Items tagged with 'weird'

The curiosities, sideshows, and phantasmagoria of the old Albany Museum

Albany State Street 1848 painting John Wilson

In this 1848 painting of State Street in Albany by John Wilson, the Albany Museum is on the right in the building with the colonnade. (Head over to the Albany Institute collection for a closer look.) / image: Albany Institute of History & Art

By Tim Varney

In the early 19th century, Henry Trowbridge and Harry Meech housed more than 200,000 natural and artificial curiosities at their Albany Museum. Life-sized sized wax figures, phantasmagoria shows, cosmorama, magicians, necromancers, lusus naturae, an Egyptian mummy, and traveling sideshows. All could be seen for the price of a quarter.

The museum started in the upstairs in the old city hall in 1809 and eventually moved to a beautifully colonnaded building at the corner of State and Broadway. It was part of a wave of "dime museums" that were sprouting up in cities across the nation.

They mixed amusement with education -- or, at least, what qualified then as education -- and were centers of family entertainment at the time.

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APD: Somebody is killing geese at Buckingham Pond

Buckingham Pond geese nap warning

Updated Friday morning with comments from the APD spokesman.

So, this is weird... From a message from James Brooks in the Albany Police Department's Community Services Unit, distributed Thursday in an email from the Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association:

APD has confirmed sightings of an unknown person killing geese that reside at Buckingham pond. Killing Canadian Geese is in violation of Federal Fish/Wildlife and NYS EcCon Law.
I ask that everyone keep a lookout to anyone who is in close proximity of these animals.
It is possible that the suspect is a white male dressed in a blue uniform operating a red newer model pick up with the lettering "DGS Wildlife" on the side.
If you see this suspect or vehicle at or about the park area notify the police immediately.

There are also flyers at the pond near the playground with similar info. That's one of them above.

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Alfred Hitchcock. Saratoga Springs. Rocking chairs.

Alfred HitchcockSarah pointed this out on Twitter this week and something about it is just kind of oddly funny: Alfred Hitchcock visited Saratoga Springs in 1937 and took note of... the rocking chairs. From Donald Spoto's The Dark Side Of Genius: The Life Of Alfred Hitchcock (emphasis added):

The Hitchcock's American holiday proceeded with considerable public fanfare. The night after the dinner at the 21 Club, Hitchcock was interviewed on the New York radio program "Gertrude of Hollywood," where he overwhelmed his questioner with comparative facts and figures about the English and American film industries. Next morning, leaving their daughter in Joan Harrison's care, Hitchcock and Alma left alone for a two-day trip to Saratoga Springs, New York. "There it all was," he said afterward, "Houses with verandahs. And rocking chairs. Actually rocking chairs, with people rocking in them. I pointed them out to my wife and we stood and looked at them. If we have rocking chairs in England it is only as curiosities. But here you have them real life as well as in the movies." These bits of Americana impressed him, as did the rhythms of American dialect, and he carefully placed them all under the bell jar of his prodigious memory, where they later provided him with the signs of an easy familiarity that character of his best American films."

A few paragraphs earlier there's mention that, during his visit, Hitchcock indulged daily in two American delicacies: ice cream and steak -- he had ice cream for breakfast, and steak for lunch and dinner. While at the 21 Club, he had reportedly ordered three steaks, each followed by a serving of ice cream.

[via @SarahAllenTV]

The Man in the Lady's Mirror

Ten Broeck Mansion man in mirror mystery

The Albany County Historical Association shares a mystery from an old photo at the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany:

The photo, taken in the 1920's in the "Ladies Bedroom", was part of a series taken of the various rooms in the house, as well as it's exterior. None of the other photos in the collection contain people, so was this simply a prohibiton-era photo-bomb? Or was it something more sinister?
There were several theories in response to our Facebook post (the photographer, a wall portrait, the Slenderman) though upon further review it clearly appears to be a reflection of someone in the doorway. And while the doorway does appear to be opened, it is not entirely captured and shows no indication of what we see in the reflection. Was it just a clever angle? Whatever the case, it certainly makes for an intriguing mystery.

So the ACHA put together a short story contest about the photo, and it's looking for submissions no longer than 3,000 words. "It can be scary, or romantic, or funny, or all of the above!" The deadline is February 28.

The winner of the contest two tickets to see the Creative License production of The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Albany Barn that's running March 10-April 1. And ACHA will share some of the best submissions.

The office building and the air conditioner

Harriman State Office Campus Building window air conditioner

Random Friday afternoon thing: While walking Otto at the Harriman State Office Campus, we've noticed that there's a tiny, single air conditioner that hangs from a window of a giant Department of Taxation and Finance office building. It's row after row of midcentury office building windows -- and then this one window-unit air conditioner.

And it's made us think: There's gotta be a story behind that air conditioner. (And if there isn't... someone should make one up...)

So, yeah, Friday afternoon.

Odd museums and roadside attractions

odd museums and attractions composite

By Julie Madsen

With pleasant foliage all around us, this time of year is perfect for heading out in any direction in search of something unexpected.

And there are all sorts of weird museums and strange roadside attractions across this region, you never know what you may find when you hit the road!

Here are handful of them...

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Today's moment of entomology

leaf-like insect

Continuing the recent insect theme: This leafy-looking fella was hanging out on garbage can this weekend.

And now some crowd entomology: Can anyone tell us what sort of insect this is?

Sinkhole swallows SUV in Albany

albany south lake sinkhole SUV

Laura sent along this pic of the sinkhole at South Lake Ave and Elberon Place in Albany that swallowed an SUV this morning. The spot is just uptown of the western end of Washington Park. (See also: Video clips from the scene by J. P. Lawrence and Kari Beal.)

The Albany Water Department reported that there is a major water main break at the site. From a city press release: "Customers should be aware that they will be experiencing lower water pressure. The Water Department is asking that Albany residents try to conserve water until repairs are made."

A handful of history-minded people were noting this morning that the sink hole is in the path of the Beaverkill, one of the major streams that once flowed through the city. It was buried underground decades ago as development stretched to the west.

Update: After the jump there's an embedded video showing the scene from above -- it shows the scale of the hole with the SUV in it and the water main gushing water.

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They put a tree atop the new Albany convention center building... why?

The Albany Capital Center isn't set to open until March of next year, but officials celebrated the completion of the structural framework of the new convention center in downtown Albany Tuesday with a "topping off" ceremony in which the final steel beam was lifted to the top. And on that beam were an evergreen tree and an American flag.

You might have noticed this sort of ceremony (also known as "topping out") at other local projects -- the Rivers Casino project had one back in April.

So... what's with the tree?

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Albany has now fulfilled its odd/unfortunate Pokemon Go story quota

corning tower egg pikachuUpdated after APD released different details.

According to THE INTERNET, every modern city must have some odd/unfortunate episode involving Pokeman Go.

From an Albany Police Department press release Friday:

On Thursday, July 21, 2016 at approximately 11:45 p.m., officers responded to the area of State Street and South Swan Street for a report of a stolen vehicle. Upon arrival, the victim told officers that he parked his vehicle near the intersection while he walked around the Empire State Plaza playing the game "Pokemon GO." The victim stated that he left the vehicle unlocked with the key fob in his cup holder and that when he returned to his vehicle, it had been stolen.
The vehicle was located shortly after the call on the 400 block of Delaware Avenue. The vehicle was unattended at the time and additional property the victim had inside his vehicle had also been stolen.

APD says the incident is under investigation, and is asking anyone who might have info to call it in.

Achievement... unlocked.

The story behind Larkasaurus Rex

dinosaur walking down Lark Street

As seen last week. (Thanks again, Heather!)

Last week we posted a pic sent along to us by Heather for a dinosaur -- T. Rex, it appeared -- walking down Lark Street.

A lot of people seemed to get a good laugh out of the pic. So we followed up to ask the very important question: "What the (heck) was that about?!"

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On Lark Street, not extinct

dinosaur walking down Lark Street

T-Rex probably wears flip-flops because then there's no reaching down to tie laces. (And we all know arm length is a sensitive topic with Rex.)

Heather sent along this scene from Lark Street Thursday.

Just your typical summer evening.

(Thanks, Heather!)

Unintentional rooftop gardening

trees growing atop Albany City Hall

Today's random moment of urban forestry: There are trees growing out out of the top of Albany City Hall.

Someone mentioned this to us recently, so we looked up at the carillon tower the other day... and, yep, trees. Two of 'em, it appears. Growing. Up there. (We mentioned this to a city official recently, and he said he'd noticed them, too. So presumably the city will eventually do something about it.)

That is all.

(Thanks, D)

Creative license

cardboard license plate Erie County sheriff

But it totally would have been valid if the vehicle was two kitchen chairs and a cardboard box with headlights drawn in marker.

Farther afield... but good to know: The Erie County Sheriff's Office posted this photo on its FB page today with the note: "In case you are wondering, homemade cardboard license plates are NOT legal."

The sheriff's office says a deputy stopped a woman driving a vehicle with the cardboard plate attached to its back earlier this week. The ECSO says the woman had a suspended registration -- and she now faces a felony count of possession of a forged instrument. [Buffalo News]

(Erie County's the county that includes Buffalo.)

photo: Erie County Sheriff's Office

Oh, hey, another seal in the Hudson River

seal at lock c-1Speaking of unusual Hudson River creatures... the state Canal Corporation reported today that a seal -- yep, a seal -- made its way through the lock at the Federal Dam in Troy this weekend. From the Canal Corp's FB posting (link added):

We had a special visitor at Lock C-1 (Halfmoon) over the weekend! A seal swam up the Hudson River and locked through the federal lock at Troy before visiting us on the Champlain Canal. Thank you The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation for your guidance as we worked to keep the seal safe.

That photo is also from the Canal Corp's FB posting.

As it happens, it's not really all that usual to see a seal in the Hudson River around Albany. A seal -- or maybe multiple seals -- have been popping up around Coxsackie the last few years. As you know, the Hudson is open to the ocean at its southern end, and the thought is that seals end up here after after following food up river.

(Thanks, Duncan!)

Earlier on AOA:
+ Odd and notable creatures of the Hudson River
+ That time whales swam to Albany

Sovrana's gets the tabloid treatment

Laura W emails:

I was eating dinner at Sovrana's yesterday and got to hear the hilarious story from the owners John & Rose about how TMZ ordered pizzas from them, shipped to CA. Rose had no idea who [TMZ founder] Harvey Levin is, but she dutifully fulfilled their orders. They are such a charming couple and a great asset to Albany.

(Steve mentioned the TMZ appearance today over on Table Hopping, too.)

It's true -- Sovrana's pizza does have that distinctive crust.

And to think TMZ missed out on Death in a Cup -- that seems much more like tabloid fare.

Also: Sometimes the modern world is strange.

(Thanks, Laura!)

For sale: caboose

state surplus caboose ebay

Update: The caboose got 80 bids, and the winner was $3,099.
____

The realization of your lifelong dream of owning a train caboose approaches: New York State is selling an old caboose via its state surplus eBay account. The auction ends Friday at 9 am. Current bid is... $81. (There's an unlisted reserve price.)

The caboose is currently at the Allan Treman State Marine Park in Ithaca and would need to be picked up by the buyer. Its condition is listed as as "poor" and "for parts or not working." And, judging from the photos, it does appear to be rough shape. It's being sold as is.

Bonus: The sale of the caboose includes 32 feet of train track.

Curious about the history of the caboose, we did some poking around and found a 2008 park master plan from a few years back that mentioned a caboose -- acquired from the state Office of Mental Health in Elmira -- as a potential trail interpretive and local railroad history center.

[via @matt_hamilton10]

By the way: New York State routinely sells surplus stuff on eBay. Its current offerings range from soap and toilet paper dispensers to cameras to floor scrubbers.

photo: NYS surplus eBay

Albany history on a roll

wheeler toilet paper patent 1891

Because, obviously.

The modern world is... toilet paper patents going viral.

In 1891 Seth Wheeler of Albany was granted a patent for perforated toilet paper rolled onto a tube (that is, what we all know today to be toilet paper). Jess wrote about this a bunch of years ago here at AOA:

According to the US patent office, Wheeler patented what was then called perforated wrapping paper ("toilet" was a sensitive word in 1871). He patented the idea to have the product wrapped around a central tube in 1891, and is also often credited with patenting a bracket to hold those tubes.
Some people argue that Scott Paper Company invented the stuff before APW, but for the most part, Wheeler gets first credit. His company, Albany Perforated Wrapping Company, was founded in 1878 in a building on the northwest corner of Montgomery and Colonie Streets in Albany. That building was occupied by Albany Terminal Warehouse after the turn of the century.

Wheeler's patent app clearly demonstrates that the toilet paper should go "over" not "under" (as any right thinking person would acknowledge).

Well, the patent image surfaced this week -- maybe on Twitter -- and it is now, in the words of CNET, "all over Facebook" and all over the web.

That time an Albany druggist made and sold cocaine toothache drops

cocaine toothache drops ad 1885 lloyd manufacturing albany

There's a (in)famous vintage ad for "Cocaine Toothache Drops" produced by the Lloyd Manufacturing Co. of Albany, dated to the mid 1880s.

It's one of those people-in-the-past-were-so-crazy kind of items, the sort of thing that prompts smiles and laughs now. So much so, that this particular vintage age is seemingly everywhere online. And someone sends it to us here at AOA at least once every year.

The ad popped up in our inbox again recently, so we figured we try to find out the backstory.

Or, to put it another way: How did a pharmacist in Albany end up selling cocaine intended for teething children?

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Those beady little pink eyes

Odd wildlife of the day, an apparently ongoing series:

Maybe downtown Albany should have its own enclosed nature preserve.

Earlier on AOA: Behold, the white squirrels at play

Timber!

#TSACatch - This handsaw was discovered in a carry-on bag at the #Albany International Airport. All saws are prohibited in carry-on bags.

Фото опубликовано TSA (@tsa)



This was posted on the TSA's Instagram account on Friday.

In addition to the Instagram feed, the TSA also posts this sort of stuff on a blog. A few other strange items the agency says have turned at ALB: an odd notebook found in September that screeners initially thought could be an IED, and in 2013 an inert grenade was snagged.

(Thanks, Laura)

Riding along with the skyline

albany skyline car

We noticed this car in the Honest Weight parking lot the other day. It was wrapped -- both sides -- with an image of the Albany skyline.

We looked around a bit and couldn't figure out if it was for some business -- or just someone who really liked Albany.

H., as in the film (and giant floating head)

Two bits from the recent past resurfacing together:

+ Remember that giant head that was pulled out of the Hudson last year?
+ Remember that film that was shooting in Troy earlier this year?

The film -- titled H. -- is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in Italy this week. And, inspired by that story about the floating head last summer, the film's plot includes a giant head floating in the Hudson River.

After the jump there are photos from the shoot this past April involving the giant, floating head.

The trailer for H. is embedded above. It was written and directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia. A description of the film, from a Variety story: "a contempo greek tragedy about two women, both named Helen, whose lives and relationships begin to unravel in the wake of a meteor explosion over their town of Troy, NY."

We haven't heard anything about a local screening, but you gotta figure the film will make the rounds on the festival circuit first. So it could be a while before it shows up locally.

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On tiger selfies

There's been some media hubbub the last few days after the New York State legislature passed a bill that would ban "tiger selfies" -- yep, exactly what it sounds like, apparently it's a guys-on-Tinder thing. (Because of course it is.) [NY Post]

As it happens, the the actual bill is aimed at prohibiting direct contact between the public and big cats (like tigers) at places such as "roadside zoo exhibitors" as a safety measure for people and a welfare measure for the animals. The Assembly sponsor, Linda Rosenthal, said she hadn't even heard of the tiger selfies until after the bill passed her in chamber. ] [CNet]

If this sounds like a Colbert Report segment, you would be right (embedded above).

The Albany molasses spill of 1968

albany molasses spill 1968 article Toldeo Blade

The AP article that ran on the front page of the Toledo Blade, and in other newspapers around the country. (The story was on page 3 of the Schenectady Gazette. Presumably it got more attention in the Knickerbocker News.)

Odd bit of local history: In 1968 there was a fatal molasses spill at the Port of Albany. You read that correctly.

On December 20 of that year a tank holding 12,000 tons of molasses at the port ruptured, spilling its contents. One man was killed, and another suffered minor injuries. From an AP story at the time:

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The yellow -- and red -- brick roads

west lawrence street albany brick

Well, actually, they're streets.

Today's moment of street surfaces: One of the quirks of the Albany street grid is that there's a small sub unit of streets uptown that are all brick, much of it set in a herringbone pattern, in the tiny sub-neighborhood bounded by Central Ave, Manning Blvd, and North Allen.

Specifically, it's a stretch of West Lawrence street by the St. Anne's Institute, along with three side streets. It's mostly red brick, but there's also a few stretches of a pale yellow. You can see them on a satellite view of a map.

We've thought this was kind of odd in a fun way, like that tiny section holds some sort of secret or meaning. And we've wondered about the backstory, but haven't been able to turn anything up.

Maybe you know?

Update: " Reference Librarian - Albany Public Library" comes through in the comments with some backstory on the streets. A clip:

[Albany city historian Tony Opalka] remembered that this part of Albany once organized an "Inner Brick Square" neighborhood association! We looked through our clippings file for any information about "Inner Brick Square" and sure enough, we found a folder describing this neighborhood association, which was formed in November 1978. This rectangular neighborhood, bound by North Allen St., Bradford St. West Lawrence, and Manning Blvd., lists "maintaining our Brick Streets" as one of its "major concerns." A majority of the blocks in this zone are still brick, so it looks like they were successful. This could explain why this neighborhood continues to showcase its red and yellow brick roads!

(Thanks!)

Earlier on AOA: The Yellow Brick Road

Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon the hot dog suspended in beer jello

capital region in aspic by mr dave

Ok, maybe that's not the original quote.

Words fail to truly capture the emotions evoked by the newest work from Mr. Dave, proprietor of The Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York. He calls it "Capital Region in Aspic." (There are more photos at that link, including cross sections. Bonus photo.)

Leaving behind meatloaf and mashed potatoes of his other recent work, Mr. Dave has instead embraced a new collection of media: Knox gelatine, Stewart's Mountain Brew, a Hot Dog Charlie's mini hot dog.

As with any work of art, it's better not to attempt explanation. Meet the work on its own terms. Experience it. Allow your interpretation to flow, as if water, finding its own level.

You will find yourself changed.

photo: The Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York

Why is there a mayor on my oatmeal?

mccanns irish oats john boyd thacher closeup

Sometimes we end up with odd legacies.

Speaking of Albany mayors and their representations on food, Barry T emails with the photo above:

Why is my oatmeal approved by John Boyd Thacher??

And to Barry, we say: That is a totally reasonable question.

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Ducky

More than 30 mallard ducks. A Saratoga Springs CVS (presumably the one near the park). Hijinks ensue.

The best line was probably from Gawker: "Terrifying Ducks Take Over a CVS in Laziest Birds Remake Yet."

[via Daily Gazette]

The Kinderhook Creature and other Monsters of New York

bigfoot photo illustration

Did you see that?

Bruce Hallenbeck remembers watching Frankenstein with his cousin when he was just five years old. "I wasn't frightened... I was fascinated."

These days Hallenbeck's fascination with monsters extends into the real world. When he's not working with microfilm and genealogy at the New York State Library, Hallenbeck writes books about horror movies and what he refers to as "real-life monsters" -- monsters of the bigfoot and Loch Ness variety.

A few years ago Hallenbeck wrote Monsters of New Jersey, and his is newest book -- Monsters of New York -- looks into the existence of creatures such as Champ, the Adirondack Bigfoot, the Kinderhook Creature and other creatures he believes are walking, crawling, and swimming around the Empire State. The book is the basis for an exhibit on display this month at the New York State Library.

Hallenbeck took some time out to talk with AOA about his search for these real world monsters, why he finds them so fascinating, and his own encounter with The Kinderhook Creature.

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Yep, that's a giant potato

giant potato truck in Troy

We have to admit we'd kind of want to see this in a demolition-style derby competition with the Weinermobile.

Tim sent along this photo of an enormous potato in downtown Troy today. And that's pretty much what we have to say about it: "Look, an enormous potato."

(OK, one or two other things. It's obviously a Weinermobile-like ad for Idaho potatoes. And it's also trying to raise awareness for Meals on Wheels. Oh, and according to its website, the (fake) potato weights six tons. So there.)

More photos -- in large format, because, um, it's a giant potato (duh) -- are post jump if you're so inclined.

(Thanks, Tim!)

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Milk bottle rustling

Update October 10, 2013: APD says it's arrested the guy.

From the odd alleged crime file: Someone is apparently going around Albany neighborhoods stealing bottles out of the boxes for home-delivered milk.

Bernard emails:

My family has been dealing with the lamest criminal ever for a couple of weeks now. I'd appreciate it if you could share this with your audience. My understanding from the Meadowbrook dairy folks is that they are getting many reports of stolen milk from folks in the New Scotland Ave, Center Square and South End.
This guy is basically driving his bike around 3-5 days a week from 6-7:30 in the morning to steal milk bottles. (Yes, you can still get milk delivered.) The cops and the dairy are pretty sure that he either steals empties, or dumps the full bottle so that he can return them to stores like the food coop, shop-rite, fresh market for a whopping $2.
As a geek, I of course seized this annoyance as an opportunity to buy (an incredibly cheap) wifi network camera with night vision. So here he is. Albany people, if you recognize this dude or see a guy with neon yellow sneakers stealing crap from people, please let me know and call the Albany police.

Bernard's video is embedded above.

We talked with the Albany Police Department about the situation. APD spokesman Steve Smith says they've gotten two official reports of recent milk bottle thefts -- one in the New Scotland neighborhood, the other in Center Square -- but they believe there have been "several" other incidents.

(We've also heard, secondhand, that in one case the milk was poured out before the bottle was taken. And that would be a crime -- Meadowbrook milk is delicious.)

If you have info about the bottle thefts, call the APD: (518) 438-4000.

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Alligator on the loose

missing alligator kobeNot the typical lost pet story -- from a State Police press release:

State Police in New Lebanon are asking for the public's assistance in locating a missing alligator named Kobe. Kobe absconded from his cage last night in the Cemetery Road area of New Lebanon. Kobe's owner states he was last seen wearing a blue collar. If you see Kobe, please contact the State Police at (845) 677-7300. For safety reasons, do not approach Kobe.

New Lebanon is in northern Columbia County near the Rensselaer County line.

Apparently Kobe -- that's him in the pic -- is a 3.5-foot alligator from Rhonda's Reptiles, a reptile rescue/party rental ("Reptiles for Parties and Events"). The owner, Rhonda Leavitt, tells the TU she does "not consider [Kobe] to be a dangerous animal," and that he'll probably run away from people. [CBS6] [YNN] [TU]

Noted.

photo via NY State Police

To boldly go where no estate sale has gone before

star trek estate sale LoudonvilleLaura called our attention to this estate sale in Loudonville. It offered the usual stuff you might find at such a sale: furniture, jewelry, art, yard equipment, life-sized Star Trek figures.

Wait. What?

Yep. The lineup of items includes "three life size wax Star Trek figures": Kirk (complete with captain's chair), Spock, and Uhura. (All three in their original series version. Sadly, it appears Bones didn't make it.)

The estate sale already occurred, but the Star Trek figures aren't marked as sold. So maybe there's a chance to make it so. (Oh, wait, wrong series.)

(Thanks, Laura)

Earlier on AOA: For sale: time machine

photo: J&J Estate Sales

Hey, that lobster looks like it's been... wait, no, it just moved

price chopper orange lobster

What are you looking at?

Today's moment of odd seafood: Price Chopper reports it recently received three rare orange lobsters as part its regular shipment of lobster. You know, they kind of looked like they'd been cooked, but... weren't. (Here's a closer look.)

The unusually-hued crustaceans ended up at three stores in New York: Guilderland, Middletown, and Binghamton. The lobsters will be held in the stores until later this week, when the company says they'll be sent to aquariums. (Somewhere an Albany Aquarium proponent is sighing at the missed opportunity.)

Update July 3: More orange lobsters have turned up at Price Choppers -- two in Glens Falls, and one near Syracuse. [Syracuse.com]

Price Chopper gets its lobsters from Canada, via a Cape Cod-based company called, appropriately, Lobster Trap. A PC spokesperson tells us that the company's VP of seafood merchandising has never seen an orange lobster in his 17 years with the supermarket chain -- and their contact at the Lobster Trap has only seen one in 33 years.

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A new neighbor, visiting via chimney

center square parakeet

John emails with an unusual story:

Friday morning I found my dog Lucy staring intently into our fireplace. When I investigated what was arousing her interest I saw that this amazing bird [photo above] had gotten into the fireplace by coming down the chimney!
Luckily for me, the fireplace screen had prevented the bird from just flying into my living room. I was able to gently capture it with a large aquarium net and I brought it out to my front porch. After getting the net off, we sat together for about a minute - the bird chirped a few times and seemed very calm. I was starting to worry that the bird was injured and couldn't fly when all of a sudden it took off like a shot for the trees in Hudson-Jay Park. I went back inside, gave Lucy a dog treat and closed the chimney flue.
After a quick Google search, I believe this is probably a juvenile Monk Parrot. I also found that this may not be the first time they have visited Albany.
I'm looking forward to spotting my new neighbors around Center Square this summer.

Monk Parakeets -- AKA Quaker Parrots -- are originally from South America, but there are now feral populations in spots around the world thanks to escaped (or released) birds. Chicago has a long-established population in its Hyde Park neighborhood. And Brooklyn has a a population -- it even has a website tracking the group. (Brooklyn was into Quaker Parrots before you were -- they were obscure, you probably hadn't heard of them.)

In some places the birds are regarded as nuisances because they nest on utility poles and other power system equipment.

(Thanks, John!)

Update: In the comments Chrissy and Drew note the bird looks like a lovebird, a different type of parrot.

Earlier on AOA: New York's (now lost) native parrot

Capital Region food challenges

wagon train graveyard challenge by jay travis

The Graveyard Challenge at the Wagon Train BBQ in Schenectady County.

By Casey Normile

Do you ever get to the end of a meal and think, "I should be rewarded for how much I ate just now?"

Well, finally, your hard work and determination can be recognized. There are plenty of food challenges in the area where those with a hearty appetite and a willing spirit can pit their powers of digestion against an impossible amount of food.

Grab a fork...

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For sale: time machine

delorean time machine for sale

The listing has more photos.

GREAT SCOTT! You might have seen the local DeLorean tricked out to look like the time machine from Back to the Future. It's now for sale.

From the listing on Craigslist (emphasis added):

Delorean Time Machine that is approximately 75-80% Complete...car needs to be completed. Mechanically, I have pulled the motor and Trans, replaced all seals, gaskets, injectors, clutch, axels, bearings, shocks, springs, custom Stainless Exhaust......list goes on. Car currently has 37k and is in Storage. As far as the Time Machine Stuff, it has working Fog Machines, led Lights that are powered by 2-12v batteries and a 3000 watt inverter. I have taken some liberties with the replica while being very close in resemblence it is not a 100% accurate movie reproduction, if you would like a 100% replica.....you can get one and spend upwards of $60,000 from Video Bob in Texas, either way it is scary the amount of attention it gets whether on the highway or at a gas station, car show....basicly anywhere it goes!

Asking price: $25,000 (firm). And it has a flux capacitor.

(Thanks, Olek!)

photos: Craigslist item "Delorean Time Machine Replica"

Trying the alligator at Café NOLA

cafe nola alligator bites

They won't bite back. Probably.

By Casey Normile

I'm not a big fan of seafood. But I don't really know my stance on reptile.

So I decided to try some alligator at Café NOLA in Schenectady.

The restaurant specializes in all things Cajun, with po' boys, etouffee, jambalaya, dirty rice, gumbo, beignets -- and my dinner: alligator bites.

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Trying the Super Bowl-themed cupcakes from Coccadotts

coccadotts super bowl cupcakes dozen

Touchdown?

As you might have seen, Coccadotts in Colonie has followed up its Buffalo wing cupcake with a whole line of Super Bowl-themed cupcakes: salsa and chips, beer with lime, pepperoni pizza, cornbread and chili, and chocolate covered pretzel.

Because we know that you love nothing more than having us eat odd things so you don't have to, we got all six cupcakes this week and tried them.

That's right, Anderson Cooper, we had the guts to do something you didn't.

So, bring it on.

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Because Buffalo wing cupcakes weren't enough

buffalo wing cupcakeNot content to stop with Buffalo wing cupcakes, Coccadotts has created a whole lineup of Super Bowl-themed cupcakes: Salsa & Chips, Pepperoni Pizza, Cornbread & Chili, Chocolate Covered Pretzel, Bud Light & Lime, and of course, last year's Chicken Wing Cupcake. Explains the shop on its FB page: "These cupcakes are not meant to be sweet..."

The shop also says that Anderson Cooper will "sample and discuss" the cupcakes on the Anderson Cooper Show on Monday (yep, he has a daytime talk show) -- that airs here on WNYT at 2 pm. It also appears that Emmitt Smith will also be partaking of the savory cupcakes. The rewards of being an all-time NFL great really never do end.

[via @Velte_Spotlight]

Earlier on AOA: Eating the buffalo chicken wing cupcake from Coccadotts

December rainbows

rainbow collar city bridge

Here it is in large format.

Because we are living in the Extended Period of Unusual Weather, today's winter solstice included... rainbows.

Lauren Hittinger from the Arts Center of the Capital Region took the above photo from Troy. And here's another pic by @Alana_Lynn, who caught the full arc.

There was another one spotted from downtown Albany. [@KTesque] [@FoFacy]

In other news, today felt like spring. Sooooo... the tulips will be up soon, right?

Yep, the Arts Center advertises on AOA.

Sometimes you're better off just saying thank you

new york state police logoFrom the the local troop of the New York State Police today:

On Sunday December 2, Trooper Christopher Maniscalco was answering a complaint in the town of Guilderland.
While completing the call, Trooper Maniscalco was approached by a woman who asked if he was busy.
Trooper Maniscalco responded that he had a few moments and the woman proceeded to tell him, "Trooper I always see you around, doing a good job and wanted to say Merry Christmas and thank you."
The woman handed him a holiday card, Trooper Maniscalco thanked the woman and went back to his call.
After his shift, Trooper Maniscalco remembered the card and opened it.
Inside, was a quote and $1,000 cash.

As you're probably guessing right now, State Police aren't allowed to accept such a gift. (And of course, as everyone knows, 15% is the standard tip on a police call.) So they're trying to figure out who the woman was so the money can be directed as a donation to a charity.

Details post jump.

By the way: Here's the NYS law for state officials and public employees for outside compensation and accepting gifts. It's 18 pages long.

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Noted: state's official position on Bigfoot

DEC bigfoot letterWe were forwarded this letter Tuesday by Peter Wiemer, director of the Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo. It's correspondence from the state Department of Environmental Conservation regarding Wiemer's concerns that bigfoots* currently don't have strong enough protections from hunting, especially considering a recent $10 million bounty on sasquatch:

Dear Mr. Wiemer,
Commissioner Martens asked me to reply to your letter concerning the protection of an animal known to some as "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch."
This mythical animal does not exist in nature or otherwise. I understand, however, that some well organized hoaxes or pranks have occurred, leading some people to believe that such an animal does live.
However, the simple truth of the matter is that there is no such animal anywhere in the World.
I am sorry to disappoint you. However, no program or action in relation to mythical animals is warranted.
On the other hand, New York State has a great richness of naturally occurring wildlife, and we work hard to ensure that these species are managed appropriately, including highly regulated hunting and trapping opportunities. We also work hard to restore and protect rare species. I wish you the best as you enjoy New York's abundant wildlife resources.
Thank you for writing us.
Sincerely,
Gordon R. Batcheller
Chief Wildlife Biologist

We contacted DEC about the letter and agency spokesman Rick Georgeson confirmed it's real. Also: "We have no further comment on this issue."

Earlier correspondence between Mr. Wiemer and DEC indicated that if sasquatch were real, they would be protected by state law. Good to know.

From Mr. Weimer's press release this week: "We have had nine eyewitnesses to date, of Bigfoot sightings in Chautauqua County come forward resolving themselves of the burden of knowing what they saw and were afraid of or not willing to tell because of fear of ridicule. All but one wished to remain anonymous."

Update: The TU's Casey Seiler talked with Wiemer about his concerns.

By the way: The second Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Weekend & Expo is scheduled for for April 26, 27, and 28. Well played, Mr. Wiemer.

Earlier: Wanted: bigfoot researcher in Whitehall, New York

APD says hazing incident involved water, wooden paddles, rubber hoses

Not the typical broken-up house party: Albany police say they responded to a call for "a loud disturbance" early Friday morning in Pine Hills (map). The APD press release continues:

While investigating the incident, officers located a total of 14 individuals in the basement being subjected to what appeared to be an initiation for membership in an unsanctioned group or fraternity.
Officers observed several individuals lying face down on the basement floor with their faces submerged in water. They were being struck with wooden paddles and rubber hoses while being told to "beg for mercy" and having cold water from a garden hose poured on their heads.

APD says nine people in total were arrested on a variety of charges -- seven of them were charged with hazing in the second degree. APD spokesman Steven Smith says eight of the nine charged are UAlbany students.

Full press release post jump.

Here's an Albany Student Press article from 2009 about underground frats and hazing. [via @JonCampbellGAN]

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"Pet" gray fox on the loose in Troy

gray fox us fwsWeird: we came across an item on Craigslist this week for a lost "pet" fox in the Troy area. And though the gray fox has "a collar and tags and is up to date on all her shots," according to the listing, there was a warning that it had been trying to "play" with other pets and ended up getting into fights. The fox is apparently not afraid of people.

So we contacted the Department of Environmental Conservation to see if they'd heard anything about this. From DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson:

We are aware of this animal which is running loose with a collar and tags in the vicinity of RPI. If the animal is caught it will be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator and the owner will be ticketed, if he can be found. It is illegal to keep wild animals as pets without a permit and DEC has no permits on file for this animal.
People should either call 911 [if fox is sighted] and they will contact us or they can call the DEC dispatch at 1-877-457-5680.

The photo on the right is US Fish and Wildlife Service pic of a gray fox. (It's not the gray fox in Troy.)

A fox is a fox
Foxes may look like dogs -- but no matter how you raise a fox, it will still be a fox -- that is, a wild animal. There's a fascinating NOVA episode about dogs -- called "Dogs Decoded" (it's on Netflix streaming) -- that highlights how far removed modern dogs are from their wild cousins . The episode includes a look at a long running study of fox domestication in Siberia, as well as researchers who have tried raising wolf pups like dogs at home. The short story: foxes and wolves are not dogs -- they don't read humans the same way, and they're aggressive.

photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikipedia

Waiting on the arrival of Lincoln's ghost

ghostly abe lincoln rensselaer train station

By James Greene, Jr.

The Rensselaer Amtrak Station: to me, it was always just an air conditioned waiting room with a post office, a relatively empty (though aesthetically pleasing) open space where I could leech wifi and stare at silent Charmed reruns on the wall mounted televisions whilst waiting for a ride back to New York City.

That changed when I learned this depot might be haunted by the esteemed ectoplasmic residuals of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train. You mean there's a chance my latte sipping could be interrupted by a gh-gh-ghost?

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The special goat

goats and gourmets mickey goat

So, about those stories from the farm. We were talking with Regina and Frank from the goat milk dairy Goats and Gourmets last night, and they mention their "special goat." And we're like, oh... special how?

The photo above is of said goat. They say the mark is naturally occurring. And, yep, they call him Mickey.

photo courtesy of Goats and Gourmets

Duck tags

green duck tag just off western ave

Quack.

We can across another duck tag today in Albany. This one was in (what seemed to us) an unlikely place: on Homestead Street, half a block off Western Ave, near a store's driveway (across from University Plaza).

Once you've noticed them, you'll see them everywhere. Also out there: bunny tags. Really. There's a pic after the jump.

The TU's Mark McGuire looked into these tags this past summer and didn't come up with anything.

We're still curious what the story is. Maybe there is no story -- maybe it's just about... ducks and bunnies. Or maybe it's rival gangs -- the kind who like to cuddle

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Body art -- and cupcakes? -- for the afterlife

shocker tattoo pink hearse

You know, just another pink hearse promoting a tattoo place.

Tag line from the hood: "Tattoos... you can take them to the grave" -- and there's a cupcake. (photo post jump)

Winnebaker: Also after the jump, bonus photos of a "Winnebaker" parked in Albany's Upper Washington Ave neighborhood this past weekend.

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Good design leads to electoral success?

campaign sign design primary winners

Winning design?

Observation: the results of our campaign yard sign design primary matched up surprisingly well with what actually happened in last week's primaries.

Here's the breakdown...

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Wanted: bigfoot researcher

harry and the hendersonsVia Jessica R comes this Craigslist job posting for a research assistant, which she describes as the "post of the year":

Not for profit organization, located in Whitehall, NY is a high-energy, team-oriented research entity that is involved in the tracking, documenting, and study of cryptozoological creatures, with a deep interest in the study and search of bipedal primitive apes.
We seek an experienced researcher with a deep understanding of crypto zoology, primatology, with a good background with scientific research and interest in great apes. The ideal candidate must be able to work both autonomously and as part of a large team. The individual must also be able to solve problems creatively, communicate effectively, and collaborate well with project leaders and team members.
Duties and Functions:
• Develop actionable tracking program in designated geographic area.
• Investigate, document and interview individuals with reported Bigfoot sitings.
• Occasional travel to remote areas of Adirondacks including spending several nights in the wilderness, checking motion cameras, collecting hair and dung samples for laboratory analysis amongst other related activites.
• Must have own transportation, four-wheel drive a plus.
** Serious Inquiries only **
Compensation: based on experience, this is a grant funded position and is expected to last 6 months with the possibility of renewal.

What? Didn't you know that Washington County is a hotbed of bigfoot activity? Wake up and hear the tree thumping.

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The manhole cover is looking back at you

manhole cover face

Oh, you surprised me!

Because it's Friday: We came across this manhole cover on the Harriman State Office Campus recently while walking Otto.

It made us smile.

Does the flux capacitor work?

Brian tweeted this photo to us today. He says he spotted the DeLorean just off Watervliet Ave in Albany. We asked him if he knew the backstory (link added):

Absolutely no idea. People milling around the car had no idea either. No Doc Brown sightings either.

Brian's posted a few more photos on Twitter. In case you're wondering, yes, the car is equipped with a Mr. Fusion.

Some of the streets in the area are reasonably straight, you might be able to hit 88 mph...

(Thanks, Brian!)

The Karner Blue as another sign from the Year of Odd Weather

Karner Blue butterfly Albany Pine Bush

They find the weather strange, too.

Another effect of the non-winter/early spring: Karner Blue butterflies have managed to squeeze out an extra generation this summer. From an Albany Pine Bush Preserve press release:

Karner blue butterflies typically have two broods per year, one in May/early June and the second in July. The discovery of a third brood is both remarkable and a bit alarming to Preserve scientists because the eggs produced by the July brood of adult Karners typically overwinter to produce adult Karners the following May. An early and very warm spring is the suspected cause of earlier broods this year and the additional late-season butterflies currently flying in the Preserve. The impacts of a third flight of adults to the long-term recovery of the species are unknown. ...
Only time and continued monitoring will determine if the late 2012 hatch will have an impact on the 2013 butterfly population and the longer-term recovery of the species. "We had no idea a third flight in a single season was possible before 2010" said [Albany Pine Bush Preserve Conservation director Neil] Gifford. According to Gifford, it was in 2010 that Karner blue butterfly managers from Wisconsin to New Hampshire suspected that the late season adults they were seeing may be a previously unknown third flight. "We don't yet have a good understanding of what the implications of a third brood will mean for the recovery of the species" said Gifford, adding "it will likely depend on whether the changing climate brings such conditions more frequently."

The preserve says this spring's emergence of Karner Blues was the earliest on record -- 10 days earlier than the previous record, and 21 days earlier than the 20-year average.

To say that the weather over the past year is odd would be an understatement. A handful of the signs and side effects:

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Wait, what did that poster say?

hipsters deserve to die if they have lung cancer

This poster, on the side of a pay phone* on New Scotland Ave near Albany Med, caught our attention the other day. No, it doesn't mean what it first seems to mean.

The smaller print:

Many people believe that if you have lung cancer you did something to deserve it. It sounds absurd, but it's true. Lung cancer doesn't discriminate and neither should you. Help put an end to the stigma and the disease at NoOneDeservesToDie.org.

We looked up the website. The campaign, from an org called the Lung Cancer Alliance, includes a bunch of "____ deserve to die" posters: the smug, the genetically privileged, cat lovers, and so on. The other side of the New Scotland Ave poster is the "crazy old aunts" version.

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Behold, the Andrew Cuomo bobblehead

andrew cuomo bobbleheadMonday night was Andrew Cuomo bobblhead night at the ValleyCats game. The bobblhead on the right is the one snagged by Jessica R.

Much like the actual Andrew Cuomo, the the bobblehead Andrew Cuomo apparently enjoyed strong popularity. People were lined up ahead of time in order to score one of the 1,500 bobbles. Inevitable next question: will bobblehead Andrew Cuomo run for the bobblehead presidency? The world holds its breath, nodding its head gently, waiting for an answer.

Sadly, the life of a bobblehead can be tough -- a lesson bobblhead Andrew Cuomo found out last night.

Earlier on AOA: Kim's collection of Capital Region/New York State bobbleheads

photo: Jessica R

Yarn bikes

yarn bomb bikes saratoga 1

We had to smile at these yarn bombed bikes on Broadway outside Common Thread in Saratoga Springs. The bikes -- and a nearby building column -- were yarn bombed during Knit in Public Day last month.

Either that, or this is some sort of new bike lock.

A few more large-format photos post jump.

Earlier on AOA: Yarnbomb in Troy

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Jojo's strange trip

jojo lost and found dog chippedThe Mohawk Hudson Humane Society says a staff member found this dog -- named JoJo -- tied to a pole in the org's parking lot in Menands. Luckily, JoJo had been chipped -- and it turned out he belonged to a family from... Michigan.

From a MHHS press release (link added):

Jojo's original family had to move from a house into an apartment that did not allow pets. They gave him to what they thought was a good home. From there Jojo bounced around a bit and no one knows how he came to New York State and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society in Menands. ...
"Jojo is a perfect example of the importance of the microchip. If he were not chipped, this story might not have the same happy ending that it does," said Executive Director Brad Shear. "We have a virtual lost and found board on our website where people can post a listing for lost pets and people finding pets can post found reports, and all strays are posted on the website. But hundreds of animals come to the shelter with no ID.

JoJo's owners drove from Michigan this past weekend to pick him up. We'd love to know how he got here. Maybe he pulled an Owney. [Fox23]

The humane society will be chipping dogs and cats today (Monday) and Tuesday for $15 from 10 am-5 pm at the shelter in Menands. (The chip is a tiny capsule implanted under the animal's skin. The info on can be read when a scanner passes over it.) Dogs must be leashed and cats must be in a carrier.

photo: Mohawk Hudson Humane Society

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist miniature horse rainbowThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Look out, Loudonville!

cloud face 2012-05-16 jessica macelli

He Who Shall Not Be Named?

Check out this photo Jessica sent along from Wednesday's storm.

She emails: "I took this photo before the storm tonight outside of our home in Loudonville. Didn't notice the face in the clouds until a little later. ... I posted it on my Facebook and instagram and now I can't believe I didn't take the picture because of the demon cloud! It is super creepy."

Yikes! It's like Voldemort looking down on Loudonville, or something.

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist wacky weekend wafflesThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Someone still loves you Chester A. Arthur

chester a arthur gold dollarNews to us: There are US President $1 coins (like the Sacagawea) -- for which there apparently has been uneven demand because of the tastes of the currency-using public. The Obama admin directed the US Mint to stop producing the coins for circulation at the end of last year after the government accumulated a $1.4 billion surplus of the coins. [USA Today]

But they're still available by special order. And when the coin commemorating Chester A. Arthur -- Washington County native, Union College grad, current resident of the Albany Rural Cemetery -- was issued last month, the Mint got orders for more than 6 million Arthur dollars. [Coin Update]

By the way: a Chester A. Arthur dollar will set you back $1.12 (minimum order: 100) before shipping and handling.

[via Union College]

image: US Mint

Brian Dewan: Filmstrips at UAlbany (beep)

Could be both fun and weird, in the good way: Multimedia artist Brian Dewan will be showing a group of his "I-Can-See" filmstrips at UAlbany Friday. Where? In a classroom, of course. (beep)

From Jed Davis, who's helped organized the performance with WCDB and Eschatone Records:

Brian's "I-Can-See" filmstrips are hand-drawn and soundtracked to resemble 20th Century educational filmstrips, complete with "beeps" to indicate a frame advance. Subject matter ranges from over-the-top retellings of Aesop's fables to wry commentary on modern culture. ...
Brian, who lives in Catskill, has presented these filmstrips in New York City at the Whitney Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Galapagos and Pierogi Gallery (which was decorated to resemble a mid-20th-Century classroom for the occasion), in the UK at Modern Art Oxford and the Royal College of Art, in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts, and in Los Angeles at Post Gallery. As far as New York state is concerned, this will be the first time they've been shown north of NYC. (beep)

One of Dewan's hand-drawn film strips is embedded above. It's called "The King of Instruments" -- it's about the organ menace that threatens us all. It's funny. (beep)

Dewan is an artist/musician who's performed, collaborated, or create art for groups ranging from They Might Be Giants to the Blue Man Group to Neutral Milk Hotel. And he and his brother Leon have built a series of electrical musical instruments called, appropriately, Dewanatrons. (beep)

The show starts at 7 pm in Lecture Center 6 on the uptown UAlbany campus. It's free and open to the public.

(beep)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist horse weathervaneThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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With that many legs, we'd like to know its name

weird unknown bug

Enlarged to highlight weirdness.

Today's episode of attempted crowdsource entomology: What the heck are these bugs?

Every spring we catch a few of these things scurrying through the house. They seem relatively harmless -- but, you know, they're weird. And some of them are rather large.

We've never encountered them anywhere other than Albany. The topic came up recently with a few friends around here and they, too, had noticed them but had no idea what they are.

So, anyone have the scoop? Please share.

Earlier on AOA: Box elder bugs

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist miniature horse foalThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Charge against Voorheesville teacher accused of biting student dropped

vorheesville teacher alleged biterThe child endangerment charge against Voorheesville teacher Michael Guerette -- accused of biting the arm of a 10-year-old student during an in-class arm wrestling match last December -- will be dropped if he stays out trouble for the next six months, both WNYT and YNN report. He also have to write an apology letter, according to the Albany County sheriff. The girl's parents support the move, apparently. [WNYT] [TU] [YNN]

This story was just... weird, and got a lot of attention (international, even) as a result. It also prompted a public outpouring of support for Guerette. Multiple people commented here at AOA that he was one of the best teachers they've ever had.

Back in January, Guerette spoke to YNN about the situation -- he told Julie Chapman that he didn't actually bite the student, but her teeth did come into contact with his arm while students piled on trying to beat him (a no-homework night was at stake). And as the Albany County Sheriff's Office noted at the time the incident first surfaced, Guerette self-reported what happened. [YNN]

Unfortunately for Guerette, Google doesn't have an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal option. (What if it did?)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist soviet czech bikeThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Watch for winged pedestrians

winged pedestrian sign ualbany

In a bit of a follow up to the the deer cowboy crossing sign from earlier this week, Kerosena sent along this pic of a winged pedestrian crossing sign at UAlbany. (Or is it a hiking angel?)

(Thanks, Kerosena!)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist cute baby bunniesThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Arrest in Albany Med mercury case

albany med mercury case martin kimber apd mug shotAlbany police say they've arrested the suspect in the Albany Med cafeteria mercury case -- and he's from Ulster County. They say Martin Kimber (right) is a 59-year-old retired (but still licensed) pharmacist from Ruby, New York.

The APD says it got a tip from someone who recognized Kimber's face from the security cam screengrabs shown on the news (the hospital posted a $25,000 reward for info directly leading to an arrest this week). It says detectives searched Kimber's residence in Ulster County and found "evidence linking him to the incident."

Still not clear: why someone would spread mercury around a hospital cafeteria. Or drive 50 miles to do it.

Full release after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist elephant slideThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

$25k reward in Albany Med mercury case

apd albany med mercury case person of interest

Originally tagged as a "person of interest," the APD said today this man is now a suspect.

Albany Med announced today that it's put up a $25,000 reward for info leading directly to arrest and conviction of the person responsible for spreading mercury around the medical center's cafeteria on March 2. Albany police have released surveillance video screengrabs of the man they say is a suspect (above, and after the jump).

The images are from 4:19 and 4:23 pm on March 2.

The APD is asking people with info to call its criminal investigations unit: 462-8039.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist carved troy signThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Bumper gawking

AWSOMDAD

We like to gawk at custom license plates.

And we know you do, too.

Here's yet another new bunch from around town...

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist blue-eyed goatThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist vintage adding machineThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist new zealand rabbitThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist found phone money photoThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Bleach as a weapon

bottle of clorox bleachAlbany police said today they've arrested a 15-year-old girl for allegedly being the bleach thrower in the incident outside the Arbor Hill library two weeks ago. From the press release (emphasis added):

The suspect was with another girl inside the library on February 3 waiting for her tutor in the teen area. The victim, 15, came into the library with another friend and sat down in close proximity to the suspect. Both girls started to make fun of the victim's clothes and his appearance. According to witnesses the suspect then started taking pictures and video of the victim with her cell phone. The victim, annoyed by photos being taken, knocked the camera out of the girls hand. The suspect started to yell at the victim and caused a commotion. She stated to him "you're going to get the bleach".

The teen has been charged with felony assault.

In the same press release, the APD says officers broke up a fight among three girls outside the Adult Learning Center on Western Ave near the downtown UAlbany campus on Monday. After the fight was broken up, the APD says a school official turned over a soda bottle filled with bleach that one of the fighting students had been carrying.

As Kate Welshofer tweeted this afternoon: "The only person who should be using bleach as a weapon is #MrClean."

The full press release after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist piglets sucklingThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist_giants_highheels.jpgThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Eating the buffalo chicken wing cupcake from Coccadotts

two coccadotts buffalo wing cupcake

Buffalo wings and cupcakes together -- as nature probably never intended.

When we heard this week that local cake shop Coccadotts was making Buffalo chicken wing cupcakes for the Super Bowl, we were intrigued. Because... Buffalo chicken wing cupcakes. It seemed unnatural, possibly wrong -- and perhaps, in some weird way, maybe kind of good.

So we stopped by the bakery today to eat one.

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Severed dog head found along Route 85

Weird/disturbing story of the day: Albany police say a severed dog head found along Route 85 near the Harriman State Office Campus Monday morning. From the press release:

The Animal Control Officer located a pit bull's head that had been severed. It was on the roadway just before the Washington Avenue overpass. A search of the immediate area initially did not locate the body of the dog. ...
It initially could not be determined whether it's had been intentionally severed or if it was struck by a car.
A search was conducted late this morning and the dog's body was found in between the eastbound and westbound lanes in between the cement supports of the Washington Avenue overpass.
The owner of the dog, who lives in Albany, was located today and she told police the dog was acting strange this past Friday and it got loose from her and took off. She had put out flyers and posters for her dog and called the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society to report her dog missing.

APD spokesman Jimmy Miller told the TU today that the DEC pathologist who examined the dog called the case "very unusual."

Full press release after the jump.

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Behold: the chicken wing cupcake

coccadotts chicken wing cupcake

That's brown sugar sprinkled on top, apparently.

Update: We tried them -- and they're... different.
____

Colonie cake shop Coccadotts is now offering a savory chicken wing cupcake.

Yep, you read that correctly.

From the shop's Facebook page:

Here it is! Go wild with our savory Chicken Wing cupcakes! All the goodness of a typical party platter, fitting in the palm of your hand. With a buttery corn bread base and bleu cheese frosting, the only thing that makes these better is the amazing chicken wing on top!

The store says in a comment on its FB page that the cupcakes will be available this Friday through Sunday for pick up -- or by call-ahead order. Also: "Trust us, they are better tasting than you think!"

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before these two great handheld snacks were united. The idea seems to have originated -- or at least gained popularity -- with Stephanie Polluck, who writes a blog called the Cupcake Project. As you might imagine, the internet then didn't quite know what to do with itself.

[via @derryX]

Earlier on AOA: Coccadotts on Cupcake Wars

photo: Coccadotts

For your yeti needs, try Troy

yeti_for_sale_troy_kgigante.jpgThis made us smile: Kristofer snapped this pic of a yeti for sale in a storefront on River Street near Monument Square in Troy this past weekend.

No doubt this has been a difficult winter for local yeti, what with the lack of snow and all that. We can only hope this guy finds a good new home.

Is this your yeti? We'd love to hear the backstory.

They yeti is by Amy Pollicino. She writes in the comments:

That is right, this sweet, cuddly, well behaved Yeti is looking for a new home. Even with the mild weather and lack of snow he has remained well tempered and optimistic that he may find a good forever home somewhere in the Capital Region :) He was originally created for the Winter Wonderland window display contest run by the Troy BID. Now that the contest is over he is hoping to find a more permanent place to reside. Although he appears to be more fitting for a colder climate he enjoys troy and Upstate New York, curious to stick around to possibly meet up with one of his close cousins, the Sasquatch. If you have any interest please contact me vie FB or email PollicinoA@yahoo.com

(Thanks, Kristofer!)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist mannequin headThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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APD: man was responding to police calls, identifying himself as a detective

Weird: Albany police say a 19-year-old man has admitted to responding to "several dozen" police calls over the past year, representing himself as a detective.

Albany police mug shot Ryan MannFrom the APD press release:

On Tuesday evening just after 5:00 p.m. officers investigating a person with a gun call were involved in a brief foot pursuit that led to a arrest for criminal trespass at 273 Third Street. Officer [Michael] Geraci was one of the officers who responded to the call and he located a handgun on Thornton Street. Several minutes after the call went out [Ryan] Mann showed up to the scene on Thornton Street. ...
Mann was wearing eye glasses, had on a blue fleece jacket, dress shirt and tie, khaki pants and shoes. He had a bullet proof vest on and was carrying a portable radio, similar to one that police officers carry.
Officer Geraci initially questioned him at the scene and Mann was brought to the detective division to be interviewed. Mann admitted to responding to several dozen calls over the past year, mostly in the Center Square area. He monitored police calls through a phone application that scans police transmissions, carried a police badge from Oakland, California and would identify himself as Detective Ruff when he encountered people in the public.

The APD says Geraci nabbed Mann after recognizing him from responding to other police calls in the Lark Street area.

There is no indication at this time that Mann specifically targeted anyone or anything for gain or that he was a threat to anyone. He was scheduled for a mental health evaluation.

Mann has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property, but for the moment, not impersonation. APD says it's still investigating.

More details in the full press released pasted after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist frozen feeder miceThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Teacher accused of biting student

vorheesville teacher alleged biterUpdate April 18, 2012: The charge against Guerette has been dropped.
____

Easily the weirdest story of the day: the Albany County Sheriff's Office says a 5th grade teacher at Vorheesville Elementary has been arrested for allegedly biting a student. During an arm wrestling competition.

From the press release:

The incident allegedly occurred on December 13, 2011 during classroom instructional time during which Guerette allowed a male fifth grade student to engage in arm wrestling with him. During the wrestling, other students including the victim became excited and were pulling and pushing on the child's arm who was wrestling Guerette trying to cause the student to win the arm wrestling match. During this ruckus the victim reached her arm across the desk in front of Guerette pulling on the hand of the student who was wrestling the teacher. Guerette opened his mouth and bit the female student in the forearm leaving what the student said were teeth marks. The bite mark eventually turned to bruising on the child's arm which was still visible 48 hours later when examined by school officials.

The sheriff's office says the teacher -- Michael Guerette -- self reported the alleged incident to the school's principal. Also: an "investigation has not revealed any misconduct of a sexual nature."

The full press release is embedded after the jump.

Update: Cassie says Guerette was one of her teachers -- be sure to read her comment.

Update: The school district has a posted a statement about the situation. Here's a clip:

Our first concern is always for the safety of our students, which makes incidents of this nature difficult to comprehend and impossible to justify.
Mr. Guerette will remain on leave from all duties while the district awaits the resolution of the charge against him. We are also continuing to consult with officials from the State Education Department on the appropriate disciplinary actions.

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Stop. No, really.

stop means stop

In case you were thinking this is one of the optional stop signs.

We had a laugh this week after seeing this sign at the Price Chopper Plaza in Slingerlands.

Craig and his wonderful list

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Bumper gawking

CRSPBACN

Probably not a vegetarian. (Thanks, Cassie!)

We like to gawk at custom license plates.

And we know you do, too.

Here's yet another new bunch from around town...

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist loveseat needs loversThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Beaming up Santa

santa abducted by aliens holiday light display

For Santa's sake, let's hope all that stuff about probing is a myth.

Arielle sent along this holiday light display from the yard of a house on Western Ave in Guilderland.

Yep, that's Santa being abducted by aliens.

(Thanks, Arielle!)

Behold, the white squirrels at play

white squirrels delaware ave albany

Not common, but easy to spot.

Today's Moment of Nature* comes via Amy Riddell at Emack and Bolio's, who noticed a pair of white squirrels playing (or whatever it is squirrels do) in the ice cream shop's yard.

Amy says the white squirrel has lived in the Delaware Ave neighborhood for a few years, and people have spotted two babies (one of them is in the photo with the mother). After much chasing, Bennett also spotted what could be the same white squirrel last year. (There have been white squirrel sightings in Troy, too.) [Photo This] [RPInsider]

A lot of people refer to white squirrels as albino, but most of the squirrels probably don't have that condition. They're actually just genetic color variants of regular gray squirrels, in which the genes for the white belly are active in other parts of the animal's coat (albinism is a different situation). Look for the eyes -- if they're not red/pink/blue, it's probably not an albino squirrel (and too bad -- because albino squirrels have their own preservation society). Some have argued the all-white fur could even be an adaptation to urban environments (we're skeptical -- but maybe it makes them easier to spot when they cross the street). [NYT] [Wikipedia] [Science Buzz] [The Wild Classroom]

Places with unusually large populations of white squirrels have taken the animals as claims to fame -- with fights over which place is actually the white squirrel capital of the country. Some of the claims include origin myths. There was even a white squirrel-related request for federal pork this year (in Tennessee). And, of course, the obligatory tribute video to the white squirrels from a town in North Carolina. [Roadside America] [NC Farm Bureau] [ABC News]

One more Delaware Ave white squirrel pic from Amy is after the jump.

* It's like that segment at the end of CBS Sunday Morning in which video of cranes standing in a wetland runs for a minute or two without voice over.

(Thanks, Amy!)

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Craig and his wonderful list

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That's not snow

gas_station_suppression.jpg

But it looks a lot like it.

Probably the craziest thing we'll see all week: we were sitting in Uncommon Grounds in Albany Wednesday afternoon (surprise) when a huge white cloud started spreading from the nearby Mobil station. There was a bit of a "Hey, look at that! Wait, should we be running for our lives?" moment.

It turns out something tripped the gas station's fire suppression system. Apparently there wasn't any initial indication there had been a fire -- the guys working the counter said they weren't sure what set it off.

The chemical spewed out by the system covered everything around the station. It looked like it had snowed.

We talked for a minute with a woman who said she'd been standing under the station's canopy with the system went off -- she was covered in a fine white dust, like she'd been baking a little too enthusiastically. She said all of a sudden there was white everywhere and she couldn't see. She was kind of dazed, understandably.

A few minutes after the system went off, the Albany Fire Department rolled up to inspect the scene.

A bunch of photos after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist street sweeperThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Begun again the War on Crows has

crow closeup

And the beady eyes that stare right through your soul.

The city of Albany has announced that once again it will be engaging in the War on Crows. This winter's campaign will include the following tactics (emphasis added):

The non-lethal harassment methods used to disperse crows will include pyrotechnics, electronic guards, non-harmful lasers, and amplified, recorded crow distress calls. Several of these methods produce loud noises and flashing lights, (similar to sirens and fireworks) that frighten birds and may be heard or observed by local residents. Biologists will be wearing uniforms and a blaze orange vest marked "USDA Wildlife Services."

The first offensive will begin in the Center Square and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods next Tuesday late afternoon and continue through Thursday. Full details in the press release after the jump.

Albany and other Capital Region municipalities and institutions have been taking up arms against roosting crows for the past several winters -- and yet victory remains elusive.

The crow is a formidable adversary. Researchers say the birds can use tools, recognize humans and hold grudges (even if you can't figure out what you did to them). They are highly intelligent animals (perhaps aided by secret government programs -- the TRUTH IS OUT THERE.) Earlier this year the mayor of Amsterdam revealed the crows had cracked the city's waste disposal codes. It's only a matter of time before they learn how to use Twitter and Facebook.

Thankfully, the humans have had a major weapon of their own in the form of Green Island mayor Ellen McNulty-Ryan and her trusty pyrotechnic sidearm. But there's only one EMR -- and the crow hordes are vast.

Earlier on AOA: A dossier on our crow invaders

photo: Wikimedia Commons user mdf

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist alpacaThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist coin-op kids rideThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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The Rotterdam Square Mall cemetery

Rotterdam Square graveyard

Rotterdam Square Mall -- where you can pay your respects on the way to Macy's.

By Wendy Voelker

Sure, some shopping malls can be compared to graveyards (insert Latham Circle Mall joke here), but one local mall actually contains a graveyard. Brings new meaning to "shop 'til you drop."

Not only is Rotterdam Square Mall the home of Macy's and T.J.Maxx, it's also the final resting place for several members of the Vedder family, Dutch pioneers who had inhabited Schenectady County since the late 1600s.

So how does a mall get built around a graveyard? The story behind the cemetery in the Rotterdam Square mall structure is a gripping tale of drinking water, business interests, human remains, and a 10-year struggle with ticked-off citizens.

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Firsthand accounts of the Latham Gold's Gym struggle and death

A man died during a struggle with Colonie police this morning at the Gold's Gym in Latham, as the Times Union reported.

It sounds like there were a handful of people in the gym at the time, and a few firsthand reports have popped up online -- which describe a crazy scene.

First from Crystal Beauchemin (@Beau511) on Twitter:

Wow: guy who was flipping out& knocking machines over at my gym this AM then tazed by police...died...&I was working out 10ft away

A string of her tweets describing the incident is embedded after the jump.

And then from Courtney Horan, who posted an account on her blog:

Then he ran down the stairs, backwards mind you, and ran through the lower level of the gym, screaming and making a couple loops before going out the door. Somebody tried locking the doors after that, but he stormed back in, continuing on with his rage. Luckily someone managed to dial 911.
Meanwhile, he went behind the front desk and into the office, trashing everything.
He went back out into the gym, knocking over free weights, display walls, and huge weight machines. By this time, the police began arriving, with one of the first responders in being a woman. The enraged man spotted her and began going after her, so right as he went to approach her, she tased him.

She reports it then looked like the man had a heart attack. The Troy Record reports the man got treatment for cardiac arrest, and both the Record and the TU report he was later pronounced dead at Albany Med.

Update: Colonie police say the man was tased multiple times during the struggle -- apparently once when he triggered the taser himself. [TU] [Troy Record]

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How to survive the zombie apocalypse in the Capital Region

empire state plaza zombies

The ESP: wide open space to spot zombies -- but also few places to hide.

From everything we've been seeing, it's basically only a matter of time before the zombie apocalypse is upon us (it would explain a lot). And, if you're anything like us, you're totally unprepared.

But fear not, fair citizens. We have drawn on the wisdom of your fellow Capital Region residents to compile a quick primer on how to survive the zombie apocalypse here.

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That Walmart wine is the wine equivalent of cheese food

wine product at walmartAfter stumbling across what looked like a wine display in the World's Largest Walmart, Emily emailed with what we can only imagine was some distress:

Walmart wine? Did some law get passed that I missed?

The short answer: no.

The longer answer is... uh... tacky.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist deer headThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Zombie Walk 2011 photos

zombie walk 2011 sebastien

We missed out on the fun of this year's Zombie Walk -- but Sebastien was there and captured a bunch of fun photos. This year's walk appeared to include a new twist or two (stilts?!?).

photo: Sebastien Barre

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist item elvis cutoutThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist chicken coopThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Bumper gawking

A long way from the ZIP code.

We like to gawk at custom license plates.

And we know you do, too.

Here's yet another new bunch from around town...

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Office chair lacking a jet engine? Maybe he can help with that.

mad scientists john bowler

John Bowler atop the "mechanical lizard car."

This is fun: John Bowler, a contractor from Malta, is the host of a new show on the National Geographic Channel called Mad Scientists. From the blurbage:

Travel across America with host John Bowler as he ventures into gadget-filled garages and junk-strewn backyards to meet amateur inventors who are making amazing(ly weird) things! Test-drive a jet-powered minivan, a fire-breathing wheelchair, a water-powered rocket belt, and more. Once we've seen what these 'mad scientists' are capable of, John challenges each inventor to improve one of their creations, and, with his help, build the coolest, weirdest thing they can think of. And here's the catch -- they only have 48 hours. The results? Well, it might work and it might not, but either way, "It's going to get weird!"

After the jump, there's a clip from an episode in which they build a rocket-propelled motorcycle/office chair.

Bowler got an audition for the show through a college roommate who's producing the show -- and, as he told to the TU, "I'm fairly fluent in wacko."

Mad Scientists debuts tonight at 10 pm at Nat Geo.

(Thanks, Jessica R!)

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist sombreroThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist vintage camerasThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist hollywood video signThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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The Pondshiners

tobias seamon photoRecently over at The Morning News, Albany resident Tobias Seamon writes about the "lost Pondshiners" -- a reclusive clan of people who once lived in Columbia County:

New York's Hudson Valley abounds in spooks, from the wailing Maid of Kaaterskill Falls, to the dreaded Horseman of Leeds, to ongoing rumors of a poltergeist in the Education Building in Albany. These, along with more familiar specters like Rip Van Winkle and the Headless Horseman, prompted historian Maud Wilder Goodwin to write in 1919 that the Hudson River was "endowed [with] more of the supernatural...than haunts any other waterway in America." ...
But when it comes to aboriginal mysteries, the Hudson Valley has almost as many flesh-and-blood frights as it does phantoms. Strange backwoods clans have been found in hollows throughout the region, from the ornery so-called Jackson Whites in the Ramapo Mountains, to the Eagle Nesters--supposedly descended from Indians and escaped slaves--perched above Kingston, to the exceptionally blond-haired Van Guilders around Glens Falls. But maybe the most peculiar of these communities was the wild Pondshiners of the Taconic Hills in southern Columbia County.

The backstory is wild (in a few different ways). And highlights what a radically different place this area -- and the nation -- not even a century ago. (Here's the chapter about "The Frightened People" referenced from Grey Riders.)

Tobias Seamon will be at St. Rose October 27 as part of the Frequency North series. His latest book is The Emperor's Toy Chest, which "explores history, mythology, fantasy, and the magical borderlands between."

photo: Leif Zurmuhlen

Schweddy Balls? Maybe not.

schweddy balls ben and jerrysUpdated September 13 at 7:30 am

Ben & Jerry's has a new flavor: Schweddy Balls. You've probably heard. It's been all over the interwebs. It's inspired (if that's the word) by the famous SNL in which candy maker Pete Schweddy (played by Alec Baldwin) brings his "Schweddy Balls" to an NPR food show (it's embedded after the jump).

Anyway, Fox44 in Burlington is reporting that "all" Price Chopper locations won't be carrying the ice cream because of the name. We put in a request for comment with Price Chopper Thursday afternoon about the story, but haven't heard back (we'll update if we do), so we can't confirm. They've admittedly had more important things to focus on this week. (We also didn't hear back from Hannaford -- maybe no one wants to touch the Schweddy Balls issue. Hannaford got back to us -- their response after the jump.)

Said a Ben & Jerry's spokesman to Time about the name: "The name is irreverent. But we've always been about having some irreverence and having some fun ... We're not trying to offend people. Our fans get the humor."

So what's in Schweddy Balls? From Ben & Jerry's site: "vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum and is loaded with fudge covered rum and milk chocolate malt balls." Reviews of the flavor have been... mixed. [NY Mag Grub Street]

The Ben & Jerry's scoop shop on Lark Street in Albany says the flavor is currently available there (it was sold out as of the evening of September 12). The RPI scoop shop says it might have the flavor this weekend. And the Saratoga shop says maybe by the end of next week.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist cattle skullThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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The cute car

eyelash mini car small

If for a better look, try a larger version of the photo.

Miriam snapped this pic recently after spotting this car in the parking lot outside the Target in Latham. It pushes the Mini's cuteness to an until-now-only-theoretical level.

So... where does one get mascara for those lashes?

(Thanks, Miriam!)

Earlier on AOA:
+ The Vehigloo
+ The toy car

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist bear rugThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

monarch caterpillarThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Escape from the North Country

prison cell barsFrom a casting email that floated our way this week:

Presently casting new show, "The Great Escape", by producers of "Amazing Race" and the acclaimed director, Ron Howard, that will take place in Black River, NY. This pilot is the first reality show for TNT.
Looking to cast actors to portray three "guards" on the show who must look and act the part of a prison guard. Male, female, all ethnic backgrounds, athletic types, all age ranges. Pay approximately $300-400 a day (not confirmed yet) plus meals. Union, non-union; non-speaking. Two day shoot week of September 12; nothing definite as to which two dates.
Please submit to c.cocca@coccacasting.com ASAP as submissions must be presented by Wednesday, August 17: Age, height, weight, best phone number, email to reach you, and current photo which best represents you for this role.

A reality show with people playing prisoners and guards. What could go wrong? It's not like anyone might take their role a little too seriously and someone ends up getting tortured. Of course, that would give you more of an incentive to escape. You know, beyond the $10,000 and SUV (or whatever) they're giving the winner.

A little more on the concept, from an AP story last October:

In "The Great Escape," ordinary people are put in cinema-inspired settings, challenging them to find a way out using everyday ingenuity. Each week, teams are dropped off blindfolded in a different extreme environment -- lost in the desert, trapped in the mountains, locked in a prison, marooned on an island.

By the way, Black River is a village near Watertown.

photo: Flickr user Biggunben

Warrior Dash photos 2011

warrior dash 2011 sebastien fire jump

Fiery.

This is fun: Sebastien was at the Warrior Dash at Windham Mountain this past weekend and has a great post and photoset from the race/obstacle course/mud bath.

A few more photos after the jump. But definitely go check out the whole set.

Warriors! Jen and Silvia both braved the course this year. Jen says the obstacles were a lot harder this year. And Silvia had a blast -- and ended up inventorying her injuries

Update! Diana also ran the course this year and took her camera along.

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Craig and his wonderful list

beavertoy.jpgThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Bumper gawking

GOTELVIS custom license plate

Elvis is alive. And in this person's trunk.

We like to gawk at custom license plates.

And we know you do, too.

Here's a new bunch from around town...

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Overheard at the coffee house

toilet with blue waterYes, back from the grave of old features, it's Overheard.

A guy is talking with his friends at Hudson River, when he casually mentions:

I want the water in my toilet to be more blue. I mean, it used to be really blue, but now it's only light blue. I want it to be more blue. Ya know?

We all have hard lives. And, in some cases, hard water as well.

original photo: Flickr user Titanas

Craig and his wonderful list

donald trump dollThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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There's a turkey in the neighborhood

turkey melrose neighborhood albany

Where was this turkey going? Morning walk? Getting coffee? Walk of shame?

David emailed this pic this morning:

Was driving into work this morning traveling through the Melrose area in Albany and noticed that this turkey was casually grazing right in the middle of Belvidere Ave.! Had to stop and take a picture as I wasn't sure anyone would believe me. Well there it is!

Melrose is the neighborhood uptown, between Western and Washington, just to the east of the state office campus. While it's not super dense, it's full of closely-spaced single and multi-unit houses. We've seen turkeys at Capital Hills, the municipal golf course on the edge of Albany -- but never right in the middle of a neighborhood like this.

Until now. Gobble.

(Thanks, David!)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Jimmer, the horse

jimmer tribute wall glens fallsBecause Jimmer Mania is unstoppable, there's now a race horse named after Jimmer Fredette. It looks like "Jimmer" will make his race debut at Saratoga this season. [TU]

The backstory on the name: Pat Hammel, the wife of the basketball coach as Glens Falls HS, is on the barn staff for one of the trainers at the stable that owns the horse -- she suggested naming the colt after Fredette (sadly, they didn't go with "The Jimmer"). Hammel says the horse reminds her of Jimmer: "You look at him and you're not 100 percent sure he's an athlete, but hopefully he'll prove us all wrong like Jimmer did." [Saratogian] [Yahoo Sports]

This horse is the third thoroughbred to carry the "Jimmer" name, according to the Pedigree Online Thoroughbred Database.

What obviously has to happen now: a game of H-O-R-S-E between the two Jimmers. Come on, NYRA, let's make this happen.

Jimmer tribute in Glens Falls photo by Trampoline Design

The water fountains of Albany

Delightfully random and civic-minded: Rob (@paintaneight) has put together a map of outdoor drinking fountains in Albany.

Blue: where there's a working fountain
Red: fountain present, but not fully working
Yellow: unconfirmed fountains
Green: where people have suggested there be a fountain

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist camp for saleThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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A new look for the Jesus limo

jesus limo black  wide

OK?

Spotted today in the University Plaza parking lot in Albany (you know, the plaza that includes Uncommon Grounds).

It appears the Jesus Limo has a new paint job. (We weren't able to confirm that it's the same limo, but it looks like it is.)

More pics...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist tonka truckThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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An animated account of the Marriage Equality Act

The recent passage of the Marriage Equality Act, as only NMA -- the animated Taiwanese news -- could report it:

[via Politics on the Hudson]

Earlier on AOA: New York Senate passes Marriage Equality Act, Andrew Cuomo signs it shortly after

The story behind the little anti-frackers

little anti-fracker rally

A rally of little anti-frackers.

After tracking the spread of the little anti-fracking protests from Schenectady to Albany to Troy, we now know who's behind the tiny campaign.

Her name's Nancy. She's from Schenectady. She outed herself in a comment last week -- and we followed up with a few questions...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist alpacasThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Abobo all over

abobo street art albany

Multiple Abobo.

Observantly, R emails:

Was wondering if anyone on here knew what the Double Dragon Abobo stickers all over the city were about? They are all different sizes and colors and I see them everywhere! Ive seen both the kicking guy and face close-ups and was wondering if this was just someone's tag or if it was for a band or some political statement or what? They are real fresh and they make my walk to work all the more enjoyable. Nice to see some legitimate street art around these parts. If you havent seen them Im sure you will soon because they are rather hard to miss around Albany and Troy.

R sent along the two photos above, both from Albany.

These induce some serious 8-bit nostalgia. Anyone got the scoop?

NYC taxi invasion

taxis at nys capitol

Manhattan to Albany would be a rather expensive fare. (About $300 before tip, according to this fare calculator.)

Summer emails:

NYC taxis have invaded downtown Albany! Apparently they're in town for some sort of protest, but it was strange sight. The photos (attached) doesn't do it justice.

There was a mass taxi sighting at the Exit 24 tolls this morning, too.

The cabs are part of a rally against legislation that would let livery drivers in the city pick up passengers who hail them in northern Manhattan and the four non-Manhattan boroughs (the cabs are upset because they say the law would cut into their business). The Bloomberg admin is pushing the legislation, and apparently it's trying to route around a city council traffic jam. [NY Post] [NYT] [Gothamist]

More photos via Summer after the jump.

Update: Sean reports that many of the taxis were ticketed.

(there's more)

More little anti-frackers

little anti-fracker troy

They get around.

Spotted in Troy this weekend around the River Street Festival: yet more of the tiny anti-fracking protestors.

So, that makes Schenectady, Albany, and now Troy. Sebastien also spotted one. So did Abby.

After Abby first spotted these in Schenectady, we thought it was kind of cute. Now we're curious. Who's behind this?

If you have details -- please share! Either in the comments, or via email.

The tiny anti-frackers have migrated

little anti-fracker manning new scotland

Hmmm...

Remember those tiny fracking protests Abby spotted in Schenectady last weekend? We happened upon this one at Manning and New Scotland in uptown Albany this week.

It's starting to make us wonder about what other tiny things have been lurking about unnoticed.

Craig and his wonderful list

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Yarnbomb in Troy

troy yarnbomb medium

It's more of a yarnbomblet, really.

We had heard earlier this week about a yarn bombing in Troy, and Emily was nice enough to swing by Washington Park yesterday to check out the alleged scene of rogue needlework. She spotted the lamp post above.

The start of yarn bombing is attributed to Magda Sayeg, who started a knitting graffiti group in Houston, Texas (everything's weirder in Texas). The idea has since spread -- and this past Saturday was apparently "International Yarnbombing Day."

OK, so why? From a recent NYT article about yarnbomber Jessie Hemmons:

The bronze statue of Rocky near the Philadelphia Museum of Art irked Jessie Hemmons. She found the statue too big, too macho and too touristy, so last month Ms. Hemmons, a 24-year-old artist, bombed him. With pinkish yarn.
Using a stepladder and a needle, Ms. Hemmons stitched a fuchsia-colored hooded vest on the fictional boxer with the words "Go See the Art" emblazoned across the front, to prod tourists to visit the museum that so many skip after snapping their photo with the statue.
She calls the act of artistic vandalism "yarn bombing," adapting a term for plastering an area with graffiti tags.
"Street art and graffiti are usually so male dominated," Ms. Hemmons said. "Yarn bombing is more feminine. It's like graffiti with grandma sweaters."

This past December an artist who goes by the name Olek yarnbombed the bronze bull statue on Wall Street -- and there's video, of course (embedded below).

More pics from Troy after the jump.

Update: we've heard from one of the yarnbombers...

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The Egg as text

egg as text

For no other reason than it's Tuesday and raining: a picture of The Egg made from the letters in the words "the egg."

Made with Textify.it.

[via Kottke]

Tiny protests against fracking

Abby was in Schenectady Sunday for the Greenmarket and noticed these tiny fracking protestors. She says there were dozens of them hiding around the State Street/Jay Street area.

A bunch of the tiny anti-frackers are after the jump.

As Abby said in an email: "Yes, had too much fun finding these..."

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Bumper gawking

bumper gawking DEATH

Death drives a pickup truck. Who knew.

We like to gawk at custom license plates.

And we know you do, too.

Here's a new bunch from around town...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Car crashes into New World Bistro Bar

new world car crash

Update late Wednesday afternoon: They're opening back up, officially.

Update Wednesday at 12:52 pm: New World says it's hoping to open tonight, pending approval from city inspectors. Update update: restaurant press release about the situation after the jump.
____

Updated Wednesday at noon: The Albany Police Department has released more details about the incident. Short story: they allege two guys were fighting over a woman. The ex-boyfriend allegedly tried to stab the new boyfriend. The new boyfriend then allegedly tried to hit the ex-boyfriend with his car, but missed and instead hit New World.

The full release is after a the jump, plus a quick video clip from a witness.
____

A car crashed into the front of New World Bistro Bar in Albany Tuesday night around 8:45 pm. Albany police say the crash followed an alleged attempted stabbing at the KFC just down the street (the other side of the Spectrum). The APD says it's located everyone involved. [WNYT] [Fox23]

Police say a man involved with the fight lost control of his car as he drove down Delaware after the alleged fight, hit New World, then drove farther down Delaware and struck another car. A witness says it appeared the driver was trying to hit a man with the car, missed, and slammed into the building. [YNN] [TU]

The APD says two people inside in the building suffered minor injuries. [CBS6]

Just from our own casual observation from the sidewalk, it looked like there were broken windows, bent framing, and one section of wall was pushed in about foot or two along the front of the building. There was a crew from the city looking at the building late Tuesday.

More photos after the jump.

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Noted: incinerators, like stomachs, get upset when they eat too much ice cream

stewarts recall ice cream incineratorStewart's posted on its Facebook page today about what's happened to all that ice cream it had to recall:

We are disposing of the recently recalled ice cream at an area landfill, as well as a burn plant. We can only send 40 tons of recalled ice cream, a day, to the burn plant -- more than that will put out the fire. We are destroying a total of 250 tons of ice cream!

In other Stewart's ice cream news, Jessica spotted Crumbs Along the Mohawk, back in circulation. (Crumbs has reportedly changed lives.)

Earlier on AOA: Stewart's ice cream recall info

photo: Stewart's Shops

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Full of the spirit... and somewhat less so

jesus limo before after

Stephen sent along these sort-of before-and-after photos of the oft-sighted and now Albany-famous Jesus Limo.

(What, you're over the Jesus Limo? Yes, well, perhaps it is so April 2011.)

Rob got the scoop on the limo last month -- it belongs to a church in West Hill.

(Thanks, Stephen)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

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A renowned name

albany fembin londonSpanning the globe, Erik sends along the above pic. He writes:

I just got back from London and got a huge kick out of the fact that the 'fembins' in many London tourist attractions, including Westminster Abbey, are from a company called Albany Washroom Services.
Even more amusing to me because there are a lot of very handsome buildings in the city with Albany signs and engravings.

Just to be clear -- and as Nick helpfully pointed out yesterday -- the name Albany has roots in the UK (Scotland, specifically) that stretch back before the founding of the fair city here in the Capital Region. Albany (that is, the one here) was named after James II, who was the Duke of York and Albany.

Earlier on AOA: The Duchess of Albany?

Watch for turtles

small animal crossing sign

We came across this sign while driving around Bethlehem the other day. It made us smile.

A picture flashed in our mind of a line of cars waiting for a turtle to cross the road.

Bumper gawking

schmblny

Albany, Schmalbany.

As is now very well established, we like to gawk at custom license plates.

And we know you do, too.

Here's a new bunch from around town...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

Thumbnail image for craigslist pointy couchThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide ...

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Today's moment of spring

purple crocus macro

The word crocus is from Greek (krokos), and has origins back to a Sanskrit word meaning "saffron yellow." Yep, the name refers not to the petals, but the stamen. (That was today's moment of word nerdery.)

The NWS station at ALB recorded a high temp Monday of 82 at 6 pm. If that holds up as the official high for the day, it will tie the record for the date (previously set in 1945).

By the way: Wednesday's forecasted high temp is... 51 (and rainy).

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist historic marker The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Benvenuto nella nostra città

italian show screengrab

Okay, so it snows here. But they should see Syracuse.

Italy, meet the Capital Region.

It's always interesting to see yourself through someone else's eyes. And a recent episode of "Living in America," an Italian TV series, brought host Domenico Nesci to Albany.

A few of the things Italian viewers learned about Albany: The snow is too damn high, the economy here doesn't suck as badly as it could, and Bettie makes some rockin' cupcakes.

Domenico goes shopping to get the "Look da Rapper" at Richter's on Central Ave. ("You get the shoes first because the shoes got to match everything.") He heads to Troy for a haircut -- and then to Bettie's Cakes in Saratoga Springs, which leads to a makeover, complete with wig, red patent heels, and a white dress, for a pinup photo shoot with with Bettie herself, a.k.a. Lorraine Murphy. And there's more, too.

Actually, it's good viewing, peppered with interesting profiles of local people. And since the interviews are in English with subtitles, you can enjoy them even if your Italian's a bit rusty.

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist jersey The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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ALB screener says she was fired for being a witch (and a whistleblower)

Thumbnail image for albany airportFrom the couldn't-make-this-up file: msnbc.com reports that a woman who was fired from a job as a TSA screener at ALB in 2009 says she was given the boot, in part, because she's a witch:

She was in the top 10 percent in Albany at catching weapons on the X-ray machine. She passed her skills test on the first try. She caught a woman on her way to Vietnam with $30,000 in cash. And she didn't mind working with the passengers -- her training as a massage therapist kept her from being squeamish, as some officers were, about patting down elderly and special-needs passengers.
The assistant director told her he was investigating a threat of workplace violence. He said that her former mentor in on-the-job training, officer Mary Bagnoli, reported that she was afraid of Smith because she was a witch who practiced witchcraft. She accused Smith of following her on the highway one snowy evening after work and casting a spell on the heater of her car, causing it not to work. Well, actually, Bagnoli said she hadn't seen Smith's car, but she had seen Smith. "I thought to myself," Smith recalls, "what, did she see me flying on my broom?"

The woman says she does practice Wicca (and is reclaiming the word "witch").

As you might expect, there's more to the story -- including whistleblowing about alleged security problems, what sounds like less than-great management, and... uh... two black cats.

Albany's role in Houdini's last act

By Akum Norder

houdini water torture croppedSilly us: We'd forgotten today was Harry Houdini's birthday until we saw the Google doodle.

But since it is -- The Great Houdini would be 137 today -- it seems a fitting time to mention the role an Albany performance played in the chain of events that led to his death.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Going, going, gone

state surplus phones.

You could, you know, start a phone collection.

By Akum Norder

State government is a vast and various enterprise. If you ever need reminded of that, go browse New York state's eBay auctions.

The state, which sells surplus on eBay through its account nyssurplus-albany, often has some unexpected items among the usual filing cabinets and office equipment.

Here are some things the state has offered recently on eBay:

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist uke The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist E.T.The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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The Schenectady Silly Putty Mystery

Silly Putty Exhibit

It first bounced in Schenectady... we're pretty sure.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Remember Silly Putty? The rubbery stuff, in the egg?

It stretches, it bounces, it copies pictures out of comic books.

Yeah, that stuff.

It was invented in Schenectady!

Unless it wasn't.

But it probably was.

Like most stories of invention, the one behind Silly Putty has its competing claims. But a new exhibit at the Schenectady Museum traces the wonderful rubbery substance to a failed experiment at a GE lab in Schenectady.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist fonda speedway The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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On public concubinage

andrew cuomo mediumOf all the criticisms one could make of Andrew Cuomo, this is probably the weirdest (and dirtiest sounding): "public concubinage."

Edward Peters -- self-described as "one of the most widely-known lay [Catholic] canon lawyers in North America" and reportedly an adviser to the Vatican -- wrote earlier this year that Cuomo and First Lady-friend Sandra Lee live in "public concubinage" -- and as a result, Cuomo should not be allowed to receive communion. [NYT] [Canon Law Blog]

And Cuomo did just that at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany after his inauguration -- during a mass led by bishop Howard Hubbard, no less. Peters accused Hubbard of a "dereliction of pastoral duty" for not admonishing Cuomo and Lee "for their objectively and publicly sinful status." And Peters recently told a conservative news site that Cuomo's action "produces grave scandal within the faith community." [NYDN] [CNS]

The Albany diocese released a statement this afternoon about all this in which it basically told Peters to mind his own business (politely). And Cuomo said to reporters today: "For me, I choose to keep my religion and my religious practices private and not discuss it in the political arena." [State of Politics] [TU CapCon]

Not being read up on concubinage -- public or otherwise -- we did a little research. According to Wikipedia (so you know it must be true), it's defined as:

Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially-oriented relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status.

Well, there are certainly status differences here. She is more famous than he is. And a lot richer.

Earlier on AOA: Sandra Lee in Vogue

That zesty Kosciuszko

kosciusko mustardThaddeus Kosciuszko: Revolutionary War hero, ace engineer, bridge namesake, McDonald's commercial name check... and mustard. What can this guy not do?

We spotted this jar on the shelf at Hannaford. It's made by an Illinois company called Plochman, "the true Mustard Lover's Mustard." The "Kosciusko" mustard (no "z") is described as a "spicy brown mustard with the zesty old world taste." Mmm... the zesty old world.

We can only imagine the focus groups for this product: "I love this mustard, it's so spicy. But I can't pronounce the name of it for the life of me." Or the tagline for an ad campaign: "You'll go krazy for Kosciusko!"

Earlier on AOA:
+ Kosciuszk-who?
+ That Kosciuszko McDonald's commercial

Craig and his wonderful list

scrabble tilesThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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The wail over the quail

two raw quailPaul Egan, the teachers union official accused of flipping out at Marche this week over the size of a quail, says in a letter that it wasn't the bird's size that upset him but rather an evening of poor service. From the letter, posted online by Daily Politics:

A number of untoward incidents occurred, including half the party not getting served for an hour and a half, late and rude service, drinks hot and cold spilled by waiters and cold and uncooked meals.

The incident has prompted the media to pick through Egan's past, which includes allegations that he helped students at a Bronx school cheat on a standardized test. [NY Post]

By the way: the best tag for this situation comes via Casey Seiler: "Marche Madness." [TU CapCon]

Also: Bob, who dropped the great parking lot Shakespeare comment last week, returned with his own poetic take on this situation. That's after the jump.

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The Giant Snowman of Guilderland

giant guilderland snowman

It's big. Really big.

Jeff emailed us the other day: "I just wanted to let you guys know that my neighbor built a snowman that is about a 1 1/2 stories high in his front yard."

Uh, what? We have to see this.

So we took a swing through Jeff's neighborhood in Guilderland. And, yep, that's a huge snowman -- easily the biggest we've ever seen.

As it happens, the Gazette also heard about the frosty giant and talked with the builder. As Scott Leininger said in the story published today: "We just decided to build a snowman bigger than anyone else in town."

There are more photos after the jump.

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The temperature slide

temperature slide 2011 02-15

Temps by hour, from noon February 14 to noon February 15.

So the temperature today is a bit different from yesterday, huh?

Yesterday's high was 53. Today's is projected to be 22. The graph above shows the "slide" from noon yesterday to noon today.

But get this: the forecasted high on Friday is 51. Maybe it's more of a roller coaster than a slide.

Temperature data from NWS.

Craig and his wonderful list

Pez collection.jpg The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Bumper gawking

bumper gawking albany

Does anyone know who has this plate? And we have an answer!

As is now well established, we like to gawk at custom license plates. And we know you do, too.

Here's a new bunch from around town...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

player piano for craigslist.The good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Stack 'em up

The Saratogian's Lucian McCarty had a fun story today about Ethan Thomas, a 10-year-old from Ballston Spa who's a competitive cup stacker:

Craig and his wonderful list

eyeglassesThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Party like it's 1980something

On eBay this week:

"Let's Have a Party, Albany!" A 45 RPM record produced by PYX-106 in 1986. Yes, the same song from the "We are the World"-style video from the tricentennial (embedded above).

A vintage QE2 T-shirt (QE2 was a club in the building where the Fuze Box is now)

A 1988 Albany Academy for Girls commencement dance shot glass

We feel a retro costume party calling our names...

Craig and his wonderful list

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The Wine-N-Diner's Frito pie is in the bag

frito pie at wine-n-diner

Bag lunch.

Today's moment of lunch table "What's that?!?": the Frito pie at the Wine-N-Diner on Delaware Ave in Albany.

From the menu: "Beef Brisket Chili served in a bag of Fritos, topped w/ Cheddar Cheese & Onions." Yep, it's actually served in the bag. And, apparently, it's delicious. (The chili -- not the bag.)

By the way: our favorite thing at the Wine-N-Diner? Anything that comes with the super crunchy potato chips.

Craig and his wonderful list

chips ahoy snack bagThe good thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: It's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Tightening its belt

Jeans offered by the OGS.New York state may not yet have lost its shirt, but it has put the pants up for sale.

The New York state Office of General Services, which sells surplus state property on eBay as nyssurplus-albany, is offering fifteen pairs of new blue jeans for a current bid of $21.50.

The pants must be picked up at the Southport Correctional Facility in Chemung County. It's a bit of a drive. But you'd be paying only $1.44 per pair, or seventy-two cents a leg -- low enough that if you're feeling generous, you could consider tossing in a few extra pennies for the state's coffers. Or not.

In either case, the OGS asks that you bring payment directly to their office, not to the prison.

One other catch: The jeans are all in size 50. So if holiday overindulgence has left you a little bloated, you'll be all set.

photo: New York state Office of General Services

The Time Warner Cable Yule Log

TIme Warner Yule jpg

The yule log, warm and festive, or a little disturbing --you decide

Over the weekend we were flipping channels searching for a little holiday cheer -- maybe an old Christmas movie or some Aaron Sorkin holiday episodes. But it was one of those 1057-channels-and-nothing-on-days.

Then -- deep in the bowels of the system -- on the free movies-on-demand channel (1030), past the TCM, Hallmark and Sundance Options, we found the Yule Log Channel.

We're still not sure what to think.

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Everyone has it out for Albany these days, even mutants

Jean Grey destroys AlbanyThere's a new series of X-Men comics launching next year -- and one of the issues apparently includes the destruction of... Albany.

The mutant abilities of a young woman named Jean Grey manifest in the form of an explosive, fiery phoenix that immolates everything in its path. The City of Albany, New York is decimated, leaving 600,000 dead.

Well, that can't be good for property values. We can only hope one of the mutants picks up The Egg and throws it at someone.

(Thanks, Jess!)

Earlier on AOA: Confirmed: EMPAC looked at for Iron Man 3

image: Marvel

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist winking santaThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Santa Speedo Sprint 2010 photos

Speedo Sprint 2010 santa's sleigh

Santa has some hearty elves this year.

Updated Monday at 8 pm

This year's Santa Speedo Sprint once again proved the scantily-clad Santa dash is one of the most fun events of the year. It's so great to be in a crowd where so many people are smiling.

And last we heard, ASAP had raised $20,000 for the Albany Damien Center!

Many photos are after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist 1951 plymouthThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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APD: 12-year-old steals two cars in a week

Albany police said they had arrested a 12-year-old early Sunday morning for allegedly driving a stolen car and then leading officers on a short chase through Pine Hills.

Unusual enough... but there's more. The APD says this same kid was also arrested for driving a stolen minivan last Tuesday. The department had gotten a call around 1 am on November 30 about a vehicle "driving all over the road" near Quail and Central. The APD says officiers eventually nabbed the kid about eight blocks away in West Hill.

The APD says the 12-year-old is a resident of the LaSalle School on Western Ave (the school across from St. Rose). They say the kid told them he had taken to key to minivan from the school nurse's office.

The full release is after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist victorian couchThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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And the roads will run with beet juice

sugar beet from groundTucked into a recent Thruway press release was this juicy bit (emphasis added):

In a continuing effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Authority's winter maintenance program, the Albany and Syracuse Divisions will be using renewable sugar beet sourced liquid and salt brine mixture. The mixture will be used as an anti-icing agent in both a direct liquid application in advance of a storm, and in the pretreatment of rock salt. The new material compliments the Authority's widespread use of straight salt brine, which has proven effective and very economical as a pretreatment for rock salt.

The Thruway Authority apparently experimented with products made from sugar beets last winter in the Albany area. It reportedly worked well -- and didn't stain the roads. Midwestern states have been experimenting with beet-derived solutions for a few years now (and Maryland's using it this year, too). [AP/NCPR] [Oneida Dispatch] [USA Today]

There are even two competing beet products for road treatment: Geomelt and Ice Bite.

OK, so... why sugar beets? (That's one just out of the ground on the right.) The theory is that that that substance derive from the beets lowers the temperature at which the salt solution freezes. (A patent filed in 2000 for using a sugar beet byproduct -- "desugared sugar beet molasses" -- claims the substance remains "flowable" at below-zero temps.) That helps the solution stick to roads and continue working longer, which means less salt is required (good for saving money -- and good for the environment). [USPTO] [UPI] [Duluth News Tribune] [PNAS]

[via]

photo: Flickr user mindy.kotaska

Loko legislator

Much like a drunk and caffeinated college student, Four Loko is the story that just won't quit. State assemblyman Felix Ortiz arranged with the NBC affiliate in NYC to record him while he drank 2.5 cans of Four Loko.

The assemblyman was also monitored by a doctor. At 60 minutes into the experience, the station noted "we have to stop filming as Ortiz begins vomiting." (Also, the restorative powers of pizza are mentioned.)

Despite his (impressive? daring? bizarre?) performance in this case, Ortiz's legislative resume reads a bit like Assemblyman Buzzkill. He's sponsored legislation that includes the infamous "no salt for restaurant meals" bill, a requirement for skiers to wear helmets and a bill that would added a $10 surcharge to "sexually oriented businesses."

(Thanks, everyone!)

Earlier on AOA: We also tried Four Loko, though not to the same degree as the assemblyman

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist pop art itemThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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When pizza chefs get weird

pizza king shop smallYou wouldn't be able to make this up: Djovalin Camaj -- AKA John Camaj, AKA The Pizza King of Schenectady -- was arrested last week by the Montgomery County Sheriff's department for allegedly blocking a roadway to a Buddhist shrine in Auriesville and then later allegedly posing as a member of the sheriff's department. [Daily Gazette] [YNN]

But, wait, it (allegedly) gets weirder. From the (Gloversville) Leader-Herald:

Undersheriff Jeffery Smith said today that Serpa charged Camaj with trespassing after the man admitted erecting the roadblock that consisted of a portable orange road construction sign, several yards of orange string, a smashed jar of peppers, a jar of Yoga brand peaches, two campaign signs and a small statue of a pizza chef.

You know, we thought Camaj's decision to enter his chicken marsala pizza in the final of the 2008 Tournament of Pizza was a bit odd. Obviously, this resets the bar.

A Buddhist org called the World Peace and Health Organization has been buying up properties around Amsterdam as part of a large scale development plan.

Update April 22, 2011: Camaj has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. [Daily Gazette]

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist skeleton keysThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Braving the pancake bites

dunkin pancake bites in bag

A bag full of... something.

We've walked past the posters pitching Dunkin' Donuts "pancake bites" a bunch of times during the last week or so -- and each time, we thought, "Really? Who ever would ever get those?"

Well, today we got an answer: us. Really.

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Craig and his wonderful list

peacockThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Chicken-napped!

emilys stolen chickenEmily contacted us last night after what appears to be a chicken-napping in her South Troy backyard. She continued via email:

The kids near my back yard said it was a woman who looked like a crackhead, and she was muttering something about eating it. I drove all around my area asking people if they'd seen anyone carrying around a chicken. Most people thought I was joking.
A little girl a block or two from my house said she'd seen her round the corner onto 4th St. After a while I just had to give up. I think the most frustrating thing is that she is a pretty light chicken, not good for much food, and if someone is hungry they could stop by the Unity House or Joseph's House.

That's a photo of Emily's missing hen on the right (click for a larger view).

Emily posted a video this past summer giving a tour of her backyard chicken setup. Chickens are allowed in Troy (but not in Albany and Schenectady).

As strange as it may sound... if you see someone carrying a chicken around South Troy, please contact Emily. She's @ChateauOfADoubt on Twitter.

Earlier on AOA: Summer with Emily Armstrong

Bumper gawking

license plate lilbeast

It's such a cute beast, though.

Yep, we admit it -- we like to gawk at custom license plates. And we know you do, too.

Here's a new bunch from around town...

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Craig and his wonderful list

craiglist superior catThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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"Jimmy McMillan" on SNL

SNL took on Jimmy "The rent is TOO DAMN high" this past weekend. We wouldn't be surprised if some of this skit was already written before the gubernatorial debate was over...

It's funny enough. But it points to the difficulty of parodying a process that has already successfully parodied itself.

NY Mag asked McMillan about the skit -- his response: "That put me over the top. It's over. This election is over."

Fox23 went to Brooklyn last week to follow McMillan. It found that he's pretty good at staying on message, not so great at math and that people in the neighborhood call him "Papa Smurf." Also, if elected he says he would turn the Governor's Mansion into a dojo.

And that bit about McMillan not paying rent? He told NYT last week that he hasn't paid rent for the last decade because he and his landlords are "like family."

Earlier on AOA: Other things that are too damn high

Zombie Walk 2010 photos

Well-mannered zombies.

The annual Zombie Walk made its way up Central Ave early Saturday evening. Aside from a nibbled brain or two, it was some good, undead fun.

A whole bunch of photos after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist selectric typewriterThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Craig and his wonderful list

saxophone closeupThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Siena poll: Cuomo still has big lead on Paladino

cuomo and paladino

Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed that Paladino is "a loose cannon who doesn't have the temperament to be governor."

The Siena poll out today reports that Andrew Cuomo leads Carl Paladino 56-32 among likely voters (margin of error +/- 3.9 points). And among independents, Cuomo leads 50-39.

Siena's last poll on the governor's race, in September, reported Cuomo up 57-24 on Paladino (that poll also included the now-dropped out Rick Lazio, and it was of registered voters). So, in some sense Paladino has picked up a bit of ground. But he's bumping up against this political problem:

+ 59 percent of respondents in this new poll say they have an unfavorable opinion of Paladino

+ 61 percent agreed that he's "a loose cannon who doesn't have the temperament to be governor." (Yep, this poll was conducted after the Bolton Landing Brouhaha.)

+ Cuomo also has a wide lead when voters were asked which candidate would do better on a range of issues (except taxes).

FiveThirtyEight's prediction model currently has Cuomo with a 97.8 percent chance of winning (the model doesn't include today's Siena poll).

"Cloud Cuckooland"

The story (legend?) of Carl Paladino got even stranger this week when he told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he helped defuse a hostage situation at Syracuse University while he was a law student there in 1970. It's a great story... except for the fact that other people -- and archived press clips -- say it didn't happen (emphasis added):

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Craig and his wonderful list

acorn macroThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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What's that in the spare room? Snake!

apartment snake closeup

You don't mind if I stay here a few days, right?

When you rent an older apartment, you kinda have to expect a few unwanted visitors: some odd bugs, maybe a mouse -- a bat, if you're unlucky.

But a three-foot-long white snake?

No way. No. @#$%. Way.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist emack bolio guilderlandThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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The odd story involving Price Chopper, Twitter and a total overreaction to a negative comment

green chopperA man in the Syracuse area has alleged that a Price Chopper rep contacted his friend's employer and requested "disciplinary action be taken" against his friend because of a negative comment the friend made about the supermarket chain on Twitter.

This story is so odd -- and outrageous -- that we met it with great skepticism when we encountered it late Monday afternoon. But as the story quickly spread across the web Monday night, large parts of it appear to be true.

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Craig and his wonderful list

1847 large centThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Holey car!

bullet car

We don't think they're going to be able to buff that out.

We were cruising up the hill on I-90 westbound in Albany this afternoon when we came up alongside this car on a trailer.

Yep, it looks like it's been all shot up. Like it was used for target practice. Or a mob movie.

Craig and his wonderful list

jersey shore castThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Romeo the Peacock still runs free in Schenectady

Schenectady peacock sightingIt appears that Romeo, the peripatetic peacock of Schenectady, is still on the loose. Another sighting popped up on Craigslist yesterday, along with a photo (right).

Earlier postings indicated that peacock had left his Juliet at home on Maxon Road and gone for a walkabout in early August. It sounds like he's been sticking around the neighborhood north of Union College. This latest sighting had him at Foster Ave and Gerling Street. And a comment here on AOA last week by SB also had him sighted him on Foster.

(Thanks, Arielle!)

Earlier on AOA: Peacock on the lam in Schenectady

photo: Craigslist peacock item 2010-09-06

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist cabbage slicerThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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In Your Face Wrestling

IYFW amateur wrestling slam

He probably knew this was coming. But still... ouch.

By Rob Gierthy

While at The Track Saturday, baking in the August sun waiting for the Travers to begin, I was talking with some guys and said that this was my first time photographing horses. They asked what I normally shoot.

"Roller derby," I replied.

"Seriously, or are you just messing with us?"

My answer was the "I <3 Rollerderby" button that I keep on my camera bag.

We talked about the local teams for a bit and then they told me about a wrestling event -- In Your Face Wrestling -- scheduled for that night in Ballston Spa, and that I should go take some shots.

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Madison Ave row house collapse

madison rowhouse collapse 4

The side wall of a row house at 600 Madison Ave in Albany collapsed Friday afternoon. There had been excavation going on in the empty lot next door when the wall came down. All the tenants were reportedly out of the building when it collapsed. [TU] [WNYT]

The street was closed from Robin to New Scotland.

Friday evening crews were on the scene preparing to demolish the building, which is across the street from Washington Park. The lot next door was vacant because the building that had been there burned down in 2007. Here's Google StreetView of what the row had looked like. The excavation was for construction of a new building. [CBS6]

A bunch of photos are after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist hedgehog pairThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Craig and his wonderful list

six toed kittenThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Craig and his wonderful list

taxidermy bearThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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At the Warehouse is like a box of chocolates...

At the Warehouse body parts.jpg

You never know what you're gonna find

An often strange (and fun) box of chocolates.

Not everything you find there will be to your taste, but you'll marvel at the wide variety of cool ingredients. At the Warehouse is a little bit Restoration Hardware, a little bit antique shop, a little bit craft store and a little bit kitschy history museum -- with a whole lot of je ne sais quoi.

On a recent trip to find some items to complete the AOA patio-office (one of our happy places) we stumbled on a few things that struck us as weird/fun/cool/bizarre...

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Peacock on the lam in Schenectady

peacockA few people have posted on Craigslist this week that they've seen a peacock wandering the area around Union College in Schenectady (map). From a posting on Sunday:

Just before sunset this evening I realized one of my cats was staring insanely at the roof of my very tall garage. To my surprise, the cat was staring at an almost mature (or quite under-nourished) peacock. He seemed undisturbed by the neighbors, but took off as soon as my stupid camera made a noise.

Two other postings reported sightings north of campus, including a stroll across Van Vranken Ave. And yet another reports the peacock's name is "Romeo" and he's from a home on Maxon Road (where his "Juliet" awaits -- we so hope that posting's true).

We'd love to hear if Romeo makes it back home.

As it happens, this isn't the first peripatetic peacock in Schenectady County this summer. In June, one of the birds was on the lam in Rotterdam. [Daily Gazette]

photo (of another peacock, not Romeo): Paul Friel (Flickr user frielp)

Craig and his wonderful list

tool beltThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Bumper gawking

Updated with another pic!

As we've mentioned before, we plead guilty to a moving violation for dorkiness.

There are times that not only do we smile or note odd license plates around town -- we actually take photos of them, too.

Here's the most recent batch...

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The holiday decorations have to go somewhere

enormous wreath

Sadly, there wasn't a correspondingly large plastic Santa.

We spotted this today the garage for one of the office buildings along Broadway in downtown Albany.

There's something about seeing the enormous wreath hung up like this that made us smile -- like we all have to find a place to stuff holiday decorations the other 10 months of the year.

Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist raccoon catThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


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Where to train for the Warrior Dash?

warrior dash logoJulie emails:

I had a momentary lapse of sanity and signed up for the Warrior Dash down at Windham Mountain in September.
Where in the Capital Region could I train for such an event? The obstacle I'm particularly worried about is the one where I have to climb over a wall. Other obstacles include jumping over fire and crawling under barbed wire.
Any help would be much appreciated!

The "jumping over fire and crawling under barbed wire" bit made us curious about what exactly Julie had gotten herself into. The Warrior Dash site bills the race as "the ultimate event for thrill-seeking athletes," where "where 13 obstacles from hell await this 3.23 mile course." Also: the race is "more about mental toughness than being in great shape." And it looks like people wear costumes.

The event has been held in other parts of country in years past -- this is the first time in the Northeast. It's September 18 and 19. Registration is $65 and closes on September 7.

So, anyone have suggestions for Julie? Please share!

A "prototype" child?

Sometimes the word "bizarre" doesn't cover it. From a TU story by James Odato about NXIVM, the org based in Colonie and Clifton Park:

The boy is 3 years old. He lives with a 40-year-old woman who is not his biological mother. And he is the first-ever enrollee in a unique educational project.
He is Gaelen, and he is being raised by Kristin Keeffe, a devotee of the secretive enterprise called NXIVM. It isn't clear where the child came from.
The boy has become part of a unique program begun by self-improvement organization NXIVM founder Keith Raniere called the "Rainbow Cultural Garden" aimed at helping youngsters master several languages. As a result, the child has been under the care of a number of different nannies, some from foreign nations, each using one of five different languages.

You'll want to read the whole article, which reports "the boy doesn't seem harmed."

The New York Post picks up on the story today:

The little boy has become the real-life "prototype" for what Raniere has publicly touted as a "revolutionary educational protocol" for children, the sources said.
On Raniere's orders, the child is kept away from other kids -- and much of the outside world -- so he doesn't pick up the bad habits of "parasites" and "subversives," according to the sources.

A local blog, Saratoga in Decline, has been following the NXIVM story closely, which doesn't seem to have gone over well with the org.

Craig and his wonderful list

Hot Tub Time Machine posterThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


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Toy car

toy art car in Colonie Center parking lot

So, what is the preferred glue for sticking a figurine to one's hood?

While we're on the subject of art cars: we passed this car in the parking lot at Colonie Center this past weekend.

It's a compact Nissan with with figurines stuck to the hood. And the trunk was covered in chalkboard paint, with an accompanying bin of chalk. People had written messages all over the trunk (among them: "Freakin epic car dude!!!").

A few more pics after the jump.

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The Vehigloo could be yours

igloo car

The Vehigloo in 2009.

You may have seen the "Vehigloo" driving around town -- it's an art car designed to look like a rolling igloo.

And now the Vehigloo could be yours. The owners have posted it on Craigslist. For free. From their posting:

You will get more attention driving around in this super fun car than if you were driving a Ferrari. Honks, waves, screaming, mooning -- you name it. It is not for the super shy unless you are trying to come out of your shell. We counted that we were photographed 50 times during our 6 hour trip to Baltimore. That is once every 7 minutes! There is a PA system so you can make animal and siren noises. The inside is also decorated/painted including hanging icicles. This car has been in a bunch of parades. ...
We are looking to give this to someone who will either enjoy it as it is or change it into their own style of artcar. You are not going to get this car to look like a regular car again, so don't even think about it! :) PLEASE email me with your plans for the car.

As it happens, the Vehigloo is/was a 1991 Toyota Corolla -- and the owners say it needs some work.

Said Andreas, one of the creators, in a comment here on AOA last year: "I did it just for the fun of it. It is a unique experience to drive in something like this. Sometimes you feel like a rock star, and sometimes like a freak!"

(Thanks, StickFigureMan!)

A tomato plant grows in Albany

capitol tomato

Will it have tomatoes before the budget's finished?

Eileen sent along this pic this afternoon:

Found this tomato plant today growing in a crack of the sidewalk next to The Capitol on Washington Ave. Good to know something is thriving in Albany.
Maybe a tomato seed from a lunch truck vendor's sandwich found a good place to grow.
I'm trying to figure out what I can do to help keep it from getting cut/stepped on/destroyed. Maybe tomorrow I'll go over and try and protect it somehow with a gardening stake.

How great would it be if that plant bore tomatoes? There's just something hopeful about it.

It reminds us of the corn growing in the sidewalk in Watervliet spotted by Renee last summer.

(Thanks, Eileen!)

About that smoke coming from Washington Park...

washington park car fire

New car smell? Totally gone.

If you were around Washington Park in Albany this afternoon around 4 pm, you might have seen dark smoke billowing out of the park.

The smoke was from a car fire. Firefighters told us One of the passengers told us they were driving to the park and the car, for some unknown reason, just started smoking. They stopped the car at Henry Johnson, everyone hopped out and they called 911. No one got hurt.

Except for the car. As you can see above, it's pretty well toasted. The interior is completely burned out -- all that's left of the seats are the metal frames.

A few more pics after the jump.

[via @ElizabethEss]

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist mannequinThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Is there a world record in the can?

state museum from ESP

A record-breaking spot?

Heads-up/could be oddly fun/could be loud: talk show host Jake Sasseville will be at the ESP Friday afternoon in a bid to break the world record for the "largest drum can ensemble." (The can in this case appears to be a Pringles can -- the potato crisps, or rather an "extreme" version of them, are sponsoring the event.)

The event blurb says Sasseville is looking for people to "help him shatter this world record with a noise so loud it can be heard in Canada!" (Payback for the earthquake?) The publicist for the event says they need 500 people to break the record.

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Where to find fried pickles?

fried pickles

Sure, why not.

Stephanie asks via the Twitter:

Is there a place in Albany that has deep fried pickles on the menu? Some bbq places in NYC do. I love them.

If you had to take a guess, we'd look to Capital Q. They've been known to experiment with the fryalator arts. Or maybe one of the local fairs (fried pickles + food on a stick = fun).

We hope someone has an answer. Our week will probably not be complete without some fried pickles.

Bonus fact: Though there's some dispute over the origins, the fried pickle is said to have been first conjured during a moment of inspiration in 1960 at the Duchess Drive In in Atkins, Arkansas -- a joint that sat across the street from a pickle factory. [Serious Eats]

photo: Flickr user Ron Diggity

Craig and his wonderful list

red converseThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

really cute kittensThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


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Craig and his wonderful list

flutie flakes boxThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

As the wind blows through your....

naked bike ride 2009

Does a helmet count as clothing?

The local (unclothed) leg of the World Naked Bike Ride (might not be safe for work) is at 1 pm Saturday in Washington Park in Albany.

This is the second year in Albany for the event, which is intended as a protest of society's "indecent exposure" to cars and fossil fuels. As Sebastien found out last year, a more accurate name is probably "The World Scantily-clad ride."

The wiki for the Albany ride reports there were 14 riders here last year.

(Thanks, S!)

photo: Sebastien B

Craig and his wonderful list

lawn mower hulaThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Craig and his wonderful list

trilobite fossilThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

bowtie closeupThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist player pianoThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist fisher price med kitThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Fried

casketsFrom the "who ever thought we might need a law for that" file: a state senator from Central New York has proposed legislation that would make it illegal to possess "embalming fluid with either the intent to use such embalming fluid or knowledge that some other person intends to use such embalming fluid for purposes of human ingestion or inhalation."

Yep, that would by people who are not dead.

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Craig and his wonderful list

All About Albany board gameThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

bocce ball closeupThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


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Albany - The board game

All About Albany Cover lg.JPG

All About Albany circa 1981

If you liked "Let's Have a Party Albany," you might get a kick out of this.

This week All Over Albany was introduced to All About Albany -- the 1981 board game.

Mousse up, put on your Don Johnson jacket, and lets take a little trip in the way back machine.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

diamond solitare ringThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

armadilloThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

(there's more)

What else are you going to look at while at a stoplight?

license plate shakespeareWe plead to a moving violation for dorkiness. There are times that not only do we smile or note odd license plates -- we actually take photos of them, too.

While cleaning out our photo collection today, we came across a handful...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

long island satellite picThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

walmart sign cropThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Toilet paper was invented in... Albany

toilet paper

Modern toilet paper got its start here. Wipe proudly.

By Jessica Pasko

Now, I'm not exactly one for toilet humor, but I stumbled upon a fun factoid recently and it was too good to resist. I had to investigate.

And it turns out that, yes, Albany is the birthplace of perforated (rolled) toilet paper as we know it.

Really.

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Run for your lives! It's... Cutzilla?

This video from HANYS -- the state's big hospital lobbying group -- gets a +1 for creativity (and use of Playmobil). But we also have to mark it down for giving the legislature artillery. If there's anything legislators don't need, it's a tank.

Also: don't people always sort of root for Godzilla?

(Thanks, M!)

Craig and his wonderful list

when harry met sallyThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

rooster headThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

owens albany boot cartoonThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

pill bottleThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

five guys friesThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

green eye closeupThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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The crumbling castle

bannerman's castle

The castle, as it was seen from the train in November 2009

You might have seen news during the last week of 2009 that part of Bannerman's Castle -- the castle-like structure that sits on an island in the Hudson near Storm King -- had collapsed. (You've probably seen the castle from the Amtrak train on the ride down to New York City -- it's just north of Cold Spring.)

This week comes news that the castle is continuing to fall apart. The island's preservation trust expects even more of the structure to come down through the winter.

Chuck Schumer says he's lobbying the federal Department of the Interior for money to help preserve the building.

Bannerman's Castle was constructed to serve as a military surplus warehouse during the first part of the 20th Century. It was sold to the state during the 1960s.

(Thanks, Duncan)

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

llamaThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

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Not so lucky?

money frown faceLast Friday the Schenectady County DA offered William Rivenburgh a plea deal -- two years in prison -- on drug charges. It's not really a notable story except for the fact that only three years ago Rivenburgh and his wife won a million dollars from a scratch-off lottery ticket. Now, they're broke and accused of selling cocaine.

It's quite a contrast from November 2006. From a TU story at the time:

It's not the kind of windfall he can retire on. But it's just enough to take the pressure off. Besides home repairs and bill payments, he will invest some of his winnings in stable accounts. It will be a good supplement to his annual salary, which is about $50,000, depending on how much overtime he picks up.

As it happens, the Rivenburghs' story is just the latest in a long line of lottery winner woe.

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What it's like to freeze to death

popsicle

Not the fun kind of popsicle.

Somehow this seemed appropriate for this week: a 1997 Outside Magazine article about what it's like to freeze to death. There are a bunch of interesting facts in the piece, including the concept of "paradoxical undressing:"

At 85 degrees, those freezing to death, in a strange, anguished paroxysm, often rip off their clothes. This phenomenon, known as paradoxical undressing, is common enough that urban hypothermia victims are sometimes initially diagnosed as victims of sexual assault. Though researchers are uncertain of the cause, the most logical explanation is that shortly before loss of consciousness, the constricted blood vessels near the body's surface suddenly dilate and produce a sensation of extreme heat against the skin.

Brrrrr: Today's high is projected to be 32 degrees (the temp was 30 at around 2 pm), which is the highest forecasted temp for the next seven days. Every day high temp in the extended forecast is below freezing.

[article via @mdelfs]

Earlier on AOA: Death by icicle

photo: Flickr user peoplearestrange

Craig and his wonderful list

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The migration of the Ladies Liberty

lady liberties walking

A rare group sighting.

With the turn of the year tax season will soon be upon us. And that, of course, means the annual migration of the Ladies Liberty.

This flock (gaggle? pluribus?) was spotted on Western Ave near UAlbany today. A few more more pics after the jump, including a rare photo of them feeding.

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It's glassware! It's an instrument! It's both!

ed stander

Stand back -- he's a professional.

By Jessica Pasko

Ed Stander plays the glasses. That is, he plays wine glasses and brandy snifters as a musical instrument. Really.

The Delmar resident internationally renowned for it -- he's played the glasses all over the world (including the Great Wall of China). You might have also seen him performing at this year's First Night celebration in Saratoga.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

misfit toys dollThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Siena's vampire explainer

dracula bela lugosi

Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film Dracula

By Jessica Pasko

A while ago I heard a rumor that Siena College had its very own vampire expert.

Yes, a vampire expert.

Obviously I needed to look into that. So I picked up some garlic and a stake and went to check it out.

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Stop picking your nose

nose picking billboard

Well, alright, then.

Emails CJ:

I thought perhaps I had hallucinated this billboard when I saw it last weekend, caught without my camera, and I despaired for my sanity when several attempts to view it during the week presented me with no such public-spirited reminder. But yesterday afternoon, there it was again, tucked in among the countdown to Christmas and ads for a nightclub -- a special request from Lamar for drivers along I-787 to stop picking their noses.
(This is one of the new electronic billboards along I-787, just north of the Corning Preserve boat launch.)

Now that New York State has a ban on texting-while-driving, we can only hope our legislators will take up the issue of a picking-while-driving ban.

(Thanks, CJ!)

photo: Carl Johnson

The Al Tech Steel factory

sebastien steel factory

Ick. But, you know, also kind of beautiful.

Sebastien, B and Paul's Urban Decay Tour of the (Greater) Capital Regionâ„¢ continues with a stop at the Al Tech Steel factory in Menands. From Sebastien's photo set:

Allegheny Ludlum Steel, an abandoned steel mill in Menands, NY. It took us more than 2 hours to expore this enormous site. According to this discussion online, it's a Class 2 Superfund Site, which means it poses a significant threat to public health and the environment. Some cleanup has been done but more is planned. It closed in 1999, and is currently listed as a hazardous waste facility by the EPA.

Here's B's photo set. And here's Paul's.

There's some oddly beautiful -- and creepy -- stuff in there.

photo: Sebastien B

Craig and his wonderful list

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Santa Speedo Sprint 2009 photos

santa speedo jump

It's 25 degrees! Jump for joy!

This year's ASAP Santa Speedo Sprint was a great time -- lots of scantily-clad, sprinting Santas, a cheering crowd and more than $13,000 raised for the Albany Damien Center.

There are many photos -- and some video -- after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

staring catThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

sarah palin closeThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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A dossier on our crow invaders

crow closeup

Don't be fooled -- there's a lot going on in that bird brain.

Troy and Albany have resumed hostilities in the War on Crows. Anti-crow trucks are trolling through Albany this week firing off flares, lasers and amplified crow distress calls. And the crows appear ready to retaliate.

So if it's going to be like this, maybe we should understand our opponent a little bit better. Here are a few crow facts to keep in mind.

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The Thanksgiving fog

washington park fog

Creepy and beautiful.

Not to be confused with turkey hangover. Emails Sebastien:

Something weird happened [Thursday] night. I was outside until about 10:30PM, came back home, and decided to go back out to buy something at the corner an hour later. The temperature had suddenly dropped about 5 to 8 degrees, instantly creating a dense "flash" fog in Center Square. It did last about an hour. I grabbed my camera and walked to Washington Park. It was creepy and beautiful.

Here's the slideshow on Flickr. The photos really are eerie.

photo: Sebastien B

Craig and his wonderful list

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Craig and his wonderful list

purple crocsThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

ham sandwichThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

scrabble tilesThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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How to survive the impending zombie uprising

zombie walk 2009 dodsonHumorist Max Brooks will be at Sage this Wednesday night sharing tips on how to survive a zombie uprising. From the Sage blurb (links and emphasis added):

The Sage College of Albany welcomes Max Brooks, novelist, humorist, renowned Zombie preparedness expert and authority on the truth and myths surrounding the undead. The evening will include a reading from new materials, a chance for audience members to ask questions, followed by a book signing.
Brooks is the best-selling author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. His books outline ways to not only escape a Zombie attack, but shares techniques that allow the reader to defensively prepare for whats to come.

Brooks, who's the son of Mel Brooks, has a new book: The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.

The talk starts at 9 pm in the Kahl Campus Center Gym at the Albany campus on New Scotland Ave. It's $5.

(Thanks, Jess!)

Earlier on AOA: Photos from Zombie Walk 2009

photo: Patrick Dodson

Even statues fear the flu

statue flu

She didn't get a flu shot, either.

Both Peter and Eileen sent us pics of the statue on the memorial in Washington Park yesterday afternoon. As you can see in the photo above, the statue is wearing a mask. Emailed Eileen:

Spotted this sight on a walk through Washington Park today ... [and] ask you and your readers - why?
Is it a reference to the silencing of the statue? Or does she have swine flu? Or something I haven't thought of yet?

Our first thought upon the seeing the pic was that the mask was a flu reference. Peter had the same thought.

Anyone have the scoop?

By the way: it doesn't look like getting the mask on that statue was a quick hit. It probably involved a bit of climbing -- see the other photo from Eileen (after the jump).

(Thanks, Eileen and Peter!)

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Photos from Zombie Walk 2009

a zombie

Not a movie.

How do zombies get to the Zombie Prom? They walk. In this case, they walked down Lark Street and then up Central Ave in Albany on Saturday.

The photo above is by Patrick -- here's his photo set from the walk.

There a few more photos after the jump from Paul and Sebastien.

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Craig and his wonderful list

staring catThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Colonial Car Wash / Salad Bar

colonial carwash

A rinse for cars and leafy greens?

By Dawn Padfield

I don't know how many times I have driven by the Colonial Car Wash on Western Avenue, only to scratch my head in confusion. Under the Colonial sign, there is another sign advertising...wait for it... a free "Salad Bar."

A salad bar at a car wash? Kind of makes you go hmmm, right?

Yeah, me too. So last week, when I was craving some veggies and an express wash, I decided to check it out.

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The ghost of Eva Tanguay

Music Hall.jpg

Cohoes Music Hall. Eva's haunt?

By Jessica Pasko

So apparently one of the most famous Vaudeville stars still hangs out at the Cohoes Music Hall.

The thing is, she's been dead since 1947.

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Craig and his wonderful list

st rose mini truck

Hot.

The good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Craig and his wonderful list

bravo tv logoThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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The Capitol Hauntings Tour

NYS Capitol

You know, in addition to the scary things that usually go on here.

The state is offering the "Capitol Hauntings Tour" again this year. The tours, which explore the "legends, folklore and 'ghost stories'" surrounding the Capitol and promise "many spooky stops," start today.

There are a bunch of tours between now and October 30 -- the schedule is after the jump. The tours are free, but they're popular and capped at 30 people. So, it's best to make reservations: 473-7582.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

chicken wings basketThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Root, root, root for... who?

reds capThe Record had published an interview today with Jennifer Crespo, the owner of a Cap City -- a hat shop in Troy. A fact at the end of the interview caught our attention:

Q: What is the best seller at the store?
A: The Cincinnati Reds hats and the Yankees hats...

Huh? We totally understand the Yankees -- this area is full of their fans. And according to this chart of best sellers from baseball cap giant New Era (via NYT), the Yankees are the best-selling hat in the country.

But the Reds? They're not even in the top five on that list. And the team is bad (as, sadly, they have been for some time).

So, what's up? Does Troy harbor a bunch of Pete Rose sympathizers? Or perhaps the caps' popularity has nothing to do with baseball...

photo: mlb.com

Dropping the dime on Verizon

10 cent phone billUpstater emailed us with this story about closing out her Verizon landline:

Despite the fact I have had 5 plus decades on this earth, the economy finally made me brave enough to cut my landline and rely on my cell service. With trembling fingers I dialed up Verizon, reached India, and canceled my service. Imagine my surprise to receive the attached bill Friday...

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Craig and his wonderful list

acorn macroThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Smackdown for education reform at TU Center?

Sharpton WWEFrom the "reality is a series that would never get picked up" file: Al Sharpton will be in Albany at the TU Center next week. To guest host WWE Raw. Yep, that's pro wrestling.

We are not making this up. From the WWE blurb:

The outspoken activist, and frequent center of controversy, brings his headline-grabbing candor to the Sept. 28 edition of Monday Night Raw.
The following day, Sharpton joins former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Philadelphia to kick off their nationwide tour - other stops include New Orleans on Nov. 3 and Baltimore on Nov. 13 - to highlight President Obama's efforts to reform public education, spur innovation and discuss challenges facing the United States' school systems.

What they don't say is that Sharpton and Duncan will be appearing as a tag team against Gingrich and Margaret Spellings for the NCLB belt.

[via @KevinMarshall]

Earlier on AOA: Slamming the state budget gap

Craig and his wonderful list

worlds_largest_walmart.jpgThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Baby turtles!

baby turtle

What are you looking at?

On our way out to breakfast yesterday we met some unexpected neighbors. Baby turtles. Sixteen of them. In our driveway.

We saw an adult snapping turtle in the middle of our street a few months back -- it was just sitting there like it was waiting to direct traffic. It appears that it -- or maybe some other turtle -- made a stop to lay eggs in our landscaping mulch. (According to the Wikipedia entry on snapping turtles, the eggs take 9-18 weeks to hatch.)

A handful of pictures are after the jump.

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Craig and his wonderful list

toasterThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Craig and his wonderful list

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All hail the gubernatorial 'stache

paterson mustacheAs you might have heard, David Paterson recently shaved off his beard -- but kept his mustache. The governor joked that it was part of cutbacks in the state.

The American Mustache Institute (warning: that site plays music) hailed Paterson's decision. From a letter to sent to the Paterson administration, congratulating the now 'stached governor:

You see, the beard or goatee represent what is known in the facial hair community as the "spousal compromise," which is the half-way meeting point between the utter weakness of the clean shaven and the sheer, unvarnished power of the Mustached American. It's where your spouse says to you,"My dear, I cannot manage the sheer awesomeness of that mustache. But a beard or goatee -- I could deal with that." Hence, the "spousal compromise."
Understand, however, what your new mustache means. As a freshly minted Mustached American in a position of authority, you represent much more than simply the good people of New York. You now represent a community of downtrodden Americans - people of Mustached American descent - for whom you stand as a sign that we are not only fit to hold positions in waste collection, motorcycle repair, and hospital equipment maintenance. You are proof that a Mustached American can be a Governor, a leader, a respected beacon of excellence.

The full communication is after the jump. Apparently our governor is now eligible for a "Goulet" -- if only someone will nominate him.

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The Rent Project

money and envelope

1/100 of the way toward his goal

By Jessica Pasko

A local artist who recently lost his job is turning to some pretty creative means to pay rent on his Troy apartment.

Warren MacMillan, a sculptor with an MFA from SUNY Albany, has launched The Rent Project as a way to come up with $350. And make some art in the process.

Here's the deal...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

jello shotsThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

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Sunken ships + amoebae = art

lake george shipwreck amoebaThe 250-year-old sunken ships in Lake George about which AOA recently talked with underwater archeologist Joe Zarzynski are part of a weird new exhibit that promises to "introduce viewers to the contemporary synthesis of art and science." From the Lake George Arts Project:

Artwork based on "The Sunken Fleet of 1758" shipwrecks was scanned and then reduced to a miniature scale. Using micro-lithographic methods, these images were then transformed into 3-dimensional surfaces. Testate amoebae [harvested from Lake George] were released onto these surfaces and allowed to interact with the archaeological artwork. Dr. [Sam] Bowser and science artist Elinor Mossop examined these interactions using microscopy methods. Ms. Mossop interpreted the creatures' exploratory movements and created a series of cutting edge drawings and paintings that show the micro fauna encountering and reoccupying "The Sunken Fleet of 1758." Her approach is based on a previous art/science collaboration between Bowser and New Zealand artist Claire Beynon.

As part of the exhibit, waterproof artwork has been placed on easels at the the bottom of Lake George near the shipwreck.

"Raising the Fleet" opens today at the Lake George Arts Project gallery. There's a reception Friday evening.

The exhibit runs until September 10.

image: Lake George Arts Project

Dinner and "spirits" at Beardslee Castle

Beardslee Castle.jpg

Beardslee Castle in Little Falls

On a long and lonesome highway about an hour outside Albany lies an old and storied stone manor. The Gothic style Beardslee Castle is the stately and mysterious former homestead of a wealthy family with a cursed, tragic past.

Locals know the castle as "the most haunted spot in the Mohawk Valley." And it was featured on a History Channel program on haunted New York.

You can check the place out for yourself and even stay for dinner. If you dare.

(Cue macabre laugh, high pitch scream and b-horror movie music).

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

black vespaThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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When bacon met bananas, ice cream and caramel

prime saratoga bacon dessert

Dessert? Breakfast? Both?

Like one of those super heavy elements that scientists create for mere microseconds in the lab, the chefs at Prime at Saratoga National created a dessert so heavy, caloric and oddly tempting that it could only exist for a short period of time.

Behold: bacon-chocolate-black pepper-vanilla bean ice cream with sauteed bananas, pain perdu and caramel sauce. Yes, that is a strip of bacon draped over the top.

The dessert was a special this past weekend. There's no word as to when/if it will return. Perhaps after the Large Hadron Collider is back online.

Prime at Saratoga National, like many restaurants these days, has a Facebook page and Twitter stream. If you're keen on a place, it's a good way to keep up on specials and whatnot. Bacon desserts probably fall into both categories.

photo: Kristin Campbell

What evil lurks in the heart of Clifton Park?

clifton park evil poll

Hmm...

Check out this poll that appeared on CliftonPark.org last Friday. Alas, it doesn't specify the type of evil. Maybe they're worried about zombies.

@techcommdood pointed out the poll. As he tweeted: "My town (Clifton Park NY) wants to know what my family & I would do if confronted by evil (creepy question). I'd make evilade."

Anyway, there's a new poll up now. We captured a screenshot from Friday.

Craig and his wonderful list

ears of cornThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Leather factory in Gloversville

Sebastien Gloversville factory

Not the typical factory tour.

Sebastien and B's Urban Decay Tour of the (Greater) Capital Regionâ„¢ continues with a stop at a former leather factory in Gloversville (Sebastien's photoset | B's photoset).

As you might expect from its name, Gloversville has a long history with leather making. It was originally called Stump City -- but changed its name in the 1800s because it had become a center for making... gloves.

Earlier on AOA:
+ The Wellington Hotel
+ Abandoned train in Glenmont
+ The Starlight Music Theatre
+ Central Warehouse


(Thanks, Sebastien and B!)

photo: Sebastien B

Washington Park's protector

Washington Park power ranger

Wildlife in the park.

Sebastien spotted this guy in Washington Park on Sunday.

He emails: "We have no clue what he was doing in Washington Park. Protecting squirrels maybe."

photo: Sebastien B

CSI Albany

Crime Scene tape.jpg

Because you never know when you'll need crime scene tape.

By Jessica Pasko

So if you're looking for, say, SWAT team clothing or forensic evidence receptacles, look no further. Apparently you can satisfy all your CSI needs right here in the Capital Region.

Really.

It turns out that one of the biggest vendors of crime scene products and other law enforcement supplies has been right here in good old Albany for 82 years.

And, as it happens, the sales staff at National Law Enforcement Supply looks a little like they just stepped out of the cast of CSI.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

bunnyThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Zombies! Take next right.

zombies ahead

And here we had been complaining about potholes.

Jen snapped those pics Saturday morning while driving down North Main in Albany.

We can only hope that she was able to detour over to Manning and avoid the undead traffic.

If hordes of brain-eating zombies weren't ahead, perhaps the sign was inspired by a similar prank in Austin.

Earlier on AOA: Zombie Police of Schenectady

(Thanks, Jen!)

The ESP is smokin'!

smokin ESP

Duuuude.

This is the kind of story you just can't make up. From a press release from the state Inspector General's office:

A state janitor was arrested and his boss suspended this week amid allegations that they created a hidden party lounge at an Empire State Plaza garage to sell drugs, smoke pot and sleep for hours during work shifts.

This hidden lounge allegedly contained "couches, TV and scales to weigh marijuana." The press release actually uses the term "man cave."

The janitor is also accused of using his Office of General Services truck to make pot deliveries to other state workers during his shifts. Both he and his supervisor have been suspended without pay.

(Thanks, CB!)

Casperland

Katie and Pete from Casperland.jpg

Kate Sweater and Pete Edwards of Casperland

By Jessica Pasko

Think back to your old talking toys. You know, like the Speak and Spell, or the mini Barbie Karaoke machine (what, you didn't have one of those?).

Now imagine them souped-up and turned into musical instruments. That's kind of the idea behind Casper Electronics in Troy.

Pete Edwards has been modifying and creating unique electronic instruments for about nine years using things like old circuit boards, keyboards and old toys. He's worked on projects for all sorts of musicians, including Negativland, Mike Patton (of bands like Faith No More and Mr. Bungle) and Danny Elfman. .

Recently Edwards and his partner Kate Sweater, moved their shop from Brooklyn to Troy. Hmm.

(there's more)

Louise's grease car

Veggie car 1.JPG

Mmmm. Smells like french fries.

You can smell Louise Sikelianos coming.

As she tools down the streets of Albany in her 1990 VW Jetta, the air smells of french fries. Three years ago Louise converted her deisel to a grease car that runs on a combination of diesel fuel and vegetable oil.

It's one of a handful of grease cars that are running on the leftovers at Capital Region restaurants.

AOA went with Louise for a quick spin in the grease car...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

rock closeupThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

cricket insectThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

chicken headThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

(518)-867-5309

Liberteks.JPG

Home of Jenny from the 518

So here's something we're figuring Tommy Tutone never bargained for when they sang about Jenny's now infamous phone number.

Here in the 518, Jenny's real name is Larry Zimbler, and if you call him, eventually he's going to call you back.

(there's more)

The National Bottle Museum

Bottles.jpg

Bottles of fun?

By Jessica Pasko

A while ago I heard a rumor that there was a bottle museum somewhere near Saratoga. And, well, that sounded just odd enough for me to want to investigate.

Turns out that not only is there a bottle museum-- it's the National Bottle Museum. Yes, we have a National Bottle Museum. OK, why not?

It occupies an unassuming storefront in an old three story building in the village of Ballston Spa and it holds over 2,000 bottles from medicine and perfume bottles to liquor and beer bottles and just about every glass vessel in between.

So is it worth a trip?

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

honeybeesThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

The Wellington Hotel

wellington bathtub

A bath with a view

The latest stop on Sebastien's Urban Decay Tour of the Capital Regionâ„¢: the soon-to-be-no-longer Wellington Hotel in downtown Albany. From Sebastien's photoset page:

We pay a visit to The Wellington Hotel in Albany. One of Albany's once famous landmark, this slim 10-story building designed by Albert Fuller and completed in 1905 on top of State Street Hill has been empty for more than 20 years. Dust, old paint, graffiti, porn, World War II paintings and playing cards glued to the walls whisper the story of fairly strange inhabitants.

There's a lot more info posted there. B also has a photoset from the building -- it includes a lot of graffiti.

The Wellington is slated to be demolished this year.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Abandoned train in Glenmont
+ The Starlight Music Theatre
+ Central Warehouse

photo: Sebastien B

Tuesday! Tuesday! Tuesday!

school bus demo race

The school buses get taken to school.

Jessica emailed yesterday about EVE OF DESTRUCTION! at the Lebanon Valley Speedway tonight. Jessica, who went two years ago (this picture seems to capture the experience), says the show is "the greatest annual red-blooded, red-necked event in the Capitol Region":

To quote their website: 1 NIGHT OF EXTREME NON-STOP HEART POUNDING DESTRUCTION AND MAYHEM! WITH SCHOOL BUS RACING, TRAILER RACING, ROLL OVER CONTEST, HUGE DEMOLITION DERBY, UNBELIEVABLE STUNTS AND MUCH MUCH MORE!!!!!!!
And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. Plus, there is great people watching.

We gotta say: she had us at "school bus racing." The mayhem starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $14.

Lebanon Valley is about 30 minutes from Albany.

photo: Jessica R

That is a really big boat

lady christine

Yep, that's a helicopter on top.

James snapped this picture of the yacht Lady Christine Saturday morning. The boat was docked over night in Troy up river of the Green Island Bridge.

The Lady Christine is one of the world's largest yachts -- it's more than 182 feet long. As you would imagine, the inside is opulent.

The Monaco-based boat is also for sale, apparently. It went on the market for €45 million last year -- but you can have it now for the low low price of just €39.9 million (about $55 million). It seems the economic downturn has the super yacht market taking on water.

The Lady Christine's current owner is the infamous Irving Laidlaw -- a Scotsman who's been described as a "tax exile" in Monaco. The boat is named after his wife. Laidlaw made headlines in the UK last year when, as the Daily Mail describes it, he was "secretly filmed with four prostitutes and a male gigolo in the £6,000-a-night presidential suite of Monte Carlo's sumptuous Hermitage Hotel. He had paid £27,000 for the pleasure of their company."

So how did this boat end up in Troy? Good question. If you know, we'd love to hear it.

We've posted a wider crop of James' photo (bigger, too). As he said in an email to us: "The scale is very impressive. Nice helicopter, too."

Update: A whole bunch of good pictures from Michael, Bob and Sebastien.

(Thanks, James and Lissa!)

Craig and his wonderful list

wp moses cropThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Shopping with sheep

baba sheep

Alas, Ba Ba did not say "baaa baaa" while we were there.

This is Ba Ba. He's a six-week-old sheep from Krumkill Stables.

Ba Ba and his person, Barbara Shuefelt, were at the University Plaza on Western Ave in Albany on Friday to run some errands -- including a stop at the Pets Supplies Plus there. Yep, he went into the store, too.

Barbara has been taking care of Ba Ba since he was orphaned at four days old. The sheep has a big summer ahead of him -- he'll be taking part in Krumkill's summer camp.

A few more pics of Ba Ba are after the jump.

Earlier on AOA: Follow that horse

(there's more)

One person's trash is another's... dinner

dumpsterIf ever you've longed for a field guide to dumpster diving (er, freeganism) in Albany, this is your day. A clip from the piece on freegan.info:

Most commercial garbage is picked up everyday. Main sources for dumpster munchies are Dunkin Donuts and any bagel place. Avoid establishments that are open 24 hours because although they do thow out products they are more likely to harass you for picking through the garbage than an establishment that is already closed. A good place to start is the Dunkin Donuts in One commerce plaza on Washington Ave, they close at five pm, 7 pm would be a good time to start scouting, their garbage is right in front of their store just open the lid on the canister and pull out a bag of doughnuts.

When we see stuff like this it reminds us that there are whole other worlds and layers to this area -- we just don't notice them.

[via @AlbanyKelly]

photo: Flickr user Kamal H.

Craig and his wonderful list

mercedes ornamentThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

postal workerThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

empty parking spacesThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

It's HUGE HUMONGOUS!

This commercial for Dom's Pizza -- which has locations in Latham and Stillwater -- made us laugh. You'll recognize the allusion right away.

There are three other commercials -- all in the same vein.

Do you think they sent Billy Fucillo a few pizzas?

(Thanks, Fred!)

Craig and his wonderful list

goat tongueThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

The Starlight Music Theatre

starlight theatre

People used to refer to it as "The Tent."

Sebastien's ongoing urban decay tour of the Capital Region recently made a stop at the old Starlight Music Theatre in Latham (there's a whole photoset).

To say this place has seen better days is an understatement -- Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Milton Berle and Johnny Cash all played there at one point.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Central Warehouse
+ What's left of Heritage Park

photo: Sebastien B

Shaking in the Hill Towns


The site of last night's earthquake -- well, here, but 9 km down.

There was another earthquake last night near Berne -- and it was relatively big (for this area).

The seismographic network that monitors this area reports that quake was a 3 on the magnitude scale ("felt quite noticeably by persons indoors, especially on upper floors of buildings"). There are reports that people did feel this one.

Things have been a little shaky in the Hill Towns recently. Over just the last three months there have been 14 earthquakes. Most of them have been tiny. The one last night was the strongest of the group.

There's an interactive map after the jump.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

tobacco plantThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

airplane aisleThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

The First Prize Center

First Prize Center.jpg

Tobin's First Prize Center -- the sign is all that's left.

By Jessica Pasko

If you've along Everett Road in Albany, you've seen that huge old sign for the First Prize Center (it's near I-90). And you've probably wondered, "What the heck is the First Prize Center?"

Did they make trophies? Blue ribbons? Those big checks for the Publishers Clearinghouse give-away?

Here's something you probably wouldn't have guessed: hot dogs.

Yes, hot dogs.

(there's more)

Stella!

stella the tortoise

The name Stella caused some gender confusion early in his life.

This is Stella.

He's a 30something-year-old sulcata tortoise. He keeps tabs on one of the biology labs at Union College.

Stella ended up at Union about five years ago when a guy called up the the bio department to ask if they were interested in a tortoise (they were). Stella could be at Union for a long time to come -- sulcatas can live to be more than 50 years old.

He -- yep, Stella is a guy -- now patrols his bio lab (a baby gate keeps him from wandering out into the hall), munching on hay and the occasional grape. He's become a bit of a celebrity -- campus visitors (for example, us) actually stop by to see him. We didn't get the sense that the fame had gone to his head.

Video of Stella in action is after the jump.

(there's more)

Blue Pants goes to Wolff's

blue pants wolffs

Sometimes a gnome should know his limits.

Blue Pants -- Albany's very own traveling garden gnome -- has been very busy lately. After Margie found him on UAlbany's uptown campus, he went on quite the eating and drinking spree (result: overindulgence -- see above). Here's the whole whirlwind trip. Then Margie helped him find a new hiding spot.

But now we've heard that Blue Pants has already been found! And he's off on new adventures! We're looking forward to BP's next round of hijinks.

Earlier on AOA: Have you seen these gnomes?

(Thanks, Sebastien and Kim!)

Gnomes over Albany

Blue Pants at ESP

Could Blue Pants now be hiding somewhere around the ESP?

Blue Pants has been found!

Margie plucked him his hiding spot on the UAlbany uptown campus. She reports:

We are having a day or two of adventures around Albany, taking plenty of pictures, and then I will re-hide him somewhere in the city for another to find. I have attached a picture for you. More to come...

We're looking forward to hearing about Blue Pants' next adventure.

Sadly, we've yet to hear what's come of Blue Pants' gnome comrade, Red Pants. We can only hope he's found a nice garden somewhere.

Earlier on AOA: Have you seen these gnomes?

Craig and his wonderful list

victrola recordThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

joe brunoThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

(Obviously, this has never been more apparent than recently.)

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

The auto clinic/ car wash/ dog wash

Juno at Pet Spaw.jpg

So it turns out it's hard to get a good picture of a dog getting a bath.

By Jessica Pasko

"Hmm... should I get the oil changed, wash the car or bathe the dog?"

Well, that's one dilemma you'll never have to struggle with again. Now you can do them all at once at the auto clinic/car wash/dog wash in Menands.

Yes, the auto clinic/car wash/dog wash.

It made sense to me, considering my dirty dog is often to blame for my dirty car. And if you've got a dog bigger than say, a Chihuahua or a pug, then you know what a pain trying to bathe them at home in the tub can be.

This week, the pooch was starting to smell a bit from all that rolling in the park so I decided to check it out.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

coffee smileThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Central Warehouse

central warehouse

It's that enormous building you can see from 787.

Update: This building caught fire October 22, 2010.
_____

Check out this slideshow of photos Sebastien took at the abandoned Central Warehouse in downtown Albany. There are some creepy (and oddly beautiful) scenes in there.

The building has changed hands twice this decade. In 2002 a company called Albany Assets bought it for $800k. And then in 2007 it was sold for $1.4 million to a group called CW Montgomery LLC, which apparently planned to eventually redevelop the building into some sort of mixed-use project.

Of the Central Warehouse Jerry Jennings said last year: That's one of the biggest eyesores I have here." Demolition of the building reportedly would cost $1.5 million.

Anyone know anything about the history of this building?

Update: check out the comment Steve posted about the history of this place.

And here are more pics by Kim, Bennett and Paul.

photo: Sebastien B

Craig and his wonderful list

shovelhe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

morrisseyThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Gnomes on the loose!

blue pants ualbany

Blue Pants expanded his mind at UAlbany's library.

Blue Pants and Red Pants, the Washington Park gnomes, have been found! And they're headed off on new adventures!

(there's more)

Snow mobile

igloo car 4.jpg

Yes, that's an igloo car. No-- we don't know why.

Don't know about you, but here at AOA we're thinking spring. Which, ya know, wasn't the only reason we were surprised to see this white Toyota pimped out to look like Mr. Snow Miser's ride.

The bricks are made of styrofoam and paint, there's an igloo door in front, the steering wheel is wrapped in fur and the roof is trimmed with icicle lights

No, we don't know the back story, but gives a whole new meaning to, "cool car."

More angles after the jump.

(Thanks, Thomas!)

(there's more)

Paterson's (not) too sexy

Paterson in Runners WorldPoor David Paterson can't catch a break these days. The economy's tanking, his poll numbers just keep on dropping-- and now this. Boston's alt weekly newspaper, The Phoenix, has named New York's accidental governor to its list of the 100 Unsexiest Men of 2009.

The Phoenix doesn't define sexy the same way as, say, People Magazine. Their "most unsexy" list is made up of what they call "the 100 most karmically bankrupt men on the planet."

Where did NY's governor land on the list? And who is he keeping company with?

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

eiffel tower nightThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Crazy dollar! 99 Cent City in Northway Mall

99 Cent City.jpg

You never know what you're going to find.

By Jessica Pasko

If you ever find yourself in need of a samurai sword, a pile of small Buddha figurine, a bamboo plant and a whole bunch of stuff to outfit your pad for your next Chinese New Year party, I know just the place -- 99 Cents City at the Northway Mall Plaza.

I can't lie - I'm just a little bit obsessed with this store.

Why?

(there's more)

That George guy really gets around

Dollar .jpg

A dollar goes surprisingly far these days.

By Laura Northrup

Dollar bills. They're stashed in pockets, thrown in tip jars, exchanged for all sorts of things, and rest snugly in a cash drawer at the end of the day. No one thinks about the much. They're a means to an end--that end being a lottery ticket or a latte. Essential.

You may not think about your dollars much, but many people do, and a lot of them live here in the Capital Region. The Web site Where's George? is dedicated to tracking the movements of paper money. A stamp or other marking on a registered bill directs observant consumers to the site, where they enter the serial number on the bill and learn about its sordid past.

With over 148 million pieces of United States currency logged in the Where's George database, some of them have inevitably passed through the region. Curious, I ran a random sample of local Zip codes through the database to see exactly where those bills have been. What follows is an entirely unscientific random sample of where our friends and neighbors have been spending their cash in February and March of 2009.

(there's more)

Have you seen these gnomes?

park gnomes

The gnomes in question, enjoying a stroll by the lake.

Because they're hiding somewhere in Albany's Washington Park. Waiting for you.

Kim and Sebastien hid the gnomes in in the park this past weekend. From Kim's Flickr stream:

Sebastien and I set them free to frolic in the trees and bushes. Catch them if you can! And if you do, be sure to look under their feet for a secret message.

We have to admit to feeling a little conflicted about catching the little guys. As we all know, sometimes gnomes just want to get out and see the world.

photo: Sebastien B

Does Tom Mailey get free ice cream?

Tom 2.jpg

Is this the face of a man who got a free ice cream cone?

So last week we told you that the overwhelming demand for free St. Patrick's Day ice cream cones in 2008 caused Stewart's to change their famous Paddy's Day promotion. This year, if you came to any Stewart's wearing green on St. Patrick's Day, you could get a cone for 50 cents.

Upon hearing the news Jeff told us he was pretty sure Tom Mailey would be getting a free cone. Mailey is the former WRGB personality and current Stewart's spokesman and marketing manager.

Was Jeff right?

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

cinnamon shakerThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Don't go there

illicit peeing

Oh, yes she did. This pic was snapped near Lancaster Street. (Thanks, Anonymous)

So we went back and forth on posting about this because it all seemed kind of trashy and a little stupid. But the sad truth of the matter seems to be: people are having a hard time distinguishing the streets of Center Square from a bathroom. So they're just letting it go... right there... on the sidewalk and in backyards.

The latest episode of this, um, condition played out over the weekend during/after the St. Patrick's Day parade. We've heard from a handful of people in the neighborhood that many parade-goers just couldn't seem to help themselves.

And this has prompted a few questions.

(there's more)

Albany's rooftop U-haul

uhaul building

Hey, how'd that get up there?

By Jessica Pasko

You've seen it from 787, from Rensselaer, from the port of Albany.

Sure, by now it may just be a part of the A-Town landscape, but when you first noticed it you thought, "How the hell did they get that thing up there?" A big moving truck? On top of a seven-story U-Haul storage building in downtown Albany?

Any guesses? I finally broke down and asked.

(there's more)

Troy is the new Brooklyn

Troy is the New Brooklyn.jpg

Who knew?

When the folks at Some Girls Boutique closed their Colvin Avenue store and consolidated in their shop on 2nd Avenue in Troy, they left this message in the window for their customers, "Troy is the new Brooklyn."

We love the Collar City, but here's what we need to know -- if Troy is the new Brooklyn, does it come with good bagels? And can Harry Tutunjian help Sandor find a decent egg cream?

(Thanks, Laura!)

Craig and his wonderful list

llama_head.jpgThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

The bung factory

Bung Factory.jpg

Heh-heh. It's the bung factory. Heh.

By Jessica Pasko

So it turns out that I know a guy who lives in the bung factory. Yep, the bung factory.

The term brings out the 13-year-old boy in me. Every time I pass the S. Kampf and Sons' Bung Factory on Albany's Jefferson Street, near Dove, it's hard to keep from emulating Beavis and Butthead.

Seriously, is there anything not funny about the term? Try saying it with a straight face. Go ahead -- bung factory. Told ya.

So what exactly is bung? Probably not what you'd think.

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

listerine bottleThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Move along, nothing to pee on here

no pee sign

Got it?

Check out this sign Tori and her friend Scott saw on South Pearl Street in Albany near the Housing Authority.

(Thanks Tori and Scott!)

Is the Corning Tower trying to tell us something?

corning tower flip

Yeah, well, you're... you're... you're a pale imitation of Brasilia! Yeah, take that!

TJ sent us this picture yesterday with the message:

"I saw this outside my house tonight, and i could swear that the Corning Tower was giving me the middle finger. I'm sure its just my crazy eyes and a strange coincidence, but the image made me laugh."

(Thanks!)

Craig and his wonderful list

special k blueberriesThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

baby chicksThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Your new neighbors, the fishers

captured fisher

Bernard's new around here.

That furry guy in the picture above is a fisher. His name is Bernard. He was caught by some scientists in the Albany Pine Bush recently as part of research into why he and his fisher friends have decided to take up residence in suburban parts of this area (they've been spotted around Albany and Saratoga counties).

What, you've never heard of fishers? Very few people have. The animals were extraordinarily rare in this area as recently as the 1990s.

Intrigued by our new neighbors, we called up Roland Kays this week. He's the curator of mammals at the New York State Museum and he's leading the research project that captured Bernard.

We talked with Roland about fisher mysteries, coked up wolverines, cat murders, squirrel horror movies and "the landscape of fear."

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

hot tubThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

How the rest of us are ticketed

Booted Car.jpg

This isn't an Albany boot, but you get the idea.

By Jessica Pasko

Editors' note: We're guessing (hoping) that Jessica's story is not a typical Albany parking ticket experience. But it's so outrageous, we thought you'd want to hear about it -- especially in light of the whole "ghost ticket" situation.

While the Albany police department is apparently handing out tickets that don't actually have to be paid to Albany's elite, there are others of us who are getting booted. Erroneously.

Yes, everyone who gets booted complains -- but before you brand me a martyr, let me explain.

(there's more)

Cold chicken

PJs 2.jpg

The great chicken countdown.

So this week that "seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators" Puxatony Punxsutawney Phil proclaimed there would be six more weeks of winter.

We're not sure what a Puxatony Punxsutawney spring looks like, but here in the great northeast, the first day of spring is usually just another day. Just another cold, damp wintry day. Here's a more accurate harbinger of warmer days. It's the PJ's BBQ sign in Saratoga. Eleven weeks to smokey, sloppy, bar-b-cuey goodness.

Still, here's hoping the marmot was right.

Craig and his wonderful list

chuck-e-cheeseThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Protesting the protest

Albany High.jpg

Albany High -- one of the sites of the planned protests.

The infamous Westboro Baptist Church is planning a couple of protests in Albany next month, according to its web site.* WBC is described as "virulently homophobic" by the Anti-Defamation League and is categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Craig and his wonderful list

pepsi truckThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


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Jonathan cares about the world, do you?

jonathan cares sign

Who's Jonathan?

By Jessica Pasko

Update: Jonathan -- the Jonathan -- posted a comment below.

I've passed this Adopt-a-Highway sign on New Scotland Road, near the Tollgate Restaurant in Slingerlands, dozens of times and it's always left me scratching my head.

Is it meant to be snarky? Is it meant to make me feel bad because I haven't adopted a stretch of highway myself? Or is it just a genuine proclamation of selflessness and commitment to bettering the world, one stretch of road at a time?

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A pair of very loyal mittens

collie fur mittens

The upside: these mittens come already trained.

Check out these mittens Flickr user Photos o' Randomness spotted in an exhibit at the Albany International Airport.

Does the sign in the case say "Collie Fur Mittens?" Yes. Yes, it does.

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Craig and his wonderful list

hedgehogThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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The tale of the register tape

rite aid receipt

It seemed a little excessive.

So, we stopped into the Rite Aid at the University Plaza in Albany the other day to pick up one item.* We paid cash.

And that's when the cashier handed us what has got to be the most disproportionately long receipt -- maybe ever. We got out the measuring tape (because we're like that) and the thing was 15 inches long! For one item!

We now have proof of both purchase and the destruction of a small forest.

*The one item was lens wipes. We like to see clearly.

A pet befitting a badass president

badgerNow that the Obamas are moving into the White House, the nation turns its attention to a very important topic: what kind of dog will they get?

But whatever breed they pick, it won't be as cool as the pets kept by AOA's favorite president from New York: noted badass Teddy Roosevelt.

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Craig and his wonderful list

monster truckThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Across Panama on one wheel

unicyclers in panamaCheck it out: four guys from Albany (plus one from Montreal) are riding unicycles across the isthmus of Panama as part of a road race from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

They're blogging about the trip, so you can follow along. One of the guys is Steve Relles, also known as The Delmar Dog Butler.

(Thanks, Jess!)

photo: Team Rollercoaster

Death by icicle

falling ice signWe were looking out the office window this afternoon at icicles hanging from the roof and, of course, had only one thought: can you really die from a falling icicle?

Considering the ongoing deep freeze, this seemed like a question that needed answering.

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Susan is a pinhead

We had always kind of wondered why Pinhead Susan's in Schenectady is called, well, Pinhead Susan's. And now we know, thanks to this video:

All hail the great State of Long Island

long island flagThe action at the capitol Wednesday included not just David Paterson's State of the State speech, but also the start of the new legislative session.

And that means a bunch of new bills. Among them: A01189, sponsored by Assemblyman Fred Thiele. Here's the description (emphasis added):

Establishes a bi-county commission in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk to study the feasibility of establishing the state of Long Island.

Our only question about this: can they take Staten Island with them?

Hey, this is a time for courage, action and hope.

(Thanks, Peter!)

AT&T mobile/data outage

iphone no serviceMore bars, more places. Just not here -- or on much of the east coast. Just not today.

When the office iPhone read "no service" earlier today and wouldn't let us access AOA, we grabbed the land line and called AT&T. Turns out we aren't alone. The nice lady from AT&T tells us that customers in several states are swearing at their iPhones today. A Google search turned up info about a data outage, but our voice service isn't working, either!

Anyone else having this problem?

Saratoga horse vandals to bask in glow of basic cable spotlight

Saratoga Broadway horse vandalsThe Saratoga horse vandals will be featured tonight during a show on the cable channel TruTV (it's what Court TV is now called).

The show is called Most Daring, the tagline for which is "Ordinary People in Extraordinary Danger." But the show actually seems to be more like a reality take on "Ow! My Balls!" with a Chilean stripper or two thrown in for good measure. So, it looks like these people should fit right in. It starts at 9 pm.

Earlier on AOA: Horse vandals get treatment they deserve

Craig and his wonderful list

Alan Greenspan The good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Find those crows a job

crow vending machine

Bird brains.

Albany's crow problem is apparently serious enough that the city is now employing fireworks and lasers in an attempt to scare away the flocks. And as we can attest, the huge murders are kind of freaky.

But the city might be going about this wrong way. Maybe it just needs to find those crows a job.

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The Santa Speedo Sprint

Santas 1.jpg

Brrrrrrrrrr.

Updated Monday morning with video!

Today's Santa Speedo Sprint kicked off a few minutes sooner than expected. But hey, if you were waiting to race in only running shoes and a little red Speedo, and it was only 22 degrees, you'd be anxious to get things over with too. Yes, another Santa Speedo Sprint has come and gone, but AOA managed to capture a few of the fond--and somewhat disturbing--memories.

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Craig and his wonderful list

Vespas at Schenectady dealershipThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...


(there's more)

What's left of Heritage Park

Heritage Park rundown

Onetime habitat of the rare diamond dog.

Check out these photos of Heritage Park by Flickr user dougtone. It's kind of remarkable how overgrown and rundown the place looks now (the pics are from this past summer).

The Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs were the last regular tenant of Heritage Park. The independent league baseball team dissolved in 2002.

These photos -- and the stadium's condition -- reminded us of The World Without Us.

Updated: Eugene writes: "The World Without Us? How about "Life After People," the
Emmy-nominated History Channel series directed by Argyle resident
David De Vries?"

photo: Flickr user dougtone

The glitter Jesus

By Amy Brozio-Andrews

glitter JesusDo you think it will multiply my money like loaves and fishes?

I have a pretty relaxed view of what's tacky, I'll admit. If it makes you happy, I'm cool with it. Mostly.

But I was stunned when I came up the escalator at Borders (Crossgates) earlier this week and saw this prominently displayed on a table.

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New York State surplus on eBay

state surplus helmetsAfter seeing this story about New York State trying to raise some money by selling surplus equipment on eBay, we decided we had to see what was up for sale.

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Craig and his wonderful list

Busatoga.jpgThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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The stuff of bat nightmares

bats with nose fungus

Those aren't milk mustaches.

You'd think this would be a good time of year for local bats. Fat and happy from eating insects all summer, they're ready to settle down for their long winter's nap.

But hibernation's gotten a little spooky for bats around the Capital Region.

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The Albany Ghost Investigators

By Jessica Pasko

ghostbusters logoIf there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Well, you could call the Albany Ghost Investigators.

No, really. We're not making this up.

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Craig and his wonderful list

craigslist leopard geckoThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

Craig and his wonderful list

BO55LADY license plate

Where does the BO55LADY eat?

The good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

A billboard in the next lane

rolling billboard truck

What's next? Driving TVs?

Check out this, well, this thing we saw driving down Western Ave near Stuyvesant Plaza today.

We'd call it a streetblimp, but there's advertising on every side of this thing. And the ads rotate as the truck drives along (the sides "flip" like blinds). We saw ads for a restaurant, a Harley dealership and a beer distributor.

We couldn't tell if the truck was actually hauling anything -- it would seem a little, um, not green, to be running the truck just for the purposes of ads. And then there's the safety issue of a vehicle that's designed to, you know, distract the drivers of other vehicles.

Terminator

terminator spray bottle

I'll be back... to deodorize.

While wandering around the 4th floor of the State Museum recently, we noticed this bottle sitting by one of the windows. It made us laugh a little for a couple of reasons:

1. The stuff -- whatever it is -- is called "Terminator." It sounds like Formula 410 or something.

2. Something called "Terminator" is just randomly sitting out in the museum.

We poked around a little bit online to try to find out what this mystery agent might be, and this product looks like a good candidate. "A powerful and effective deodorizer and all-purpose cleaner with a crisp, fresh scent that will linger for days. Eliminates odors on contact. Ideal for use in locker rooms, meeting rooms, bathrooms, classrooms, shower rooms, closets, chutes and sick rooms."

Museums, too, apparently.

Craig and his wonderful list

apples on tree

What's a girl gotta do to get a guy to go apple picking with her?

The good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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Flour bandits!

flour_at_uncommon_grounds.jpgCheck this out: two guys were arrested this week at the Port of Albany for stealing flour. Yep, the stuff used to make bread. The haul seized at the time of the arrest was worth almost $2 grand, but police think the duo might be responsible for as much as 375 tons of flour that's gone missing at the port.

So why lift flour? Prices for wheat (and other agricultural commodities) have shot through the roof over the last year, which has in turn pushed flour prices up. At one point this year, wholesale flour prices were double what they were last year. The cost increases have been crunching places like pizzerias, and as we found out earlier this year, bagel shops.

Even so, it's kind of weird to think there's a black market for flour -- it's not the kind of white powder that usually shows up in police raids.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Worth its weight in copper

(Thanks, Michelle!)

The Cherry Hill murder tour

Cherry Hill house

The Cherry Hill house in South Albany.

By Jessica Pasko

A nationally-famous scandal and murder mystery resulted in Albany's last public hanging in 1827 on a site near where the ESP now stands (kind of makes the drunken revelry of Alive at Five seem tame). The actual murder occurred in the South Albany home of one of Albany's most famous families, the Van Rensselaers.

And, as it happens, you can now take a Halloween tour of the murder site.

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The truth about Mary Jane

Mary_Jane_Books.jpg

Who is the mysterious Mary Jane?

For ten years college students have lined up outside the Mary Jane Book Shop at the corner of Western and Quail in Albany at the beginning and end of every semester. Their mission: to buy and sell used textbooks . And every year they pass under the the photo of a smiling "Mary Jane."

But who is this mysterious Mary Jane-- the 60's co-ed with the bouffant hairdo and perfectly pressed blouse--the public face of Mary Jane books.

AOA tracked down the owner of the shop (no, she's not Mary Jane) to find out.

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Worth its weight in copper

a bunch of copper wire

A hot -- and sometimes hot -- commodity.

The TU reported today that a group of thieves took off with 780 pounds of copper wire from a recycling company in Colonie last night.

Why rip off copper? The price of the metal has increased more than five-fold since 2001 (demand from China has been pushing up prices). That's made copper quite the target for thieves. Depending on the type of wire, the copper stolen last night in Colonie is worth somewhere between $435 and $1,100.

But it looks like the thieves need to work on their market timing. Copper prices took their biggest dip in a year today.

photo: Flickr user dh3hao, used under a CC license

Craig and his wonderful list

iPhone in handThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

(there's more)

The art vending machine in Troy

Art_Vending_Machine.jpg

The art vending machine.

By Jessica Pasko

Art? From a vending machine?

Yes, IPods aren't the only things that come in vending machines here in the Capital Region. A vending machine* in Troy has been refitted to dispense miniature pieces of art by emerging artists.

Yeah, we know It sounds a little weird, but it's actually kind of cool.

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You didn't actually ask, but...

Bill DanielsonBelieve it or not, there are some people who don't visit AOA via a bookmark, RSS feed or force of habit. (Yes, shocking, we know.) Many of these people come in looking for something via Google -- and sometimes we can't help but take notice of what they're looking for.

Well, as you know, we like to help. So even though you didn't actually ask, here's the (an) answer...

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The Circle Museum

Circle_Museum.jpg
By Jessica Pasko

Updated October 17, 2008.

If you've always wanted to visit a sculpture museum that evokes an auto body shop (and really, who hasn't), here's your chance.

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Craig and his wonderful list

Trust me, I'm lying t-shirtThe good thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations. The bad thing about Craigslist: it's a window into our fellow community members' wants, needs and aspirations.

Good or bad, we'll let you decide...

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The last dinosaur in Clarksville

DINOSAUR.jpg

What the...? Hey, is that a giant dinosaur on that lawn?

By Jessica Pasko

We've passed this friendly-looking T-Rex countless times while driving through the southern Albany County town of Clarksville. We'd always wondered what exactly the story behind the massive beast was, so last week we stopped and chatted with owner Art Van Praag.

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Stabbed where?