Friday, October 29, 2010

You go, girl! Woman, 88, says she hit 'vital spot' on intruder.
It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Walking across campus, I took a few pictures. The students are motivated more than usual to speak out against the planned program cuts in the humanities. It was too windy for them to display these cardboard tombstones the way they intended (too bad), but I decided to get a shot of them anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Breathtaking, even on a grey day. I think I've heard it is past peak weekend - but if that is true, then post-peak is prettier.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When are we going to fall behind and why did they make it so late for the past couple of years! I think I may be a minority opinion in this, and I can understand liking Daylight Savings Time during the summer, but at this point who cares if it is dark earlier in the evening? I can't stand getting up in the morning before it is light out, my system is completely out of whack. Owls unite and rebel! We want our hour back!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The governor's debate Monday night was funnier than any sitcom. I am not sure how they kept it together on stage, I would have had a hard time not laughing. I love this song! Gotta love NYS. Pluralism in action! Appreciated the madam too, challenged my stereotype - she seemed much brighter than I would have figured. But I had the image of Biff's Hill Valley in Back to the Future 2 in my mind with her vision of casinos as the solution to economic difficulties! 

It was sort of absurd with all the minor parties diluting things, but it was good TV and it actually changed my mind...I was planning to vote Cuomo (although I was also considering writing in John Nemjo of the "Green Tea Party" who has no platform and his campaign slogan is "I can't do any worse") - but then it hit me - Andrew is not his dad. I was so freaked out over how angry he is (a tag they have plastered on Palladino - who seemed almost calm by comparison. Also, he did not come off as prepared as I would have expected) and also by his remarks on consolidation and centralization of government (hands off my village, Andy) that I have now decided I am voting the Green Party (Howie Hawkes - what an accent! He can't really be from Syracuse). The other issue is hydrofracking - the NYC watershed is a no brainer, but I really do not want my beloved central NY destroyed either. 

I know he doesn't have a chance (and he may not be up to the task anyway) but I think it would be a very bad idea for Cuomo to be elected with the huge margin Spitzer saw back in '06. Look how that turned out! He certainly doesn't need to have an even bigger ego.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Them Cats

Just like everyone else in our family, Mimmie had many pets in her lifetime. In Mimmie’s case, most numerous were cats. “Numerous” is, perhaps, an understatement -- when she lived at the old house, at one time she may have had forty. Mimmie’s sister had a similar passion for dogs and my mother for horses (though in the horses’ case they have never numbered forty). Mimmie also cared for the cats that lived at the Watson Hollow Inn. In 1981 Mimmie recalled:
I remember I went down there all that summer and fed them cats, til Barnes bought the place, because the cats were there you know. I hated to go there, where I had gone so many times, every night and every morning, I fed the cats when they were there. It was an awful feeling, in that barn. I don’t think any place could get any more depressing than that was, after all that happiness that was there. I mean, even as old as they were then, all the ambition they had, and energy, and they never said we don’t feel like doing that this year, the Christmas tree out on the porch, or the Christmas lights, out there in the freezing cold fixing that at their age. And then in the spring, haul that out of there and get those Japanese lanterns up.

Often passersby would “drop” one cat or a whole bunch of kittens at the old house, in the field near the road. They would quickly become new members of the brood. A couple were indoor cats, but most lived outdoors. The outdoor cats were friendly to no-one but Mimmie. Getting large bags of dry food was an important part of shopping trips to Kingston. Conversations regarding what was to be done about “them cats” were frequent.

Daily, Mimmie would mix food and powdered milk with warm water in big pans and carry them outside; cats seemed to run from everywhere to greet her. A lasting image is of cats of every color and size, short- and long-haired, the beautiful and the not-so-lovely, swarming around her stockinged legs as she walked along, carefully balancing their supper, all the while warning them not to make her trip and fall.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Here's another subject I've been wanting to address.

It's not exactly a secret that I am into my animals and animals generally, and was so happy when this resulted in arrest, conviction, jail time, and life changing career impacts.

The TU has not exactly been a shining example on this issue. Then last week, there was this. Apparently it is a re-post from July 2009. A month later, I wrote this. (I had not read the original post.)

The TU blogger decided a re-post was warranted, after watching the game and reading this. The blogger asks "Have we lost our sense of forgiveness? Can someone do something that is unforgivable? My point is that in our culture we are quick to judge and extremely slow to forgive. Our culture does not value forgiveness and that is a shame."

I think these are good questions - but I think the premise is wrong. Our culture loves screw ups followed by apologies. It is almost like there isn't an issue with truly heinous behavior, as long as an apology is offered. "I'm sorry" has become so empty. Does it mean the person is really contrite? I wonder if the blogger would apply this to anyone who is famous, perhaps someone who he does not appreciate for their athletic skills or political viewpoint? I have my doubts.

Regardless, I have asked myself questions like that many times. Not about this specific individual - honestly, if I never saw his name again I would be happier, I would like to never give him or anyone of his ilk a second thought - but about people who matter to me. A couple of years ago, someone I never write about publicly (except in a very secretive way) was attempting to reconnect with me. I soul searched this question: "is it possible for someone to change?" I prayed. Then, in church, the answer came. In the sermon, it was noted that Jesus believed people could.

I did act on that message - grabbed the olive branch. Am I glad I did? Yes. Had change really occurred? The jury's still out, maybe not. But it turns out that all the water under the bridge had eroded the foundation, and it is not really possible for me to cross that bridge any longer. (Funny when my last post had something about bridges, too.) Do I struggle with this? Yes, but sometimes it is necessary to move on. To forgive yourself.

Aside from the false equivalency issue (what difference does it make that people were more vocally outraged in this case? Animals have no voice of their own. And just because we care about animals, does not mean we don't care about people. They aren't mutually exclusive, why do people who are lukewarm about (or dislike) animals assume that they are? Concern (and outrage) are not proportions that must add to 100 percent. They can be limitless, get it? Anyway, his argument is so tired it should be retired), the linked post that sparked the TU blogger to re-post the forgiveness piece is far more annoying.

He describes himself as someone who should be "carrying around a 16-gallon jug of haterade" but I think what his wife says is true. He's a dog liker, not a dog lover. There's a big difference, sorry. I know he was trying to be cute, but his derision for his current two is not funny to a dog lover.

My reactions to his itemized list:

1) Yawn. I'm no sports enthusiast, especially not football, but even if the "talent" was something I really appreciated, I feel pretty zero-tolerance about some issues. This is one.

2) Relativism. Predictable, trite, wishy-washy, patronizing and offensive. Culture is no excuse. Some things are objective. This is one.

3) Troublesome. I am aware of the current relationship with the HSUS. I applaud the HSUS for taking leadership in 2007, and I can understand why they want to take advantage of the situation now. (Although I am free to donate my money to local rescue organizations instead.) However, despite what the president says, I feel very cynical about the motivation and the apology. The image needed to be rehabilitated if a future career was to be a possibility. Brilliant strategy, actually. Do I believe this means he has transformed from a dog abuser and murderer to a dog lover? No. Dog liker? No. Dog tolerator? Well, that is what the law requires. He's not acting on his feelings now. That's all.

4) See #1. Pathetic justification.
OK. Here's one of the things I have wanted to write.

In the August 26 issue, the Olive Press featured an article entitled "An Appeal to Readers." (Can't link to it because that archived issue returns an error message.) It was basically reaching out to readers to find something -- I couldn't really decipher exactly what. I think it was either investors / advertisers or volunteers to help with production, or maybe all three.

On September 8, I read a cryptic post on facebook that suggested "our hometown newspaper" was "fading away." I posted a comment about what that meant which did not elicit a response from the elusive FB group owner.

An issue or two later (can't check whether it was in the next issue because that archived issue also returns an error message) there was an announcement that the October 7 issue would be the last one.

Finally, in the October 7 issue, the demise of the paper, and its slightly older sister, is chronicled in many articles, the editorial, etc.

I take no joy in having newspapers fold, but I see the handwriting on the wall even for major dailies, so it isn't exactly a shock. The OP could be a fun read, the letters column in particular. I think over the years it did improve, particularly the web presence, when it added PDF of the full version.

But I would not be honest if I didn't mark the occasion by ruminating a bit on my feelings about the alleged "hometown newspaper." Frankly, it never could be described with those words by me or a lot of folks I know. I recall being disgusted by both the POV and incredibly sloppy errors when it debuted. It seemed to be just another snarky take on the town, but instead of the frame being a swanky cocktail party, it was in print, the assault sent directly to everyone's mailbox.

Until recently, the website was an abbreviated version (and there are many issues that return error messages sprinkled through the archives), so I can't link to this either, but I remember a photograph feature in the early issues labeled "Eyesores of Olive." The pictures were of falling down houses, barns, shed, stores - places some remembered before they started leaning, and others that had been piles of wood with nature returning for many years. It was so insulting. Those places are not eyesores, they are memories, graves, time marching on, our collective experience. That's something that the OP always insisted they were providing - the veiled suggestion being that we had not been an insightful community before their sage commentary.

Does that seem like a reckless assertion on my part? Take a look at this editorial, from the January 4, 2004 issue: "In our very first issue, we told you our agenda was about building community, and we think we’ve been pretty successful doing that. A community isn’t a bunch of people who happen to live near each other. It’s a place where people understand that part of their lives is a partnership with others who share all the positive things that give them reason to be where they are, and whatever problems are also their neighbor’s problems. We’ve frequently heard comments to the effect that many folks barely realized Olive was actually its own town before the paper came along. While there is a certain humor to that, it does tell us that something very much like what we’re doing was overdue."

I wonder who barely realized Olive was actually a town before the OP came along?

In the first issue (January 2, 2003), the editorial says: "Call us impatient, but we figure after 179 years of being a town, it's time Olive had a regular newspaper of its own." That irritated those of us who now don't mourn the OP. We had newspapers before. Granted, the Onteora Record wasn't exclusively Olive focused, but you could hardly call the OP exclusively about our town, either. It was essentially the Phoenicia Times with a different masthead, and a couple of unique articles. The majority of content was identical. The Ulster County Townsman was Shandaken based, but in many ways, it covered the spirit of the town better than the OP. Its demise was sadder. Then, in the "olden days," the Freeman had columnists that covered town highlights. Sure, it was mostly social happenings...but it reflected our character.

That same OP editorial lists a bunch of names that were unfamiliar (and a couple that were known from their association with the Woodstock Times) and then this incredible assertion: "Anyway, the point's only that while this may be the very first issue of The Olive Press, we're already up to speed, and hardly anyone knows the neighborhood or the territory better."

Really? They knew the neighborhood and territory better than people who actually lived in the town? Or were elected officials in town government? Or ran a general store for years? Or had every single family member graduate from the school district? Or had hiked every mountain? Or had been writing things about Olive for longer than any of the listed writers had even known the town existed? Huh.

Oh, I know! They knew the neighborhood and territory better than those people who barely knew Olive was a town before the OP graced us with its appearance.

The following year, in an article about the movie Wendigo, the filmmaker is quoted "I mean, in 1912 New York City phoned the mayor up here and said, 'We want to take over your towns.' The Ashokan deserves more attention than I gave it in the movie. It was incredible. They bought your house, but they gave so little to people for their homes, considering their families may have come over on the Mayflower."

Now I understand this is a quote, so maybe the reporter didn't feel the need to fact check it. I also understand the filmmaker thought he was being empathetic toward town residents. But it is so incredibly lacking in veracity that it jumps off the page in its ignorance. That isn't how the Reservoir construction played out, at all. First, Olive has never had a mayor, not now, not then, not ever. Second, in 1912, I doubt the NYC mayor could have phoned anyone in Olive, mayor or not. Third, in 1912 the Reservoir was already under construction. Negotiations had concluded years before. Fourth, I suppose there are some families who could trace ancestors back to the Mayflower, but it is such a simplistic myth; it neglects the Dutch and Palatine roots.

This article, from the April 10, 2008 issue, really left me shaking my head. In a story about the NYC-owned bridges in the town, there are numerous quotes from people recollecting when the Traver Hollow Bridge was suddenly declared unsafe and closed while a new one was built during the 1970s. From the article "Anyone who has gazed down into the rocky canyon below the Traver Hollow Bridge can readily appreciate the dimensions of the feat of racing down and back up that terrain, lugging a heavy oxygen tank. "John and I ran it from there, switching (the oxygen gear) back and forth up to the house..."

Now, I can only assume the quote was either incorrect (very likely) or was intended to pull the reporter's leg and see how gullible he was (in that case, very) - because there is no way anyone ran oxygen tanks down and up the Traver Hollow. It's true that the bridge was closed to motorized traffic, even emergency vehicles. Yes, we rode the school bus from West Shokan to Boiceville by going across the reservoir in Shokan, and yes, it was a long hassle. I remember it well, the bus turned around on 28A at the bridge. I fell asleep every day on the bus (always an owl) and missed it entirely probably 2-3 times per week. But you could walk or bicycle over the bridge. I did it many times. If oxygen was needed on the opposite side, I'm sorry - it was carried across the bridge on foot. Not as fast or easy as driving it - but certainly not a mountain hike.

You could open up any issue and be greeted by a dozen howlers just like the Reservoir make believe and the bridge revisionism. Spotting them was almost a game, sort of like the scavenger hunt in Highlights magazine.

This site has a longer version of the "It's Over..." piece from the October 7 edition. What has been edited out is interesting.

This: "(A rival independent Shandaken-based newspaper, the Ulster County Townsman, died last year after half a century of publication.)

This: "Throughout their short lifespans, the Phoenicia Times and Olive Press have earned a reputation for anti-establishment leanings and lefty politics. (In 2006, a cameo appearance by Powers in a cranky New York Times column about Phoenicia propelled the paper into a brief war with the right-leaning Ulster County Townsman.)"

I guess the OP was uncomfortable about reminding readers of their disdain at that time for the Townsman.

How about this: "The two newspapers have gotten in trouble for not taking stands, too. (As every reporter finds out sooner or later, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.) 'They were angry about the way I kept describing [the Large Parcel debate] in these flat terms that didn't take sides."

Oh yeah? I call BS. This, from a January 20, 2005 editorial, sounds like taking sides to me: "It is fundamentally unreasonable that similar properties in adjacent towns pay wildly different taxes to support the same school system."

Or this, from November 11, 2004: "Even in Olive, some of the anger and the militancy surrounding the large parcel issue is beginning to soften, as, we think, it should."

This "memoir" would not be complete without mentioning my interactions with the letters column over the years. I've created a label for my posts about those occasions. The letters column was usually quite lively. There were some serial writers, unfortunately, and they came off as obsessed nutjobs - I was careful to not become one (although it was tempting at times).

In the last issue's editorial, it says: "For our occasionally imperfect coverage and whatever errors and omissions we're managed over nearly ten years, I apologize." Is this me wearing a red dress to a funeral? I guess so. I apologize.
Between my two major obligations (teaching/advising and consulting) ~ all of which are really revved up right now, I have zero time for writing (or drawing) anything significant here. Today there are several things I should be doing, but I promised myself that I would be able to spend some time today releasing pent-up posts, so here goes!

On the fun side, we went to Goold's apple festival on Sunday. It was great, as it was last year, but the weather was better this year, since it wasn't windy. We had a freeze warning on Saturday night, so I covered a few plants, brought some basil inside, and harvested the remaining basil, also the tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. It didn't freeze, though. I covered them again last night, but I think once again, it wasn't a killing frost. I still have to freeze the basil and beans I picked. Something I might have snuck in today, if I didn't want to release these pent-up posts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I've been meaning to post this for a while - just great!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

So busy! We closed the pool on Saturday - it was long overdue since we had not been in it in a month. It was still crystal clear, though, and it is always bittersweet. But we had lots of help this year - before Bob's surgeries we did it with just the two of us and it was a nightmare. Then last year we hired a pool company, which was a breeze, although expensive. So this year, with a big crew, it was fun! We had a big dinner afterwards, that was our thank you. Maybe it will become an annual event, although I'd like it to be in September.

Yesterday, this struck me as mean-spirited (not the post as much as the comments, which are awful) and this struck me as creepy - downright "stalkerish" (the post itself, there were few comments). But seeing the recent comments and resulting explanation on the second linked post have somewhat rectified my concern.

Will write more about other stuff soon! Have to get my mind around all that is swirling in the professional arena.