Category Archives: What’s trending in your life, and in mine

A Pace That Lets You Think

Maybe you’ve seen David Cronenberg’s film Scanners, you know, with the exploding heads? Well, I thought my head would explode as I was trying to juggle four instant messenger conversations at the office on Friday. When did work get so insane?

Naturally, when I spotted this item in the Vermont Country Store catalog, I was nostalgic for simpler times.

typewriter

“A pace that lets you think.” Hmmm, I really need that — no, maybe we all need that. I don’t know about your job, but my days lately are fractured by so many meetings that there’s precious little time to sit at my desk and get work done. Doing things at a pace that lets you think would be luxurious.

I’m sure that many of you remember typing your work and then distributing it to people on paper; for you youngsters, it was once commonplace. It might be fun to buy a typewriter and send some work around that way. We could all benefit from a pace that lets you think.

All Aboard the Albany Gondola

“If there were a museum of stupid ideas, the Albany gondola  would deserve its own wing.”

That’s what a friend of mine had to say about  the proposal to build an aerial tram to carry people from the Rensselaer train station to downtown Albany.

He’s clearly being short-sighted, for who hasn’t craved a better way to get across the river from the train station? Driving is so — old-fashioned, and most people would rather swim across the Hudson than get into one of the filthy cabs that prey on arriving Amtrak passengers.

The gondola would have stations at the new convention center and the Empire State Plaza, but what if that’s not your destination? Well, people going to other places, like the Albany Hilton, could just walk over from the gondola and drag their suitcase behind them — or get a cab when they get off the gondola, of course.

What about some other transportation options?

  • Rickshaws could work. Naturally, you would need all-weather rickshaws for the winter, but rickshaws are inherently fun and eco-friendly.
  • We might bring back the Aqua Duck boats. Imagine how thrilling it would to leave the train station and then plunge into the river — or drive across the river in the winter, if the river ever freezes again.
  • Or perhaps a moving walkway in a climate controlled tube? A tubeway, if you will. This would be like a giant Habitrail that would stretch up from Rensselaer and arc across the river.

At any rate, I would suggest that they add additional downtown stops into the plan to make the gondola more convenient. They might even have a stop at the museum of stupid ideas.

Doomsday Prepper

Look, when you get to be my age, you’re going to be subjected to all sorts of dire things. Like a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy, as you probably know, is when they pass a camera inside you and have a look where the sun don’t shine. The good news is that you’re totally out of it during all of this, in fact, moments after sedation, you don’t care what they do to you.

Many people will tell you that preparing for these tests is an odious ordeal. They’re half right.

My prep required a day of non-solid foods capped off by a giant dose of laxatives. The first half, the liquid diet,  was not so bad, but the second half was no walk in the park. In fact, a walk in the park that’s the last thing you should do after taking a giant dose of laxatives.

Here’s my delicious lunch of mango Jell-O and chicken broth. Good stuff.

lunch

And hey! I have some pictures from inside my colon if you’d like to see them. No?

Some of you are saying, “Whoa, Rob! TMI!” Nonsense. This is a routine medical procedure and you’d be crazy not to do it. Colon cancer doesn’t get the sort of high-profile attention as other health risks, perhaps because it’s not a very glamorous region of your body. This is nothing to be squeamish about — and it could save your life.

By the way, hats off to the doctors and nurses who do this all day long.  You think you deal with a lot of assholes all day long?

Run Yourself to Death

The NY Times recently did a great feature called How to Start Running — but for many people, How to Keep Running might be more useful.

I’ve been at it since the early 1990s, never once on a treadmill and almost always before sunrise. It’s not getting better, unless you consider covering shorter distances at a slower pace as somehow better.

I may be long past my peak, but that’s OK.

These days, my runs are tracked on a GPS watch, but back in the day, I scribbled notes in composition books, noting my route, distance and time. Here’s a page from nearly 20 years ago:

Wow, I was really something. Today? Shorter and slower.

Running as a metaphor for life is a well-worn shoe. It’s usually invoked to speak of endurance and perseverance. The value of hard work in achieving a goal. But the sad truth is that it’s also about decline and decay and giving way to age.

But so what? I hope I run on the day I die, even if it’s just for a short distance. Even the most miserable run makes any day better.

In Your Face, Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg made news last week for his run through Tiananmen Square — both for exercising during a period oppressive pollution and the lousy optics of doing so where protesters were slaughtered in 1989. But something else caught my eye: the Facebook founder noted that he’s hit the 100 mile point for 2016.

This is all part of Zuckerberg’s Year of Running health campaign, which challenges participants to reach 365 miles by the end of 2016.Introducing the program, Zuckerberg said, “This is a lot of running, but it’s not a crazy amount.”

Wow! That’s pretty… underwhelming.

Now wait — my running is nothing to brag about, but if I’ve run more miles this year than a fit young man like 31-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, well, what the hell?

Ten years ago — in my 40s — I ran a marathon. Not a fast marathon, not a great marathon, but listen here Facebook boy, I ran 26 miles in one day. No, I can’t do that anymore, but if a fat old man like me (old enough to be your father, I might add) can go out and run three miles before dawn, you can do better than a mile.

So here’s a challenge: you want to motivate me to exercise, how about buying me fifty pairs of Saucony Triumph ISO 2 running shoes? At two pairs per year, that should pretty much last me until I’m too dead to walk around the block, much less run.

But seriously, just kidding: good job with your mile. Maybe we should get you a participation trophy, or something.

OK, that’s it for me. Gotta go see if my Facebook account has been deleted yet.

Ask a Stupid Question

On our local talk radio station this week, the host said he couldn’t fathom why people don’t join him and the millions of others who support Donald Trump. He asked, “Do they think we’re stupid?”

Yes, actually, you hit the nail on the head: we think you’re stupid. Any other questions?

And not merely stupid, but dangerous.

I’ve made fun of these local radio goofballs before, but it was just harmless fun. They’d rant and say dumb things, but it was just entertainment. That was before they pitched a madman to be our next president.

It’s easy to be dismissive of local talk radio when you hear the numbskulls who call in to agree with the host, but it’s those who don’t call who worry me. In this town, many influential people listen to this garbage and some of them even advertise on the station. Business is business.

If you need proof that ignorance sells, there you have it: talk radio and Donald Trump. In the oft misquoted words of H.L. Mencken:

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

Smile

Nobody’s interested in hearing another opinion about the UAlbany bus donnybrook — especially not from some dopey blogger — but what really caught my attention was learning that there are 12 security cameras on a CDTA bus.

Well, that’s a fun fact!

Think about it for a second. You’ve probably been on a city bus, now imagine 12 cameras keeping an eye on such a small area. One’s probably on the driver and one or two may point outside, but inch-by-inch, is there anywhere with more video surveillance, besides a bank?

The takeaway: CDTA has their eye on you — and that doesn’t make me unhappy. I ride the bus occasionally, and not through Albany’s finest neighborhoods. If cameras make the bus safer, add even more.

Still, it seems interesting. Is there that much trouble on these buses — and are the security cameras a precaution or a reaction?

Times Union: A Place for Racists?

“Let’s hope for some positive discourse on our stories in the days to come.” That’s what Paul Block, the Times Union’s “online executive producer” said when introducing a system for reader comments on news stories.

How’s it going? Well, here’s a comment from Monday 2/1, made on a story about a racially charged dustup on a CDTA bus, so you tell me:

TUCommentSmall

Click to enlarge

Thanks to the intrepid Keyboard Krumbs reader who pointed this out; on Wednesday 2/3 they finally turned off the story’s comment area.

Look, you decide for yourself: do they really take comment moderation seriously? Even for a second?

It’s funny that they’ll call out a blog commenter who dares to refer to himself as “Old Fart”, but allow the worst sort of racism to run rampant in the news section. I thought that was supposed to be the grown up area.

It’s revolting.

Maybe they were too busy helping Kristi relaunch her blog to keep an eye on the comments. One must have one’s priorities.

In a Pickle

There’s magic happening inside two ceramic crocks at my house, where common cukes are turning into delicious garlic dill pickles. Well, it’s actually not magic, but lacto fermentation, the process where microbes turn vegetables into great things like pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Maybe you’ve made pickles before? You’ve never done it this easily, because five minutes and a handful of ingredients is all you need.

Seriously, if you like pickles you have to try this. There are thousands of recipes online, but this one from Alton Brown is a terrific place to start. My Polish fermenting crocks were a Christmas gift, but it’s not about fancy equipment, but a simple and ancient technique.

Electric Pickle

There have been a lot of interesting food exploits in my house in the last year: smoking meats, making bacon, brewing beer, stuffing sausage and now the pickles and kimchi. I need to have a party where all that stuff is served together.

An acquaitance once scoffed at my wife for making her own jam. Why do all that work, she said, when you can buy that stuff at the store. The poor woman. She’ll never understand what it’s like to create something special fro a pile of raw ingredients. You go buy some jam in the store. We’ll feast on our pickles.