Sessions at Overit

Overit, who has recently finished setup of their studio has launched Sessions at Overit, a great way to showcase artists and their facility in tandem.

Sessions at Overit is a web series created to showcase international talent in the music industry. We ask bands to perform a few songs in our Albany, NY recording studio and talk a little about what inspires them.

You can view the full sessions on their website. Sessions so far include Philm, Greg Nash, Sit Kitty Sit, John Brodeur, and Owl. I just checked out the most recent session and it’s a really incredible effort on all those involved to create these sessions.

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A 50-acre field in Geneva NY is the worlds largest collection of Apple varieties

From Aaron Lowinger, writing for The Public:

Earlier this month, in a room outside a greenhouse, two men sat beneath a cloud of fruit flies, using oversized knives to cut into the flesh of grape-sized, lime-green fruits. Generically, even colloquially, speaking: southern crab apple. Untold years of research, unknown hours of searching through tough terrain, and no doubt some element of luck have brought these oddly shaped and brightly colored fruits to a USDA research facility in Geneva, New York, where they will be the newest accession to the national apple collection. The USDA’s collection holds around 6,600 accessions representing more than 2,500 genetically unique varieties of Malus, the fruit’s Latin name.

Perhaps due to the monolithic preference for the popular cultivated varieties—Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, McIntosh, Granny Smith—apples are very susceptible to disease and blight, and require extensive use of pesticides. The collection’s trees are no exception. Researchers hope that somewhere within the near infinite number of possible crosses that can be made from the Geneva apples, horticulturalists will breed apples that are disease-resistant and better engineered for various soils and climates. Fewer pesticides and fertilizers mean a cheaper crop without the negative side effects of animal poisoning and water pollution.

Really wild to know that a place like this exists, and it’s especially interesting after reading all the blurbs at Indian Ladder about apples made at Cornell. If you’re into this kind of thing, check out Episode 627 of Planet Money: The Miracle Apple.

Local coffee roaster a finalist in Super Bowl commercial contest

Round Lake based coffee roaster Death Wish Coffee is one of ten finalists in Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game contest. The grand prize for winning is an all expenses paid Super Bowl commercial.

If you’d like to see a local business during the Super Bowl, you can vote for Death Wish with one click. And if this is the first you’re hearing of DWC, read their about page to become more familiar. The contest runs until November 3 and you can vote every 24 hours.

Agloe, circled here, was once a fictional town in upstate New York.

Agloe, New York

I came across the Wikipedia page for Agloe, NY, and it’s the perfect storm of interesting, relevant, and nerdy. Agloe, NY only sort of exists in the sense it was made as a copyright trap, but then actualized by people who set up shop in the fictional town. Then, at some point after being real, becomes not real.

Agloe is a fictional place in Delaware County, New York, that became an actual landmark after mapmakers made up the town as a copyright trap.

In the 1930s, General Drafting Company founder Otto G. Lindberg and an assistant, Ernest Alpers, assigned an anagram of their initials to a dirt-road intersection in the Catskill Mountains: NY 206 and Morton Hill Road, north of Roscoe, New York. The town was designed as a copyright trap to be able to catch others who might copy their map.

You can read more about Agloe on Radiolab, watch a TED Talk or even listen to an album from Kirk Pearson and BIT about the weird little down that didn’t exist, then did, and now doesn’t.


This American Life: 419 Petty Tyrant

The most recent This American Life tells the story of Steve Raucci, a maintenance worker from Schenectady.

From TAL:

In Schenectady, NY, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he’s in charge of the maintenance department. That’s when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

Add this to your podcast app, or listen on the This American Life website.

Photo: Rae Allen/flickr


Best things and stuff, 2014

There’s a lot of awesome things that I feel are valuable but might not be well known, so I’ve made a list. There’s no theme whatsoever, but hopefully you’ll find something on here that makes your life better for the new year.

Great purchases

Board Games: People seem to wince at the idea of a board game but will play pool or darts in a bar all night. Blokus is just one of many games that’s easy to pick up, hard and fun game. Also check out Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride.

USB Battery Packs: These things can charge your phone a bunch of times, cost $25 and go unnoticed in a backpack until you need it. And when you need it, this thing is a life saver.

Cloth Lightning Cables: The cables Apple ships are delicate, and you can’t trust your friends to treat them right when they borrow ’em. These are twice as long, MFI certified, and made out of a durable cloth material.

Rice Cooker: Seriously. This thing is a game changer for the home cook. Make brown or white rice, quinoa, lentils, bring a batch of dried beans to life, or steam cook some veggies, all with next to zero effort.

Great websites to read

Hacker News: Super intelligent technology and programming news with the best comments section on the internet. From the people at Y Combinator, a VC company.

Facebook Pages Feed: Facebook sucks because of the tons of boring/annoying people you’re obligated to add, so this link lets you only view updates from pages instead of idiots.

Reddit: Again, like Facebook, reddit sucks if you use it wrong. Make an account, unsubscribe from all the default garbage they feed you and resubscribe to small, specific subreddits, such as the Albany or Coffee ones. The fewer you subscribe to the better this works.

The Wirecutter: What’s the best TV? Or the best headphones? This site has the answers. They also have a home goods focused website, called The Sweethome which can tell you which pillows or bed sheets are the best.

Great places to eat

Tara Kitchen: This is the best restaurant in the Capital Region, and if you haven’t been, do so as soon as you can. I hadn’t had Moroccan food until I ate here a few months ago and I need to make up for lost time.

Empire Wok: Because sometimes you need trash Chinese food and they do a great job and have every meat-analog possible.

Capital City Gastropub: Great varied menu alongside solid classics. Great cocktail menu too.

Parivar: A cafe in the back of an Indian spice store serving North and South Indian street foods. The absolute best Indian food I’ve ever had.

Cheesecake Machismo: I can’t even eat cheesecake but the idea that there’s a specialty cheesecake spot makes me happy. And everyone who has eaten here loves it.

Great places to have a drink

Wine Bar on Lark: Half price cocktails during happy hour and some of the best food as well.

McGeary’s: Quite simply, a solid bar. About 30 beers on tap, a solid pub food menu and great staff.

Stacks: Not technically a drink drink, but having a multi-roaster coffee shop is amazing.

The Shop, Troy: An actual cocktail bar with no gimmicks.

Great blogs to read

Zen Habits: Focus on what matters. This is one of the most valuable websites on the internet. Start here.

James Clear: Productivity, fitness and motivation in well written, easy to read articles. Start here.

DEDPXL: Photography website that has intensive video critiques as well as photography challenges among other great things.

Great apps

Overcast: If you’ve only learned about podcasts because of Serial, welcome to the vast post-radio world. This is the best app to use for podcasts as it has Smart Speed (removes small silences between words to speed podcasts up without you noticing), Voice Boost (because some people don’t bother to master their podcasts) and a web-based player. Made by Marco Arment, the dude who co-founded Tumblr.

Waze: Social GPS, but more importantly you can report speed traps and be notified of others who report them. It also has live traffic updates and will re-route you around traffic if it’s faster.

Todoist: A to-do app. This is the only way I can keep track of what needs to be done and. Has a web and desktop counterpart as well.

Pillow: Sleep cycle alarm clock that wakes you up at the specific point of your sleep cycle so you’re not groggy and you wake up easily. It works very well and is one of the reasons I can manage to get up relatively early.

AlbanyWorks4U: This is basically Albany’s equivalent of calling 311. Report things to the city such as illegal garbage or your horrible neighbors doing crazy repair work without permits.

Instagram: It only sucks if you use it wrong. Don’t follow friends simply because they’re your friend, follow them because they post interesting things you want to see.

Spotify: Obvious, but if you’re not using this to search for and subscribe to playlists you’re missing 99% of the value of this app. There’s playlists for things such as “Songs that mention Halle Berry” and “Songs that reference Pablo Picasso”.

Great instagrammers to follow

avianrecon: Because birds are sick.

usinterior: Because America is sick.

themercerstreetproject: Local woman inherited a house full of insane things and posts photos of these things as they’re discovered.

notdumbpictures: The most slept on instagrammer. Constantly awesome photos.

arnold_daniel: Obvious, but if you haven’t heard of this dude you’re seriously missing out.

me: Shameless. Vaguely Albany themed, infrequent and interesting.