A few things going on this week...

In the year between women's marches, here's what people have been doing to change things

Albany Womens March 2018 taking action composite

It was almost exactly one year to the day between the big rally in Albany's West Capitol Park to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017 and this past weekend's Women's March, which again drew thousands of people. (It was one of many such events around the country.)

Protests can be important ways to focus attention. But change doesn't happen from protests alone. And because so many people are so keyed into what's going on politically in the country right now, we were curious about what they've been doing to change things on those other 364 days.

So we asked. Here are a bunch of the answers...

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Hops and deliberate inefficiency

As with many other places, New York has experiencing a craft beverage boom the last few years. So this article by Derek Thompson over at The Atlantic -- "Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America" -- was interesting reading. He looks at two things that have contributed to craft beer boom: changing consumer preferences and some unusual regulatory history. [The Atlantic]

Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic 2018

That clip embedded above is promo video that shows scenes from the 2015 tournament.

The Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic -- a "pond" hockey tournament -- returns Feburary 9-11 at Saratoga Spa State Park. (The games are on the outdoor rinks in the park.)

Games are four-on-four -- 40 minutes long, consisting of two 20 minute halves and a 2 minute break in between halves. The tournament is round-robin style, divided into divisions by skill level. Each team is guaranteed three games. Teams must have four players, and no more than eight. Here are the rules.

The cost is $400 per team. There's also free agent registration for $100. The registration fee is due by February 4.

That clip embedded above is promo video that shows scenes from the 2015 tournament.

SPAC Country Megaticket 2018: Urban, Rascal Flatts, Aldean, Bentley, Bryan

luke bryan

Luke Bryan

Live Nation and SPAC have rolled together another "Country Megaticket" package of shows at the venue this summer:

June 27: Keith Urban, with Kelsea Ballerini

July 7: GNA Countryfest featuring Rascal Flatts and others to be announced

July 15: Jason Aldean, with Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina

August 5: Dierks Bentley, with Brothers Osborne and Lanco

August 19: Luke Bryan, with John Pardi and Morgan Wallen

Packages that include tickets for all five shows go on sale starting this Friday, January 26 and run through February 24 (or while supplies last). The packages start at $159 for lawn tickets, and rise from there, with the option of snagging the same pavilion seat for each show.

Individual ticket sales for the shows will start later this year.

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"I mean, it's so vast. . . . It's one of our greatest assets."

Remarkable: The NYS Writers Institute has recordings from interviews and talks with every single writer who's appeared as part of the institute's visiting writers series. Amy Biancolli recently got a look at the effort to digitize all that material, and the institute's goal to eventually make it easily searchable and accessible. By the way: NYSWI regularly adds author talks to its extensive Youtube channel.

Kendrick Lamar at SPAC

rapper Kendrick Lamar 2018

Kendrick Lamar is set to play a show at SPAC June 9. Tickets go on sale this Friday, January 26 -- they're $35 (lawn) and up. (There's also a lawn four-pack for $100 while supplies last.)

Lamar has as good a claim as anyone of being the best rapper in the game at the moment. Over the last few year's piled up record sales, critical raves, Grammy awards, respect from hip hop titans, and the admiration of Barack Obama.

The bill for the SPAC show also includes Schoolboy Q, SZA, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, SiR, Lance Skiiwalker, and Zacari.

Former TPD chief pushes back on criticism of shooting investigation, a guilty plea in Jay Street fire case, RPI alumni group pushes for change

Scrutiny of Troy Police Department
+ In a letter to the Troy Record, John Tedesco -- who just recently retired as Troy police chief -- called state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman a "political mad man" and pushed back on sections of the state AG's office report on the fatal police shooting of Edson Thevenin, arguing the AG's office was motivated to find fault so that it could pursue a case against Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove (Tedesco also took issue Times Union columnist Chris Churchill.) [Troy Record]
+ The AG's office will be meeting with the Troy City Council to discuss the report, at the request of council president Carmella Mantello. She said the meeting is part of the council pursing an oversight role of the TPD and the mayor. [TU] [WNYT]

Joe Percoco trial
The trial of Joe Percoco -- a longtime top aide to Andrew Cuomo -- on federal corruption charges starts Monday. It's expected to highlight the workings of the state's economic development efforts, and potentially complicate things politically for the governor. [TU] [Politico NY]

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The week ahead

Rev Sharon Risher

Rev. Sharon Washington Risher will be at Siena for a talk titled "Tattered Pieces: A Charleston Daughter Explores Loss, Faith and Forgiveness." Her mother was killed in the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (melt), from strange things at the Circle K, to the first New Yorkers, to forgiveness, to cooking, to wrestling, to music...

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Photos from the 2018 Women's March in Albany

Albany Women's March at Capitol 2018-01-20

Thousands of people gathered in West Capitol Park in Albany Saturday afternoon for a second Women's March, a follow-up to a similar event a year ago in opposition to the election of Donald Trump. It was one of many such events around the country this weekend.

The crowd at Saturday's rally heard from a series of speakers criticizing the Trump administration, Congressional Republicans, and urging support for immigrants, reproductive rights, environmentalism, and other issues.

A recurring theme this year: Many speakers encouraged the crowd, women especially, to run for office and organize politically.

Here are a bunch of photos from the rally and march around the Capitol...

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A big step forward for the Quackenbush Center mixed-use project, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

705 Broadway Albany Quackenbush Center rendering

The latest rendering for the Quackenbush Center project.

That big mixed-use project proposed for just north of Quackenbush Square in downtown Albany took an important step forward this week when the city planning board approved its site plan.

The project includes residential, commercial space, and a hotel. And it holds the potential to dramatically change the feel of that section of town.

Here are a few more bits about what's up with the project -- and a handful of other mildly exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board...

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Belt Line 3

340 Hamilton St exterior 2018-January

The owners of Roux in Slingerlands are planning to open a new restaurant in a space on Hamilton Street in Albany, just up from the Empire State Plaza.

Here's a little bit about what's in the works.

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Stuff to do this weekend

Postmodern Jukebox 2017

Postmodern Jukebox is at Troy Music Hall.

We're in that January lull in the Capital Region -- those couple of weeks after the holidays when things slow down just a touch. But they haven't stopped.

After the jump, our look at things to do this weekend that don't involve binge watching, blankets, and carbs. Doing something you don't see here? Tell us about it in the comments.

And whatever you're up to, bundle up and have a fantastic weekend.

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Call for Troy police reform, big shakeup in Albany County Legislature, Sheehan continues push for state funding, mermaid hair

Call for Troy police reform
+ Prompted by the recent state Attorney General's office report about the fatal police shooting of Edson Thevenin, activists gathered in Troy Thursday to call for a more active civilian police review board as well as officer body cameras. [Troy Record]
+ Former Troy city council member Anastasia Robertson: "We're not here to say all policemen are bad, or policewomen are bad, because that is not the case ... But everybody, regardless, deserves fairness and unbiased approach without prejudgment on how their case is handled." [News10]
+ The group is pushing for the state AG to also take over the investigation of the police shooting of Dahmeek McDonald. McDonald's attorney -- Mark Mischler -- said Troy mayor Patrick Madden's defense of the police department following the report on the Thevenin shooting is "nothing less than traumatic." [Spectrum] [TU]

Big shakeup in Albany County Legislature
Albany County Legislature majority leader Frank Commisso Sr. -- who held the position for 25 years -- resigned the leadership position Thursday ahead of an evening caucus organized to oust him. The new majority leader is Gary Domalewicz, a 25-year veteran of the legislature who represents a district adjacent to Commisso's in uptown Albany. The switch comes two weeks after the former chair of the legislature -- Green Island's Sean Ward, a Commisso ally -- was replaced by Andrew Joyce. [TU]

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The flu is cranking up in New York, and it's still worth getting a shot

New York State flu confirmed cases 2018-01-13

The number of lab-confirmed cases of influenza around the state this season (red) line compared to the last few seasons. / graph: New York State Department of Health

The number of influenza cases around New York has taken a sharp upswing in the last few weeks. And the state is asking people to take precautions. From a Cuomo admin press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called on all New Yorkers six months of age and over who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible. According to the Department of Health, cases of influenza rose by 54 percent and new cases were diagnosed in all counties of the state over the past week. In addition, 1,606 New Yorkers have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, the highest weekly number since Department of Health reporting began in 2004.

Each winter requires a new flu shot because the versions of flu virus in circulation changes from season to season. It take about two weeks for your body's immune system to fully respond to the jab. And though the vaccine doesn't necessarily offer full protection, it can lessen the severity in people who do end up getting sick with the flu.

It's become easier in recent years to get a flu shot. You can get one at a primary care doctor's office, sure. But many pharmacies and clinics now offer them, too. And many health plans cover them so they're either free or low cost.

Getting a flu shot can be beneficial not just to you, but also the people around you. In fact, it's this group protection that might be one of the most valuable things about getting the jab. (There's a famous public health case study from Japan in which school children were vaccinated for influenza and it appears to have had a very large positive effect for elderly people.)

Also: Wash your hands regularly. Cough in your elbow. And if you're sick, stay home if you can.

Capital Region ice skating spots

Buckingham Pond ice skater background

Let's hope we can pond ice this nice this winter.

Winter is more fun when you can be active. And one of the most fun ways to be active during winter is ice skating.

So... you might be interested in the listing/map that AOA has of ice skating spots around the Capital Region. We ran the zamboni over it this week, so it's surface is smooth and updated with a few new spots and details.

The listing includes indoor ice rinks, outdoor rinks that get some maintenance, and a few pond spots. The ice is almost always going to be smoother at the maintained facilities, but we gotta say there's something magical about skating on a frozen pond.

As always, if there's a spot that you think should be included, please let us know! Have fun!

Not for the birds

This plays like some sort of dry comedy, except for the fact it sounds like the birds are suffering as a result: Bird watchers who have flocked to Washington County to see owls and hawks and other birds of prey overwintering there are being urged by officials to back off -- the crowds are apparently disturbing the birds, jamming traffic, and some people have been trespassing. As the head of conservation group told the Post-Star: "We appreciate their enthusiasm, but they need to realize their behavior is harmful to the birds." [Post-Star]

Dead & Company is returning to SPAC

dead and company john mayer

Summer concert season announcement season continues: Dead & Company is returning to SPAC June 11. Tickets go on sale January 26 -- they're $45 (lawn) and up. (There's a also a lawn four-pack for $135 while supplies last.)

Dead & Company features Grateful Dead members Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and Bob Weir -- plus John Mayer, with bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti. It's the same lineup that's made multiple stops here in recent years.

Other SPAC pop shows announced so far...

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"Lopez's behavior in many ways was a product of Albany itself."

Over at the NY Daily News, Tori Kelly (Burhans) writers about her experience working in the office of former state Assemblyman Vito Lopez here in Albany. (She was one of two staff members who accused Lopez of sexual harassment in 2012, and a Joint Commission on Public Ethics investigation concluded he was a serial harasser.) "For the roughly three years I worked in the state Capitol, I was regularly and routinely exposed to sexual harassment, misogyny and inappropriate situations. The frequency of these incidents normalized them and made them seem like just another part of doing business." And she proposes some ideas for changing the situation. [NYDN x2] [JCOPE]

Mountain Jam 2018 lineup

musician Jack Johnson 2018

Jack Johnson

The lineup for this year's Mountain Jam festival is out: It's headlined by Jack Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, and Alt-J, and also includes acts such as The War on Drugs, Portugal. The Man, Father John Misty, The Decemberists, and Jenny Lewis.

The full lineup, which includes a few Capital Region locals, is below.

This year's Mountain Jam is June 15-17 at Hunter Mountain. A three-day general admission is pass is currently $184 ($219 with camping).

Hunter Mountain is in Hunter, New York, in the northern Catskills. It's a little more than an hour drive from Albany.

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Madden claims AG's report contains "factual inaccuracies," final sentencing in Hulett St fire, water main break forces Gideon Putnam shutdown

Madden claims Thevenin report contains factual inaccuracies
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden says the Attorney General's report on the fatal shooting of Edson Thevenin by Troy police contains "factual inaccuracies and errors" which "unfairly put the Troy Police Department in a negative light," -- but has not shared details on what parts he considers inaccurate. [TU]

"Disgraceful and embarrassing"
Chris Churchill on the results of the report on the police shooting of Edson Thevenin and what they say about the Troy Police Department and mayor Patrick Madden. [TU]

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