Monthly Archives: November 2003

Another reunion survived

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Forgive, not very writey these days. Could be the total physical exhaustion. Could be the constant imbalance of humours, or whatever it is that is causing my stomach to reject pretty much everything I eat. It could also be that three reunions is one too many. After the extreme enjoyability of The Daily Orange reunion, another high school reunion would have an awful lot to live up to. In any event, I was within an inch of bagging this one, but Reynolds was going, and she was the one with the whooping cough, so I got off my ass and went. As is usual with these things, there’s always someone there I’d really like to spend more time talking to, but it doesn’t come together, and I promise to get together sometime — that could even happen; I’ve been getting better about follow-through. But there was a good crowd, about a third of the class, and a bunch of people I always like to see and talk to, a few people I haven’t seen since high school that I was delighted to see again, and plenty of new gossip (well, new to me) since a good chunk of the class is still around town and everybody back home knows everybody else’s business. (It’s odd, it’s only about 25 miles away, but I’ve run across very few people from Scotia during my career in Albany — everybody’s from right around Albany or someplace completely far away, but very few people are from Scotia.) It was a good time, and the food didn’t even kill me.

As noted this summer, this was the 25th year reunion. Sometimes it’s hard to believe. What the hell have I been doing for 25 years?

Note to social function DJs: if everyone has retreated to the corners of the room so that they can try to talk (which is the real point of a reunion), you may want to turn it the f down. I’m just saying . . .

This weekend? Restful and uneventful. I was terribly lazy yesterday, and I don’t see a shirt getting ironed tonight. Borrowed a bunch of movies from the library, with the best of intentions (just like that French homework I’m supposed to have done last week), but the only one we got to was a very worn VHS tape of “Ghostbusters,” which struck me as just as funny as ever. The others, I am sure, will go back unwatched.

HEY!! I got the buzz out of my stereo! (I feel like a Waitresses song.) I’d had to abandon the grand project of putting my vinyl on CD because there was a huge, enormous, high-volume buzz sitting underneath everything I recorded, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. I had added a multi-component switch to the AUX channel, so that the iPod and the MiniDisc and the DVD player, etc., could all be plugged in and I wouldn’t have to keep pulling all the wires everytime I wanted to change a component. Very clever, right? Well, the switch was the culprit, so now I leave it unplugged with I’m playing vinyl and have to plug it in when I want to hear anything else. But it’s a solution!

Thankful for . . .

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  • Little girls who dress up like pilgrims and Indians for Thanksgiving.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I love even more now that I’ve seen it live (somebody needs to produce a webcam feed so you can just watch the parade as it passes, and not keep cutting to celebrity interviews and listening to Katie Couric deliver lame jokes from the teleprompter.)
  • Bright sunny T-giving morning, warm and in the ’50s.
  • A nice little 20-mile bike ride to Mom’s for Thanksgiving. My sag wagon brought me a change of clothes. Just as I was leaving, the sky clouded up considerably, but the ride was still nice. Went out some roads that I would ONLY ever try on Thanksgiving, when there is no traffic whatsoever. Any other day, I’d be taking my life in my hands. One just doesn’t bike anywhere near Crossgates Mall. Just 20 miles, and very flat miles at that, over to Rotterdam.

Other than the bike ride, yesterday was, appropriately, a day of sloth. Today there’s some cleaning to be done, and tonight I have a high school reunion. 25 years. This will cap the Year of Reunions — we had an informal reunion gathering in the summer, followed by the Daily Orange Reunion (100th anniversary celebration). Three in a year is enough. This should be fun, but I’ve been so drained by work that I really didn’t have any desire to do this; if Reynolds weren’t going, I wouldn’t have bothered, but I haven’t seen her in ages, and I simply must.


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In my house this weekend, you would not have been out of place had you been walking around singing:

Comment allez-vous çe soir? Je suis comme-çi, comme-ça
Yes, a penguin taught me French back in Antarctica


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Don’t know what’s up with my dreams lately. Just dreamed that I got DQ’d from the local Race for the Cure 5K (which I didn’t even run this year) because my chip showed that I had crossed the line at the 5 minute mark, and I had gotten a little lost at the end of the race and took a wrong turn (so it looked like I had just hung around the finish line for the whole race and crossed when I felt like it). I got into a big argument with one of the organizers and pointed out that I raised a whole mess of money for a different race I do, which really didn’t help to prove my point or endear me to anybody, although he was willing to listen if I promised to pull in as much for his race as I did for the other. Then I got mad and stalked off, and woke up with a little twinge in my foot going off like an alarm.

Yesterday was one of those glorious days when life is really worth getting up for. It was sunny and got warmish (51 degrees), and I was able to get in a morning bike ride. I opted for the bike path in Niskayuna because I had to be over in that part of the world for a little Christmas shopping anyway, and I didn’t feel like dealing with Saturday traffic on the roads of Guilderland. So the bike path it was. Brand new parking lot at the Nisky train station, and permanent toilets are under construction, which is huge news — no more port-o-lets! Rode at a decent pace to Aqueduct, jumped off the path and crossed the river and rode up into Alplaus for old times’ sake. When we were teens, Alplaus was one of our destination rides, probably about 7 or 8 miles from home, a good ride along quiet roads (then – not now), and there was a general store to buy drinks, and a very good little bike shop combined with the local post office. The bike shop is gone, but the post office is still there. Pretty little town, one we looked at seriously when we were looking for a house, but just too damned far from downtown Albany and no quick way to get to anywhere. (I am compelled, against a demonstrated lack of interest on anyone’s part, to mention that Alplaus means “place of the eels” in Dutch. I could tell you why . . . ) Spun around, trudged back up the leafy hill and on back to Nisky. Remembered why I almost never seriously ride the bike path anymore: dogs, leashed or not, and the clueless people walking them. I make better speed on the open road, stop signs and all, than I do on the bike path where I have to keep slowing down to negotiate an opening among the confused who can’t seem to figure out to let me pass on their left, and their dogs, who are usually straining a leash, like a garotte for unwary cyclists, across the path.

Today? Perhaps just as beautiful!

Had I mentioned The Weakerthans?

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I mean, I don’t think I’ve been this taken with a band since I fell into Elvis Costello. (Okay, maybe Dar Williams, maybe Aimee Mann.) But look at this — haven’t you lived this? It’s from “Reconstruction Site”:

And I’m broke, like a bad joke
Somebody’s uncle told at a wedding reception in 1972
Where a little boy under a table with cake in his hair
Stared at the grown-up feet as they danced and swayed
And his father laughed and talked on the long ride home
And his mother laughed and talked on the long ride home
And he thought about how everyone dies someday
And when tomorrow gets here, where will yesterday be
And fell asleep in his brand new winter coat

Remember sleeping in your winter coat? How deliciously over-hot it was? Waking up dehydrated and dying for a Coke? Remember pretending to be asleep in the backseat, or maybe really being asleep but just awake enough to listen to what your parents were saying, awake enough to peer at the dashboard lights from time to time, to look out the window and squint at the streetlamps, squeezing your eyes to make the rays spread farther from the lamps?


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I just dreamed that Hugh Hefner had opened up a bike path locally. It was a nice path through rolling hills along a river. He charged by weight, and I got into an argument with him because he wanted to charge me for the weight of a backpack I hadn’t taken with me on the ride. He was using an ancient truck scale that had been left behind on the property, something of overkill for weighing people and bikes, and the whole thing was a little pricey.

That is all.

Commuting by Amtrak

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Off to NYC. So much city, I have to go there every week, apparently. You would think that would be fun, but the way the day works, by the time I get there and get done what I have to get done, all I feel is the pressure to be back home. A month or so ago I made an effort to see an old friend and had a great time, but since then I’ve reverted to the old “down and back” mentality. Of course part of that is that it’s no longer warm and pleasant to wander through Gotham, which makes all the difference.

Realized the last time I was down that the renovations at 270 Broadway, a once-nasty state office tower, were complete and that, to my dismay but not surprise, Ellen’s Stardust Café had not returned to its former space. The City Hall area isn’t exactly overloaded with restaurants, and Ellen’s was open from very early till fairly late. It was always a good place to meet up with other people before a meeting, and it was a big place that didn’t much care if you lingered over your coffee and toasted bagel. Breakfast came quick, but supper was slow because it was mostly for people who had nowhere else to be (other than us public servants grabbing a bite before an evening meeting). The bathrooms required a journey out into the main building and down several long, desolate hallways. Best of all, because Ellen herself had been a Miss Subway back in the ’40s or ’50s, the walls were lined with old Miss Subway placards from an old MTA campaign promoting the subway system (guess I’ll need to go deeper into Google to find something on this campaign . . . all I come up with right now are an interview with Marv Albert’s attorney, a song that may have been sung by Cher, and some blogger who misses working at a Subway sandwich shop. Draw your own conclusions). There’s another Ellen’s somewhere up in midtown, but it’s a flashy, touristy place. This was tired old New York, and while I didn’t love it, I do miss it.

Damn the man!

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Congress robbed me of my weekend, or at least the House-Senate conference that released the Energy Bill over the weekend did, because I had to read it. Plus negotiating another piece of nonsense (unsuccessfully, as has been the case lately) took a chunk out of the weekend. But we managed to get in two movie events. We let the girls watch “Spiderman” with us on Friday night. I had feared the whole thing would just be too violent for Bekah, but that wasn’t a problem. We were all bawling on the couch when Uncle Ben died, however (and since the movie came out until forever, every time I stand in front of the New York Public Library on the Fifth Avenue side, I think, “This is where Uncle Ben died”). Next morning the girls were up bright and early, inventing their own superheroes. Then on Saturday night, we went to this year’s Warren Miller movie, which is a huge event that psyches us up for skiing. Incredibly, it’s his 54th annual ski movie. It was great, as always, and hardly marred at all by the persistent swooping of at least two bats in the grand old Palace Theatre. Most people convinced themselves they were birds. I can delude myself, too, but only up to a point. Now I’m dying to hit the slopes. Or bike. Or do anything but lie around like the schlub I’ve been. Got in a run on Saturday, it was too cold and windy to bike. I was going to run this morning, but I woke up about two hours ago, overheated and fairly dehydrated, and never got back to sleep, and my body isn’t saying “run” right this minute. Excuses….

Il fait du vent

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Is the French thing annoying yet?

Wind? No, thanks. Got some.

Seriously, it’s a good thing the leaves are nearly all off (a condition called “leaf off,” something that makes those of us who sometimes order aerial photography very excited. Around these parts, you gotta hit the window between “leaf on” and “snow cover” in order to get any useful images.)

I got so far from my point there was no getting back. But if it’s so windy that both Jon Stewart and Colin Quinn felt it worth mentioning on their shows, then you’ve got such wind that has caught the attention of Comedy Central, and that’s something.

I’m just going to stop now.