Alex in Transit(ion)

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Another night in the woods

A couple of days ago, I was in Crossgates Mall because work gave me the night off and I was wandering around Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s really weird but I really enjoy browsing through sporting goods stores. Is it true that you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl? My dream is to live in a major city and completely immerse myself into living an urban lifestyle but I also know that the country is always going to be my home. I’m looking forward to the day when I have a family of my own so I can bring them to Anawanda Lake to teach them how to swim, pick blueberries, and make s’mores on a raging bonfire. Sounds idyllic right? That was my childhood.

When I was in the store, my eyes were all over the fishing poles, hunting knives, kayaks, hiking boots, and most importantly- the tents.

I concluded that my life will be made once I obtain all of those and put them to good use.

Looking at that sentence and also knowing what kind of partner in crime I’m looking for, whenever he appears, I’m realizing that I will have one atypical wedding registry.

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Time warp to ‘69 — Today (August 15th) would have been the first day of Woodstock! In celebration, we’re bringing you our best (or, grooviest?) photographs from the festival. Shots that evoke its spirit of peace, love, music, and mud.

see more Woodstock: The Best Photographs

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LIFE photographers John Dominis and Bill Eppridge arrived at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in the tiny town of Bethel, New York, expecting to cover a rock concert. Instead, they spent three remarkable days and nights chronicling what many still regard as the defining event of the 1960s. Many of their photographs of the event have never been published. Until now.

Happy 42nd anniversary, Woodstock! EXCLUSIVE: UNSEEN WOODSTOCK PHOTOS

Oh Woodstock. I grew up 20 minutes away from Bethel and I wish I could have grown up in this type of atmosphere. Unfortunately, Bethel is a very conservative town that recently thought that the weekend Phish festival would spell havoc for Sullivan County. Regardless, Woodstock makes me proud to be a resident of Sullivan County and even though moments like these may not happen anymore, I am glad for those who got to experience the magic of Woodstock.

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fish fry and learning how to change your own oil.

It may be cold, rainy, and a little bit snowy here in the Catskills- but I have to say, I’m still loving the fact that it is 6 PM and it’s daylight outside.

(more so because I still need to clean out my car for tomorrow Easter Trek to Whitney Point but shhhhh ;D)

I am home for the fabled holiday in the Aiello-Kavarnos family- Divorce Easter Weekend! My parents have been divorced since I was 13 and I have to tip my hat to them for never making us choose one parent over the other whenever it came to the holidays. They’ve always done their best to shake up the holiday schedule so that we can share the holidays with the both of them. For example, we’re celebrating Easter with my mom today and we will be celebrating Easter with my father tomorrow.

But of course, every Easter weekend has to start with Good Friday. I’m just going to put it out there, I am your Catholic who only goes to church for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. I’ve only abstained for Lent one time and that was only because all of my friends in high school were doing it and I didn’t want to be left out (I gave up candy that year). By the looks of it, I’m one horrible Catholic, but for some odd reason- I can’t escape the Catholic guilt about abstaining from eating meat on Good Friday. I came dangerously close to ordering a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich at the Daily Grind but I held my ground and ordered a bagel with chive cream cheese. 

Before my best friend Brian and I ventured off to greener pastures in Sullivan County, I told him that I wanted to take an adventure. Every time I go through Central Avenue in Albany, I always pass Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry. You seriously can’t miss the thing on Central with its sweet sign.

My Catholic guilt sent me a message. It said that it was time to give Bob and Ron’s a try. Brian came with me and we stepped into what is, apparently, an Albany institution for over 50 years! The service was really friendly which is always a plus with me. I ordered the Fish Fry Special with Fries, Macaroni Salad, and a Lemonade. For some reason, I think that Lemonade and Fish Fry always go well together. 

It was the first time I ever had fish fry served on a hot dog bun. Personally, I could have done without the bun, but the fish was cooked perfectly inside. It wasn’t greasy at all. My only wish is that the batter had a little more spice to it. I’d definitely say to give Bob and Ron’s a try, if nothing but for the really friendly service.  I think that I will stop there again on a day when it isn’t so busy. Yet if you’re looking for a great fried fish dish (that rhymed!), head on over to Saratoga and order Fish and Chips at The Local. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed and even after eating a wonderful Easter dinner, my mouth is already watering for it. 

Today was a milestone in my life. My brothers taught me how to change my oil. I learned a couple of things:

1. Not only do you need your oil and filter, you also need a pail for the oil to drip in, cardboard to soak up the excess oil, and some clothes that you really don’t care about ruining. Paper towels are also key. And I need to find a ratchet. Or a friend who has a ratchet.

2. I need to see this again before I take the challenge on myself. 

3. When I do attempt this in Albany, without a doubt, I’m doing it in Washington Park. It’s flat there. 

It’s a little dirty and time consuming, but I have to say, it’s more satisfying than sitting in a waiting room and reading magazines. 

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she gave me a box of bandaids and a tale about exit 3 off of 787, northbound.

It wasn’t until I was in the 11th grade that I finally understood the true meaning of friendship. It was Christmas time and my friends and I gathered around the lunch table to exchange gifts. My best friend Mary gave me two gifts. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember what the first gift was even though I’m sure it was something that I was very grateful to receive. I do remember the second.

She gave me a box of bandaids for Christmas.

It’s not a secret that I’m notorious for being klutzy. Back in study hall one day, I was in a rush to staple my bio labs but my trusty mini stapler decided to be not so trusty that day. I had 5 minutes before the bell rang and my teacher was so strict about having your labs stapled together. I saw that it was jammed up so I reached in under the stapler barrel and all of a sudden I felt a sharp pain.

I looked down.

I stapled my thumb.

At first I had no idea what to do. I looked at Mary and she looked at me. Next thing I know I shouted “OH MY GOD I STAPLED MY THUMB” in front of the whole study hall. The teacher wrote me a nurse’s pass for probably the most awkward ailment in the history of nurse’s passes. The nurse took it out and before no time, I was back in bio class and I told my teacher that I literally put my sweat and blood for this bio lab.

Back then she told me it was because of that…very….very…special accident that inspired her to give me a box of bandaids. I made sure to tell her that I’m convinced that she’s my best friend. Anyone can give you something really nice…but how many people give you something that you actually need? When we saw each other last week, she brought it up again, that she gave me bandaids for Christmas that year. Even though it was 8 years ago, I made sure to remind her that’s how I knew that she was my best friend. 

I had another moment like that tonight. The adventures of Alex and Brian continued, but thankfully, this time we didn’t have as many misadventures as we did on Friday. As we were taking 787 North home to Albany, Brian yelled at me for passing Exit 3: Rensselaer/Empire State Plaza. I was going for Exit 4: Madison Avenue because that’s where he lives. I asked him, “what is so special about Exit 3?”

“Because it has the best view of Albany! You’re on the highest ramp!”

“Really?! I never knew! Do you mind if we turn around and check it out?”

“Of course, I have nothing else better to do.”

I took 787 South to Exit 2: Port of Albany and turned around at a really creepy condo that we swore was a face for a drug operation. My friend Marc of Cautious and Carefree swears that Exit 2 looks like New Jersey. I guess it was only appropriate that we had a car with Jersey plates on as we turned around and headed again towards 787 North. This time, I stopped at Exit 3.

The view was worth it.

The moral of the story is: your true friends will give you what you need. and will always give you the chance to see something beautiful.

Mary, Brian, and I- this is the day after I came home from two months of interning in Washington D.C. As a welcome home present, they took me rafting down the Delaware.

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The Adventures of Alex and Brian: Jersey Driver.

If the Most Interesting Man in the World says it, it has to be true. Even if it’s a Microsoft Paint manipulated image. I should really keep my photo editing skills a secret. Who knows, maybe someone will make out big with them and put money in the bank. 

Eh, that’s probably not going to happen.

Alright! Story time! I guess if there’s anything I’ve learned in my eighteen year friendship with Brian is that we tend to get ourselves into shenanigans that typically…don’t happen to many people.

The task was simple enough. I had to pick up my rental car, head to Albany, and pick up Brian at 6 so we could venture back home to Sullivan County. When I arrived at Enterprise Rent-A-Car (they really do pick you up!), they gave me the keys





(insert the da da dunnnnn music)

Why should this matter to me? After all, a car is a car is a car right? Usually that is the rule- but everyone knows that the Toyota vs. Honda rivalry is as hot as the Yankees vs. Red Sox rivalry. Both Toyota and Honda owners are fiercely loyal to their cars. Both owners will drive their cars until the odometer runs out of miles but that’s only similarity. You’ll never see a Toyota owner fawn over a Honda and vice versa. The line is drawn in the sand and we dare not to cross it…

Unless you receive a Civic for a rental car and you don’t have any other options. I would have been fine with a Ford, Mazda, Chevy, or a Nissan but that wasn’t in the cards for me. This is also the second time I’ve received a rental car with Jersey plates which I’m a big fan of…for the fact that if my driving’s a little subpar that day, it’s alright, my car has Jersey plates on it! Every other car with NY plates expects me to be a bad driver anyway, might as well live up to the image. No one let me get away with anything when I had a Toyota Corolla rental car with Virginia plates on back in May 2009. 

As with any car, you have to give it a name. My roommate Zara named my Rav4 the Tyrannosaurus Rav and it has stuck ever since. I just received a Honda Civic though. With Jersey Plates. It was only natural for me to name this car David Paterson. 

However, I noticed something a little off about the car and it wasn’t because it was a Honda. The tire pressure light was on. I told my Enterprise rep about it but he said it was probably because of the weather messing around with the sensors. As I was driving along the Northway, the car was shaking a little bit which was odd to me. One of my best friends has a Honda Civic and I always remembered the ride being very smooth. I dismissed it and thought it was due to the fact that it was a rental car.

I had a hour to kill before meeting Brian at his apartment so I decided to take a little cruise through Albany. I decided to go down Western Ave from South Lake. All of a sudden, two boys from UAlbany are pointing towards me. I pulled down my window and they said:

“We’re not trying to be assholes, but your tire is flat.”

I thanked them and thought. Shit. This is a rental. I have no idea how to change a tire. When the parents taught me how to drive- well they did just that. They only taught me how to drive. 

I called Brian and he told me that he would walk on over because it turns out that yes, he does know how to change a tire. He told me to pull over to the nearest parking lot because it would be easier to do it there than on the side of the road. I thought I could turn around and go to UAlbany’s downtown campus but it wasn’t going to work out. The nearest parking lot was at the La Salle School. Bri Bri gave it his best shot but he couldn’t jack the car up because the car was so low to the ground. All of a sudden, a student from the La Salle School comes up to us and asks us if we need help. We gladly accepted it however, he couldn’t even jack the car up. His teacher came over to us and brought over his souped up car jack. Finally we were making progress, the car was jacked up, we were taking the bolts off and then we hit a roadblock. 

Apparently Hondas have bolt locks on their tires to prevent people from stealing them. Unfortunately, Saratoga Enterprise was closed by that point so I couldn’t ask them where it was located and we were searching all over the car to find the bolt lock because without it, we couldn’t get the tire off. We almost gave up but then the young 17 year old La Salle student found it in the glove box. Huzzah! We again thought that we were making progress and that we’d have this tire changed in a jiffy!

Well. The car was jacked up. The bolts were off. Yet three strapping young men couldn’t take the tire off the car. We thought that there was a center bolt in the middle of the tire preventing it from getting off. Finally, I decided to call Enterprise Roadside Assistance. They told us that they would be there in 70 minutes. By that time it was 7:00, so we thanked our good samaritans, arranged for our student to get extra credit for doing a good deed, and walked down Western Avenue to search for a place to eat.

Brian suggested D.P. Dough but then I recognized a restaurant called The Ginger Man. Brian and I tried to go there two years ago, right before I left for DC, but it was closed and we went to TGIFriday’s instead. This time it was open! I said “hey man, let’s check it out!”

We walked in and we were the only young kids in there other than the waitstaff. They asked if we had reservations and we said no. I thought that this was going to be one upscale place. I was pleasantly surprised when I went through the menu and saw that their food was reasonably priced! For an appetizer, we ordered Stuffed Mushrooms for $8. They were stuffed with delicious Italian sausage and romano cheese, and had a balsamic glaze drizzled over it. It was delectable.

Then my phone rang and we found that the towing guy came a little bit early. We told the waitress to put our food on hold and I walked back to the parking lot to meet the towing guy. Finally, the mystery was going to be solved!

It turns out that we did everything right. Well, except for thinking that the center bolt had something to do with the tire coming off. Apparently, that holds the axle in place and should never, ever, ever be touched. To remove the tire, we found out that you couldn’t just pull the tire off. You have to kick the tire really hard and then it will come off! After that discovery, the tow guy put the donut on and I was off to The Ginger Man to feast on the Lamb Burger that I ordered.

Yep, I said Lamb Burger. Not Hamburger. For $12, that had to be the best burger I ever ate in my life. I ordered it medium, which was just the perfect temperature. It was topped with tzatziki sauce with radishes, cucumbers, and feta cheese, served on a rosemary foccacia bun. And it only got better with the sweet potato fries. Brian and I determined that we will be back for seconds. 

It wasn’t over yet! We had to go to Albany International Airport and exchange the Civic. Along the way, we were coming up with all the reasons why we hate the Civic. We don’t like how the dashboard takes up half of the car, the blind spots are horrible, and how the car sits so low on the ground. When we got to the counter, we were hoping to exchange it for something better.

As luck would have it, the only car they had in their fleet was another Honda Civic. From Jersey. We groaned in disbelief but what could we do. It’s mine until my car gets out of the shop (March 21st can’t come any sooner). We named it David Paterson’s Second Term. 

We thought the worst was over yet we were still plagued by minor annoyances. Remember when I said that we hated the fact that the car sits so low to the ground? I may be 5’2, but there’s no reason why I have to unbuckle my seatbelt and raise myself up to get a toll ticket. We attempted to get coffee at the New Baltimore exit but by the time we got there, Starbucks was closed. We thought that Kingston would definitely have a Dunkin Donuts open. After all, Oneonta has a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts!

We were wrong. So, so wrong. We tried three different Dunkin Donuts and they all were closed. We found a Stewart’s, which I was more than satisfied with. Back during the campaign days, I always got my coffee from the Stewart’s next to my office. At least during our trek to find DD, we found out that downtown Kingston is very charming! 

We cranked up the Billy Joel and were cruising down 209 until we saw that we had to take a 10 mile detour because half of 209 was flooded out. We should be in the clear after that, right? Nope. It started snowing as soon as we rolled into Sullivan County. 

It only took us six hours, but by 1:30 AM, we finally made it. Unfortunately, I did not receive good news when I got home. 

All I know is that I love you Diesel. And I always will. I just wish I got to say goodbye. ❤ I want the best for you, my friend.

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things I will never understand: Why Sullivan County Is Stuck In The Stone Age When It Comes To New Media

Since 2005, Western Sullivan County has been hit by devastating floods where sadly, a good handful of people have passed away from either by drowning or getting their car swept away from the water. I’ll never forget the flood of 2006- my family was evacuated in a rowboat. It’s still pretty surreal, floating down Main Street Roscoe in a boat. My dad joked “well Allie, I never got to take you to Venice, so this is the next best thing!” 

Yeah. That was downtown Roscoe in 2006. The flood in 2007 took the lives of 5 or 6 people, including my old boss’ parents.

One would suppose that after experiencing some pretty disastrous floods that mayyyybee our main news sources would get it together. (cough, cough: Times Herald Record, Sullivan County Democrat, and The River Reporter) You know like spreading the word about these sorts of things by just putting up a little blurb on their website? Sullivan County may not be the most wired county when it comes to internet access, but a little notification wouldn’t hurt anyone right?

WRONG. As of 1 AM, neither the Times Herald Record, Sullivan County Democrat, or The River Reporter have reported on their websites that Sullivan County Manager, David Fanslau, has issued a flood warning for residents who reside near the Beaverkill (aka Cooks Falls, Roscoe, Livingston Manor) and that Roscoe, Livingston Manor, and Jeffersonville have already experienced minor flooding. 

How do I know this if the three main news sources in Sullivan County have not reported this?

The Catskill Chronicle, an independent blog by unpaid writers, wrote about this. They broke the story at 8 PM. It appeared in my GoogleReader. My brother told me when he came home from work that Roscoe has already declared a flood warning and that there are roads that have been washed out- but I didn’t know whether or not it was hear-say or fact because I didn’t see any of the newspapers report about such vital information.

It just makes me so livid- time and time again we have seen how devastating such events can be. Lives are taken, homes, cars, and businesses are destroyed and granted- I realize that the floods that are going on right now aren’t going to reach the depths of the floods of 2005, 2006, and 2007- but regardless the information should be out there. It takes 5 minutes tops to publish a simple blurb, status, or tweet that part of the county is under a flood warning.

What gets me is that small town newspapers keep saying how they are the ones really feeling the hit by the decline of print journalism. I won’t dispute this- it’s a fact. However in this day and age, with technology getting more advanced and people getting used to hearing about news events within a moment’s time, you have to accept that this is the way things are going to be and step up your online presence. It won’t only show that your paper is still a credible player in the regional media scene but it will show that you give a damn about your readership. And in a small, rural county that sentiment still means something..

Seriously- if I was on the payroll of either three of those news sources- I’d be embarrassed as hell to be shown up by a blog.