So very old...

Today's moment of summer

bumble bee zinnia

Bzzzzzz.

Living in the "unhappy" belt

unhappy cities glaeser map

A map from the paper. It represents life satisfaction for metro and rural areas after adjusting for demographic variables.

Are you happy living here? Would you be happier if you lived somewhere else?

The Albany area ranks #142 out of 318 metro areas in self-reported life satisfaction, according to a working paper recently released by a research team headed by a Harvard economist. The Albany metro is planted within a belt of "unhappy" cities that stretches from Massachusetts and through the northern US into the Midwest. Other upstate cities fare worse. And New York City was ranked as the #1 unhappy city.

OK, but what do they mean by "unhappy"? In this case the researchers are basing happiness in part on answers people gave to a large, national survey conducted by the CDC that asks people: "In general, how satisfied are you with your life?" Possible answers: very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, and very dissatisfied. The researchers used the answers as a proxy for happiness, and then controlled the results for a handful of factors. (So, you know, there are a few grains of salt that could be applied here.)

Here's a good look at the study by the Washington Post's Wonkblog.

The paper includes some interesting discussion about whether declining cities were always unhappy or have become that way because they're declining (the researchers figure they cities were probably unhappy to start), and why people stay in unhappy places (higher wages or lower rents).

But the most interesting idea, to us, was one about how/why cities have developed or been designed. A clip about that is after the jump:

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So, it's not really tiny films?

The Cuomo admin announced Wednesday that a film production company based at Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries ("the new nano film hub" in Cuomo's press release words) -- an arm of the NanoCollege near Syracuse -- will be shooting a movie at locations in the city of Albany, Albany County and Central New York this year. The film is Sweetwater, a biopic about Sweetwater Clifton, one of the first African-Americans to play in the NBA. (Here's more about the hub and another film project shooting there.) [Cuomo admin x2] [Post-Standard]

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: riding through the night, the Johns Brook Lodge, the Catskills, a favorite stretch of the Hudson, family vacations, photographic creativity, the Barrel House, all-you-can-eat sushi, takeout, Pastabilities, pizza, cake, and jerk squirrels.

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Rensselaerville Festival of Writers 2014

rensselaerville festival of writers owlThe annual Rensselaerville Festival of Writers returns August 15-17 in (surprise) Rensselaerville.

Among the lineup of authors for this year's festival: Elisa Albert, Shin Yu Pai, Joann and Arielle Eckstut, Gail Godwin, and Eugene Linden. There's also a songwriters concert featuring Sean Rowe and Ashley Sofia.

A three-day festival pass is $100. But individual tickets are available for many of the events, and some are as cheap as $5.

Titus Andronicus at The Low Beat

titus andronicus band

Could be fun: Titus Andronicus is playing a show at The Low Beat in Albany August 22. Tickets are on sale -- they're $12 ahead, $14 at the door.

It's been a few years since the indie rock/punk's last full album. (See frontman Patrick Stickles' thoughts on now being "washed up.") But they have new stuff coming out.

Openers for the show are Liquor Store and Pelican Movement. The Low Beat isn't that big, so it wouldn't be a surprise if tickets become scarce -- better to grab them ahead.

photo: Kyle Dean Reinford

Sheehan names panel on rail safety, Troy officer charged with tipping off drug suspects, hundreds line up to meet Clinton in Saratoga, billboard ad nets three kidney offers

Kathy Sheehan named a 15- member panel on Tuesday to investigate rail safety in Albany, in response to last week's call from County Executive Dan McCoy to relocate residents from the Ezra Prentice Homes , which border the rail yard. Albany County has also established a hotline for people with crude oil train concerns. [TU][WNYT]

Fans waited for up to five hours to meet Hillary Clinton sign their copies of her book at Northshire Books on Tuesday.[TU][Saratogian]

The NYS Attorney General's office is alleging that a Troy police officer tipped off suspects in a drug ring about pending search warrants, allowing them time to hide evidence. [WNYT]

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Albany's oldest buildings

The Van Ostrande-Radliff House is the oldest (still mostly there) building in the city.

Albany is an old place -- roughly 400 years old, depending on how you're counting. So it's going to have some old buildings. But how many? And which buildings? And how old?

There weren't good, comprehensive answers available to those questions until this week. On Tuesday the Historic Albany Foundation released the results of a year-long survey cataloging city buildings constructed before 1860.

And there were a lot! HAF, working with historians Don Rittner and Walter Wheeler, found more than 1,000 buildings for the list. And about 15 percent of them hadn't previously been listed on a historic register.

Historic Albany has posted results of the inventory online, and it's asking members of the public to suggest buildings that should be on the list.

Well, you know how we are. So it probably won't surprise you that we pulled the list for some interactive maps and a few notes...

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"Man, @#$% Bon Jovi!"

There are a bunch of interesting threads that intersect in situation surround the impending sale of the Buffalo Bills: culture, identity, Buffalo's future, Andrew Cuomo. But in some sense -- or, at least, in this New York Mag article -- it really boils down to Buffalo not wanting the Bills to run off for some sort of three-way with Jon Bon Jovi and Toronto. [NY Mag]

Casinos 5 years from now? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thumbnail image for roulette wheel by Hakan Dahlstrom FlickrA Time Warner Cable News/Siena College Poll out this week asked people in the upstate regions being considered for casinos to predict five years from now whether the passing the casino amendment will be a good or bad decision. The responses:

Good decision: 17 percent
Bad decision: 19 percent
Both positives and negatives: 61 percent

Among the other questions:

Where did people stand on the casino amendment last November
+ In favor of: 36 percent / Opposed to: 28 percent / No opinion: 35 percent
+ For the Capital Region, the breakdown was: 35 / 30 / 33
(Capital Region counties voted 52-48 against the amendment.)

Do you now support or oppose a casino in the Capital Region?
+ Overall - support: 44 percent / oppose: 40 percent / need more info: 11
+ Capital Region respondents - support: 49 / oppose: 40 / need more info: 11
(This question was asked for each region.)

In this situation, SRI considered the Capital Region to be: Albany, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Washington counties. Margin of error for total responses: +/- 3.4 percentage points; for Capital Region responses: +/- 5.9 percentage points.

photo: Flickr user Håkan Dahlström (cc)

Info sessions on new CDTA smart cards and mobile payments

CDTA new farebox illustrationPay by mobile phone to ride the bus?

CDTA isn't there, yet -- but it hopes to be by next year. This week the transit org is starting a series of public outreach sessions to discuss its plans for new smart card and mobile ticket options. The fare payment options are made possible by the new fare boxes that have been popping up on buses.

The transit org says the proposed new system won't affect base fares -- they're focused on prepayment options.

The first meeting is this Wednesday in Clifton Park. There will be five other meetings during August at various spots around the Capital Region. Schedule is at that first link.

CDTA was a sponsor of the Rail, River, Hudson trip.

Cuomo pushes back on Moreland interference accusations, prostitution stings in Saratoga County, just ducky

In Buffalo Monday, Andrew Cuomo pushed back -- he was "feisty and unrepentant", in the NYT's words -- on the accusations that his administration had interfered with the Moreland Commission set up to investigation corruption in state government. Cuomo continued to assert that his involvement didn't extend beyond advising the panel. [NYT] [TU]

Rensselaer authorities say one person was found dead in an apartment fire Tuesday morning. Another person was taken to the hospital with significant injuries. [TWCN] [TU]

Recent stings set up by law enforcement in Saratoga County have resulted in 21 prostitution arrests. The stings were set up via online ads. And officials say they were surprised by the volume of responses. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

SaintRose_all-over-albany_generic_525x40.jpg

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Architecture gawking in Albany's warehouse district

Nipper atop building

Can you imagine Nipper as a neighbor?

The recently announced project to develop plans for reusing a handful of historic industrial buildings around the Capital Region -- and specifically, a very early plan for a restaurant/residential conversion on Broadway in Albany -- got us thinking (again) about Albany's warehouse district.

It's one of those areas that might necessarily jump out as a place with notable buildings, but there is interesting architecture there. And the neighborhood might have a lot of potential.

After the jump, a photo tour -- and a few thoughts on that potential.

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Along the cheese trail

Three things: 1. There is something called the Vermont Cheese Trail. 2. It is not mythical. 3. This is a Wall Street Journal article about five days exploring this magical-sounding-but-no-really-it's-real self-guided tour. [WSJ]

Exit from Flavortown

Thumbnail image for Sarah FishSarah Fish -- chef/owner of the upcoming Cafe Congress in Troy -- was on the Food Network show Guy's Grocery Games Sunday night.

Spoiler: She didn't win.

But being in a position to be on a show like that is an accomplishment in itself. And while it is nice to win, we're not sure if there's much to learn from the result of a show in which a guy with spiky frosted tips is yelling at you that -- surprise! -- you need to use jerky while you're racing around a fake supermarket.

The ep in which Fish appeared -- "Around the World in Three Carts" -- runs again on August 4 at 7 pm, and August 9 at 4 pm. And it looks like it will be available soon on Hulu.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Hey there, chef Sarah Fish
+ Grocery games, for the win

Meow

New York is more of a cat state than a dog state, according to estimates from the American Veterinary Medical Association -- there are 1.4 cats for every one dog in the Empire State. [Washington Post]

Greulich's Market checks out

Greulichs ButcherGreulich's Market in Guilderland, in business since 1949, has closed, according to its Facebook page. The Gazette's Bethany Bump reports the situation around the closing is unclear, and there was at least some indication that the store might still have a future.

Greulich's, near the border between Guilderland and Schenectady, was like something from another time -- a small, independent grocery store that focused on customer service. But the grocery business is a notoriously difficult industry with tiny margins. And as manager Robert Van Allen told Liz Clancy Lerner for AOA a few years back, Greulich's was feeling the pressure of staying small in a world of supermarket giants:

You gotta realize when you go into a big chain, their groceries are going to be cheaper; they'll always be cheaper because they buy railcar loads, where I buy one at a time. ...
The biggest change is that years ago Hannaford wasn't down here, the beverage center wasn't down here. So when the other places come in, probably our grocery business has gone down a little bit -- but our perishables are still way up there because we can offer a more personal touch to that. The beer business has gone down because that's gone to drugstores and discount beverage stores because they get a huge quantity.

But as Van Allen told Liz about managing a small, independent store: "You become tight knit and you're able to do things on your own [here] where in a chain you have to just follow the policy 'bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.'"

FameLab at EMPAC

famelab final 2014 penguin tv mars conversation

One of the presentations in this year's final included a conversation, in verse, with a penguin puppet.

Could be interesting: FameLab will be at EMPAC Tuesday evening. What's that? Let's go to the blurbage:

Think American Idol...for scientists! FameLab is a panel-judged competition to find the new voices of science across the world. Started in 2005 in the UK, this event is the kickoff to "Season 3" here in the US. Ten young scientists will spin tall-but-true tales of exoplanetary atmospheres, extreme environments here on Earth, the possibility of life on an icy moon in the outer Solar System, and much more - in 3 powerpoint-free minutes each!
And while the judges deliberate, we'll be treated to stories of how science meets science fiction from science advisor to Hollywood, Dr. Kevin Grazier.

The FameLab night at EMPAC is a regional competition for a spot at the final in 2016.

The event is from 7-9 pm Tuesday, July 29. And it's free -- just show up, no pre-registration required.

screengrab: FameLab USA

Why it's taken decades to implement safety system for trains, news crew threatened with arrest, landmark status for Yaddo

Oil trains: A Hearst investigation looks at how the railroad industry has blocked/slowed the adoption of a safety system called Positive Train Control for decades. [TU]

A group of families is planning to file suit today in Albany in an attempt to challenge teacher tenure in New York State. Teachers union and other advocacy groups have been gearing up for the fight. [NYDN] [TU]

The town of Colonie is among a few local municipalities that have been reporting police income from private duty jobs as eligible for pension system consideration -- something the state comptroller's office has said should not be done. [TU]

Schenectady's property value are already above the market value of many properties, apparently -- the system appears to be warping further because large property owners have been more likely to successfully grieving their assessments. [Daily Gazette]

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The week ahead

bolshoi ballet SPAC promo photo

The famous Bolshoi Ballet is at SPAC this week.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (one for six), to the fair, to The Track, to the Bolshoi, to scientists, to circus, to baseball, to all sorts of music...

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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:

The Scoop

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... It's heartening to see that the neighborhood is seeing early stages of revival - I think a lot of cities are starting to realize the potential and charm of historic warehouse and factory buildings. I'm sort of conflicted because although I want to see them all saved, I like the sort of gritty time-worn quality of peeling paint, dirty brick, and faded signage...

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