Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ghost sign to be

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Ghost sign to be, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

This not-very-faded but definitely peeling image of a cyclist has been around at least since the 1980s; I’m pretty sure it was there when I moved to Albany at the end of the decade. I always thought it was a cool mural, even before my revived interest (read: absolute addiction) to cycling. it’s on the wall of a building at Henry Johnson Boulevard and Washington Avenue that currently houses the Tru Images barber shop; perhaps there was a bike shop there once before, but memory fails me. I was pleased and surprised to happen across the mural recently and find that it was still there. The style actually suggests the ’70s to me, and I’d love to know if anyone remembers when or why it was painted. The bike is oddly specific — it’s a Colnago, easily identifiable by the cloverleaf logo.

Hudson River Ice, February 2010

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Hudson River Ice Jan 2010, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

This is less about this fairly pedestrian picture than it is about my finally being able to blog my photos fairly easily from Flickr. Blogger didn’t like to do it because I was using a custom template, and the code that was generated made a mess. Movable Type, not so picky. And man does it republish quickly. Kicking myself for not having done this before.

Fire in the engine room!

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Or its electronic equivalent. Blogger, which is the system I use to publish this blog, is making some changes that they say affect 0.5% of all the blogs they support. As a proud Half-Percenter (I just found out! So thrilled!), I’m trying to figure out what it means that they will no longer support FTP publishing (if you could say they supported it before, because it’s been pretty iffy for a while). They pointed in this direction some time back, and I took a hard look at changing everything I do here, finally figuring out Movable Type or WordPress, etc. etc. etc., and in the end I threw up my hands and just made it look prettier. Now it looks like their new change is going to leave me high and dry (since the blog isn’t the only thing, or even the main thing, on this site — I mean, there’s Torn From Yesterday’s Headlines, fer pete’s sake). So either I’m going to have to get real smart about a new publishing platform real fast (I’ve been on this one since 2002), or you may see dead air for a little while. You may see this as a win.


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It’s links week here on Mel’s Rockpile! I’ve gotten a batch of fresh attention (and let’s face it, stale attention is not the kind we want) for this rambling mess of a blog and website, so it’s time to show the love with shout outs and linkbacks (so 2005 and 2002, in that order).

First, big thanks to one of my few real local internet addictions, All Over Albany. Varied, funny, and perfectly willing to point people to my half-edited tale of Kay Sage, the Albany girl who wed a prince of Spain. Oh yeah, and became an excellent surrealist painter. And married Yves Tanguy. And barely looked back after leaving the family manse in Menands.

Thanks also to Nichelle at DanceAdvantage, who from time to time has featured my ballet photographs on her website, which is a wonderful resource for dancers, dance parents and dance schools – something we’re involved in on all three levels. This week she featured one of my artsier efforts as her Sunday Snapshot, which brought a flurry of attention.

In the cycling world, Belgium Knee Warmers is back, and I’m also enjoying the back and forth at Red Kite Prayer, whose forum members sure do click through to sites! I promise more bike geekery for you folks. And as a result of one of my rants there, I got a note from Share The Damn Road, which makes, among other things, jerseys that say “Share The Damn Road”. Since my only-thinking-of-my-safety spouse won’t allow me a South Park jersey that says “You Guys Suck,” and since I haven’t yet found my dream jersey that says “Hang Up And Drive!”, these offerings go to the top of the wish list. (But guys, seriously: “Hang Up and Drive!”)

And locally, I’ve run across a couple of sites that are as interested in local history as I am: Paula’s Albany Daily Photo and her Albany History blog. If you’re the kind of person who sees what used to be there instead of what’s there now, give them a look. And keep coming back here, there will be more local history in the near future.

And for your current amusement, don’t miss my new feature, Torn From Yesterday’s Headlines!

Down the Hudson

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I was treated to the pleasure of a train ride down the Hudson this week. They used to be a deadly part of my routine – grab the 7:05 to NYC, race through the subways to catch some more-or-less meaningless meeting way downtown, maybe get a nice lunch somewhere but often enough not, and try to catch a train that got me back home not too late for supper. That’s all the hassle part, but the ride itself is wonderful, a journey down the scenic Hudson River, with many views seemingly unchanged since Hudson and his crew sailed up the river 400 years ago. This time it was a stunning arctic landscape, broken up ice clogging the waterway from Rensselaer all the way down to Salt Point, where it suddenly opened up again. It was stunningly beautiful, and I had no company on the way down, nothing to do but think thoughts and write them down. And on the return trip, in the dark with nothing to see but the occasional lights of a bridge or the ice breaker docked for the night, I had arranged to ride back up with a friend, also a cyclist from my corner of the world, and so we talked about local roads in detail that must have been painful to anyone around us, delighting in comparing the steepness of hills, our county’s inattention to things like shoulders and road signs, and the most enjoyable ways to get from A to B while also passing through C, D and E. Delightful. I wish I could say how many times I’ve taken that ride – it’s hundreds, in any event – and although it can be wearying and trying and Amtrak’s doing the best it can is often not good enough, it’s still a gorgeous ride through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country.

So far

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So far, 2010, the first year of the teens and the first year to know what the name of its decade is since way back in ’99 (fin d’autre siecle), has been a parade of snot, bitter cold, and just enough snow to be annoying and not nearly enough to be useful. Blowing and drifting, for those who don’t live here, means that shoveling is without purpose and that a road can be clear for a mile and then suddenly not, where a particular twist in topography drives a wind across a bend and causes the crystals to keep sweeping across. Brakes are not your friend on snow and ice – you need to know how to roll across it, though my intent for the day is to teach eligible (for driving) daughter how to slide across an empty parking lot today. Took a couple of nice tokyo drifts myself, strictly on purpose, strictly to test the slickness of the road and not because it’s in any way fun to slide two tons of big blue truck across slick pavement.

Otherwise, staying hopped up on snotballs, the deadly combination of Sudafed (no, not the real stuff, I can’t take the pharmacist’s suspicions) and Benadryl, cutting down on the surplus material on the DVR. I’ve seen so many movies in the last few days I can’t remember where one ended and the other began. The Wayans Brothers’ “Dance Flick” is highly recommended, by the way. Musically, it’s the week of The Weakerthans. Computerwise, it’s the week of family history discoveries and, thanks to the shiny new iMac upstairs (the old one only lasted nine years, can you believe that?) we’ve got the silly fun of “Plants vs. Zombies.” There is no game more fun than this.

Off to slide in the snow!