“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.

Lydster: LS’s 0th birthday redux


Now that my daughter is almost post-teen, I had this splendid idea to take a Mixed CD I made called LS’s 0th Birthday and post it here. I found links and wrote a narrative. Then, I searched my blog for completeness’s sake and discovered I had already written it. So, I scrapped the post.

I wish I had not dumped it because almost none of the links worked. Oh well. As I noted, “Three months before our child was born, I made a mixed CD for the child. We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or a girl, so she was called Little Soul. Or, more accurately, my wife’s friend Alison, who was in our wedding, dubbed her as such.”

So this is a repost from 14 years ago, sort of. I found new links for all the pop tunes and have a workaround for the other. And I changed some of the descriptions. I may do this again in 2035, so I don’t want any complaints.

Part the first

1. Mr. Sandman – the Chorettes. I suppose it’s an odd choice if one listens to the lyrics, but it was based on my desire for her to sleep well, which did not happen early on.
2. Lullabye (Good Night, My Angel) – Billy Joel. In the mid-1990s, there was an NY SBDC state conference in Binghamton. An a capella group from the university sang this for us, which was great and sufficiently melancholy.
3. Dreamland – Mary Chapin Carpenter. Initially from a 1992 compilation album called ‘Til Their Eyes Shine. I have on her 1999 greatest hits album, Party Doll.
4. Good Night – the Beatles. It’s the last song on the white album, a Lennon tune sung by Ringo. I often sang it to my daughter before she went to bed
5. Lullaby for Sophia – the Beverwyck String Band. A lovely tune by our friend, violinist/vocalist Britney, and a couple of her friends, which does not appear to exist on YouTube or Spotify, though the album is for sale on Amazon and here. My friend Tim jerry-rigged it so that you can hear the song:

Part the 2nd

6. Alright For Now – Tom Petty. It’s from his first solo album, Full Moon Fever.
7. Sweet and Low – Bette Midler.
8. All Through The Night – Shawn Colvin. While I remember this song exceedingly well growing up, I am fascinated that my wife never heard it until I sang it to her.  The last two cuts are from a 1997 benefit album for the rain forest called Carnival, which also features Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.
9. Common Threads – Bobby McFerrin. It is a song from the great Medicine Man album, which I gave to a half dozen people for Christmas in 1990. This song without words is a transition to the instrumental portion of the album.

Part the 3rd

The ones below may not be the exact ones from the CD except the Moonlight Sonata.

10. Brandenburg Concerto #5 Affettuoso – Bach. The English Chamber Orchestra. This is similar to the mixed CD.
11. Pachelbel Canon –  the English Chamber Music Orchestra.
12. Four Seasons: Autumn, Adagio – Vivaldi.
13. Four Seasons: Winter, Largo – Vivaldi.
14. Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven. Evelyne Dubourg.
15. Fur Elise -Beethoven.

Lydster: Stromae

People who “are just working while we are partying.'”

In 2019, I linked to the song Papaoutai by Stromae because my daughter indicated how much she liked it. I had forgotten that she learned about it from her high school French teacher, who thought the students should be immersed in the culture and language. According to Wikipedia, the song, first released in 2013, “went on to chart number 1 in Belgium and France, number 2 in the Netherlands, as well as number 7 in Germany and Switzerland.”

While traveling in the car visiting colleges in November 2021, several of his songs were on her playlist. One was Santé (Cheers), released that year. “When asked during a 2022 interview whether Santé is about workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, ‘No, not exactly.’ Stromae explained that he wrote the song about Rosa, the woman who cleans his house and that the song is about celebrating people who “are just working while we are partying.'”

Another song she liked was Tous les mêmes ([They Are] All the Same) from 2013. “The single became Stromae’s third consecutive number one from Racine carrée in France and Wallonia, while reaching the top five in Flanders and charting in the Netherlands and Switzerland.” Here’s a homework assignment about the song.

My daughter recently indicated that L’enfer (Hell), from 2021,  was one of her favorite songs. It went to #1 in Belgium and France and #2 in Switzerland.

Who IS this person?

“Paul Van Haver (better known by his stage name Stromae) is a Belgian singer-songwriter-composer born in 1985 in Brussels to a Belgian mother and a Rwandan father.

“He and his siblings were raised by their mother, as his father, an architect, was killed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide while visiting his family.”

“Initially, Stromae chose ‘Opsmaestro’ as his stage name but later changed it to “Stromae” (an anagram of “maestro”).

His path to stardom was circuitous. He’s put out an EP and three albums: Cheese (2010), Racine carrée (2013), and Multitude (2022). He’s collaborated with

His All Music bio

Discography from Discogs

His YouTube channel

NPR Tiny Desk Concert from 2022, which you should definitely watch

Health concerns

From the May 9, 2023 Rolling Stone: “Stromae‘s Multitude tour is coming to an end sooner than expected. The singer announced the cancelation of the world tour, which began in February 2022 and was scheduled to extend through December 2023, after an ongoing battle with his health.

“’A few months ago, I felt my health took a bad turn which led me to cancel a few shows in France and then in Europe,’ Stromae wrote in a statement in both English and French. ‘urrounded by my doctors, my family, my friends and my team, I was hoping I would be able to get better quickly in order to resume touring and to meet you again as soon as possible.”

“He added: ‘Unfortunately, I must accept today that the time I need to rest and heal will take longer than expected. It is with my deepest regret that I won’t be able to honour my promise and that I am announcing today the end of the Multitude tour.’

{In April] “Stromae canceled 14 concerts citing his ‘current health state,’ though he expressed optimism that he would be able to return to the tour at the beginning of June. The Multitude tour marked his first since he played 139 shows between 2013 and 2015 in support of his sophomore album Racine Carrée, which proceeded a seven-year break from music and public life.”

Lydster: trajectory

bus expert

The daughter at six

The trajectory of my daughter’s development has always been interesting. When she was in her first year or so, the experts had those milestones that babies should reach. I found them an okay reference but never fretted about them.

She was “cruising” -walking by holding onto furniture, like a sofa or coffee table, by seven months, typically at eight to twelve months. The term, BTW, is one I had never heard until her pediatrician used it.

She started walking when she was about 15 months, when “the book,” said it should be around 12 months. But we weren’t really sweating it.

I was more likely to worry about later issues, which I probably mentioned at the time. I specifically recall her learning to write by sounding out the letters in kindergarten, but she was very distressed that the words were not spelled correctly.

COVID was hard for all of us in the household, especially her. Her lost socialization was particularly difficult to rectify.

So it pleases me that, being home for the summer after her first year in college, she’s getting herself up instead of her father having to awaken her. She’s mastered taking the buses to work and home. Her experiences with co-workers, managers, and customers have been an education she shares most evenings.


It’s also interesting to see her through other people’s eyes. A medical professional I saw for the first time this month told me they saw my daughter at the Black Lives Matter rallies she helped organize after George Floyd died in 2020. They identified the nearby corner where the rallies occurred and were pleased that such passionate young people took up the future.

I’ll miss her more when she returns to college than when she went there in her first year. She is very engaging, smart, funny, and personable. When I tell her I love her, she’s willing to mutter that she loves me too.

Lydster: Flip Your Wig and other games


You might flip your wig about the activities when our daughter was home on spring break.

Her bedroom had a bunk bed for several years. But the beds had become very uncomfortable to sleep in. When she was home at Christmas, she slept on a futon in her mother’s office, my daughter’s bedroom pre-kindergarten.

However, in my wife’s new job with an afterschool program, she needs her office. This means we had to reclaim the room by removing the bunk bed. Easier said than done. The metal joints were stripped, and no wrench in our collection would take it apart.   Our contractor came to do the job.

One section was huge and heavy. I slid it down the stairs but asked her to help me carry it from the front porch to the street. She did it by herself, proving she has greater upper arm strength than her old dad.

The games people play

One afternoon, she decided she wanted to play some board games. I beat her in a game of Yahtzee. But she utterly defeated me in our second game of Boggle, getting 50 points in one three-minute round versus my 15.  She’s become an outstanding player.

The other thing we played was  The Beatles Flip Your Wig board game. It came out in 1964. My wife and daughter bought it for me a few years back. I must admit that the play is pretty lame, but it was a sweet gesture.

The rules are these. You pick a Beatle and go around the board, trying to pick up four cards, a picture of your Beatle, his autograph, his instrument, and a generic hit record. You want to be the first player to collect all four cards.

While I won two out of three games, the game is so dependent on luck that there was no sense of accomplishment. Still, it was a fun afternoon with my daughter.

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