My 7-year-old is a major fan of Rick Riordan’s novels, and this weekend for a birthday present, I took her on a tour of sites from the books located in Manhattan. When I mentioned my planning for the trip on Facebook I got a lot of interest from other parents, so I figured I’d write up what we did and how it worked.
Obviously your mileage will vary with age of kid, willingness to walk, attention span, and level of obsession. My daughter knows the books well enough that we could drop into the stories at any point and read the chapter that bears upon the site we were visiting and have it make sense. Also she can be read aloud to approximately forever and not get tired of it. And we did–there’s something pretty neat about sitting in the spot being described and reading the story. You pick up on details you wouldn’t notice if you just walked up to something and said “Look, there’s the Plaza Hotel where the demigod army made their headquarters in the Battle of Manhattan” and stood there for five minutes. Given that the passages we wanted spanned several physical books and we were traveling light, I brought with me our paper copy of The Last Olympian (TLO), and then sprang for ebook versions of The Lightning Thief (TLF), The Red Pyramid (RP), and “The Crown of Ptolemy” to read from my phone. (Plus a backup battery stick for the phone.) That worked out quite well. Continue reading →
Hi everyone! I started blogging sporadically here when Albany’s alt-weekly Metroland closed down at the end of 2015. I also started uploading my archive of almost 12 years of biweekly columns for them (tagged Looking Up), though I haven’t finished.
However, last November, much to my delight, a new weekly paper, The Alt, started up, and I am privileged enough to be writing for them again, in much the same way as I did for Metroland—every two weeks, on roughly whatever I want.
I’ll still post here sometimes with things that are too niche for the paper (like the contra dance post), and sometimes to give some commentary/extra thoughts/etc. on my columns. (I hope to keep loading my older columns so they exist somewhere, especially the ones that were not time-sensitive.)
But if you don’t want to miss a current column, I suggest you follow The Alt(@thealtweekly), or my Twitter (@miriam_mjoy). I also blog periodically on things to do with the community development world at Shelterforce’s blog (my awesome day job!).
(I wrote this last year with the help and input of my two kids, but managed to not follow up with the places I submitted it for publication. I just thought of it again as my older daughter was describing to me all the defensive dancing tactics she has developed and decided I should put it out into the world myself.)
We just got back from another lovely weekend at the Dance Flurry Festival in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Nadia, 9, has been dancing for several years and is an accomplished contra dancer who can dance both roles and hold her own through most complex figures. Her younger sister Molly, 5, has just started dancing full contras this year and is still a beginner.
For the most part, the contra dance community is wonderfully warm and welcoming to its youngest members, appreciating their delight and cheerfully helping them out when needed. However, we have noticed a few counter-productive tendencies that many dancers have when they encounter kid dancers, and so we wanted to offer you this set of tips to help us all bring up the next generation: Continue reading →
I’ve seen a lot of you being very angry at being assumed a racist. I’ve seen you claiming you love everybody and believe your “rough around the edges” candidate really does too, and you were voting based on economics or sticking it to the establishment.
Let’s say for a minute that the rest of us take you at your word that you do not believe you are racist or hateful. Continue reading →
There’s this pattern that happens with abusive spouses. They often explain to their victims how to behave so they won’t get beaten up again. All the victim needs to do is give them proper respect, not burn their dinner, remember to leave out their slippers at the right place, never buy the wrong brand of toothpaste, never make them feel like they are being laughed at, never give them attitude or make them mad. And then, supposedly, they’ll be safe.
Of course, the abuser is not actually owed any of those things in the first place. And in any case, it’s always a lie. It’s a losing game. The abuse will continue, because periodic reminders of control are necessary and because the abuser will keep finding new things to add to the reasons they were “forced” to administer a beating.
This was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the details of the police portion of a recent “workshop” on police encounters that Albany youth were forced to attend as part of the city’s summer employment program. Continue reading →
They are at it again. The same folks in the wealthier part of Western Albany who don’t want to provide a decent building to educate our children in also don’t like that a church in their neighborhood was participating in a regional effort to help families without homes via a day time outreach program hosted in a church parsonage. Neighborhood ne’er do well and perennial candidate Joe Sullivan, pursuing his vision of segregation and protection from scary people down on their luck, managed to luck into a judge who decided to overturn the zoning decision based on a technicality about whether a parsonage is actually a house of worship. Chris Churchill at the Times Unionis right that this was a bad decision; I hope Family Promise and Bethany Reformed Church do appeal.
Wow, You Said That Out Loud
But the controversy also provided a disturbing look at how many residents of wealthier, whiter, single-family-home neighborhoods seem to feel that they deserve the right to decide who can enter those neighborhoods just by virtue of owning homes there. (Yes, I read the comments, so help me God.) They are startlingly direct about it: They feel that anything serving people poorer than they are should be considered a noxious use for the purposes of zoning and banned from their “nice” neighborhood. Continue reading →
Charlie Kraebel, managing editor of the Troy Record and the Saratogian had a little “showing his true colors” accident in an opinion column this weekend, in which he was mighty distressed at the launching of the Upstate NY Black Lives Matter chapter. Before you read it, I recommend having a cushion nearby for when you feel the desire to bang your head on something hard.
He has basically three main arguments: First, that black people can’t demand that cops stop killing them for no reason until crime committed by black people against other black people is eradicated. Second, that Black Lives Matter activists don’t really care about Dontay Ivy’s family, just their dastardly agenda. And third, that the Black Lives Matter movement nationally has been all about causing riots and defending “thugs.”
On Monday, Jan 25., I joined the group of protestors who disrupted the beginning of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s state of the city speech. It was a very powerful, really well organized action, a demonstration of a community coming together and insisting on being heard. That latter bit is more important than how the mayor reacted. (Hear more from the organizers here.)
However, she did engage the crowd for a while, and a bunch of things have been rattling around in my head about what she said. I wanted to spell them out, especially for people who don’t really understand why what she said met with negative reactions. Continue reading →
This morning we revealed our Twelfth Night present to the girls—an upgrade in the DIY fort kit Rebecca had brilliantly concocted for them a few years back. An expansion pack, if you will, on a previous roaring success.
They did not immediately give their delighted “ooh ooh ooh!” reaction that they are so good at, which is not surprising given that it was “just” a reboot, and came at the end of the holiday season. And yet, what matters more is that a few minutes later they were climbing all over the dining room, hanging rope, testing suction cups, and demanding that I fetch even more clothespins, and then got teary as we tried to peel them away to get to school on time.
A DIY fort kit is a great way to give a gift that inspires creativity, free play, and civil engineering practice. And it can be really cheap.
Having an unexpected chance at a last-minute final column for Metroland, is a blessing and a curse. No pressure, after an almost-12-year run. At first I scrambled to try to assemble a column on one of the topics I hadn’t gotten to, wanting to just continue as I had been, but over the holidays and it being a big topic, I couldn’t pull it together properly.
Instead, I will leave you with a distinctly non-exhaustive spattering of some questions I didn’t get to, or that I (and plenty others) have written about but remain important and unanswered, some rhetorical, some deeply not. Though Metroland was one important place we could have conversations like these, it needn’t be the only one. Continue reading →