The last week's worth of items on AOA

Today's moment of architecture

Foley Federal Courthouse flag frieze

Man, it was frieze-ing out there today.

OK, that's just about enough for this week.

Between The Lines at ACG

Between The Lines Albany Center Gallery

One of the works by Russell Serrianne, flanked by pieces by Dana Piazza.

We got a chance this week to stop in and see the new exhibit at Albany Center Gallery, Between The Lines. It includes the work of four upstate artists -- Rhea Nowak, Dana Piazza, Kelly Schultz, and Russell Serrianne.

As the exhibit name implies, many of the works are made up of lines and repeating patterns on blank backgrounds. There's something kind of calming about them.

We especially liked the pieces by Russell Serrianne. What appears to be a bunch of squiggled lines from afar is, upon closer inspection, many vine tendrils that have been shellacked and arranged.

There's an opening reception for Between The Lines Friday, February 2 from 5-8 pm. And the exhibit will be on display through February 23.

It's fat biking season

fat bike in sun

By Jen Masa

I think I may have gotten a few strange looks in my apartment complex a few weeks ago while strapping my bike onto my car rack. In the middle of winter. After a few inches of snow had fallen.

But to me, this is the perfect time to ride my fat bike!

With huge, knobby tires that are typically four inches wide, fat bikes have been gaining popularity for their versatility. You can ride them like mountain bikes, conquering many obstacles -- even if it's snowy.

Whether you are a mountain biker looking to ride through the winter or an outdoor enthusiast wanting to try something new, consider fat biking! You won't be able to wipe the smile off your face.

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Black Family Technology Awareness Day at RPI

Black Family Technology Awareness Day at RPIThe 18th Black Family Technology Awareness Day is this Saturday, February 3 at RPI. It's a free, daylong series of events to get kids and families acquainted with educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts. Blurbage:

This year, workshop highlights include Domino toppling, learning about the field of engineering, using math formulas to calculate the number of calories that can be burned while hula hooping, exploring the basics of 3-D printing, using games to teach math and science, and learning about LEGO robotics. Other offerings include an interactive skill-building session to help parents learn about available STEM apps, tips from Rensselaer admissions officers and students on how to navigate the STEM college experience, and a computer coding session to assist students with learning how to create websites.

That link above includes a bunch of details about the works.

The events stretch from 8 am (opening ceremony at 9:15 am) to 1:15 pm on Saturday. It's free and open to the public, but registration is required.

photo: RPI

Women of Science at the New York State Museum

state museum from plazaHalf of the research and collections professionals at the State Museum are women, and on February 10 it has a whole day of events lined up to highlight the science and research in which these women are engaged. Blurbage:

In recognition of the U.N. International Day of Women and Girls in Science we bring you this program honoring the women working in a variety of scientific discliplines right here in downtown Albany. Lectures, "Ask the Scientist" sessions, and scientific activities will be happening throughout the day.
The day includes hands-on activities that allow YOU to be the scientist. Examine specimens from our collections and ask questions of the women working in science at the edge of human discovery and preserving the wealth of knowledge in museum collections. Cultural Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, Archeology, Malacology, Botany, Geology and Paleontology are some of the fields represented in this amazing all-day extravaganza!

If you follow that link above, there are details about the events, along with short profiles of many of the scientists who will be participating.

The events are from 10 am-4 pm on Saturday, February 10. It's free.

Madden: New leadership and training for Troy police soon, New York hit with $14 million penalty over highway signs, Republican challenger for Kirsten Gillibrand

Troy Police Department
+ A grand jury has handed up a second indictment in the case of an alleged illegal search, and cover up, by the Troy Police Department's drug unit -- it's scheduled to be opened Friday afternoon. [TU]
+ Mayor Patrick Madden says there will be new leadership of the police department by the end of February and it will be training to improve its interaction with the community. Said Madden in his state of the city address: "Policing isn't just about capturing and handcuffing people, it's about working with individuals in the community." [TU] [WNYT]

Schenectady County jail guard discipline
"People familiar with the situation" tell the Times Union that a Schenectady County jail guard is facing a range of sanctions, including early retirement, for allegedly sexually harassing several women on the jail's medical staff -- but he'll be allowed to stay on the job for another 20 months. [TU]

Percoco trial
A Competitive Power Ventures exec testifying Thursday about an arrangement to pay Joe Percoco's wife for "educational consulting services": "When the first answer out of somebody's mouth to a pretty basic question is 'there is nothing illegal about it,' it raises a red flag in my mind." [TU]


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UAlbany wants to upgrade its Alumni Quad, and it's looking for input from the public

UAlbany Alumni Quad 2016 August

Alumni Quad in the summer of 2016.

UAlbany is thinking about the future of its Alumni Quad -- an almost-10 acre piece of land that sits right in the heart of Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood -- and it's looking for some community input about that possible future.

There's a public meeting about those plans February 7 on the downtown campus. The university says officials will be talking about the current state of Alumni Quad, what's in the works for there, and then they'll throw it open for comments from community members.

Here's a little bit more about UAlbany's thinking about, along with a few things about how it connects to some other projects and the wider neighborhood.

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Get a flu shot. Cover your cough. Stay home if you're sick.

nys flu surveillance 2018-01-27

This graph is from the NYS DOH's weekly influenza surveillance report.

This winter's flu season is continuing to crank up here in New York State.

The latest surveillance from the state Department of Health reports a 50 percent increase in the number of lab-confirmed flu cases during the week that ended January 27. Every region of the state showed an upswing in positive results for flu, and every county in the state is now pegged as having influenza activity in the highest category. (It's been a relatively strong flu season across the nation.)

That graph above depicts the number of lab-confirmed cases across the state this season (red line) compared to the previous three seasons. And, yep, the flu is taking a big swing at us this time up.

Influenza is kind of like the weather. There are general seasons and patterns, but it's hard predict exactly what course it's going to take. So it's still worth getting a flu shot -- even though it's February and even though it takes a few weeks for your body to fully respond to the jab.

Here's a site that can point you toward where to get the shot. Many pharmacies now offer the flu vaccine right in the store, but call ahead to make sure there are still supplies in stock. And it's free under many health plans.

Getting the vaccine doesn't offer full protection, but if you do get the flu it can lessen the severity. And getting the shot can be beneficial not just to you, but also the people around you because it makes it less likely you'll spread the virus.

And beyond the shot:
+ Wash your hands.
+ Cover your mouth when you cough (preferably not with your hand).
+ Stay home when you're sick, if you can. And employers should do the right thing in this regard, too.

Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy roundtables

alliance for creative economy logoThe Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy initiative has a series of events coming up over the next month or so focused on the state of the local "creative economy" and how to grow it. Blurbage:

Join ACE and the Center for Economic Growth as we announce our latest Creative Economy data, and share your thoughts on how we can work together to develop and grow creative jobs and opportunities in the Capital Region.
ACE wants to know what you do, why you're here, and how we can make this region the best place in the U.S. for people to live, work, and grow creative businesses. Music, food, networking and more. You're welcome to attend any or all of these Roundtable events, and need not be employed in the Creative Industries to participate.

The first event is at Overit in Albany on February 7. The full schedule is below. The roundtables are free to attend, though registration is requested (details at the link above).

ACE defines the creative economy as including: design, media, visual arts and handcrafted products, performing arts, heritage and preservation, and artisanal food and agriculture.

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"We're asking people to invest in all kids and not just their own."

Not local, but it touches on many threads that have been discussed here: CityLab talks with the founder of an org called Integrated Schools that works to "encourage white and/or privileged families like hers to send their children to local public schools, where their kids would be in a minority group." Says Courtney Everts Mykytyn in the interview: "We're asking parents to make choices that are often against the mainstream idea of what a good parent does--that is, getting every last thing for your kid. And it's an awkward, difficult conversation. The lack of resources for students of color and low-income students is real, and we're asking people to invest in all kids and not just their own." [City Lab]

Stuff to do this weekend

Paris Time Capital Rep cast

The Rep continues its world premiere production of Paris Time. / photo: Richard Lovrich

Groundhog, shmoundhog. There are seven more weeks of winter ahead of us, counting this one.

You could hang out and watch Bill Murray movies over and over again, but if you want to break the Netflix cycle, we've made a list for you filled with stuff going on this weekend.

Doing something you don't see on our list? Tell us about it in the comment section. We'd love to hear.

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


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Downtown Albany food tours starting this spring

Quackenbush Square Albany 2016-October

The tours start at Quackenbush Square.

The organizer of the Taste of Troy Food Tours is starting up a "Historic Downtown Albany Food Tour" this spring. Blurbage:

Put on your walking shoes for an entertaining and delicious way to experience Albany. New York's Capital City for 320+ years, is undergoing a culinary and craft brewing boom. You'll sip and sample from restaurants that are spicing up Albany's food scene. Discover stunning architecture and cultural tidbits that will help you develop a fresh perspective on New York's capital city. Each Friday, we sprinkle in history, architecture and culture to kick off your weekend in the Capital District. ...
Our tour highlights 5 tastes from different local restaurants, some history of Albany, architectural accents and culture. Our tour lasts 3 hours and we walk about 1.5 miles, one slight climb up State St., with plenty of rests during our tastes.

The tours start in May. Tickets are on sale now -- they're $59 for adults / $39 for kids.

Tastes and Traditions
The new tours fit into a larger series organized by Discover Albany focused on food this year called "Tastes and Traditions." The recent -- and sold out -- Proost brewing/distilling history event at the Ten Broeck Mansion is one example.

Faso, Stefanik safe following Amtrak crash, 20 years for Albany Father's Day shooting, prosecutors: Percoco used influence in "Albany game," William Kennedy celebrates 90 years

Faso/ Stefanik uninjured in train crash
Corrected Representatives John Faso was not injured when an Amtrak charter train carrying Congressional Republicans to a retreat crashed into a garbage truck on Wednesday. (Elise Stefanik was not a train.) [WNYT] [AP/TU] [@RepStefanik]

Percoco trial
Wednesday in the trial of Joe Percoco:
+ Prosecutors said Percoco used his close ties to Andrew Cuomo to give developers access to the "Albany game." [NYT]
+ The court heard testimony about an alleged "low show" job that prosecutors claim was arranged for Percoco's wife by lobbyist Todd Howe.[TU]


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Dry goods and carpets

The Schenectady County Historical Society shared this photo on Twitter Wednesday of the old Salisbury Dry Goods and Coffin Carpets that was once on State Street in Schenectady. The historical society says the photo is labled 1885-1888.

We're always suckers for old storefront photos. But the thing that really caught us about this pic is the people. If you click over to the large version of the pic, you can see them more clearly. They're all dressed up. And it's like they're all not exactly sure about how to stand there while having their photo taken.

We wonder what they'd think if someone told them them that more than a century later this photo would be translated into instructions by a machine, transmitted across wires and the open air, and then displayed on pieces of glass that people carry around in their pockets.

By the way: The historical society's Grems-Doolittle Library and Archive has a good blog that highlights pieces and stories from its collection.

Setting them up and knocking them down

Two things:

1. RPI student Lily Hevesh is a professional domino artist with 1.5 million Youtube subscribers. Her work has appeared in commercials and films. That video embedded above shows the crazy 30,000 domino setup she created to celebrate getting to 1 million subscribers.

2. She's helped start a domino toppling club at RPI.

"I can't overstate how important design is"

Not local, but a frequent topic here: This Bicycling article looks at who should be the focus of education and interventions for bike safety: cyclists or drivers. But the big takeaway, to us, is that focusing on who's to blame probably isn't the best approach. We're better off focusing on how the design of the streets, paths, and sidewalks we all travel influences the way we act -- and whether we can adjust those designs so that we're all safer. [Bicycling] [via @flynnzie]

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: the grim past of Van Rensselaer Park, a tale of sickness, a labor strike, a home on Alexander Street, commercial considerations, too soon, the Boreas Ponds, the Spring Run Trail, the new Hannaford loyalty app thing, Rascal + Thorn, restaurant industry fake news, meat preservation, and travel.


Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Here are a few events coming up at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve

albany pine bush coyote camera trap 2013-December

One of the events is about coyotes. The animals sometimes show up on camera traps in the preserve, as above. / photo: Albany Pine Bush Preserve

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve has a bunch of events coming up over the next few months -- about nature, history, or just being outdoors -- for both adults and kids.

Here are a few that caught our eye...

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Local reaction to the SOTU, DeFrancisco announces run for governor, judge questions charges against Morse critic, robbery suspect stopped for pizza

Some local reactions to Donald Trump's State of the Union Address on Tuesday.[WNYT][Gazette]

DeFrancisco gubernatorial run
State Senator John DeFrancisco officially announced his candidacy for governor on Tuesday. The Republic Deputy Majority Leader said in his announcement that "the only way to bring prompt, fundamental change is only from the top in the governor's office"[NYT][Spectrum]


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Today's moment of winter

frozen water spout by AlbanyJune

Thanks to June for sending along this pic.

Winter has a way of stopping things for a moment or two.

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

NYS Writers Institute offices 2018-January

Many of the walls in the offices of the NYS Writers Institute in the Science Library on UAlbany's uptown campus are covered with posters touting appearances from the history of the visiting writers series. It's a remarkable a list of well-known and notable authors.

Each spring and fall the New York State Writers Institute releases the lineup for its visiting writers series and pretty much without fail we have this thought while looking it over: "Holy moly, how'd they manage to get all these people?"

This is an important moment for the institute. It has a new director -- longtime Times Union journalist Paul Grondahl started last year. The great author William Kennedy, who founded the institute with money from his MacArthur "genius" grant, is celebrating his 90th birthday this month. And the institute is facing competition from other orgs for both events and attention.

So we figured this would be an interesting time to drop by the institute on the UAlbany campus to talk about how they put together those impressive lineups -- and what's in store for the future...

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Psst... those public tours of the State Education building are still being offered

State Education Building late sun 2016-September

Just a heads-up that the weekend tours of the beautiful State Education Building are continuing here in the new year. Blurbage:

Take a tour of the historic State Education Building in Albany! The 45-minute Education Building tour will be led by New York State Museum staff and visitors will have the opportunity to explore the historic Chancellors Hall, Regents Room and the Rotunda adorned with murals by Albany native Will H. Low.

This recent string of dates is the first time building's been open for regular public tours in decades.

The tours are currently set for the first two Saturdays of February and March, and then every Saturday in April, at 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm.

They're free -- but you must pre-register. The tours are capped at 25 people and do fill up. (It looks like one of the tours this Saturday is almost full.)

Schuyler's shopping spree

Over at the Schuyler Mansion blog, Jessie Serfilippi and Ian Mumpton have an interesting look at what Philip Schulyer bought during a visit to England in 1761 (many, many things) -- and what that implies about his wealth (he was very rich). Among the bits: The amount of money Schulyer spent on wallpaper alone was more than that the average laborer at the time made in a year. [Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site]

Family Electronic Textiles Workshop / MomUp! Raising Kids Who Code at TVCOG

Tech Valley Center of Gravity exterior 2016-July

TVCOG is in the Quackenbush Building in downtown Troy.

This looks like it could be fun: The Tech Valley Center of Gravity and its THINQubator program for kids is hosting a Family Electronic Textiles Workshop this Sunday, February 4. Blurbage:

In this project based workshop Youth-Adult pairs will learn together about electronic textiles (e-textiles) working with conductive thread, sewable batteries, LEDs, and microcontrollers to make a plush monster with a glowing heart to take home. Adult participants will also gain info on where to buy parts for future projects, and get links to lessons for other e-textiles projects. No previous sewing experience is necessary. The workshop is geared to kids 8 and above, but younger ages are welcome if the accompanying adult feels the child will be able to handle this level of activity.

The workshop is from 1-4 pm. The registration fee is $55.

MomUp! Raising Kids Who Code
Also that Sunday: TVCOG has a program called "MomUp! Raising Kids Who Code" from 9-11 am. Blurbage (link added):

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A rumble and then everything went black, sentencing in Blessings Tavern crash, imagining a Governor Trump, triple OT

Schenectady mudslide
+ One of the men trapped in an apartment by the Schenectady mudslide described the what happened from his point of view: "All of a sudden, we heard a rumble and the next thing you know, I woke up and everything was black. I woke up next to my nephew screaming." [News10]
+ Crews demolished two homes and a garage Monday, and officials are examining an apartment building. [Spectrum]
+ City officials say they're not sure yet what caused the slide. State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who's a civil engineer, said now could be a good time to do a wider review of potential problem spots. [Daily Gazette] [WNYT]

Percoco trial
+ On Monday the prosecution showed emails it alleges indicate Joe Percoco intervened with Empire State Development so that COR Development wouldn't have to reach a labor peace agreement for a Syracuse-area project, and an FBI agent testified about a $15k payment from COR to Todd Howe's consultancy that appears to have then been funneled to Percoco's wife. [TU]
+ Also: The trial has raised questions about Percoco's use of state-funded office space while he was on leave as Andrew Cuomo's campaign manager. [TU]


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Today's moment of winter

Buckingham Pond shore ice 2018-01-29

Ice is almost endlessly fascinating in the way it freezes, cracks, thaws, re-freezes, and changes throughout the winter.

Repair options for an old slate roof?

gray slate roof CC BY 2.0 Chilanga CementAllison emails:

My early 19th century slate roof needs repairing. I know that you posted this question in the past but it was 7 years ago and some of the suggested contractors have retired or are out of business. This has proven to be a difficult search considering the amount of slate roofs around the city. Thanks!

Bonus points to Allison for checking if someone has already asked this question. And we're happy to post it again given the time that's passed and, it sounds like, how things have changed.

Good a contractor or suggestion for Allison? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're suggesting a contractor can be a big help.

photo: Flickr user Chilanga Cement (CC BY 2.0)

Welcome back, big cat?

The eastern mountain lion is now (officially) extinct (probably), but there are some wildlife/environmental groups that are pushing for the big cats to be re-introduced here. [USA Today] Earlier: But if there were mountain lions here...

Chris Stapleton at SPAC

musician Chris Stapleton

Country star Chris Stapleton is set to play a show at SPAC August 23. Tickets go on sale February 9 -- they're $34.75 (lawn) and up.

Stapleton's been on quite roll. He's sold millions of records over the last few years. This past weekend he won three Grammys and was the musical guest on SNL. And he's been collaborating with Justin Timberlake.

Also on the bill for the SPAC show: Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb.

Other SPAC pop shows announced so far...

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A look around the new Vintage House in Albany

Vintage Albany interior

The new Vintage House tapas bar/gastropub on Broadway next to Wolff's in Albany's Warehouse District had its grand opening this past weekend. The project -- in the works for more than two years -- is a remarkable transformation of what had been had been a rough, old warehouse and garage space.

Here's a little bit about what's up, and a photo tour....

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IKEA Rochester?

The last few months there's been a rumor circulating that IKEA has been scouting locations just south of Rochester near the Thruway. And now the supervisor of the town of Henrietta confirms reps from the company have been there. We were surprised to hear this, because IKEA told us a few years back that a store upstate was unlikely. (The Paramus and New Haven IKEA would still be closer than a Rochester/Henrietta store.) [Democrat & Chronicle] [WROC] [via @rachbarnhart]

Kevin Hart at SPAC

comedian Kevin Hart

Comedian Kevin Hart is set for a stand-up show at SPAC May 25. Tickets go on sale this Wednesday, January 31 -- they're $45 (lawn) and up.

Hart is one of the most famous and successful comedians in the game right now -- regularly ranking among the top-10 highest earning comedians -- based on his stand-up act and frequents appearances in movies and other media.

Hart's last two stops here have been at the TU Center, in 2015 and 2012. (We were just trying to think about the last stand-up act to play a show at SPAC... and drawing a blank. Maybe you know.)

photo via Kevin Hart Facebook

Mudslide traps man in Schenectady, the business of local hospitals, teaching mental health in schools, trying out for the team

Schenectady mudslide
+ A mudslide early Sunday morning in the area of Barney Street/Nott Terrace in Schenectady (map) trapped a man in his home and prompted the evacuation of 11 people in nearby homes. [TU] [Daily Gazette]
+ The 19-year-old man who was trapped was taken to Albany Med and is "doing OK," his mother told WNYT. [WNYT]
+ Schenectady city officials say two homes and a garage will be demolished. [TU]
+ A similar Schenectady mudslide in 1996 killed a man. [Daily Gazette]

Complaints about Mechanicville mayor
Mechanicville's human resource officer says the city council is hiring an outside attorney to investigate allegations of boorish and harassing behavior by mayor Dennis Baker. [TU]

Percoco trial
Among the sharp directives issued by judge Valerie Caproni to attorneys in the Joe Percoco trial: "You're entitled to a vigorous defense. What you're not entitled to is a tedious defense." [TU]


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The week ahead

Jason Isbell The 400 Unit

Jason Isbell -- who won two Grammys this past weekend -- will be at The Palace Wednesday. / photo: Danny Clinch

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (maybe), from drama, to ballet, to William Kennedy, to art, to basketball, to music...


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Washington Avenue definitely needs more than one lane in each direction, but that doesn't mean it can't be redesigned. They can reduce the size of the lanes, add a median, and add a protected bike lane where the shoulder of the road now lies. I agree, however, that the entire Harriman loop would have to be redesigned and that includes those over-passes, so this would be an extremely expensive undertaking if they want to do it right. But there could be significant development on the land that is now wasted by asphalt that could offset that cost and bulk up the tax base for the city.

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