How things work, or don’t


I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how things work or don’t, whether it be machinery or systems.

At a complicated, five-way intersection nearby, I know that at one crossing, the Walk sign won’t light up unless one presses the Walk button. But the subsequent crossing changes automatically at the appropriate time.

ITEM: Sometime in November, there was a package on our porch. I picked it up and noticed it wasn’t for us but for a neighbor across the street and down a couple of houses. I carried it over there and discovered in that entryway a package for my wife.

About two weeks later, I received an email notification of delivery. I went downstairs, snapped up the envelope, cut the package opened and discovered content that wasn’t anything I ordered. Then I looked at the package; it wasn’t for me but for another neighbor. Yep, my package was on that other porch. I slipped the neighbor’s package behind the screen door.

Now if I had bothered to LOOK at the photo that came with the email, I would have noticed, “That’s not my porch!” The two packages, in this case, were the same size, unlike my wife’s actual product from earlier, which was much larger than the one we exchanged.

The boom boxes

ITEM: I still play compact discs. One boom box that I had purchased in June 2020 started skipping; I knew it wasn’t the CDs. So I got a different player in December 2020. Nine months later, it too began to skip. I bought the exact same machine, which started skipping only two months later. So I switched back to machine #2, and it plays fine. Maybe it just needed a rest?

ITEM: Some folks complained about one of our local absentee landlord’s hedges, clearly a hazard. A few of them contacted the city’s SeeClickFix site. Now the hedges are severely cut back; they’re hideous, so they were probably cut by the landlord. But at least they are not an obstruction.

Oddly, I noticed the change well before my wife and daughter, both of whom are more visually focused than I. Maybe it was that I was looking through the prism of the glass door we have and saw light through the bushes where none had existed before.

ITEM: I won’t even get into the blow-by-blow of hooking up my new printer. Back in the old days, I ould just plug it in and it took 10 minutes, including taking it out of the box. This one, which operates on WiFi, and ended up requiring software to be loaded both on my phone and my laptop, took an hour and a half.

SeeClickFix the neighborhood

Sidewalk obstruction

worst neighborsI haven’t complained about some of my neighbors lately. So I was actually thrilled that someone else took on the challenge.

Like many other locales, the city of Albany uses the SeeClickFix system. The site claims it “is the best 311 request service for increasing citizen engagement, ensuring that every voice is heard and nothing gets lost or overlooked.”

It takes complaints about sidewalk repairs, signs missing, overgrown trees, noise complaints, and the like, and they get reported in Albany to the Office of General Services. I reported a WALK sign that somehow was skewed 90 degrees from the way it should have been, and it was eventually fixed.

Someone, not me, reported one of my immediate neighbors –  this one. Under the category Property Maintenance (Overgrowth/Grass and Weed Mowing), the notice: “Hedges consuming half the sidewalk forcing Parents/Elementary students onto the grass.” Very true. I’ll note that this has been a problem for most of the past decade. I’ve been tempted to take my clippers and cut them myself.

A few days, ANOTHER complaint of that same neighbor; Illegal Trash, specifically “Broken glass piles on sidewalk and grass.” Yup.

Incidentally, the residents had a party there recently, which was fine. But then they threw a bunch of trash, but also tree branches, and returnable soda cans into OUR garbage can. I had to sort through the rubbish.


Then there’s the across-the-street neighbor – this one. She was screaming at a man of her acquaintance. She said she wasn’t mad at him for making another woman pregnant, because she blamed the other woman. But she was so loud that two of our neighbors, from their respective houses on both sides of the street, told her to shut up. Her response in each case was obscenity.

The man goes into the house, then gets into a car and leaves. Shortly thereafter, the police show up. She talks with them, very calmly for her. And she files a report that the man has stolen her car.

Understand that I can hear and observe this across the street and two houses down, sitting on my front porch. It’s almost like watching theater, but the script really needs work.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial