I remember what I owe

Albany Savings Bank

Best f TrafficWhen Albany Savings Bank became a public company named Albank in the early 1990s, I was working in a temp job processing these huge checks of companies wanting to buy the stock.

Separately, as a customer of ASB since 1978, I was allowed to purchase said stock, actually in a favored position versus the raw investor. They couldn’t necessarily buy all of the $1.3 million – the ceiling – they wanted.

(If I were totally unethical, I would have reached out to some of those companies with the large wallets and say, “Hey, I have a better status as an existing ASB customer…” I’m sure the Securities and Exchange Commission would want to know how a temp worker could come up with that kind of money.)

As it was, my then-wife and I didn’t even have the $250 minimum purchase price. So I went in with two of my co-workers and bought the stock. And I would get periodic dividends until Albank got bought by Charter One, which then got purchased by Citizens Bank.

One of my fellow investors was named Mona, and I even had her address for a time. But my attempts to reach her failed. And now I don’t even remember her last name except it began with a U. I figure I must owe her, and the other person, whose name I don’t remember at all, a few hundred dollars each.

Books and music

Many years ago, obviously, I borrowed an LP called Best of Traffic from someone at a party on Washington Avenue in Albany. You know the band with Steve Winwood and Dave Mason. I’ve lost track of who I borrowed it from, although I’m pretty sure it was a female. But I still have the album, and I’d give it back if I could remember and find the person.

There are a couple of books on my shelves I borrowed. One must have been at least seven years ago. The other was from 2018 or so. I have started both but have finished neither. One is comics-related and the other one concerns the law. I will get them back to you folks next time I see you, which, given the pandemic, won’t likely be until NEXT year.

These are the things I remember at 2 a.m.

Don’t pass a car that’s waiting to turn left

I had some choice words for that driver.

At a level FAR greater than in previous years, my family has been involved in several near-collisions in 2017, specifically in March and April. None of them involved the weather, and most of them took place in the daytime.

A majority fit into the category of the title, which I stole from the Monday traffic column in our local daily, compiled by Tim O’Brien. He, like several folks with the Times Union, is leaving for greener pastures after dealing with the parsimonious Hearst Corporation daily rag for years.

ITEM: The Wife is turning left; we’ll call her car A. The car facing her is also turning left, car 1. A vehicle behind her, NOT the car immediately back, but the car behind THAT, car 3, gets impatient with the wait, passes car 2 and 1 on the right. Car A sees car 2, but barely breaks in time in the turn to avoid getting hit by car 3.

ITEM: The Wife is turning left. The car facing her is also turning left, car 1. She doesn’t see, but I do, the bicycle passing car 1 on the right. If I hadn’t called it to her attention, it was likely that she would have T-boned bike 2, the rider of which, BTW, was not wearing a helmet.

ITEM: I’m riding my bike, going straight ahead; I’m vehicle A. Car 1, signaling left, is patiently yielding the right of way to vehicle A. Car 2, however, is having nothing to do with THAT, and passes car 1 on the LEFT, across the crosswalk and practically into my path before slamming on its brakes. As it tuns out, it was a nice day, and car 2 had its windows down. I had some choice, albeit repeatable, words for that driver.

Not all the near-collisions involved left turns. The Wife was turning right from a one-way street onto a two-way. But the driver coming from our right apparently thought he too was on a one-way, because he wasn’t staying right. IF she hadn’t aborted the turn at the last moment, we would have hit him for sure. The Daughter, in the back seat, got pretty shook up about this, and understandably so.

There are a couple other traffic examples in recent months, but you get the gist. As Phil Esterhaus used to say, “Be careful out there!”

Always look on the bright side of life

always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-lifeHey, I’m working on it, looking for the moments with a positive outcome. I got the idea from Ken Levine’s post, Those little pleasures, about which he notes: “Especially now, I’ll take all the pleasures – little or otherwise – that I can get.” Especially since Post-election stress is a big problem (and not just for liberals).

ITEM: My friends Broome and Penny became grandparents last month. Anna, who is partially named after me, and Will , are proud parents of Connor, born November 18.

ITEM: I’ve mentioned my late friend Vito Mastrogiovanni, who died from AIDS back in 1991. His sister Lisa befriended me on Facebook. We started reminiscing about her brother, and Vito’s friends Jane, Harry, and Donna all chimed in with Vito stories.

She mentioned that she and Vito had seen me in Boys in the Band back in 1975 in Binghamton. The director was named Charlie, but none of us could remember his last name. I posted the question to a Binghamton FB site and a guy came up with Charles Dietrich, who is now a professor of theater at Baruch College in New York City. I befriended Charles on FB and sent him my recollection of being in the play.

ITEM: Melanie is a blogger I’ve been following for a time. In mid-October, she wrote to me privately that, to her surprise, she has found somebody who wants to share his life with her. I wrote back and noted how wise and honest her blog is.

Then, about a month later, she wrote Because.

ITEM: I was crossing Madison Avenue in Albany, heading for the CVS drug store. This car was trying to make a right-on-red turn onto Main, but once he saw me in the crosswalk, he apologized profusely. I said it was cool, but he insisted that blocking pedestrian access in the crosswalk was unacceptable.

After he parked, he saw me IN the CVS and apologized one more time. Totally, unnecessary, and it made me laugh.

ITEM: SiriusXM Agrees to Pay Up to $99 Million to Settle Turtles-Backed Copyright Suit. I know it’s a complicated issue, involving differing state and federal copyright laws prior to 1972, but I don’t care. It made me happy. (Obligatory Happy Together link.)

ITEM: Arthur@AmeriNZ is posting a lot of holiday ads from around the world. I particularly enjoyed a Coke ad for three different countries, similar in format.

ITEM: This is sad, actually, but I’m glad she got her shot. ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant dies before show airs. Show scheduled to air Tuesday, December 13

As noted: Always look on the bright side of life, from my favorite Monty Python movie, Life of Brian.

OH, here are 7 breathing GIFs to help you calm down and take a moment.

L is for Lanes of Traffic

“When there’s no bike lane, you’re supposed to ride on the sidewalk.”

turn signal
1. In July, traveling north on that stretch of Interstate 90 in New York between the Pennsylvania border and Buffalo, closer to the former, there are four lanes of traffic, two in each direction.

The Wife is driving and is in the right lane. Another car is in the left lane, slowly passing us. Suddenly, a motorcycle darts between us! Another motorcycle is already ahead of the other car.

Then the motorcycles, in turn, proceed to drive between not one, not two, but FOUR pairs of cars, in about three minutes. I was happy no one got hurt.

2. I am riding my bicycle down my street. I am as far right as I can be, given the fact there is a string of parked cars. I can sense that there’s a car that wants to pass me, but there’s oncoming traffic, and this is not an option.

We catch a red light, and we both stop. I can pull to the right because there’s no car that close to the intersection.

The driver says, “There’s no bike lane.”

“OK”

“When there’s no bike lane, you’re supposed to ride on the sidewalk.”

“NO, sir!”

“That’s the law.”

“You are INCORRECT, sir. Check your drivers’ manual. There’s a section on bicycles in there.”

Seriously, I used to carry around the booklet from DMV for such interactions. In my state, it is ILLEGAL for me to ride on the sidewalk, unless I’m under 14. (Note: I’m not.)

Apparently, this is a problem elsewhere.

3. Still, I LOVE riding my bicycle in the city, because I often find change on the ground, where the driver’s side door might be. I’ll stop for even a nickel, but not for a penny. Though if I stop for a mixture of coins – it has happened – I’ll get the pennies as well.

4. August: I was waiting for a bus, when a young man, probably in his twenties, asked me if I could “spare some change” so he could ride the bus. I told him that I could “spare a 50-cent change card” that I happen to have. (The fare is $1.50, and if I put in two $1 bills, I get the change card.)

His eyes narrowed as he said, teeth clenched, “Have a nice day.” I don’t think he was being sincere.
***
Now I Know: Slow and Steady Wins the Lottery

The Calculus of Bad Driving

ABC Wednesday – Round 19

Y is for yield

“NOW he stops,” I thought.

yield to pedestrianBack in February, I had arranged for a certain speaker to give a talk at one of the Black History Month sessions in adult education at my church.

Unfortunately, about a week and a half before she was scheduled to visit, she was hit by a car at the corner of Central Avenue and Henry Johnson Boulevard, a major intersection in Albany. She survived with some broken bones and bruises, but she was in no shape to give her talk.

Now, I wasn’t there. But I would not be surprised if she were hit because some car failed to yield the right of way to her as a pedestrian. I believe this because I have seen three accidents at that very corner, and two of them happened that same way. The third was a car that failed to yield to an ambulance that had its siren and flashers.

Since that recent accident, I’ve seen more signs like this one. But in my limited experience, it has not made an appreciable difference in (bad) driver behavior.

Cars yielding to the pedestrian at intersections is a fundamental rule of traffic law in most places. I remember being at an intersection in San Diego when I waited for the car to inevitably rush through the corner. Instead, the driver stopped and looked at me with a look that said, “Hey, dummy, what are you waiting for? Cross the street!”

I’m more used to this: one winter’s day, crossing the street with the light, I was nearly being hit by some car coming from my right, who, under his incorrect reading of the Right on Red law – and illegally on his cellphone – failed to STOP and yield to the pedestrian traffic (me). I was so angry, I picked up a snowball and hit his back windshield as he was pulling away. The driver stopped, got out of his car, and yelled something. “YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!” I growled as I walked away from him. “NOW he stops,” I thought. (I was REALLY impressed with my snowball prowess that day.)

One of the trickier pieces of recent traffic law in New York State is the notion that, at an unmarked intersection, drivers should yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. This works well at intersections that are specially marked with signs, not so much at others.

abc18
ABC Wednesday – Round 18