It is time to do all the summer things. Here's a checklist.

Today's moment of summer

tiny daisies fleabane

Apparently these tiny daisy-like flowers are known as fleabane. We often spot 'em along fences and roadsides.

"Uber may just be a gigantic taxi company after all."

Something to think about ahead of the arrival of ride hailing here next week: With the exit of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, the Wall Street Journal's Chris Mims considers Uber's prospects as a business. "Aside from the cash, it's got a (tarnished) brand and an app that has been widely copied. Uber could once plausibly claim that the company with the most customers could support the most drivers, creating a virtuous circle where mass plus engineering might yield an unbeatable customer experience. Now, the preponderance of its competitors, ably luring away customers and drivers, suggests that the ride-sharing market will come to resemble something far less sexy--and less profitable. Uber may just be a gigantic taxi company after all." [WSJ]

Science on Tap: "The Riddle of the Invisible Dark Matter"

science on tap logoThe local drink-and-discuss series Science on Tap is still rolling along after starting up this past February. The next talk is Tuesday, June 27 at MopCo in Schenectady. The topic: "The Riddle of the Invisible Dark Matter":

We are sure that it exists! Searches for this mysterious "dark matter" have gone on for decades, but discovery still eludes us. Please join Dr. Matthew Szydagis, Assistant Professor of Physics at UAlbany, at MOPCO Theatre where he will discuss the status of these searches.

The talk starts at 7 pm and admission is free.

Science on Tap is a monthly series aimed at providing opportunities for conversation between scientist and the general public. Previous talks have focused on solar eclipses, conservation, and "how to smell bullshit."

The next UAlbany president is Havidán Rodríguez

Ualbany president Havidan Rodriguez

Havidán Rodríguez. / screengrab from SUNY Board of Trustees livestream

The next president of the University at Albany is Havidán Rodríguez. The SUNY Board of Trustees approved his appointment to the position at its meeting Wednesday afternoon. He'll start in September.

Rodríguez has been serving as the provost (the top academic administrator) at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, an institution that was formed in 2015 from the merger of two other UT institutions. He had served as provost and interim president for one of those institutions, the University of Texas-Pan American. Other stops in his career include the University of Delaware and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.

In introducing Rodriguez Wednesday, SEFCU CEO Michael Castellana -- who chaired the search committee -- said his selection was unanimous: "He is going to bring that university outside of its walls and he's going transform this area."

Said Rodriguez in a short speech following his appointment:

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Future at SPAC

the rapper Future CC

The rapper Future is set for a show at SPAC August 23. Tickets go on sale this Friday, June 23 -- they're $26 (lawn) and up.

Future released two albums earlier this year -- in the span of a week. Both debuted at #1 on the US album chart, and he became the first artist to release #1 albums one week after another.

Openers for the SPAC show are Post Malone and Zoey Dollaz.

photo: Flickr user The Come Up Show (CC BY 2.0 - cropped)

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: 19th century fashion, the state office complex planned before the ESP, the old Eintracht Halle, a temple tour, a faith journey, confrontations, a rare flower, the Blue Mountain Fire Tower, becoming a dietician, the Jackie Baldwin Memorial Scholarship, strawberries, pizza, milk crates, Dave Matthews, and The Albany Smudge.

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Walking the history of Pine Hills, with a guide

History of Here cover Pine Hills walking tour app

The cover of Akum Norder's upcoming book, and an app screenshot of the Pine Hills neighborhood tour.

Check it out: The Pine Hills Neighborhood Association in Albany has put together an app-guided walking tour of the neighborhood via the PocketSights app. Blurbage:

Focusing on twenty sites, the tour uses offbeat stories and historic photos to tell the story of the Pine Hills neighborhood's development. It highlights landmarks such as Steamer No.10 firehouse, the Madison Theater, and The College of Saint Rose, as well as lesser-known places such as the St. Vincent Orphan Asylum, the Aurania Club, and the Brady Maternity Hospital.

The org say it's planning a paper booklet for the tour later this year.

PocketSights is available for both iOS and Android, and it's free. It also currently includes other local tours, such as one of downtown Albany. The company behind the app is based in Ithaca.

Take a walk with the tour creator
The creator of the walking tour is local journalist and author Akum Norder. She'll be leading a history walk of Pine Hills next Wednesday, June 28 at 5:30 pm. It's free, but attendance is limited. You can sign up online.

Norder's book -- The History of Here: A House, the Pine Hills Neighborhood, and the City of Albany -- is set to be released next February by SUNY Press Excelsior Editions. You might remember that Akum was writing a similarly-themed blog for the Times Union for a while (and was once a contributor to AOA). She's a wonderful writer with a keen sense for stories. We're very much looking forward to her book.

Slocum guilty in triple homicide, woman drowns when car topples into creek, legislative session winds down, SCCC extends president's contract

Slocum convicted in triple murder
A Washington County jury convicted Matthew Slocum on all charges for the 2013 murder of his mother, stepfather and stepfather. [TU]

Fish Creek death
A 66-year-old Saratoga Springs woman drowned Tuesday evening after her car toppled off a one-lane bridge into Fish Creek. [Gazette]

Legislative session winds down
The state legislative session wraps up today. Still on the table -- a sales tax extension measure that is tied up in a dispute over NYC charter schools. Legislators don't think they'll be able to come to an agreement on the Child Victims Act before the close of the session. And Andrew Cuomo did signed the law officially raising the legal age for marriage to 17. [WNYT][TU][TWCN][TU]

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Summer in the City movie series at The Palace

palace theater exterior 2012 sunnyThe Palace is again this summer showing a series of free kids movies on weekdays. The theater opens at noon for activities, and the movies start at 1 pm. There's also free popcorn for kids 12 and under.

The series includes eight dates in July and August. The first -- a screening of Kung Fu Panda -- is July 11.

The free tickets are available from The Palace box office up to a day in advance. And groups can get blocks of tickets through box office group sales.

Here's the schedule...

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Electric City Trolley

CDTA electric city trolley map 2017

Earlier this month when CDTA announced the new Capital City Shuttle service for downtown Albany, officials mentioned that they were working on a similar service for Schenectady.

And the transit org officially announced that service Tuesday: The Electric City Trolley starts this Thursday, June 22. It'll run Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 4 pm to 1 am, with pick-ups every 20 minutes at each stop. And it's free.

That's a map of the route above.

Like the Albany service, the Electric City Trolley will have realtime schedule and tracking info as part of the Cityfinder app built by Transfinder (iOS | Android). If you've already downloaded it, you don't need to do so again -- just launch the app and it will now give you the option of which city you'd like to see.

CDTA advertises on AOA.

"It's the best exemption to come down the pike"

Over at the Business Review, Mike DeMasi walks through the history and rationale behind the tax break that Albany's city assessor has said he mistakenly applied to some prominent projects in the city (after Mike pointed it out). The program got off to a slow start in the early 2000s, but officials in other upstate cities say the break has helped spur mixed-use downtown development in recent years. (An aside: There's probably a good critique to be made that all sorts of complicated tax break programs that advantage the actors who have the resources and connections to work through them.) [Biz Review]

A stylist for long, curly hair?

sculpture with curly hair Flickr user quinn.anya CCJordan emails:

Hello. I moved to the area two years ago. I have beautiful long curly hair. I'm really picky about who I let cut it and am really protective of it. For two years I've actually flown back to my previous place to meet up with some friends, and while there, got my hair cut at my old stylist. She had 13 years of experience with a focus on curly hair and had a studio with one chair. She cut my hair perfectly, layered everything just right, everything. Comforting, knowledgeable, the whole nine. But I can't go back this year, and I need a cut. The whole thing tended to cost around $70, and I typically tip 100%, because changing a part of my body that take years and years to grow is a big deal for me.
I'm looking for a person in the area similar to her. She was affable, easy to talk too, covered in tattoos, and the 1.5 hour cut was never awkward or silent. Who in town is like this? Price isn't an issue, just skill, lots of experience, and a good positive environment.

We had a similar question in the past, but it was many years ago. And things change, shops close, stylists move.

So, got a suggestion for Jordan? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a specific stylist can be helpful.

photo: Flickr user quinn.anya (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A checklist for summer

summer checklist 2017 composite

The summer solstice -- with the longest daylight of the year -- has arrived. You know how in winter you dream of doing all those summer things? Get out there and do them! That time is now!

So we've put together a checklist of summer stuff to do...

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READ & FEED 2017 at Basilica Hudson

Basilica Hudson Read and Feed 2017 logo

The literature and food event READ & FEED returns to Basilica Hudson Sunday, July 23. Event blurbage:

The festival includes a celebration of legendary Hudson-based poet John Ashbery's 90th birthday, acclaimed food writers and chefs presenting demonstrations and interactive discussions, a superstar collection of authors offering literary performances and novel conversations, a marketplace featuring some of America's most intriguing small literary publishers and artisanal food makers, plenty of affordable food and much more.

Tickets are on sale now -- they're $15 / $10 students and seniors.

Among the events:

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Hoosick Falls contamination levels much higher than previously reported, indictment in Colonie fatal alleged hit and run, alcohol in movie theaters looks like a no-go

Hoosick Falls
A state Department of Environmental Conservation presentation Monday evening reported that testing of sites in Hoosick Falls indicated much higher levels of PFOA contamination than previously reported. And the DEC is referring to the sites as Superfund sites. Former regional EPA administrator Judith Enck said the levels may be the highest identified levels in the nation. And there's discussion about the possibility of connecting to the Tomhannock Reservoir as a new source of drinking water. [TU] [Spectrum] [News10] [WNYT]

Colonie standoff
Colonie police say a man had barricaded himself inside a home Monday evening, and neighbors were evacuated as part of the standoff. They say when they entered the home overnight, the man was found dead in an apparent suicide. [News10] [TU]

Troy police drug unit investigation
+ Officials say multiple agencies will be assisting the Troy Police Department to fill in gaps while the department's drug unit is on leave as part of an internal investigation. The city has yet to say publicly why the unit was was placed on leave. (Both the TU and News10 have reported there are allegations involving a warrantless search.) [TU] [News10]
+ Mark Robarge: "As a result, we in the media and the public are left to speculate on what really happened. We really have no clue whether this is a minor issue or a major scandal, beyond the fact that the suspension of an entire police unit is highly unusual and suggests a significant problem." [Troy Record]

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Today's moment of summer

Rain. Rain. Rain. It looks like something close to an inch or more on Monday.

Bars or restaurants with an Albany skyline view?

Albany skyline from E Greenbush sunset background

A question from Jim:

Looking for a bar or restaurant with a view of the Albany skyline that is also outside... A roof preferably.

You might think there would be a lot of spots like this because Albany does have a rather distinctive skyline. When we thought about it, though, there wasn't much that came to mind. A lot of other cities/metro areas have dining/parks/whatever that take advantage of these sorts of views -- especially along rivers -- but this area not as much (in part because of 787, probably). Maybe that's starting to change with new development on the Rensselaer side of the Hudson across from downtown Albany. And maybe new amenities -- like the proposed/hoped-for pedestrian walkway on the next Livingston Ave Bridge -- would help spur that sort use and development.

But maybe you know of some spots. If so, please share!

Summer tours of the Empire State Plaza

ESP art Untitled by Fritz Glarner section

Sure, everyone knows the ESP. But it has a lot of nooks and crannies (if those are the right words). One of our favorite spots is this huge mural by Fritz Glarner that's tucked into a space on the concourse level in the Abrams Building.

The New York State Capitol Tours program is has a new round of Empire State Plaza tours this summer starting July 3. Blurbage:

The one-hour tours feature highlights of the world-class, 98-acre complex where state government, unique architecture, and modern art share the same space. No two tours are the same, and highlights can include The Egg Center for the Performing Arts, the concourse, and outside where visitors will learn about the Plaza's main platform, Capitol, Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice, Cultural Education Center, Corning Tower, Legislative Office Building, and agency buildings, as well as the memorials that honor those who have dedicated or given their lives in service to others. Those taking the tour will also learn about the Empire State Plaza Art Collection, which is known as the largest publicly owned modern art collection in the country housed outside of a museum.

The tours run each weekday through August 31 (no tours on holidays). They start at 1 pm and they're free. Reservations aren't required, but it's a good idea to show up a little bit early.

Saturday Capitol tours
The tours program is continuing to offer Saturday tours of the state Capitol on the second Saturday of each month. It's also offering them July 1 for Independence Day. Tours are at 11 am and 1 pm, advance registration is required. (And they do fill up.)

Park Playhouse 2017: Ragtime

Park Playhouse in Albany's Washington Park opens its 2017 summer season June 29 with a production of Ragtime. The show will run through July 29.

It's looking like a very strong production, with a cast that includes many talented performers from the Capital Region. That video above is from a rehearsal posted by the production this past weekend. Show blurbage for Ragtime:

The Tony-winning score is just as diverse as the melting pot of America itself, drawing upon many musical styles from the ragtime rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley to the klezmer of the Lower East Side, from bold brass band marches to delicate waltzes, from up-tempo banjo tunes to period parlor songs and expansive anthems. Ragtime - a truly unique and powerful portrait of America.

Reserved seating for Park Playhouse shows is $16 for side sections, $18 for the center section, and $24 for table seats. And, of course, lawn seating is free. (That reserved seating does fill up.)

The rest of the Park Playhouse summer season includes production of The Music Man in the park during August, and a Park Playhouse Kids production of The Lion King Jr. at the Cohoes Music Hall later in August.

The ValleyCats open their 2017 season this week

tri-city valleycats night game

The Tri-City ValleyCats open their 2017 home season this Wednesday at The Joe against the Lowell Spinners. There will be fireworks after the game. It's part of a six-game homestand that runs through next Monday. (Their season opens on the road at Connecticut Monday night.)

The ValleyCats are a farm team for the Houston Astros in the New York-Penn League, which is the "short-season A" level. (Minor league baseball's levels go from rookie ball up to AAA.) And while that's a few steps from the majors, more than 30 one-time ValleyCats have ended up making appearances in MLB -- including Hunter Pence, Ben Zobrist, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Dallas Keuchel.

Many of the Astros top draft picks -- especially older players out of college -- end up being assigned to the ValleyCats.

Tickets start as low as $5.75 (the most expensive are $11), so it can be relatively cheap night out. And The Joe -- Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College -- is a nice venue. Also: It's minor minor league baseball, so there are a bunch of promotions, wacky theme nights, and the mayors race.

Looking for more? Check out the last week's worth of posts or the archive.

And you can always try searching for it:

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Recent Comments

I am Dominican so I totally relate. I have thick curly hair (3c) and some of the hair professionals in this area do wonders with fine curly hair but have no idea what to do with thick (ethnic) hair. For the longest I had to take trips to NYC to get my hair done until I found Islenia (you can find her as "Hair by Islenia" in Facebook).She has been doing my hair for over 10 ears and she is excellent! ...

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