Lost Boys

The lives of boys are fragile.

Maybe you saw this story of the two 12-year-olds accidentally buried in snow while playing outside after a storm. One of them died and the other was rescued just in time. It filled me with such sadness, imagining this child and his family, just weeks before Christmas.

They were just doing what boys do, and it got me thinking of the dangerous world they inhabit.

For boys, even innocent fun can take a quick, dark turn toward tragedy — and as the testosterone takes hold, they grow bolder. The railroad tracks and tunnels and forbidden places. Mischief and trouble gone bad. The cars and other motorized things. The lure of all that burn or goes bang. Alcohol, drugs, great heights, small confined spaces. Then they go off to war at an ungodly young age, because to an 18-year-old risk is an abstraction.

That’s the world of boys. Join me in praying for them this Christmas.

Whistle While You Work

In Voorheesville, it’s hard to miss the sound of the trains. Even
where I live, a mile away from the grade crossings where the trains are required to blast their horns, it’s noticeable. And I like it. Hearing the whistle and rumble of a train as you nod off at night is very pleasant.

Downtown Voorheesville

But to folks who live just a few hundred feet from the tracks, the romance of the train whistles must wear thin — so much so that a group in Voorheesville has been lobbying to silence the railroad.

Their goal is to establish a quiet zone through Voorheesville, which is not as simple as it sounds. For the trains to be exempt from sounding a warning, the two crossings in the village need more gates or traffic control measures that would make it hard for cars to skirt around the barriers. This would cost about $400,000, money that might come from a federal grant.

Rob, you may be asking, who buys a house near the area’s busiest rail line and then start complaining about the noise? That’s a question I can’t answer, but I will say this: during our house hunt, we ruled out more than one property that was too close to the same rail line.

So, who knows? Personally, I would miss hearing the train whistles. If they were right in my backyard? Probably not so much.

When Black Friday Comes

I’m not a shopper, so the whole Black Friday thing makes me want to puke. But for deal hunters, Friday is the Super Bowl of buying and many wild-eyed shoppers will be clutching the gigantic Thursday Times Union.

Newspaper circulars remain an effective way to advertise, so Thursday’s five-pound edition must be a real money maker. The paper has taken to flogging the hell out of the Black Friday special edition, even heavily promoting its release as an “event.”

Marketing newspapers has never been harder, but I must say, five pounds of newspaper does sound attractive. That would get me through a lot of litter box changes.

By the way, if it’s Thanksgiving, that means it’s time for the best side dish ever invented, Albany Eye Sweet Potato Crunch. I first shared the recipe in 2006, so this is an anniversary of sorts. And for those interested in history, it was posted just weeks before Albany Eye would crash and burn in a most spectacular manner. Good times!

The Voorheesvillager

Glenmont was right for us when we moved there, but over the years it changed. If only one of us had changed, I may have stayed – but I changed too, and that meant we could no longer live together.

Thankful

We’re moving very soon, so packing and de-cluttering have been a daily chore.

I take great pleasure in getting rid of things. There was the ornate couch in the cellar that we planned to reupholster  some day. The day never came, and in the words of Oscar Madison, “Now it’s garbage.” I pulled a box of baby toys from the attic, where they’d sat since the day we moved in more than 20 years ago. Bags of old clothes, musty books and a vast assortment things that once seemed like a good idea. The guy at the dump? We’re on a first name basis.

But amid all the stuff, are some things that move you, like my son’s journal from when he was seven.

journal 1

Some things you must let go, and some things you must keep. Choose carefully.

Exercise in Futility

It’s easier to get things than get rid of things. Case in point, the weight machine in the basement.

I’m moving soon, so it had to go. Fortunately, someone bought the thing off Craigslist for $50 — but now to move it out of the fu*king cellar.

It was instantly obvious that there was no way it originally arrived downstairs in one piece, and we had to tip it sideways to avoid low hanging duct work and pipes. But the highlight of this endeavor? That was when we got stuck on the stairs. Should we go back down? No, hand me the ratchet set so I can remove this part. And that one — all while  balancing it on the steps. Did I mention I was on the bottom? Good times.

Maybe I should have offered it to the people buying our house; indeed, I think I might have paid them to keep it.

Once it was in the garage, it hit me. “That’s the best workout I’ve had with this thing in years.”

Foto Friday

Sheep, Granville NY

Panic, Worry and Chaos

I do enjoy that Times Union newspaper.

One day it’s the overwrought prose of this week’s Joe Bruno profile, and the next, a story so bad it looks like it was written by a fifth grader.

Case in point, a hilarious story I read this morning titled Vehicle strikes Colonie tavern; apparent burn victim. Who could resist a story with such a puzzling headline?  Readers were rewarded with passages like this:

Steve Cheslow, a Times Union employee who was at the tavern, said he heard “a big boom.” One man was rolling on the ground. Everyone was concerned about the cook in the kitchen. There was panic, worry and chaos, and everyone was told to get out, he said.

You can read the whole thing here; I saved a PDF because this story won’t last long on the website before being cleaned up or deleted. On the up side, we are offered some interesting details:

“It just went ‘poof!'” said patron John Ashley, who was with his wife. He said he tried to get the man to safety. The fire happened during the popular karaoke night.

Well, no need to worry about the radio stations swiping this story and reading it on the air. For them it would need too much re-writing.

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.