Tacos, tacos, tacos...

Cuomo passes ethics reform, public weighs in on 1 Monument Square, Paul Ryan headed to Saratoga, the 38 second pint

Ethics reform
Without fanfare on Wednesday, Andrew Cuomo signed an ethics reform package that would impose tight restrictions on outside spending groups in an effort to curb the impact of the Citizens United decision, but critics say it is nowhere near strong enough, since it doesn't put restrictions on lawmakers outside income or affect the "LLC loophole."[WNYT][TU][TWCN]

1 Monument Square
The City of Troy is putting the brakes on the development of 1 Monument square after residents who came out for a public hearing about the space on Wednesday made it clear that any project there is developed slowly and correctly, with the city's future needs in mind. [TU]

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Today's moment of summer

Troy Congress Street late afternoon summer sun

Congress Street in Troy. Love the way the late afternoon sun filters through the locust trees.

Power tool drag racing in Troy

This video is from a power tool drag race in San Francisco a decade ago.

This is weird, in a potentially gleeful way: One the events at the Troy Mini Maker Faire at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity this Saturday will be power tool drag racing. Blurbage:

Power Tool Drag Racing puts racing contraptions powered by ordinary power tools in head-to-head competition to see who takes it ... who REIGNS SUPREME!
The history of Power Tool Drag Racing is apocryphal and filled with myths, legends, hyperbole and downright facts. Never let facts get in the way! Needless to say, it's probably been around since the first hand power tools were available and some genius decided to zip-tie the trigger on a belt-sander and watch it tear across the floor to sounds of mad glee, terror and pure, unadulterated delight.

The power tool drag races will be outside on the street.

The Troy Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, August 27 from 11 am-6 pm at TVCOG (corner of Broadway and 3rd Street). It's free to attend. And, of course, that's also the same day at the Enchanted City festival, also in downtown Troy.

TVCOG advertises on AOA.

A face in 128 points

NYS drivers license sample 2016The Cuomo admin is touting an upgraded state DMV facial recognition system that launched earlier this year -- the admin says the system is intended to help catch fraud and identity theft, and it's prompted "more than 100 arrests and 900 open cases since it launched in January."

A clip from the press release that we thought was interesting:

The upgraded system increases the number of measurement points on the face from 64 to 128, doubling the number of measurement points mapped to each digitized driver photograph and vastly improving the system's ability to match a photograph to one already in the database. The system also allows for the ability to overlay images, invert colors, and convert images to black and white to better see scars and identifying features on the face. Different hair styles, glasses, and other features that change over time - including those that evolve as a subject ages - do not prevent the system from matching photographs. DMV will not issue a driver license or non-driver ID until the newly captured photograph is cleared through the facial recognition system.
Since the facial recognition technology was implemented in 2010, more than 3,800 individuals have been arrested for possessing multiple licenses. Additionally, more than 10,800 facial recognition cases have been solved administratively, without the need for an arrest. If the transactions are too old to pursue criminal prosecution, DMV is still able to hold subjects accountable by revoking licenses and moving all tickets, convictions, and crashes to the individual's true record.

The Cuomo admin says almost half of the people tagged so far are accused of using a stolen identity in order to get a new license because their old license has been suspended or revoked.

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Midday music break: Rosary Beard

Something to listen to this afternoon (or whenever): "Carcosa" by Rosary Beard.

Rosary Bear is Hunter Sagehorn and Matthew Loiacono. The video above was filmed by Nate Sims. The song was recorded by Eric Margan. It was mixed by Troy Pohl. And it features Tucker Callander on violin.

"Troy's involvement in baseball began in the wake of the Civil War..."

There are bunch of good bits in Steve Wulf's article over at ESPN about the history of Troy's major league baseball team, the Trojans/Haymakers. As Wulf writes, "I grew up in Troy, you see. And because I loved baseball even more than Freihofer's baked goods, I grew up fascinated by the momentarily glorious history of the national pastime in Troy." [ESPN] (via @ewabbott)

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: bike lanes, summers past, a photo with a photo, morning at The Track, telephones, steampunk, genealogy, flora, topiary, careers, summer food, fish fry, Hamlet & Ghost, Villa Balsamo, diners, grilling, subs, pretend cattle ranching, and the rest of the story.

Neighborhood in-post ad APL 2015

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The Big Adirondack

On the upcoming episode (August 29) of Running Wild with Bear Grylls, "Bear treks into the wilds of the Adirondacks with hoops legend Shaquille O'Neal." We've never seen this series before, but apparently Grylls takes celebrities to some wilderness spot and they do wilderness things together, like picking through elephant dung.

Liz Miele at Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show

comedian Liz Miele

The Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show series is bringing Liz Miele to Proctors September 10. Tickets are on sale now -- they're $15 ahead, $20 day of.

Show blurbage: "Profiled in the New Yorker at the start of her career, Miele has become a focused observational comic with a unique voice and the ability to home in on the world's quirks."

Here are a couple of recent clips from her standup, about feminist sex positions and Tinder. (Yep, both of those are probably not OK to play with the sound up in a typical work setting.)

And here's a Paste profile of Miele from this summer, along with a Guardian article about how George Carlin became a mentor to her.

As with other Pretty Much shows, the night also includes an opener and a host. Show starts at 8 pm in the Proctors education center.

photo via Liz Miele website

Toxicology report shows drugs in Lake George boat crash, Albany sinkhole fix by Labor Day, Lake George beach closed due to coliform

Lake George boat crash
Results of a toxicology report released Tuesday by the Warren County Sheriff's department concludes that the operator of the boat involved in a fatal hit and run crash on Lake George this summer had two prescription drugs -- and one illegal drug -- in his blood. The report show no alcohol was found -- but none was anticipated since Alexander West didn't turn himself in until 14 hours after the crash. The results could influence the charges against West. [TU][Gazette][TWCN]

Sinkhole problems
How Albany's latest water main break is affecting the water supply of Guilderland and Bethlehem. Officials expect the sinkhole to be repaired by Labor Day. [TU][News10]

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More entries for AOA Startup Grant 2016!

AOA startup grant 2016 billboard

Another batch of entries for this year's $2,500 AOA Startup Grant contest is now posted! The new applicants...

+ Stone Hard Hopyard, a nursery dedicated to the propagation of hop plants located in Schaghticoke.

+ The Makeup Curio, a retail and service business that blends the beautiful and the unusual in the art of makeup.

+ Marquise Productions, a Montreal-style circus company headquartered in Troy that creates original circus-theater shows featuring internationally acclaimed artists.

+ The Musicians of Ma'alwyck -- a local, classical chamber ensemble -- wants to produce their debut CD, recorded in the Schuyler Mansion, where they are musicians in residence.

+ RE: WORK Editing -- RWE's mission is to help writers of every stripe express themselves superbly.

The application deadline is August 26, so there's still time too apply. Applications are posted in the order they're received, so if you get your app in earlier rather than later, it'll have more time to get attention.

So, don't wait! Here are all the details you need to apply.

Crowd voting for two of the three finalists starts August 31.

Madison Ave Road Diet, now lined up

Madison Ave east of Main

As mentioned, the city of Albany has started re-striping Madison Ave has part of the road diet in the works for the corridor between Allen Street and, eventually, Lark Street. So we took a a few minutes Tuesday to stop by the western-most section to see how it's looking.

That's a pic above, and there are more after the jump if you're curious.

The Madison Ave Road Diet is changing the street from two travel lanes in each direction to one travel lane each way with a center turn lane and bike lanes running along both sides.

The goal behind changing the road design is to "calm" traffic -- getting cars to move slower and making the corridor more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists -- with an eye toward making the street safer. A representative of Creighton Manning, the firm that's overseeing the road diet project, said at a public meeting earlier this year they're projecting a 25 percent decrease in accidents because of the redesign.

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Calling in cougars

A potential way of stemming the tide of Lyme disease in the Northeast? Allowing large predators to return, writes Moises Velasquez-Manoff over at NYT, looking at the way cougars and wolves could play a role in checking the populations of mice, chipmunks, and deer that are either directly, or indirectly, involved in the life cycle of ticks and the Lyme disease they transmit. [NYT] Earlier: Where the wild things aren't... yet

Tacos at Oaxaquena Triqui

Oaxaquena Triqui tacos

By Deanna Fox

Jerry Garcia was right: "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

Sometimes it does take looking in an unlikely spot to find the best things... like tacos.

I think we can all agree on the culinary superiority of tacos. Combining major food groups into a portable, satisfying, wholly-delicious meal makes tacos the perfect food. Find me one person who doesn't like some version of a taco and I will find you 100 more to counter argue that point.

And then let me take that one person to Oaxaquena Triqui, a tiny tacqueria sandwiched between a Mexican bodega and a can redemption center in Albany. The tacos there are cheap and made from scratch, freshly flavored, and served up quickly with a smile.

Honestly, how can you do better than that?

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VanCurler Music is closing

VanCurler ext.jpg

This Saturday marks the end of an era in Capital Region music.

After nine decades in business the Schenectady music shop VanCurler -- its motto: "All Music in Print" -- is closing its doors. It's been selling sheet music and music books to musicians, actors, teachers and students in the Capital Region since the 1920s, and it's been across from the stage door in the Proctors arcade since the 30s.

Current owners Rhoda Luborsky and her mother, Florence Luborsky, have been operating the VanCurler since 1984, but in recent years business has been steadily declining.

The reason probably won't surprise you.

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State DEC questions Hudson River dredging results, focus on state of the former Albany convention center site, potential expansion of medical marijuana

Hudson River PCBs
Said state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos during a press conference Monday at Corning Riverfront Park in Albany: "Unacceptably high levels of PCB-contaminated sediment remain in large portions of the upper Hudson River" -- and he called for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to review of the effectiveness of the Hudson River dredging project that ended last fall. And: "EPA must ensure the remediation conducted by General Electric is effectively protecting public health and the environment from exposure to PCBs." Some context on the possible politics at work between the Cuomo admin and the EPA and GE. From a GE statement Monday: "GE is confident that EPA's review will demonstrate that the project achieved the agency's goals of protecting human health and the environment." [Daily Gazette] [NYSNYS/Troy Record] [TU] [News10]

Questions about film hub
Following up on the Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries -- a project near Syracuse connected to SUNY Poly and backed by $15 million in state money that the Cuomo admin initially projected would bring 350 jobs -- and, at least for now, appears to be virtually empty. (See also: The Syracuse Post-Standard's review of the situation from earlier this year.) [NYT] [Syracuse.com]

Downtown Albany
Chris Churchill on the way the former convention center site on the south side of downtown Albany has been allowed to sit and deteriorate by the the Albany Convention Center Authority: "This is not responsible ownership. It's pure neglect, really, and it makes the state and convention authority no better than the out-of-town slumlords who own too much of the city." [TU+]

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Today's moment of summer

kinderhook cornfield stormy sky

Along Best Road in Kinderhook this past Sunday. Took a few minutes after blueberry picking to watch the rain clouds and listen to the sound of the wind rushing through the stalks of corn.

"If Baehrel didn't exist, foodies would have to invent him."

If you're at all interested in food and restaurants and chefs and all that goes along with that stuff (for better or worse), you should take a few minutes to read Nick Paumgarten's new article in The New Yorker about Damon Baehrel and his eponymous restaurant in Greene County -- the one said to have a many years-long wait for a reservation and the mostly-foraged menu. (See also Susie Davidson Powell's article from earlier this year.) [The New Yorker]

Get started hiking the High Peaks (Part II)

blue trail marker adirondacks Flickr stillwellmike CC

There are paths to follow. / photo: Flickr user stillwellmike (CC BY-SA 2.0 cropped)

By Cristin Steding

Now that you're all fired up about becoming a 46er, let's get down to business -- the actual hiking.

No matter how prepared you are, how many trip reports you've read and how many flights of stairs you've climbed in practice, nothing prepares you for tackling big mountains quite like getting out there and hiking.

Here are a few places to start...

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"[I]f people know we're looking out for them and offering the best prices we possibly can, they'll come back to see us more often."

Retail shops have tough time in urban areas for decades, so the fact that B. Lodge and Co. has made it on Pearl Street in downtown Albany since the 19th century is kind of amazing. Over at the Times Union, Steve Barnes talks with Lodge's co-owner Mark Yonally about how they're still making it work. (And why the store closes at 5:25 pm.) [TU+ (link around)]

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

Tried them out yesterday on my bike. It felt SO much safer than the rest of Madison. And guess what? Where it's 4 lanes, I had to take up a whole lane anyway because there is not enough space. This will definitely encourage others to ride bikes. And I have not seen any additional traffic. It's astonishing that in 2016 Albany still only has 2 bike lanes. We need lots more!

Madison Ave Road Diet, now lined up

...has 13 comments, most recently from Mike Doherty

Madison Ave Road Diet striping to start, lower speed limit on Washington Ave

...has 18 comments, most recently from JayK

Tacos at Oaxaquena Triqui

...has 20 comments, most recently from Mel S

Get started hiking the High Peaks (Part II)

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VanCurler Music is closing

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