Thursday, February 28, 2008

Next Project

Aubrie and I went to the Baltimore area last weekend for a visit with Katie...Aubrie stayed there all weekend while I traveled on to Ocean City to see my old cheerleaders compete at Nationals. This what the kitchen/dining room/living room looked like when we left on Thursday:

This is what it looked like on Monday:

Apparently remodeling the kitchen is the next project on our list...current plans include removing walls (done) and adding an island so the kitchen is open to the living/dining room, removing the ceiling fan and adding recessed lighting (done), new cabinets, new granite tile counters, new ceramic tile floors and new sink and dishwasher. Got to love tax refunds!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Aubrie!

Happy Third Birthday Aubrie!

Aubrie and Baaaa Enjoyed her third birthday party and seeing all of her Buffalo friends. The only person missing was cousin Kate who lives in London. I think that after looking at her map multiple times, Aubrie is finally starting to understand that Kate is very far away and not coming to visit right now.
The Dora cake, balloons, cups etc were a big hit as Aubrie is still obsessed with Dora.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Buffalo to Albany

Considering that we moved from Buffalo to Albany, and that I work for a construction company, I suppose that we can relate to the following recent article published in the BuffaloNews about Albany:

The payoff is seen in jobs and growth

Published on January 6, 2008
Author: Tom Precious - NEWS ALBANY BUREAU© The Buffalo News Inc.

Drive around Albany's Capital Region, and you see it happening.
Construction cranes dot the landscape. Cars with out-of-state license plates sit in apartment complexes, their owners lured from California, Texas and elsewhere to companies attracted by big pots of money from state government.
In downtown Albany over the past decade, new office towers -- some state-owned but not all -- have popped up, along with new hotels, while developers eye pricey residential plots.
A California developer, one of the nation's biggest apartment builders, is set to construct a $45 million complex of 300 high-end apartments -- its first project ever in the Northeast.
Across the street from that site is 330-acre, 1960s-era state office campus, which Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer is transforming into a sprawling mix of government and new private-sector structures with the potential for thousands of new jobs. High-end car dealerships and major retailers have opened, including Maine's L.L. Bean, which chose this area for its first New York store.
In nearby Troy, tony restaurants with Manhattan prices are scattered through the Victorian neighborhoods. Nearby buildings, renovated with state money, are filled with private companies and state workers relocated by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.
In Schenectady, well-paying jobs are moving back to General Electric after generations of bleeding at a complex Thomas Edison once called home. A desolate strip of downtown has been revitalized, again with the state's help, with new streets, state and private office buildings, hotels and a renovated historic theater. Even a new movie theater has opened, a rarity for a downtown area upstate. It is down the street from a new health insurer's offices housing nearly 1,000 workers.
"It's a very good day for our business and our community," GE Power Generation President Steve Bolze said at an October announcement for 500 new jobs, paying between $85,000 and $100,000. The state is giving GE $7.5 million.
"Our downtown is once again thriving," said Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton.
In Saratoga, one of the most vibrant communities on the East Coast, high-end condos costing $1 million are popping up, and real estate prices have soared so high that some fret over the prospects of lower public school enrollment, because middle-income families are being squeezed out.
This is the "other" upstate, where economic depression, fleeing population and a sense of hopelessness are not topics of nightly dinner conversations.
Imagine this: The state Labor Department says job growth in Albany could be better, if it only had more workers.
The region's population has grown from 830,000 in 1995 to to 851,000 in 2006, according to census figures, though the growth is all in the suburbs. Compared with the nation's growth, that is anemic. But compared with metro areas such as Buffalo and Syracuse, which saw a decline in population, it is an upstate success story.
And reliance on public sector jobs is growing faster in places like Buffalo -- from 87,800 to 93,700 total government employees over a decade -- than in Albany, according to federal statistics. Albany's total state and local government work force rose by just 600, to 106,600, in the same 10 years.
While Spitzer in 2007 added state jobs, Albany's state work force lost 6,000 positions from 1995 to 2006, or a decline of nearly 2 percent as a share of the overall work force, according to state labor figures.
The private-sector work force rose 12.4 percent during the period, while Buffalo's private-sector jobs went up by 0.15 percent.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently called the Albany area's job growth "modest but sustained" since 2000.
Housing prices in the Albany area have climbed -- averaging $195,000, or up 86 percent, between 1996 and 2006.
That compares with the average home price in the Buffalo area of $98,000, or up just 35 percent.
In Saratoga, many families can't afford to buy a home in town. In a couple of communities, social service groups have raised red flags about poor people being displaced in gentrifying neighborhoods.
And on the Northway in Saratoga County, the rush hour commutes now resemble those on parts of Long Island.
These are the kind of growing pains not seen elsewhere in upstate. Even the traditional houses in Saratoga Springs have seen a boom in resaleprices in recent years, not far from the new condos that are going for as muchas $1.2 million.