "We expect El Nino to be in place in late fall to early winter," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "Although a weak El Nino is expected, it may still influence the winter season by bringing wetter conditions across the southern United States, and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the North."

The outlook pegs Upstate in the "equal chance" category for a drier or wetter winter.

Here's a quick video that walks through the outlook and includes an explanation for the prediction maps.

Noted: "[T]he outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance. Even during a warmer-than-average winter, periods of cold temperatures and snowfall are still likely to occur." As you well know, all it takes is for a few Nor'easters to track toward the coast and we can end up with feet of snow.

Last winter
The Climate Prediction Center outlook for the previous winter pegged the odds being in favor of a warmer than normal winter for this part of the country. And that's how it ended up: The average temperature for the last meteorological winter -- December, January, February -- was 1.3 degrees warmer than the normal (31.4 degrees).

By the way: Four of the warmest winters on record for Albany -- that is, since 1820 -- have occurred since 2000. And 2015-16 is the warmest on record.

Death and taxes... and Facebook?

aoa instagram account screengrab

Siena will be hosting a conference October 27 focused on "digital legacy" -- what happens to your online presence after you die. The Digital Legacy Conference is touted as the first of its kind in the United States: "the only conference that explores death, dying, bereavement and the internet"

Here are some of the scheduled speakers:

• Shelby Lindblad product designer, and Kim Malfacini, associate manager, Facebook: "Memorialization and Legacy Contacts on Facebook"
• Carla Sofka, Ph.D., MSW, professor of social work, Siena College: "Digital Legacy Social Media and Grief in Today's World"
• James Norris, founder of the Digital Legacy Association and DeadSocial: "Digital Asset Planning Included as a Holistic Approach to an Advance Healthcare Directive in the U.K"
• Stephen Hans, director of Hans Funeral Home in Albany: "The Impact of Online Technology and Social Media on the Funeral Industry"
• Lee Poskanzer, CEO of Directive Communication Systems: "Digital Assets Directives: The Law and the Online Behavior"
• Stacy Macleod, journalist: "Untangling Digital Legacy: Common Threads and Conversations"
• Antonio Estevan Huerta, musician: live performance of Dr. Mark Taubert's "A thank you letter to David Bowie from a palliative care doctor"
Jennifer Muldowney, author of "Say Farewell Your Way" and spokesperson on end-of-life planning, will offer the introduction and concluding remarks for the conference.

The conference is Saturday, October 27 from 11 am to 4 pm on Siena's campus in Loudonville. It's free to attend, but registrations is required.

On one hand this whole topic feels like an opportunity for whole new industries to sell us stuff or make money off us even after we're dead. On the other -- so much of our interaction with other people now occurs online or digitally that it's probably not a bad idea to be thinking about what happens to all that after we're gone.

Of course, in the future InstaFaceTube or whatever the all-enveloping social media platform is of the day will probably just mine all of our posts for content forever. Look, here's a selfie from the gates of heaven...

Sifting through $100 million in Cuomo campaign contributions, Schenectady train station opens, saving the family farm with hemp

Gubernatorial election
The USA Today Network Albany Bureau after reviewing $100 million in campaign contributions to Andrew Cuomo since 2010: "... Cuomo's campaign coffers are filled with donations from companies with business before the state -- and regularly made through a massive loophole in state law." [USA Today Network Albany]

Schenectady train station
The new Schenectady train station opened Wednesday, ahead of the previously announced opening date. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Schoharie limousine crash
+ Talking with the Amsterdam couple whose four daughters and three sons-in-law died in the Schoharie crash about how their family is coping and working to move forward. [NYT]
+ The final member of the party -- Michael C. Ukaj, an Iraq war veteran -- was buried Wednesday in Saratoga National Cemetery. [TU]


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Today's moment of bird

hawk on Lark Street via reader Margaret

Margaret sent along this pic: "I saw this on Lark Street [Tuesday] between Clinton and Sheridan streets. Awesome urban hunter. Poor squirrel."

We've been surprised how often we've seen hawks hunting for squirrels in various Albany neighborhoods. Two years ago a hawk swooped right by while we we were walking along Myrtle Ave in Pine Hills, narrowly missing a squirrel in the street. But on two other occasions we've seen hawks successfully grab their prey.

Seeing that happen always instills a sense of awe at the speed and silence involved -- mixed with a tiny bit of "hmm, maybe next time it's me."

If the hawks and crows ever join forces, it's over.

Also: Someone really should have explained to the bird that Hawk Street is a few blocks over.

(Thanks, Margaret!)

A year later I'm still using a bike to get around town -- here are a few thoughts about how that's worked out

bike shadow on sidewalk

By Greg

About this time last year I shared how I ended up becoming a person who uses a bike as one of my primary ways of of getting around town.

A year later I am still that person. (Even the Times Union says I'm a cyclist.)

And here are a few thoughts about how that's worked out...

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1000 miles on an e-bike

Check out this interesting post written by UAlbany climate scientist Brian Rose about using an e-bike to commute between Delmar and the UAlbany campus. He notes that the e-bike helped him bike to work a lot more often -- and he calculated the huge difference in carbon emissions from using the bike instead of driving. Earlier: Another push to get e-bikes up the hill to legalization in New York State

Now is a good time to get a flu shot

flu shot being administered photo James_Gathany CDC

So, now is a good time to get a flu shot.

Maybe seem a little early? It's not, really. And even if it was, getting a flu shot early is a good thing. You can help yourself and others by getting the jab, which needs to be repeated each year because the mix of flu viruses in circulation changes each season.

Here's a website that can point you toward where to get the shot. Many pharmacies now offer the flu vaccine right in the store -- they have little waiting areas and everything -- and you often don't even need an appointment, but call ahead to make sure. And the flu shot is free under many health plans (be sure to bring your health plan card).

Getting the vaccine doesn't offer full protection, but if you do end up getting the flu it can lessen the severity. And this part is important: getting the shot can be beneficial not just to you, but also the people around you because it makes it less likely you'll spread the virus. Example: There have been multiple studies indicating that vaccinating young people -- kids, especially -- ends up being a good way of protecting seniors from the flu.

photo: James Gathany / CDC / Public Health Image Library

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Townsend Park, maple syrup bootlegging, college visits, launching into a new life, teen trick-or-treaters, Lens Lake, waterfalls, Troy Chowder Fest, chowder fries, brunch, sandwiches in Lake Placid, and the last snippets.


Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Albany Lantern Parade 2018

Albany Lantern Parade 2018 logo

The Albany Lantern Parade is returning for its third year in Washington Park on November 4. Event blurbage:

This free, family friendly event showcases community creativity, bringing neighbors together from across the Capital Region to celebrate the arts. At dusk, participants will gather at the Lake House to begin a stunning lantern lit parade around the lake. ...
"We're walking with lanterns to share some light as the days become shorter," said Sarah Read, the event's organizer. "This is about our Albany community coming together for a simple, free event to celebrate art, community and warmth on an evening few people look forward to - the night we have to turn back the clocks. If you come to a workshop, you'll meet new people, and the night of the walk you'll recognize these new friends - that's the community-building we're going for."

As mentioned above, there's a series of workshops at which you can make your own lantern. The list is below.

The Albany Lantern Parade is Sunday, November 4 from 4:45-6:30 pm. (Sunset is at 4:43 pm that day.)

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

And you can always try searching for it:

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Recent Comments

I ride every day to work, and also after work for exercise. I love the concept of being a person who happens to ride a bike. There's a level of bike riding, with the high performance gear and sleek clothing, that makes riding seem like its not for everyone. I try to avoid markers like that, and always wear regular clothing/shoes/backpack with dumpy-looking bike. One concession is bike gloves.

A year later I'm still using a bike to get around town -- here are a few thoughts about how that's worked out

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Gawking at the new Schenectady train station

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A collection of castle day trips

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A little push up the hill

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Today's moment of mural

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