Almanack Contributor John Warren

John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Adirondack Summer Music Festivals

The Adirondack region is home to a variety of summer music festivals. Tomorrow, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley will be playing at the Wild Center’s second annual WildFest – which also marks the opening of the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks‘ “Wings over the Adirondacks bird-themed experience.” Here are the details:

The free, day-long WildFest ‘07 celebration is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m. so visitors can get home in time for evening fireworks. The live music begins at 10:30 a.m. and the ceremony to open Wings over the Adirondacks at 11:00 a.m. There will be an entire tent on the campus dedicated to bird presentations. Visitors will be treated to a preview of the Wild Center’s planned Bird Skywalk and Skytowers, and tours of what is now the ‘greenest’ building in the Adirondacks. When the Skywalk is complete in 2008, it will showcase nearly 100 bird exhibits, and will take visitors up to the top of the tree canopy.

WildFest’s musical headliners include legendary musician Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys and the great live performer Martin Sexton. Other bands will feature music from the places Adirondack birds migrate to, including the Caribbean.

There will be a children’s tent featuring the Zucchini Brothers, a musical group lauded as “the Beatles of kid music,” and a Bird Tent where birding organizations will help visitors see the world of birds. The day will include free flight bird shows with live birds.

This year’s moe.down (the 8th annual) promises to be a quite a festival:

Nearly 20 acts, including Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, The Roots, Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, Amos Lee and Meat Puppets have signed on for this year’s moe.down.

The August 31 to September 2 festival will be held at the Snow Ridge Ski area in Turin, N.Y., at the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. Festival founders moe. will perform a total of six sets throughout the weekend.

Other acts on the roster for the three-day shindig include Uncle Earl, Strangefolk, State Radio, Al and the Transamericans, Rolla, Ryan Montbleau, Lotus, Ra Ra Riot, Ha Ha the Moose, The Brakes, VietNam and Acoustic Forum.

A limited number of tickets are available at $95 until they run out or until August 12, after which tickets will be $110. Full details on the festival and tickets can be found at www.moe.org/moedown.

This is the eighth year for the event, which promises three days of music, camping and all around fun. Ski lifts will be open during the festival, and fans are encouraged to bring their mountain bikes.

Regular reader Ted Lehmann over at Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms has written to let us know that he’ll be attending, photographing, and reviewing the first annual Mountain Meltdown in Saranac Lake (which ended yesterday), the Fox Family Bluegrass Festival (August 9, 10, 11, & 12, 2007 in Old Forge) and the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival in North Creek (August 24-26).

If there are other festivals we should know about, drop us a note.


Monday, June 25, 2007

2007 NY Legislative Results: Adirondack Edition

John Sheehan, of The Adirondack Council sent a set of e-mails outlining bills in the final days of the the State Legislature’s 2007 session that will have an impact on the Adirondacks. We’ll reprint part of his e-mails here for your information:

Raquette Lake Water Supply: On Wednesday June 20, at about 9:30 pm, the Assembly granted final passage to a Constitutional Amendment to allow the hamlet of Raquette Lake to construct its drinking water supply system on the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. Construction (aside from trailside lean-tos and ranger cabins) is currently banned on the Forest Preserve. This bill would give permission only to Raquette Lake, and requires the Town of Long Lake, in which the hamlet is located, to swap a similar tract of land to the state to make up for the lost acreage. The bill passed both houses in 2006 and now will be on the November 2007 statewide ballot. It does not require the Governor’s signature. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and Assem. Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, the Assembly EnCon chairman.

Route 56 Power Line Construction: The New York Power Authority is seeking permission from the public to construct a power supply line from Stark Falls Reservoir power dam in Colton, St. Lawrence County, to Tupper Lake, Franklin County, where power outages have been severe and frequent. NYPA has agreed to build the line along the side of Route 56, crossing an area of Forest Preserve, rather than detouring the line through an environmentally sensitive area containing endangered species, wetlands and an ancient white pine forest. In this case, the private lands around the Forest Preserve are wilder and in greater need of protection that the area of Forest Preserve adjacent to the state highway.

The Route 56 constitutional amendment passed the legislature last year, but had to be retracted due to errors in the first version. The Assembly’s approval late last night now represents first passage of a new amendment, so it must be passed again by a separately elected legislature before it can go on the ballot. The soonest that can happen is January 2009. Given the need to construct the line as soon as possible, environmental organizations have agreed not to try to prevent NYPA from building the power line without the benefit of official permission, explaining that the alternate route would cause needless ecological degradation to remote, pristine areas. A new power line right-of-way would only add to the threat of all-terrain vehicle trespass into those areas and adjacent Forest Preserve.The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assemblyman Sweeney.

Fire Fighting Costs: Also late night on June 20th, the Assembly granted final passage to a bill repealing the requirement that the 12 Adirondack Park counties and 3 Catskill Park counties repay the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for the assistance of state forest rangers in fighting forest fires on state lands in the two wilderness parks. This arcane fee had so outraged local officials that DEC had been reluctant in recent years to even bill them. The fee was a thorn in the side of the late Sen. Ronald Stafford, who sponsored similar legislation to repeal it, but was stopped short by the Assembly’s objections. The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assem. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent. The 12 Adirondack Forest Preserve counties are Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington. The three Catskill Forest Preserve counties are Greene, Sullivan and Ulster.

Environmental Protection Fund Expander: A bill sponsored by both Houses’ EnCon Chairmen, Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, and Assemblyman Sweeney. It would increase the Environmental Protection Fund from its current level of $150 million per year to $300 million by FY2009-10. The EPF’s main capital projects funds are for landfill closure and recycling grants, parks and historic preservation and open space. This bill has passed the Assembly and is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee. Under this bill, the funds available for open space should increase from the current $50 million annually to about $100 million.

Lake Colby Horsepower Limit: This bill would limit the size of boat motors on Lake Colby, near Saranac Lake, to 10 HP. The lakeshore owners requested this for their own peace and to preserve a colony of nesting loons. It has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly Rules Comte. It is sponsored by Sen. Little and Assem. Janet DuPrey, R-Plattsburgh.

NYS Invasive Species Council: A bill creating one has passed the Senate and awaits action in Assembly Rules. Sweeney/Marcellino.

Climate Change Task Force: A bill creating one is out of committee and awaiting action in each house; ready to pass when taken up. Marcellino/Sweeney.

Mileage and CO2: A bill would require carbon dioxide emissions information to be posted on the same sticker as mileage ratings for cars sold in New York State. Sweeney/Marcellino.

NCPR has a full report on what was left undone by our increasingly disfunctional legislature, including the Senates failure to confirm Spitzer’s choices to head the Adirondack Park Agency, the Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors, and the Upstate Economic Development Corporation.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Center for Writing: Best Adirondack Books of 2006

Adirondack Center for Writing‘s 2nd Annual Adirondack Literary Awards were announced last week in Blue Mountain Lake. The honors were bestowed upon the best books published “in or about the Adirondacks” in 2006. There were 37 entries this year.

And the winners were:

Brian Mann’s Welcome to the Homeland: A Journey to the Rural Heart of America’s Conservative Revolution (Steerforth Press) won both the Best Nonfiction Book category and the People’s Choice Award, voted on by members of the Adirondack Center for Writing.

For the second year in a row, a trio of poets from the Saratoga region took the prize for Best Poetry Book was awarded for the second year in a row to Glacial Erratica: Three Poets on the Adirondacks, Part 2 (30-Acre Wood Publishing – apparently not available online) by Mary Sanders Shartle, Elaine Handley, and Marilyn McCabe.

Rick Henry’s book Lucy’s Eggs: Short Stories And a Novella (Syracuse University Press)won top prize in the fiction category.

Irene Uttendofsky won Best Children’s Book for Adirondack Mouse and the Perilous Journey (Spruce Gulch Press).

Lueza Thirkield Gelb from New York City received the Best Memoir Book award for her Schroon Lake (Pulpit Harbor Press).

Two books tied the Edited Collections category: Oswegatchie: A North Country River (North Country Books) and No Place I’d Rather Be: Wit and Wisdom from Adirondack Lean-to Journals (Adirondack Mountain Club).

Adirondack Waters: Spirit of the Mountains (North Country Books) by Mark Bowie won Best Photography Book.

Congratulations!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Dangers of Americade

This past week marked the 25th Anniversary of Americade, one of Lake George’s premier tourist events. The motorcycle rally, billed as the world’s largest for touring bikes, brings bikers of all stripes to pack Lake George streets and bars. It also brings locals from nearby towns into the village on what, for some, is one of the only trips they’ll make there all year.

There’s an excellent article on Americade and its founder Bill Dutcher by Associated Press sports writer John Kekis. It gives a nice history of the rally’s founding, touches on the boon in trike riders (that’s good for Chestertown’s Adirondack Ural) and the event’s economic impact. It also, makes some pretty crazy claims about how safe the event is.

Here are some highlights:

Upward of 60,000 motorcycle enthusiasts – most on two wheels, but many now on three – will ride into town this week and transform this village of fewer than 1,000 full-time residents into a motorcycle heaven.

The rally, which once filled the economic void between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, is now the mainstay of the whole year. Past estimates of Americade’s economic impact have been pegged at anywhere from $20 million to $40 million, though Dutcher hopes to get a more accurate figure this year from research to be conducted by the Technical Assistance Center at Plattsburgh State University.

“It is our largest single week economically,” longtime Lake George Mayor Robert M. Blais said. “It takes up every road and byway. People have come to accept it.”

Indeed we have. In fact they are still rolling by our house 20 minutes north of the village right now, days after the rally officially ended.

Blais was in office when Dutcher originally came to the village board with his idea. The moment remains etched in his mind.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Blais said. “I understood fully it was the touring folks that would be coming, but when I brought it to the attention of the village board, they were apprehensive. They didn’t want another Sturgis. They were concerned it was going to be loud, troublesome, boisterous.”

It wasn’t. Americade is about as peaceful as a motorcycle rally can be. And it certainly is no Sturgis, the massive South Dakota rally where 11 of the 300,000 people who showed up at the ride’s 50th anniversary in 1990 died. Dutcher said he is aware of only one death among the hundreds of thousands of bikers who have registered for Americade over the years.

That’s stretching the truth to say the least. Any local you ask will tell you about the riders killed every year at Americade time. They may not all have been officially registered for the rally – which costs anywhere from $57 to $95 per rider, depending on the package – but many visitors to Americade have been killed coming and going, and in tooling around locally in the days before and after the event.

But while the Americade website offers no safety advice or links, it does take pains to remind a certain class of riders that:

Americade… [is] a convention of riders and passengers who enjoy riding tourers, sport-tourers and cruising motorcycles.

Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It’s NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud motorcycles. Americade supports the AMA position that “Loud Pipes Risk Rights.”

Nowhere does it remind riders that, unfortunately, riding a motorcycle is dangerous in our car-centered, self-absorbed world. It’s one of the most important issues facing bikers (as well as pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists) today. It’s probably safe to say that every bike club in America has a memorial to one of their riders killed by a car or truck.

New York has the highest number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries in the U.S. What’s more, pedestrian and cyclist deaths make up a majority of traffic deaths in the state.

Just this past week a car-bike collision hit close to home when we learned the news that Alan Gregory, author of Alan Gregory’s Conservation News was hit by an 85-year old driver while bicycling near is home. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and is in long term hospital care.

Although Alan’s home is in Conyngham, Pennsylvania, until he was run-down in the street by a car, he was a regular writer on topics Adirondack and a staunch and intelligent defender of the Adirondack wilderness. His concern for the Adirondack environment is the kind of concern that has helped make Lake George such a great place to have a touring rally. The natural beauty of the Adirondacks is, in fact, one of Americade’s main features.

The promoters of Americade need to be reminded that it isn’t the rebellious who are the danger at Americade. The danger is that Americaders, and others, have to share our common roadways with highway hogs.

Americade’s promoters and participants have the perfect opportunity to engage us in serious ideas about sharing the roadway with people using other forms of transportation – bikes, cars, trains, buses, and feet.

Denying that there is a danger to Americaders, is not the first step.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Adirondack Events: Watershed Ecology Lecture Series

The Lake George Land Conservancy and the Lake George Association a presenting a series of lectures on natural features of the Lake George watershed this spring and summer. The series of speakers will address the ecology and natural history plants and animals found around Lake George.

The events are free and open to the public. they will be held on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at either the Lake George Association or the Lake George Land Conservancy; light refreshments will be provided.

June 14, “Bats in your Backyard,” Al Hicks, NYSDEC Mammal Specialist, 7 p.m. at LGA office.

June 28, “Lake George Fish: Natural History and Ecology,” Emily Zollweg, NYSDEC Senior Aquatic Biologist, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

July 12: “Zebra Mussels in Lake George,” John Wimbush, Darrin Fresh Water Institute researcher, 7 p.m. at LGA office.

July 26: “Rattlesnakes at Lake George: What You Need to Know but Were Afraid to Ask,” Bill Brown, associate professor emeritus of Biology at Skidmore College, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

Aug. 9: “Mushrooms of the Adirondacks,” Nancy Scarzello, 7 pm at LGA office.

Aug. 23: “Exploring Pond Life: Turtles, Frogs and Pollywogs,” Emily DeBolt, LGA education and outreach coordinator, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

For more information contact LGA’s Emily DeBolt 518-668-3558 or LGLC’s Sarah Hoffman at 518-644-9673.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Do It Yourself Mosquito Trap

How to Make a Folded-Paper CD Case

What’s Your Spare Change Really Worth?

Create Your Own Internet Radio Station

Make Your Own Biodiesel

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at previous editions of Adirondack Hacks here.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Unique Fingerprints Of Adirondack Wildlife

An interesting press release from the Wildlife Conservation Society on fisher fingerprints and other unique patterns in Adirondack mammal tracks.

A new study in the May issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management reports that scientists from the New York State Museum, Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups have teamed up with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice to developed a new technique that uses fingerprints to track the fisher – an elusive member of the weasel family, and the only carnivore species known to have unique fingerprints.

Fingerprints left behind at special tracking-boxes allow field biologists to identify which individual fisher had come in for the bait and, therefore, count the exact number of animals using an area. Scientists teamed with fingerprint experts at the New York State Department of Criminal Justice (DCJS) to develop this method, which is far simpler and less expensive compared to alternatives such as DNA fingerprinting.

Fisher prints differ from human fingerprints because they are made up of patterns of dots rather than ridges, so standard criminology software did not work. “We tried submitting fisher prints to the state’s fingerprint database but it didn’t pair up the prints well,” says Richard Higgins, retired chief of the DCJS Bureau of Criminal Identification. “But looking at them side-by-side it was obvious when you had a match.”

The fisher, an eight-pound member of the weasel family, is the only carnivore known to have fingerprints, which are also known from primates and koalas. Other species may also have unique patterns in their tracks that would help in counting their numbers in the wild.

“The few porcupine and opossum tracks we got had incredible patterns and will probably turn out to be unique with more study.” says Dr. Roland Kays, curator of mammals at the State Museum, who co-authored the Journal article, along with Higgins and others.

“Identifying individuals allows us to actually count how many animals are in different areas, which is essential information for monitoring their conservation status,” says Justina Ray, director of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. “My hope is that we can apply this kind of inexpensive, sure-fire technology to help conserve a wide range of species, especially those that are threatened with extinction.”

Scientists surveyed fishers from 2000-2002 as part of a carnivore survey across 54 sites in the Adirondack region of Northern New York. Fishers were the second most commonly detected carnivore species, behind coyotes.

“Our study suggests fisher populations are healthy throughout most of Northern New York,” said Ray. “Fisher populations are rising in most of the Northeastern United States, showing that wildlife can reclaim their turf if forests are allowed to recover.”

Fishers were nearly driven to extinction in the state by deforestation and over-trapping before receiving protection in the 1930s. This led to a slow recovery, and limited trapping was permitted again in the 1970s. Their recent population boom appears to have begun in the 1990s.

Fishers spread south out of the Adirondacks and Vermont and into the Hudson Valley. They are also spreading westward, with today’s leading edge around Syracuse. Fishers were first recorded in the suburbs of Albany and Boston in the last six years.

The other co-authors of the Journal study are Mike Tymeson and Richard Higgins, DCJS; Carl J. Herzog, state Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany; Dr. Matthew E. Gompper, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO and Dr. William J. Zielinski United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Redwood Sciences Laboratory in Arcata, CA.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Warren County League of Women Voters

Tonight a group of interested locals will officially kick-off the “new” Warren County League of Women Voters. The meeting will be an opportunity to define the local chapter’s interests and consider which of the many LWV programs to pursue first. Matt Funicello, a founding member of Adirondack Progressives, was instrumental in the getting the local LWV ball rolling again. Here’s is what they are all about according to their website:

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League’s enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels.

There are Leagues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong, in addition to the hundreds of local Leagues nationwide. The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters Education Fund operate at the national level with grassroots support from state and local Leagues.

The League of Women Voters is strictly nonpartisan; it neither supports nor opposes candidates for office at any level of government. At the same time, the League is wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy. It is the original grassroots citizen network, directed by the consensus of its members nationwide. The 900 state and local Leagues – comprising a vast grassroots lobby corps that can be mobilized when necessary.

Over time, the League’s legislative priorities change to reflect the needs of society and critical issues of concern. The organization remains true to its basic purpose: to make democracy work for all citizens. The League of Women Voters makes a difference in the lives of citizens because of the energy and passion of thousands of members committed to our principles.

The revived League of Women Voters first meeting will be at 7pm, at Rock Hill Bakehouse Cafe in Glens Falls.


Friday, May 18, 2007

In The Adirondacks, Newspapers Are The Deciders

The Glens Falls Post Star recently came under fire from Brian over at MoFYC for their removal of anonymous reader comments to letters to the editor on the web. According to the PS website:

The Post-Star has decided to remove all commenting on letters to the editor at this time. Our letter writers are held to a standard that requires them to sign their letters. The commenting feature online does not require the respondent to be identified. We don’t feel that is fair. If anyone would like to respond to a letter, they must be held to the same standard as the letter writer and be identified. They can do this by writing their own letter to the editor through the Web site or responding directly to the editor.

Brian notes that:

1) editors already approve comments before they appear
2) the paper has it’s own anonymous “Don Coyote” feature
3) the paper encourages anonymous comments in it’s “It’s Debatable” feature

Meanwhile, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Tupper Lake has turned on one of its opinion cartoonists – Adirondack local Mark Wilson, a.k.a, Marquil – after THE PAPER ran his cartoon critical of the recent New York State Police standoff that ended in the death of one of the troopers (above left). The cartoon elicited a pile of letters to the editor from people who apparently didn’t agree with the OPINION. The paper’s response, as noted in the Daily Cartoonist, was a gem:

In hindsight, we think it was the wrong decision, and we apologize to all those who were hurt by it. At the time, we felt a certain obligation to publish this opinion despite our aversion to it, but we feel no such obligation now. A syndicated cartoon — even one by a local cartoonist — is not the same as a letter to the editor written by someone whose sole motive is to be heard. It’s a service we pay for, drawn by a cartoonist who draws them for a living. As a customer, a newspaper has no obligation to publish a cartoon that will damage its relationship with its readers.

There’s still a fine line between finding something disagreeable and finding it unacceptable. Looking back, we think this cartoon crossed that line.

What really gets under the skin about this one is that the paper’s editors actually had the guts to say:

We normally find Mr. Wilson’s cartoons insightful, and we respect the intelligence of his opinions whether we agree with him or not.

Really? Then why fire him over one comment you disagreed with?

We’ve defended the ancient right to write anonymously a number of times in our stint here at the Almanack. We’re proud to be part of a long history of anonymous writings from people like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin whose Poor Richard’s Almanack this blog derives it’s name from.

Like Franklin, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote using various names to protect his job and make political commentary. Lewis Carrol and Bill O’Reilly have both used false names for their work. The respected British weekly The Economist prints articles without by-lines. The American Federalist Papers, without which the American Constitution may not have been ratified (at least in a timely manner), were written anonymously. Voltaire never publicly admitted to having written Candide; he used the name Monsieur le docteur Ralph. Besides, Voltaire was a pen name itself for Francois Marie Arouet, the man behind the defense of civil liberties and opposition to censorship that helped form part of the enlightened movement that led to the American Revolution.

Some women, like Mary Ann Evans (a.k.a.George Eliot) and Charlotte Bronte (a.k.a. Currer Bell) published under false names to assure that their work would be accepted by male publishers. The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein’s earliest stories were set in a single future he created; he then used false names for stories set in other times and places.

Fear from retribution over unpopular views expressed at work, in the press, and in the polling booth is one of the most important underlying principles of our liberal democracy.

Luckily, the old media patriarchs we have suffered under for so long now are quickly finding themselves more and more irrelevant in our new media world, slowly pushed aside by the increasing relevance of blogs and citizen journalism.

We welcome the change.

While we’re at it. Check out the new home of our friend Matt at Matt’s Totally Biased Commentary. Here’s what Matt says about his new spot on the web:

All of the staff here at MTBC are truly biased and opinionated. To paraphrase Amy Goodman, we are “advocacy editorialists”. Rather than hide any of this from you, we are awfully proud of it (just ask any of our friends). We believe in democracy, open and civil discourse, Ralph Nader, third party politics and less consumerism. Beware that there will be occasional bursts of intellignet thought mixed with angry knee-jerk repsonses to the insanely misguided actions of all kinds of people … mostly Democrats, Republicans and journalists. There will be much railing against the lapdog media, the ruling class felons who call themselves our “leaders” and the thieves and welfare cheats who comprise corporate America. Be careful not to get blood on your shoes. Banging your head against these brick walls can get pretty messy!

Sound familiar?


Monday, May 7, 2007

CIA, The Patriot Act, and The Indian Lake Project

Indian Lake Project MKULTRAUnprecedented restrictions on American freedom of travel on the northern and western borders of the Adirondacks have apparently not been reflected in the recent 2006 tourism study [pdf].

Still, the story of 66 year-old Andrew Feldmar, a well-known Vancouver psychotherapist, is indicative of the increasing misuse of the USA Patriot Act that threatens the Adirondack tourism industry. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Adirondack Events: Brian Mann and Ralph Nader

We hadn’t realized, but North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann published his first book, Welcome to the Homeland: A Journey to the Rural Heart of Conservative America, last July. The books seeks to parse the divide between urban and rural life.

Howard Berkes, Rural Affairs Correspondent for National Public Radio has said that “Brian Mann has lived the rural life and the political divide that splits urban and rural places. It splits his own family. Mann shows that family harmony isn’t all that’s at stake in the urban-rural divide. The nation’s political future depends on this political and cultural gap. “Welcome to the Homeland” dives into the gap, and comes up with perspectives that just might surprise rural and urban folk who believe they already have each other pegged.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

The Top Ten Open Source Windows Apps

Gorillapod Flexible Tripod

Build A MIDI Concertina

Cut Your Power Use With Mini Power Minder

Get A Ripcap Self Stiffening Helmet

Build Your Own Poker Table

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at previous editions of Adirondack Hacks here.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adirondackers, Global Warming, & The End Of The World

Carl Thomas of Stony Creek, like his neighbor and Warrensburg First Baptist Church preacher Roger Richards, are regular writers to the Adirondack Journal. There’s a sense that both men believe they have it all pretty-well figured out. They know that evolution and global warming are a bunch of bull and they have no trouble lecturing their neighbors as to why. They don’t use words like “I think” because they prefer “the bible says.”

This past week, as nearly 1,500 communities across the county are preparing to meet together to teach and learn from each other and to renew a call for our nation’s leaders to make some progress – in Bill McKibben’s words, “to Step It Up” – in reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, Carl Thomas thought it important to write a letter to the editor to say that there was “one major problem with McKibben’s idea: God’s Word.” Then he cited his proof from Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Psalms.


Based on what he calls “simple math” Stony Creek Carl believes that about 2030 is when the world will end, and there is nothing we can do about it – reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, protecting the environment – it’s all in vain. “To the believer this is what we have been waiting for through the years,” Thomas wrote this past week, saying that “all scholars agree” that 1948 signaled the re-establishment of Israel and, since Psalms it says that most people live to be 70 or 80, “simple math mean[s] by2028…this age will end.”

Stony Creek Carl is one in a long line of true believers with apocalyptic math-bible obsessions. William Miller, of Low Hampton in Washington County, was recently notable for his own widely adopted math-bible obsession.

Miller was one of the earliest and most renowned proponents of what is now called Adventism – a belief held by the present 7th Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others that the second advent (second coming) of Christ was imminent. Miller, and the Millerites who accepted his teachings, believed the world would end in 1843. This was based on Miller’s “simple math” and supported by Daniel 8:14, which notes that “it will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” You can figure out for yourself how that theory worked out.

Like Stony Creek Carl, William Miller did some figurin’ and decided that “2,300 evenings and mornings” actually meant 2,300 years. And since the 2,300 years started in 457 B.C. when Artxerxes I of Persia (that’s basically Iran/Iraq/Syria) allowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Miller’s “simple math” determined that Christ would return, and the world would end, in 1843. “I was thus brought” Miller wrote, “to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.”

Among Millers earliest believers was a man who Miller described as his “best friend on earth,” Chester Baptist Church pastor Truman Hendryx. Letters between William Miller and Hendryx reveal a close friendship, and a firm belief the world would soon end with Christ’s arrival, albeit with some question as to whether they had the time of his arrival correctly calculated. When the first biography of the William Miller was written in the 1870s, it included reprints of the two men’s correspondence.

Hendryx, Miller, and Stony Creek Carl are united in the belief that the world is going end soon – unfortunately for them (or fortunately, depending on your view) they didn’t have the same bible-math teacher.

There are however, glaring difference in the beliefs of the three men. During Hendryx and Miller’s time a debate regularly raged in Warren County about whether something should be done about slavery. Hendryx and Miller believed that slavery was awful, that it didn’t matter much whether or not slaves were free or not because, well, the world was going to end anyway. Still, they opposed slavery, and spoke passionately about its evils. They did something about slavery because they believed it was wrong. They believed they and their neighbors to the south could do better. Better for the humans held in bondage, and better in terms of their own (and their neighbors) sense of right and wrong.

It’s too bad Stony Creek Carl (and others like him) don’t feel the same way about global warming, one of the more important debates of our own time.

On Saturday, there will be at least a dozen Step It Up events inside the Adirondack Park. We received a number of invitations to local events, but we hope to split our own time between the event at Garnet Hill Lodge near North Creek (with hopes of enjoying the “Adirondack vegetarian buffet lunch” from 12 to 1) and an evening at Bolton Landing where Big Tuna and Blues Highway will be playing at 5 pm, at The Conservation Club (on Edgecomb Pond Road).


Friday, April 6, 2007

Sopranos Premiere Set In The Adirondacks

According to various online sources, this season’s premiere episode of HBO’s The Sopranos (“Home Movies” set to air Sunday night) will be set almost entirely in the Adirondack cabin of Bobby Bacala, Tony Soprano’s brother-in-law. The Bacala character is a seasoned hunter who carried out the search and rescue of Pauly and Christopher in the hilarious New Jersey pine barren scene – “you one shoe mother-f*&$%r.”

The Sopranos has a close association with the Adirondacks. Christopher’s girlfriend suggested, before she was whacked for being an informer) that they run away to Lake George. There have been other passing references as well, and Duffy’s Tavern, the legendary Lake George watering hole at the top of Amherst Street, has a photo of a visit by Sopranos cast members hanging behind the bar.

We hope (and suspect) they don’t have a connection to Soprano’s Pizzeria on Canada Street. The pizzeria has terrible reviews, and once had a patron arrested for not leaving a large enough tip [link].

A $2 tip on a $77 restaurant bill may be cheap, but it isn’t criminal. So says a New York state district attorney, who declined to press charges against a man who refused to leave a restaurant’s required gratuity of 18 percent for large parties.

Humberto A. Taveras’ arrest on Sept. 5 came under New York’s theft of services law, which carries misdemeanor charges. With a party of eight, the Long Island man dined at Soprano’s Italian and American Grill, a Lake George, N.Y., restaurant that applied the tip policy to parties of six or more.

(Ironically, The Sopranos, HBO’s television series, had a recent episode involving a dispute over a gratuity for a large party of mobsters. That dispute ended in the macabre, with the waiter being killed in the argument.)

Ultimately, the case boiled down to language. Soprano’s restaurant described the policy on its menu as a “gratuity,” which by definition means “discretion,” says Kathleen B. Hogan, the district attorney of Warren County, who ultimately decided to drop charges against Taveras.

The pizzeria aside, it’s nice to hear the region is playing a role in one of America’s most popular television shows.

UPDATE 4/7/2007: Regular reader Brian, who writes the blog Musings of a (Fairly) Young Contrarian, has written to clarify some of the Sopranos Pizzeria details:

As you suspected, there is no connection between the pizzerias and the TV show. There is an actual family in Queensbury named The Sopranos who run the restaurants; their sons have played on the town’s high school hockey team. That said, I can understand why some might assume the connection as the restaurants’ menus play up the mob aspect (as an Italian-American myself, I find this pandering to stereotypes annoying). The Sopranos in Glens Falls has better service than its Lake George counterpart. Not surprising as the latter deals with mostly tourists and has more seasonal, and less permanent help.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Screwed: Adirondack Beaver Pond Hermit Alan Como

A regular reader of the Almanack sent us this article from the Chronicle writer Gordon Woodsworth with the following note:

Although I suppose I agree w/ the rational for the charge – it saves innocent victims trouble, time and expense,and I assume he’s guilty of breaking and entry and burglary. There is something a bit dark and sinister that he’s charged with the felony of cutting the State’s trees and brush to make himself a shelter in the wild. Sounds like Robin Hood’s Merry Men who were mostly criminalized for “hunting the King’s Deer.”

We couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the heavy hand of our new-found police state isn’t above charging people for unrelated crimes to save a DA’s time. Four years is in no way an appropriate sentence for cutting $250 worth of trees.

It should be noted by the way, that no one even considered a jail sentence for whoever at DOT was responsible for cutting some 5,000 trees in the State Forest Preserve along Route 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in the summer of 2005. Our guess is no one even got a reprimand in that case.

We’re certainly not condoning a hermit’s theft of minor items from isolated camps. That’s a crime that should be punished. But the Beaver Pond Hermit case is a clear signal that if you choose to live outside the boundaries of mainstream society, you may find yourself a target for the police state.


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