Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who Done It Murder Mystery

Who doesn't love a good mystery, especially Who Done Its?

I went to one murder mystery in Mechanicville (quasi-alliteration there...nice) and it was a blast.

Diane Conroy LaCivita, owner of the Harmony Market place in Cohoes, let me know that there is an interactive Murder Mystery fundraiser coming up on Nov. 4 (Friday). It's called "Voices" and it's being sponsored by the Creative Arts Committee at Siena College.

The public is welcome to be a part of the detective team and talk to the dead and old ghosts while solving the who done it plot.

It may be a few days after Halloween, but I think most people will still be in the spirit of things.

"Voices" begins at 7 p.m. in the New Hall at Siena College, located on Route 9 in Loudonville. Tickets are $40 each or $75 per couple, which includes a light meal.

For further information, call Darrin Kibbey at 782-6751.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Never Thought I'd Be Excited to Get a Death Certificate

The Little Theater on the Farm in Fort Edward is in the midst of their 7th annual Haunted Barn.

Their site explains that "Between a community of souls and a dark evil forest, a family stood guard to protect their friends and neighbors. The forest learned how to get rid of that family and now they are gone."

I have two tickets for the haunted house. Only the $5 tickets actually have "Standard Certificate of Death" on them (complete with official filing info for the Division of Vital Statistics - State Board of Health). This group that does kid around. Well, they do...but in a cool, creepy way.

I've never been but it's this Friday and Saturday (Oct. 28 and 29 from 6pm to 9pm at 27 Plum Road in Fort Edward).

Enter if you dare. I think I'm daring to Friday night.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Turmoil in Aftermath of Turkish Earthquake

If you thought that 5.8 magnitude earthquake did a decent amount of damage in Virginia and to the Washington Monument, I have a feeling the 7.2 quake that just hit Turkey caused absolute chaos.

According to reports, the death toll in eastern Turkey has risen to at least 138 people, with a possibly higher count expected when crews go through the rubble from collapsed buildings.

Tens of thousands have been affected in the district of Celebigag and the hardest hit area, Ercis, which is close to the Iranian border and has a population of about 75,000. Van, another city south of Ercis, also sustained damage.

Up to 80 buildings collapsed in Ercis, including a dormitory, and 10 collapsed in Van, the Turkish Red Crescent said. And prison inmates in Van escaped when a wall fell.

During the quake, people fled into the streets and phone lines were jammed with people calling relatives and friends.

I have a couple friends in Turkey but luckily they are in the western part of the country, near the capital, Ankara (that's right, Istanbul is not the capital, though it is Constantinople).

There were more than 100 aftershocks recorded in the 10 hours after the quake, according to the Associated Press.

I just really hope this ancient fault line we're on doesn't get that active.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five Tips for Next Year's Troy Chowderfest

This past weekend's Troy Chowderfest was a huge success, perhaps too huge. (which, as we know from the Billy Fuccillo commercials, is entirely possible)

Hundreds gathered along the riverfront for the fifth annual festival which featured over a dozen vendors' chowders - some had lobster, crab, their own bread bowl, southwest flavor, cajun zest, corn, or traditional clams.

The organizers did a good job with the festival and I think more than expected showed up - as demonstrated by the $1 chowder tickets selling out.

While I had a lot of fun walking around, seeing friends and running into a lot of people - all the while eating several cups of $1 chowder - I do have a few suggestions that I'm surprised have not yet been addressed.

1) At popular vending stations, I think it should be essential to dish out the chowder in the cups prior to the orders so the patron gets the chowder in a timely manner and then the next person can be served. There were a few lines that I think could have gone a little faster than "glacial" speed (as one person described it to me) if this happened.

2) If a vendor is about to run out of chowder, there should be a signal - like a flag. My thought is maybe a green flag can be flown if all of the chowders are still stocked, a yellow flag if one of the selections is about to run out, and a red flag if the vendor sold out of all of their chowder. And the flag colors could be written on the leaflet given out. I waited in at least two lines this past Saturday that were futile uses of time since by time we got to the end, they were out of chowder.

3) Locations of the chowder vendors should be designated on the leaflet that is handed out with the tickets for chowder. I can't tell you how many times I heard people ask about where certain businesses were located. I do enjoy reading the descriptions of the chowders on the hand out but it'd be even better to know how to get to them.

4) All vendors should be asked to bring enough chowder for at least 500 people. The event this year was advertised as running from 11am to 4pm but by 1:30pm several of the places had already sold out. I expected this the first year, which did happen within the first hour of the festival, but I think five years is enough time for trial and error and figure out how much chowder to make. For newbies, maybe they could get advice from seasoned veteran businesses - Dinosaur and Albany Pump Station lasted a while this year but even Yanni's sold out by 2:30pm.

5) While it sounds like a good idea to have two big Troy events on the same weekend (Chowderfest and Brown's Oktoberfest) - don't. Part of the fun of the Oktoberfest is the biergarten tent which couldn't be assembled this year due to the chowder tents in the same area that would be used for Brown's. On top of this, people get tired after waiting in long lines and, yes, I remedied that with Brown's Pumpkin Ale, not everyone might want to wait in more lines or be around more crowds.

I'm sure there were other things that I didn't address that stuck out in people's minds (maybe bringing back the reusable bowls or having volunteers help with regulating lines) and I'm positive there were good things I didn't mention (all the business/positive advertising this brings to Troy).

You can't please everyone, but...we can try by putting on the best chowderfest we can, next year.

Who Wants Free Airfare to Japan?

If you can write a review of a trip and you have a passport, you can apply for one of 10,000 free plane tickets to Japan that should become available by April 2012. (And even if you don't have a passport now, you'll have time to get one.)

This offer almost seems too good to be true, and it is since it has not yet been approved by Japanese lawmakers.

But, if the Japanese National Tourist Organization has their way, the $14.3 million in expenditures for the plane tickets will be passed - mainly to improve the current state of tourism after the March nuclear accident. In order to qualify, applicants must agree to write about their experience, which will equate to "free" advertising for Japan which has suffered a blow in their tourism industry.

Since this has not yet been passed, no details have been posted on the site yet but - if I were you (or me) - I'd keep an eye out on the JNTO site.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Meet a Playboy Playmate

If you hurry, and don't mind driving in the rain, you could meet a real Playboy Playmate at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Playmate Crystal McCahill, or Miss May 2009 as she's known to her friends, is helping to introduce the casino's newest slot machines - Playboy Platinum.

The casino is also offering $3 Bunny Cocktails to coincide with the event which will be 7pm to 8pm on the gaming floor and 8-10pm in Vapor. I have no idea what a bunny cocktail is (and I googled it)....but I suppose that's probably secondary to meeting someone who posed nude in a calendar once.

Tickets for the meet and greet can be purchased at

The casino and raceway is located on Crescent Avenue in Saratoga Springs.

(and yes, the photo is of her - from one of her social networking pages)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I think I was first introduced to the term geocaching several years ago while watching PBS. I'll admit, I didn't quite understand the concept and it seemed kinda geeky. But, I am a bit of a dork/geek myself....which is evident from my watching PBS to begin with.

I had my first experience with geocaching this weekend with my friend Anthony, who has found more than a dozen "caches" at this point.

Basically, you go on a geocaching Website, find a cache near you (or where ever you might want to find one), enter the GPS coordinates, and find the object when you get to those coordinates. The caches vary in size from very small to medium to large. Inside there are knickknacks like buttons, plastic bugs, CDs, and any other object you can think of. Once you find the cache, you have the option to add an object and take one. The ability to find the caches also range from easy to very difficult, in that you might have to climb a mountain or only be able to reach some of them by boat. But it's also cool to think that some of these we pass everyday if they're located on a busy city street.

It's like a worldwide scavenger hunt. In fact, there are some finds where you have to go to multiple locations to eventually get to cache, just like a treasure hunt.

I helped with three of the finds on Saturday. In these instances, we went to Saratoga Springs where we found the canisters under fallen trees and one was hanging from a tree. Anthony gave me great advice for finding these caches - which was to basically look for unnatural things (like lined up sticks or rope hanging from trees) when geocaching.

The three caches I did were near Saratoga Springs' State Park, and two near the city's dog park.

I had a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend trying it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beware of Moose

The Department of Environmental Conservation is warning motorists to watch out for moose on the loose. (yeah, I had to use that rhyming moose's in my media ink-drenched blood)

Apparently, this is the time of year when the moose breed and sightings might be a bit more prevalent, according to the DEC.

Now that I think about it, it was around this time last year that my brother saw a moose near my parent's place in Grafton. He was just out for a run and ran right into a moose.

While I personally would love to see one, I'm not sure the best time of year would be mating season. They tend to be a bit more aggressive, or so I hear.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

EZ Pass: One of the Reasons the State is in Debt

So, in my blog title, I might be a little hasty and exaggerating the affects of EZPass on the state's everyday financial life.
But...when they do something as stupid as what happened with me. They kinda deserve it.
You may remember how in August I accidentally went through an EZ Pass lane. It was raining, I had just lost my passenger side windshield wiper, and apparently my ability to discern "cash" from "EZPass." I admit, it was a stupid mistake.
To my slight surprise, after appealing through the state Thruway and EZPass, they reduced the $43 fine (including an $18 toll assuming I came from Buffalo and not Albany and a $25 administrative fee) to $5.25, the actual toll that I would have paid from Albany to the NYC area.
I was extremely happy and had almost a new found appreciation for this process, even though (as can be seen with the $25 admin fee) it's an expensive process.
This respect and appreciation, however, was shattered the day I got another toll violation notice in the mail and further shattered when I called EZ Pass today.
In preparation of the call, I dug out the piece of paperwork they sent stating I only owed $5.25 and then compared it with the new violation. I then noticed they had two (very) different reference numbers and I wondered if EZPass had sent me the wrong account number to pay the balance, which I noticed had been deducted from my account two days prior to the postmark of the new violation.
As I attempted to find my way through the EZPass phone option maze, which eventually tried to have me just pay the bill online, I finally got an operator named Edward.
I explained the situation to him, told him about the first violation notice, the appeal, the bill, paying the bill, and gave him both reference numbers. I was then put on hold for 10 minutes. After which, he said he and his supervisor came to the conclusion that they sent me the wrong reference/account number to pay the bill. And that I had paid someone else's balance.
He then put me on hold again. And then once more, ya know, for good measure.
By the end, I had spent at least 30 minutes on the phone (or waiting on the phone) with EZPass. Edward said he would put in a request to change the payment so it would pay my balance and not someone else's. And he said I would receive documentation about this in 7 to 10 business days.
So, overall, it was a success.
I just thank my parents for instilling that "trust no one, especially the government" mentality (or was it Fox Mulder that instilled, it was my parents who encouraged being a pack rat) which led to keeping my documentation since I doubt this could have been resolved without that.
Now, I await the finalization of this. I just hope this new paperwork doesn't say I have to pay the $43 again, which will lead to appealing again.
This is why the state is in debt....if they were a bit more organized, maybe EZ Pass and the Thruway would actually collect their tolls efficiently, ease the deficit and cut down on administrative costs.