Day in the life: July 30, 2023


hospitalSunday, July 30, 2023, didn’t track the way either my wife or I expected. She had awakened with a chill. More problematic: a red spot on the back of her leg near her ankle had expanded around her leg. Moreover, it was warm to the touch.

It sounded like the return of the cellulitis she experienced in October 2022, which became so problematic that she was hospitalized for four days as complications ensued.

She asked me to contact the local urgent care place. Alas, there were NO slots open in Albany or Troy. So she decided to drive to the Emergency Department at St. Peter’s Hospital, which seemed sage.

I noted that she was scheduled to count the offering at church. The task involves training, and only about a dozen people were equipped to do so; I’m not one of them.

I sent an email at 7:55 a.m., but the only people who replied were those who could not take on the task; I thought recent knee surgery was a perfect excuse for staying home.

Breaking bread

Meanwhile, I needed to get to church early to help set up for communion before the 9:30 service. This meant catching the 8:48 bus, which only runs every 30 minutes. It takes me three or four minutes to get to the stop. Sometimes it’s running early, so I want to leave about ten minutes early.

The phone rings at 8:39. I’m going out the door. My wife needs the name of the antibiotic she’d been taking for another ailment. I needed to find and spell the container name twice because it had 14 letters.

I walked very fast to the corner. Fortunately, the bus was one minute late, and I just caught it, getting to church by 9:03.

Besides communion prep, I needed to find someone to sub for my wife, which fortunately worked out. A couple of other snags were addressed.

Seems like old times

After communion cleanup, some folks were putting the library back together. The shelves had been removed from the walls and painted. Though there were dropcloths, flakes of dried paint still got onto the carpet.

I vacuumed once I was told where the recessed cord was hiding. It reminded me twice when I was a custodian, in 1974 at a department store in a New Paltz, NY strip mall, and in 1975, at Binghamton (NY) City Hall.

I stopped at the local pizzeria to bring home slices for my daughter and me and took the bus home.

There’s a particular bond among bus patrons. A  patron pulled the cord to get out at the downtown SUNY campus. As the driver blew past the stop, the guy told the driver he wanted to debark. The driver said one had to pull the cord, but I saw that he had; I heard the sound and could see the red STOP REQUESTED sign. The driver insisted he hadn’t heard the signal, possibly over the air conditioning. From my seat near the front, I insisted the rider was correct.

The driver then looks at his console and sees that the signal had been initiated. The driver tells the patron, “You were right, and I was wrong.” Twice. The customer said, “It’s cool,” as the driver again restated his mantra. The patron says, “It’s OK. It’s OK. I didn’t want to walk two extra blocks.”

To the hospital

After my weekly ZOOM talk with my sisters, I took a bus to St. Peter’s. My wife had said she was still in the ER area, but by the time I arrived, she had been taken to a room.

It occurred to me that I’ve mastered how to get to several hospital areas because of my wife’s time there last fall. I brought her a change of clothes, toiletries, and reading material.

Having missed the last bus home, I walked, first to Junior’s for takeout, then home. I very seldom have takeout twice in one day. But it was a weird day.

My wife spent two nights at the hospital, getting IV antibiotics, and she’s much better.

CDTA’s Purple BusPlus v. NIMBY


cdta purple routeThis is one of those topics I would have put in my Times Union blog. But alas, it’s gone. Still, you folks not in Albany, NY, might find it interesting if something like it comes to your neck of the woods.

The Capital District Transportation Authority is currently building the Bus Rapid Transit/Purple BusPlus Line, which will run more frequently and make fewer stops. It will connect Crossgates Mall, UAlbany, Harriman, and Downtown Albany, mostly along Western Ave. it will be funded with federal money.

Recently, I signed a petition supporting the bus stop at the corner of Colonial Avenue/Eileen Street and Western Avenue. The petitioners believe the proposal will:
● Reduce traffic on Western Avenue, which can be quite congested.
● Provide better and higher quality access to transit in the neighborhood, potentially enabling many drivers to transition to public transportation. Sidebar: parking in downtown Albany is sparse and expensive.
● Make a busy intersection more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, something I always favor.
● Be a great asset for the neighborhood students relying on buses to get to North Albany Middle School and Albany High School.

The planned stop will be lighted and sheltered, with improved pedestrian access/crosswalks/beg buttons and heated sidewalks to melt snow and ice in winter. CDTA has committed to using it for tripper buses to bring kids to school.


A counterproposal from a few neighbors suggested relocating the stop to Brevator, where Western crosses over Route 85. That intersection has comparably little housing north of Western and has far fewer residents nearby. “Relocating the stops to this less centralized street will increase walking time to the stop and make it more challenging for residents to take advantage of the route.

“Looking at the proposed purple line from the CDTA website, the distances between Allen St. and Colonial (0.6 mi) and the distance between Colonial and the East Harriman Campus stop (0.6 mi) are already at the upper end of the distance that CDTA prefers between its BRT/BusPlus stops.

“If a stop is placed at Brevator instead of Eileen and Colonial,” which are central to the neighborhoods, “the distance between the two stops will be 0.8 mi, which is a very long walk for those who live between those streets; let alone those who have to walk a couple of blocks just to get to Western.”

I miss not being in the TU because I could point out the newspaper’s shortcomings in its article. It didn’t point out the benefit to school children or the university. Instead, it focused on the fervor of the discussion at a recent city hall meeting rather than the substance.

I figure I should bug CDTA, my city council member, my state assemblyperson, and anyone else I can think of.

Binghamton to Albany via Detroit?

Half a day.

I have the need to travel from Binghamton to Albany, both in New York State. It’ll be sometime later this year, via some sort of transit. This is a distance of 141 miles or 227 km, traveling northeast.

Back in the last century, and even the early part of this one, one could take the bus from Binghamton, through Oneonta to Schenectady and Albany, primarily Route 7 and later I-88.

The last time I needed to make the trip from my hometown to my current residence, perhaps in 2018, was on a work trip. I had to take the bus from Binghamton to Syracuse, due north, then take another bus east to the state capital. This involved leaving the Parlor City about 3:30 a.m. and then having a 2-hour layover.

But last I checked, to make the very same trip now, I would have to leave at 2:15 am and arrive in Syracuse at 3:30 am. Then I’d have to wait eight hours to take the only eastbound bus at 11:40 am, getting into Albany at 2:45 pm. Twelve hours on the road.

What about the plane?

BinghamtonThe cheapest flight was $397, and it involved spending 7 hours and 20 minutes in Detroit, MI. The shortest, and at $892, the most expensive, involved only three hours in Detroit. The other choices involved going through both Detroit and Chicago, IL. The trips would take as “little” as 7.5 hours and as much as twice that.

Unfortunately, there is no train service at all from Binghamton, which is a shame. Currently, no train service exists on Sunday from Syracuse to Albany. Now, the latter is likely to change – or so I hope – as more people are traveling. But I like to make plans ahead of time.

The great thing about some travel these days is that some carriers are much more willing to be flexible about ticketing. The Trailways bus folks, e.g. are willing to provide refunds in case of death of an immediate family member, illness, jury duty, or military service.


B is for the bike and the bus

It’s illegal to ride the bike on the highway.

One of the truly civilizing things about living in the Albany, NY area is the ability to ride the bike and the bus for certain trips. Someone noted that taking the bike on the bus to the bike repair place – broken spoke –
was the first time he had considered the value of having a couple bike racks on the bus. But in fact, I use the combo all the time.

Every 28 days, I have to go back to Corporate (frickin’) Woods, where I worked for too long, to get an allergy shot. I ride my bike through town to a rode called Northern Boulevard, then hitch the bike on the bus as it treks up that nasty Albany-Shaker Road hill.

Now, I could ride to the allergist, but time is the enemy here, for I need to catch a bus OUT of Corporate Woods, and since I have to wait 30 minutes AFTER the shot, I stay on the bus. On the subsequent trip then to work, I can ride at least partway to work, and faster than by bus alone.

There are several reasons to take the bike on the bus:

*law – it’s illegal to ride the bike on the highway. As the crow flies, the shortest route from my house to Corporate Woods is I-90, but it would be not only unlawful but dangerous to ride the bike on the interstate

*time – I COULD ride to Schenectady, the next city to the west, but that would take a while

*energy – that is to say, mine, especially when it comes to hills

*the weather – never was that more true than on May 18. I was planning on riding the two miles home, but a severe thunderstorm began. Walking to the bus stop, I got soaked. Putting my bike on the bus, I was paranoid about being electrocuted.

I think the first time I saw bikes on mass transit was back in the late 1980s, when one could put a two-wheeler on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, in San Francisco-Oakland, California. It made sense to me and I’m happy for the option.

Incidentally, Jen Reviews has put out a “detailed, up-to-date 7,000 word guide on how to choose a bike according to science” that describes “10 factors to consider.”

ABC Wednesday, Round 21

“Move to the back of the bus”

“We’re going to get to know each other a little bit better.”

The day after one of our snowstorms – snow in upstate New York in February? – a lot of us were taking the CDTA bus. Maybe some had safe parking spots they didn’t want to move from, while others perhaps had not dug out.

Someone had shoveled the snow in front of the bus kiosk. Unfortunately, the bus stopped beyond the kiosk, and we had to climb over a snowbank to get to the bus entrance. To his credit, the bus driver did apologize.

We’re going down Western Avenue. All the seats are filled. But the folks standing in the aisle only go to the rear exit of the bus, about 2/3s of the way back. I understand it, sort of; they want to be able to get off easily.

But we got to a stop around Quail Street, and at least a half dozen people couldn’t get on the bus. If the bus driver told the folks to move back, as drivers are wont to do, I didn’t hear him.

As those folks were left at the curb, this young blonde woman, probably in her mid-20s, worked her way to the back of the standees and chastised them for not moving to the back of the bus to make room for more passengers. “Do you understand what you did?” she said, very directly, to a couple of folks. “Those people are STUCK out there, in the cold.”

Then she took on the tone of a camp director. “We’re all going to move back to make room for others. We’re going to get to know each other a little bit better.” And instead of yelling at her, they actually did what she told them.

I was in awe.

As more people departed, she was seated, and I moved up to congratulate her on her moxie. She said, “Well, you in the back supported me.” I assume it was when she mentioned the stranded passengers being cold, I added from the rear of the bus, “And probably late for work.”

Anyway, I thought it was an impressive feat on her part.

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