The 2024 APL trustee candidates

school budget

On Tuesday, May 7, at the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library, I attended an event introducing the 2024 APL trustee candidates, who will be up for election on Tuesday, May 21.

I was relieved. When I declined to run myself, I worried that there wouldn’t be enough candidates to run for the three slots. It turned out that TWELVE people got enough signatures to get on the ballot.

  1. Daniel Schneider, 12208
  2. Zachary Cunningham, 12208
  3. Carlos Velasquez, 12210
  4. Paige Allen, 12210
  5. Jennifer Marlow, 12208
  6. Bradford Lachut, 12203
  7. Kirsten Broschinsky, 12203
  8. Paul Collins-Hackett, 12202
  9. Marsha Lazarus, 12208
  10. Tia Anderson, 12203
  11. Mary A. Rosch, 12208
  12. Daniel Plaat, 12210

Eleven of the twelve, all except Velasquez, were present. All of the candidates available loved their library and would bring specific skills to the job.

My picks

I won’t tell you who to vote for, but I will note who I am selecting. Kirsten Broschinsky has served with me on the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library Board before being selected to fill the unexpired term of a person on the APL Trustees board.

Mary A. Rosch has worked on the FFAPL gala and other activities. She has been a speaker at the Tuesday book talks and will be again in August. At the event, she noted that she was involved in other community activities. She said she would willingly give up many of them if she were elected, suggesting she understands the scope of work.

My third vote will go to… I don’t know yet. I have eliminated three. Of the remaining, one lives on my street, and one reads my blog (which would NEVER affect my decision). Most have compelling narratives.

However, I enthusiastically support the $7,864,740 budget, which “reflects a two percent increase in the annual total tax levy.” As  APL Executive Director Andrea Nicolay notes, “The increase supports our staff and core services, and positions us to leverage partnerships and grant opportunities. We are mindful that, these days, public libraries and civil liberties are under attack. We strive for excellence, and we don’t take community support for granted.”

School daze

The library vote coincides with the City School District of Albany budget.  The board has “unanimously approved a $326.2 million budget proposal for the 2024-25 school year. The proposal includes no tax-levy increase for the second year in a row and the fourth time in the last nine years…

“Voters also will be asked to consider three additional school-related propositions, none of which would have any additional tax impact.”

The term of board member Hassan I. Elminyawi expires this spring. The Board of Education clerk told me he is running unopposed for reelection.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. on May 21.  Please note that the voting locations do NOT necessarily correspond to those where one votes in the primary and general elections, and at least two venues have changed since the last school/library vote. Mail-in ballots are also available.

School board and school budget votes will be voted upon throughout New York State on that date. 

Solar eclipse 2024

Not waiting until 2044

There was a solar eclipse in 2017. I did not see it, as its path was too far away. It crossed the United States from near Portland, OR, to Kansas City, MO, to Charleston, SC. Nashville, TN, was probably the nearest place to me.

By comparison, the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, is just better. Per NASA: “Totality will last longer than it did in 2017. Seven years ago, the longest period of totality was experienced near Carbondale, Illinois, at 2 minutes, 42 seconds.

“For the upcoming eclipse, totality will last up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds, in an area about 25 minutes northwest of Torreón, Mexico. As the eclipse enters Texas, totality will last about 4 minutes and 26 seconds at the center of the eclipse’s path. Durations longer than 4 minutes stretch as far north as Economy, Indiana. Even as the eclipse exits the U.S. and enters Canada, the eclipse will last up to 3 minutes, 21 seconds.”

And closer. “Totality will be visible through…  Upstate New York  (including Buffalo,  Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, the Adirondacks, Potsdam, and Plattsburgh)…” And there won’t be another one in the US until 2044, when I’ll be 91. I should try to experience this one.

Almost good enough

Albany, NY, will be at 96.6% of totality at 3:26 p.m., which is pretty darn good, and there are places to watch. Spectrum 1 News in the Capital District will be airing the eclipse starting at 2 pm.

But I wanted the full effect. The closest place with totality is Rome, NY, with 30 seconds. I thought to take the Amtrak out there, but the event is at 3;25 and the train leaves at 3:35, almost certainly loading too early.

I looked at trains farther west and also north, but they didn’t work out either. So I went with Plan B, which I’ll tell you about in due course. But it won’t be in Niagara Falls.

“Canada’s Niagara region has proactively declared a state of emergency ahead of a rare total solar eclipse on April 8 that is expected to gather massive crowds to areas in and around the region’s popular waterfalls.” 

I had gotten the proper eyewear on March 2. They arrived during my hearts party, and I put the box aside. Three weeks later, I couldn’t find it, so I ordered more and accidentally had them sent to my sister in North Carolina, who has no use for them. Finally, I’m set for this. notes this: 

  • As we pass into Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, NY, the chance of cloudiness settles around the mid-60s. 
  • The further away from the Great Lakes, the better the chance of clear skies; Rochester, NY, has a 60% chance of clouds. But in Watertown and Plattsburg, the chance of cloudiness rises to 70%.

“Get Your Passport, Kid”

global warming became climate change

Get Your Passport, Kid is a paper my daughter wrote about me for a class during the autumn 2023 semester. I am using it with her permission. I have changed nothing substantial. I added a couple of commas, and I did create some subheads. Oh, and subsequently, she HAS applied for her passport, and received it less than a month later!

I recently had a conversation with Mr. Roger Green, my father. I chose him because he has lived a long life (70 years!), he is my eldest living family member who still has a reliable memory, and because he has a blog(!), so if there’s anything he’s a bit foggy on, he can look back at his own ramblings and re-enlighten himself. Both of us, plus my mother, also tend to agree that my father and I are very similar. I hope to channel his long-time blogger energy into my writings.

We had planned an hour-and-a-half Zoom meeting one afternoon, but he ended up accidentally pocket-dialing me a few minutes early on Facebook Messenger while he walked home from the bus stop. When he finally heard me, he took out his phone and showed me his walk past my elementary school in the neighborhood I grew up in, back to the house I lived in my whole life until coming to college here. It was a nice reminder of the place I call home, and I got to talk to my cats.


My father was born in Binghamton, New York, which, like most upstate New York cities, has fairly temperate weather with hot summers and cold winters. Roger went to SUNY New Paltz for his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, having him relocated to another upstate city, New Paltz, New York with the same subtle climate. And later he moved to Albany, New York, his third upstate city and final destination, where he settled down and lived for the past 40 years since attending SUNY Albany for his Master of Library Science degree. Having lived in three similar cities his whole life, none of which had much extreme weather -hot or cold- I asked him to focus on the landscape, architecture, and his environment.

Starting off my uber-professional interview with Roger I ask him about where it all began: Binghamton’s First Ward, 1953. Roger lived with his mother and father and two younger sisters in a two-family house with his paternal grandparents living on the top floor, in a home owned by his maternal grandmother. His maternal grandmother lived a few blocks away on Prospect Hill, the home he and his sisters would walk to for lunch break during school since their mother was out working. Their neighborhood was filled with big, old, multi-family houses near the banks of both the Chenango and the Susquehanna Rivers. Roger and his sisters would often walk by the Spring Forest Cemetery, where many of their relatives were buried. The Trinity AME Zion church my father’s family attended was located on Lydia St., a name that would come up again when it was time to name his first and only child. 

Being black in the hometown

I wanted to know if being a black family affected how they experienced their landscape as well. Surprisingly to me, Roger seemed to feel that even though they grew up in a predominantly white area, he and his siblings didn’t encounter significant interpersonal racist interactions, as it was a somewhat progressive neighborhood. However, their race, or more specifically, perceived race, made their family unable to buy or rent their own house. Roger’s mother, while black, was very fair-skinned and was often unintentionally white-passing, while his father was dark-skinned and unambiguously black. This reality caused Roger’s parents to be viewed as an interracial couple, and in the 1950s and ‘60s, this meant no one wanted to sell or rent to them. Homeownership is, in my opinion, one of the first steps in building generational wealth, and if they did want to move, making that happen was unattainable at the time. Knowing Roger’s family wasn’t well off, it’s fair to assume that that affected how they went about their business. He tells me their vacations were never very far away. Sometimes, he, his sister, and their father would sing as their family group at the campsites they frequented rather than having to pay.


I did want to swing back around to the weather topic, and as I predicted, he didn’t have immediate terrible weather memories, but here are some unusual weather moments he could think of:

  • Albany’s worst snowstorm (in Roger’s lifetime), October 4th, 1987 – not heavy but early in the season, and with leaves still on the trees, many branches were brought down, and thousands were without power for days.
  • Bad snowstorm, March 1993 – 20+ inches of snow
  • May snow, May 18th, 2002 – my mother’s college graduation ceremony was moved to an indoor venue because of the unexpected spring snow
  • Hot, hot, hot, early 2000s – sent home from work because of the heat, and the company didn’t want to pay for all that air conditioning.
  • Valentine’s Day snowstorm, February 14th, 2007 – The buses stopped running early, and Roger barely made it home. The Albany area got 1-3 feet of snow, which froze over the next day.
The bus

Next, I asked Roger what changes he has made due to climate change. Roger is a Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) bus rider, which of course I knew since I lived with him for 18 years, and the man can’t drive, what else would he do? But I didn’t know how much of a CDTA advocate he was. He attended CDTA town halls and responded to their surveys. He is always willing to help people figure out what route or bus stop they need, how to secure their bike to the front bike rack on the bus, how to get a Navigator (refillable bus pass), and whatever people need to feel comfortable using the CDTA. Roger has also signed petitions to create safer bike lanes in Albany. 

I was somewhat excited to get to our interview’s climate change talk section. I knew some of my dad’s fundamental beliefs and that he’s left-leaning, but since I haven’t lived at home in a bit, we hadn’t had the random world/political conversations I was used to in middle and high school. 


Question: What are the causes and effects of climate change?

Answer: “Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes hot things hotter and leads to biodiversity loss; sea animals move differently because of warmer water, and islands will disappear due to rising waters.”

Question: Who do you usually talk to about climate change?

Answer: Like-minded people, friends, political allies, liberals.

Question: Do you follow climate news?

Answer: “Yes, liberal and conservative.”

Question: Are you involved in community groups that deal with climate change?

Answer: “No, not really. (What about the church and the library?) “Well, yes, I am part of groups that support climate action but not part of groups that specifically address climate change.”

Question: When did you start hearing about climate change or global warming?

Answer: “I heard about global warming in the ‘70s. It became climate change into the ‘80s because that was ‘less offensive.’ You’d have one colder-than-usual day, and all the global warming deniers would come out. So they changed it to ‘climate change.’ But overall, if you look at the data, “the globe is getting warmer; climate change is a wussy term!”

The librarian questions

Question: You worked with SBDC and SUNY Research Foundation. People would call you, and you’d answer their questions. Did you get any global warming questions?

Answer: “Later on. I was there for 26 years (1992 – 2019). In the first 15, absolutely not. In probably the last 10 or 12 years, yes. It’d be like, ‘What are the best fuels we should use to do what we want to do?’ Or finding the energy that would have the least ecological impact. Or taking a substance, like cooking oil, and using it as fuel. I think people’s awareness of it had grown so that people realized that maybe they could do something about it. ‘We can start a business to be more carbon neutral.'” 

Question: What do you think about the climate and the planet’s health?

Answer: “I think we are in desperate straits.”

Question: What are you most worried about in relation to climate change?

Answer: “Mostly denial; it makes me terribly worried. You can’t fix it if you don’t think it’s a problem.” He was the most unnerved and ranty during this section. Climate change and global warming denial is worrying and anti-Christian.


At the end of our interview, I was reading off the post-conversation questions meant for me to answer on my own.  “Did anything surprise you?” I asked myself out loud to get down any notations before they slipped my mind. Roger started to respond, “Well, what did surprise me…” I cut him off, “That’s a question for me, not you,” I responded. “Well, I want to answer it.” Okay, my bad.

“What surprised me was I hadn’t really thought about how limited my geographic parameters had been when I was growing up. Growing up in Binghamton, I think my world experience was encompassed by New York and  Pennsylvania. I don’t think we ever even went to New England or Ohio.” This turned into a lecture about me getting my passport renewed (again). “That’s why I really want you to get your passport and travel when you can. It’s a very enriching experience.” 

Roger and I grew up in and currently live in a small region of the world with his life path is Binghamton, New Paltz, and Albany, and mine is Albany and Amherst. In a later call, I mentioned that my friend and I wanted to study abroad. He was very supportive of that, and he restated his wish for me to get my passport so that I could see more of the world than he did. This aspect has been the most meaningful part of the conversation for me.

Boxing Day 2023

my ever-present past

in process

Boxing Day 2023 was intriguing.

The doorbell rang around 7:30 a.m. It was a guy from the City of Albany’s Department of General Services. He and his colleagues would trim the branches from the trees in the neighborhood. A branch of our neighbor’s tree was leaning heavily on the power lines in front of our house.

Were any of the cars on your side of the street ours? No, our car was across the street. Even though I’m car blind – I don’t recognize vehicles well – I could identify our next-door neighbor’s from an item he placed in front of the car so people were less likely to run into it while parking.

They spent over an hour trimming one tree. It had a lot of problematic branches, and they had to cut them into smaller parts. Then they put those branches in in the mulcher.

I suspect they picked that week to do our street because there is an elementary school on the block, and many teachers park on the street. Too many people grumble about government employees, but I was quite pleased with these.

Book review intro

I stopped at the bank to get cash. I had to wait because a bank employee showed a young woman how to use the ATM. 

Then, I took the bus to the Albany Public Library’s Washington Avenue branch to meet the author, Michael Sinclair. He has written a series of 1920s mysteries centered in Albany or Schenectady, NY.  

Interestingly, his presentation was much more about Albany’s history, complete with many photos, and less about the books.

My past converges

After the talk, I talked to a reference librarian who’s often at the desk when I’m there on Tuesday afternoons. Michael Sinclair thanked her for some technical assistance, mentioned that he had graduated from UAlbany’s library school in 2003 and that the APL librarian had attended a decade earlier. 

I asked her, “When did you graduate?” “1992.” I graduated in 1992. She asked who I knew from there then.  I mentioned two future NY SBDC colleagues and my ex-wife. “She was married to this guy who was in the program.” I shook my head and said, “That was ME!” 

Okay, so that was weird. Then she said, “And you used to go out with” this woman I dated off-and-on from 1978 to 1983. How did she know THAT? She used to work for said girlfriend at her office at UAlbany, and I would go there occasionally. So the librarian and I used to talk 40 years ago! She said I had a big ‘fro at the time; I didn’t think so, but it was an occasionally scruffy mess.


As I’m standing at the reference desk, we hear one person yelling at another. And it got weird. I won’t talk much about it here because no great harm occurred, though it was unsettling to the library staff and me. Oh, and I was wearing a Santa hat at the time. The police arrived after one of the two had departed. 

I went home, and then my wife and I went to the movies, which I wrote about separately.  

How was YOUR Boxing Day 2023? Mine didn’t involve boxing, but it came close.

CVS plopped a dumpster

Like a bad neighbor…

As you may recall, CVS closed my local store in late September 2023, much to my chagrin.

David Galin, chief of staff to Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan, posted on the platform formerly known as Twitter that the company “shut down an essential business in one of our more diverse neighborhoods, plopped a dumpster in front of two other small businesses just trying to make ends meet, AND decided it to do un-permitted construction on their way out.

“Alas, the City is onto them.” 

Joe Bonilla added: “This is how @CVSHealth  treats neighborhoods it disinvests in – by plopping a dumpster in front of a coffee shop and a movie theater in Albany! There was a spot in front of its former store, but it chose to locate this in front of two businesses left on the block. Thanks, CVS!”

And if CVS didn’t want it in front of the store because it would have blocked a CDTA bus stop, it could have used the side of the building on South Main, With a permit, of course. 

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