“What do you do all day?” you ask

a week’s worth of newspapers

what do i do all daySince I retired at the end of June 2019, people come up me and ask, “What do you do all day?” It varies quite a bit. I decided to take a day when someone asked me that question – Thursday, December 12 – and answer it.

At 6:30 a.m., I’m waiting for a bus, watching a woman parked at the bus stop waiting for another woman and a child. They’re all standing at the corner – making it difficult to see if the bus coming. Then they all go out in front of the car. A guy is walking his whippet (dog). One of the women engages him in conversation. The guy had three whippets, but one died and the other didn’t want to go out.

Another guy with a small dog walks by. He jokes(?) that he ought to whip the two women because they had the child in the street. They were protecting the child from the whippet, they claim.

I take two buses to the Gateway Diner. It only took 11 minutes and I was early, so I circumnavigated the nearby CVS. It was too cold to stand around.

There were 19 of us at the Bible Guys’ breakfast. I talk to one guy, Bob, at length about genealogy. Someone noted that it was a year ago that Charlie Kite announced to the group that he was dying from cancer and that he would not see February; he was correct.

After Philip took me home, I deleted a bunch of emails while listening to the previous day’s news. Then I got all distracted on a genealogical search for my biological paternal grandfather. I’m about 80% sure that I know who it is, based on DNA matches I have on Ancestry.com that I can’t otherwise explain.

I called the Omaha Steaks people about problems with an order, a gift from my BIL. If their automated system offers to call you back, take it. One box was opened within the shrink-wrapped styrofoam. The human being who returned the call emailed me.

I took two buses to Delmar, I assumed to see my podiatrist, Dr. Manzi. But he has sold the business to a married couple. The male doctor treated me. I stopped at Dunkin’ and had one of those Bynd “sausage sandwiches. It’s not exactly the original, but it’s not bad. I take two buses home. En route, I got through a week’s worth of newspapers.

Ah, the kitchen counter needs cleaning. My daughter and my wife get home at roughly the same time, but my wife has a church meeting. We eat some leftovers before she goes. I gather the garbage to go out, and take a bus to choir rehearsal. BTW, I took seven buses today, but because of CDTA’s Navigator card, I only paid for the first three. (An unpaid, unsolicited plug.)

An hour and a half later, I get a ride home from Christy. I check my email and listen to that night’s news. In bed by 10 p.m. You’ll note that I didn’t work on the blog or do insurance stuff or see a movie or actually watch TV. Almost every day is different.

Demisemiseptcentennial or dodransbicentennial?

Rats and cops and drug dealers

175thMy grad school alma mater, UAlbany, is celebrating its 175th anniversary. It was founded in 1844 as the New York State Normal School. It became the Normal College in 1890, the College for Teachers in 1914, and a university in 1962. So 2019 is its demisemiseptcentennial.

WHAT? Demisemiseptcentennial is literally one-half (demi-) x one-half (semi-) x seven (sept-) x 100 years (centennial). Is this a real word? Villanova used it 2017.

According to the Wikipedia, the Latin-based term for 175th anniversary should be dodransbicentennial. It’s from “a whole unit less a quarter,” but I’d never heard that one and I’m even less likely to remember it. My spell checker likes neither of the terms.


There’s a large window behind me where I work in downtown Albany, on the third floor. (Note to self: Water the plant!)

About 4:50 p.m., I hear some male voice yelling. I assume he’s part of an argument. But looking up the street, I see just one guy . He’s carrying some sort of plastic bucket, with stuff, and holding a thin white pole. Even from fifty meters away, I can tell he has holes in the knees of his jeans, and it was cold enough for him to be wearing his dark knit cap.

I tune him out and leave to catch the 5:40 p.m. bus. When I exit the building, the guy is still there. Now I can understand what he was saying: “Rats and cops and drug dealers”, which he repeated every ten seconds, sometimes directed at worried pedestrians.

The #10 Western Avenue bus arrives and folks queue up to enter it. The guy mumbles, “Oh, this will do,” and returns to his litany. He enters, then stands near the front of the bus, saying to nearby customers his message. The driver miraculously ignores him.

Sometimes he adds a few words. “Do you you know it’s rats, and cops and drug dealers?” At least one rider is amused, but others are clearly terrified.

He gets off at the stop near the Washington Avenue branch of the library. At once, I am both relieved that the auditory performance is over, and worried the APL patrons will be subjected to it.

Seeking Deep Peace midst cold, snow, ice

Several boats yanked free by an ice logjam on the Hudson River closed several  bridges.

gaelic blessingSUNDAY: Almost every church in the area was closed, with heavy snow overnight. It was changing over to sleet and freezing rain around 7 a.m., just as I began shoveling for the first time.

Our church, however, was open. At the 8:30 service, the two pastors, their elder daughter, the tenor soloist, the organist and the couple who ushered were present. My wife and I took the bus to church because getting the car out of the parking space was impractical in the time frame.

At the 9:30 choir rehearsal, there were but nine of us and the director, plus the organist. The choir director was impressed that we had that many, and we carried on, with a total of 26 at that service.

My wife and I with our friend Sue went to lunch at Mamoun Restaurant that 1) was open, 2) has very good Mediterranean food, and 3) is only a couple blocks from my church. We thought Sue had been attending the church longer than we had,, but it turned out it was that we all started attending the same year, 2000.

We returned to church for the 3 p.m. funeral of Charlie Kite. Eleven in the choir now. to sing A Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter, subtitled Deep Peace..

The Kite friends and family were out in force, and it was a great event with the church 3/4 full on a lousy day, weatherwise. In-laws, kids, grandkids and old friends all paying tribute. Among other things, we heard how Charlie loved boating.

After the reception, my wife and I went home, and after a change in footwear, started digging out her car around 6:30 p.m. We were tired, but we knew snow emergency called for Monday night, plus the forecast of plummeting temperatures meant that we did it then, it would be too difficult the next day.

MONDAY: An Arctic blast. as it was a federal holiday, I didn’t have to go anywhere, and except removing the snow that the city plows applied in blocking in the car, I never left the house. My daughter’s play rehearsal was wisely canceled.

TUESDAY: Library Foundation meeting, then work. Moderating temperatures.

THURSDAY: Because it was exam week, and my daughter was home alone most of the week, I took the day off, and in the afternoon, went to the movies. It was raining all day, but the temperature began sinking. I took the bus to church.

As I was getting off the bus at Washington and Lark in Albany, some guy sitting in a seat to my right hit me in the arm. It didn’t especially hurt, but I stopped and said to him, “What did you that for?”

The burly white male maybe half my age said: “Just keep going.” I repeated my query. “I’m crazy. You know. I could kill you if I wanted to.”

“No doubt that’s true. But why are you being such an @$$4013?” (I had decided that showing fear to this dude was not in my self-interest.)

I tried to retreat to the rear entrance, but he blocked that.  I went out the front entrance, as he continued to yammer something. I gave a WTH look at the driver and got off. The guy did not follow, fortunately.

Taking the bus home after rehearsal, the problem was black ice, especially stepping from the roadway to the sidewalk. I’m shocked that I did not fall.

FRIDAY: More black ice on the way to the 11 a.m. funeral of Bob Lamar. The choir must have numbered over 30, including a few folks from other FOCUS churches. we sang How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place from the Brahms requiem, in English. I’ve it so often, I pretty much know it by heart.

A full house for the service, despite some roadway chaos in the area. Several boats yanked free by an ice logjam on the Hudson River closed several bridges.

Among the tributes was one by the former bishop of the Albany diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Family, friends and former colleagues spoke, and golf was a repeated theme.

At the reception, I saw my old racquetball competitor, Ward Greer, formerly the head of the Albany United Methodist Society. I was talking to Ken Screven, a retired local news legend when one of the choir members said he has a voice like a Stradivarius, which is true.

I was really touched to note that my blog post about Bob Lamar was included alongside family photos. One of my wife’s colleagues expressed surprise that she would take off from work for the funeral of someone not a family member. Bob was a huge part of our church family for a lot of years.

A little kindness contextualized

Where did THAT come from?

Did you ever have a simple act of kindness give you a lesson?

I’m on a Capital District Transportation Authority local transit bus one evening, going part of the way home up the hill before riding my bike the rest of the way. I had used my Navigator card, which is actually half fare because I’m… older.

A young woman got on the bus, but her Navigator card had insufficient funds. (The voice on the machine sounds REALLY loud to me, possibly, I posit, for maximum embarrassment.)

I had, until that day, another, full-price, card which I kept in case my wife and/or daughter are riding on the bus with me. Unfortunately the Daughter misplaced her school ID during the last week of school, which she also used to pay the CDTA fare; talk about your short-timer’s syndrome.

Ruffling through my wallet, I found a THIRD card. Where did THAT come from? Maybe I got it for free at the 2017 Tulip Festival, when they were first promoting the service. I offered the card to the young woman, with a caveat that I didn’t know if it worked at all.

It did. Hey, I’ve been there, when I’m a little short on cash. A couple blocks later, she came up to me and offered me about 45 cents, as she noted, “This is what I found in my purse.”

Once upon a time, I might have waved off her offer. This time I took it, not because I needed the change, but because I wanted to honor her feelings. She wanted to do that small thing, and it would have been ungracious to reject it.

I think we do that a lot, keep people from maintaining their sense of dignity when they’re on the receiving end of a little kindness, a modicum of charity, under the thought, “They need it more than I.” But when they want to pay it back, or pay it forward, it’s important to let them.

Trust me on this; I’ve been there.

That CDTA bus doesn’t stop there anymore

No outbound stops at Lark & Spring or Washington & Dove

CDTA

I was riding on the #763 CDTA bus this week, the one that turns left at Washington Ave onto Lark St. A few folks were waiting for the bus at Lark and Spring. As of July 1, that bus stop there any more. The driver took pity on the riders – it WAS in the middle of a heat wave, and it is an infrequent bus.

But with the opening of the new CDTA BusPlus station and shelter located on Washington Avenue in front of the Albany Public Library, a “mid-block station located between Lark St and Dove St at the newly installed pedestrian crossing and signal,” there are no longer outbound bus stops at Washington & Dove or at Washington & Central for ANY of the buses. No stops at Lark & Spring for Routes #13 (New Scotland Ave), #18 (Delaware Ave, #734, or #763.

For the #10 (Western Ave) and #12 (Washington Ave), outbound routing will remain on Washington Ave after crossing Lark St. There’s a NEW outbound stop at Washington Ave & Henry Johnson Blvd. The #12 buses will continue on Washington Ave, while the #10 will continue on Western Ave after Sprague Pl. The routes will no longer travel on Central Ave, Lexington Ave, and Robin St, so no stops at Central & Henry Johnson or Lexington &t Washington Ave.