Monthly Archives: October 2010

Livingston Avenue Bridge

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I have never photographed anything as much as I have photographed the Livingston Avenue Bridge. It may be its proximity — I’m parked near it all the time, either waiting by the river or getting ready for a bike ride or a paddle. It may be its elegance and age — the piers are believed to go back to the Civil War, and the graceful superstructure, which swings open on a gigantic gear to allow tall ships up the Hudson River, dates back to 1901. Or it may be that it is the last structure along the river that goes back to the canal era — other than some crumbling bulkheads and rotting piers that emerge at low tide, there is little to connect us to the time when the river was a vital part of Albany life. Far from being a relic, the Livingston Avenue Bridge is still a vital link, carrying freight and passenger rail across the Hudson, and it still swings open several times a day in the season when big vessels such as the Troy-based cruise boat Captain JP pass through.

For a few years there have been rumors of a replacement, which strikes me right in the heart, thinking we could lose this landmark that has been part of the local waterfront for more than a century. And now it appears that that process is picking up a little steam, with an announcement today that the federal government has set aside $2 million for a preliminary study of a replacement. It will probably be 10 years or more before anything is done, knowing how these things go, but someday this ancient steel workhorse will be gone, and with it a major piece of Albany history.

That being said, I’m not opposed to progress, and I’ll admit that whispers that a pedestrian crossing might be included are enough to make me wish the replacement would come even sooner. Currently the only way to cross the river at Albany is the Dunn Memorial Bridge, which is an unlovely, long hike with a steep climb on either end. It starts from a park in Rensselaer but dumps you ignobly onto an ugly stretch of access road on the Albany side, blocks from the Corning Preserve. It doesn’t attract a lot of casual walkers or cyclists, and it is perpetually covered with broken glass, presumably thrown from cars going by on the bridge. So for a lovely walkway, much closer to the river, connecting the Corning Preserve to Rensselaer, yes, I’m afraid I’d sell out my beloved bridge in a minute. But I’d still miss it.

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Egyptology

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Things I learned about Egyptian culture while watching several hours of informative movies on Turner Classic Movies the other night:

  • Contrary to the descriptions of Egyptologists, tombs of the pharaohs were a cluttered feng shui disaster, not a well-prepared setting for the afterlife. And there were LOTS of cobwebs.
  • We are frequently told that Egyptians were much smaller than modern people. However, a quick review of mummy movies shows that most Egyptians were at least 7 feet tall.
  • Despite the fact that a tomb has been unopened for centuries, there will always be a tarantula crawling around somewhere.
  • Mummies want to be left alone.
  • Bullets will not stop a mummy. Duh.
  • Hieroglyphs etched on the floor are technically known as loweroglyphs.

Jarheads throwing bottles again

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Luckily, I lost my faith in humanity long ago, or this constant rash of barely evolved creatures throwing things at me from cars would be putting a serious dent in it. I don’t know if it’s their fear of fitness that causes it, personal shame, or having been raised by wolves, but for some reason a ridiculous number of miscreants with driver’s licenses (presumably) believe that it’s okay to throw things from moving cars at bicyclists, just because they can. I don’t see them do this to pedestrians, skateboarders, or other vehicles — just bicycles. This week’s pillars of society were a pair of young men and a young lady in a shitty little sedan on Old Niskayuna Road, New York license plate ESG4524, who thought it the height of hilarity to slow down alongside me and threaten to throw a bottle of water at me. They did back off, so I didn’t call them in. But seriously — you will hurt someone, and when you do I hope you get what’s coming to you.

Things that take up my time

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  • Figuring out Noah Webster’s tenuous connection to Albany. (He actually spent more time in Lansingburgh, by all accounts.)
  • Filling out proposals.
  • Feeling like a traitor to quality publishing because I’m scanning xerox copies of halftones for an author who doesn’t understand that the images will suck, and wouldn’t care if he did.
  • Figuring out how to make carrot casserole and butternut squash casserole from the same recipe, on the same day.
  • Transporting people everywhere in the Capital District.
  • Eating too many Newman’s Own ginger mints.
  • Finally digitizing a backlog of old LPs, and then finally updating my iTunes list.

Mad Alchemy

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Ghost sign to be

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

It’s so cool when you try something and it’s just as good as you had hoped it would be. Especially in this case, because I’ve been wanting to try it for a couple of years but just hadn’t ponied up the money. Along comes a birthday, hints are broadcast (over the interwebs), received and acted on, and finally I get to try it. Omigod, so good.

Talking about Mad Alchemy warming embrocation. See, there are times when you’re cycling and would like your legs to be warm. Especially in the shoulder months, this can be a challenge. You start off with cold leg muscles and when it’s below 55, the wind keeps them cold. The traditional, cheap cure for this is Icy Hot or WarmFX (same thing, really), but these have downsides — they start out too hot, they dry out your skin, and the methyl salicylate worries me a bit. (It’s unlikely to cause a problem, but there is that one pesky fatality.)

So today, 55 degrees, sunny, windy, perfect conditions for bare legs with a little something extra (too much colder and I’ll be pulling on the leg warmers). Put on the medium strength Mad Alchemy embrocation just before my ride. It was wonderful to the touch, went on very smoothly and created a nice barrier against the wind, in addition to providing a gentle warming. For today’s conditions, it was utterly perfect — my legs were never hot, my legs are never cold. My legs never felt the wind. Felt so good. And the scent is pleasant and never overpowering, unlike that “omigod enough with the mint already” smell of Icy Hot.

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