Monday, May 19, 2008

Top 5 Things Visitors Get Wrong in The Adirondacks

5 – Over reliance on the automobile. Too often visitors spend hours driving around the Adirondacks from small town to small town (or big town to big town) without actually seeing anything. Stop. Get out of the car. Go hiking, take a train, boat, or ferry ride. Rent a boat, go swimming, ride a bike or rent a moped – even just getting out of the car at that scenic look-out will open new experiences.

4 – Expecting all the comforts of home. What’s the point of coming to the Adirondacks if you’re going to duplicate home life? Go camping, sleep outside in the yard of your mountain respite. Leave your cell phone home (or at least packed away for emergencies). If we had all the comforts of home you have, it would be your home, not ours.

3 – Not Getting beyond the big tourist traps. Leave Lake George, Lake Placid, Old Forge, and the other tourist trap towns and explore the wonders the Adirondacks has to offer. That doesn’t mean head to the High Peaks either – if you want to get away, ask a local about their favorite spot and you’ll be surprised what you discover. Some of the greatest places in the Adirondacks are virtually unknown to most travelers.

2 – Not learning about local history and ecology. You can’t possibly get a real sense of the Adirondacks without doing some homework. Pick up a guide book before you get here, take a guided tour with a naturalist, or at one of the area’s many museums. That thing you saw but wasn’t sure what it was? You’d have known if you spent some time understanding the history and ecology of the Adirondacks before you got here.

1 – Looking down on locals. Just because you come from a big city, have 24-hour convenience stores, fancy restaurants and hotels, you wear fashionable clothes, drive a cool car or SUV, doesn’t mean you are special. The odds are, you’d have just as tough a time dealing with living in the Adirondacks as we would living in yer big city suburbia. We are here because we want to be – don’t assume we’re some backwater hillbillies without a sense of culture, technology, or the latest celebrity gossip. Odds are, if we don’t know about it, that’s because we could care less.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

E-town: Light Comedy, Heavy Carousing

From Elizabethtown, a new theater group and a unique production sends along this press release:

On May 30 and 31, 2008, the North Country’s newest professional theatre will present their premiere production, “Barrymore,” a two-person comedy by William Luce, concerning legendary actor and infamous Broadway eccentric John Barrymore. Known along Broadway as the era’s supreme wit and heir to the Barrymore family acting dynasty, Barrymore and his famed profile delivered some of the most storied performances of the twentieth century on Broadway and in film (sometimes starring opposite his famous siblings, Ethel and Lionel).

The play is set in 1942. Barrymore has rented a stage to prepare for a comeback. As he rehearses, he jokes with the audience, gossips, spars with his Stage Manager, discusses his famous family, and reminisces about better times and better roles. Although the play is largely a humorous tour around the nooks and crannies of the actor’s fascinating and funny personal and professional life, it also explores the fact that the famous actor is a haunted man, yearning to recapture past successes beneath the jokes and clever one-liners.

“Jack,” as he was called, was known as the “clown prince” of the royal acting family. The play highlights his acting triumphs as well as showcasing his love of bawdy limericks, quick-witted one-liners, and delicious imitations … including send ups of famous gossip columnist Louella Parsons and his famous siblings Lionel and Ethel.

NYC and Adirondack resident Jonathan Valuckas will take the title role of the eccentric John Barrymore. Keene Valley resident Tyler Nye will perform the role of Frank, Barrymore’s droll and practical Stage Manager. Phill Greenland (who locally directed “The Music Hall Revusical,” “George M. Cohan In His Own Words,” and “The Life and Life’s Work of Edgar Allan Poe”) directs, with Kathy Recchia as Producer.

Cavalcade employs an interesting concept in staging productions. Rather than producing shows in a conventional theatre space, the company is dedicated to the principle of “site-specific theatre,” in which the play or musical is staged in a historically suitable or atmospheric environment, such as their recent production of “The Life and Life’s Work of Edgar Allan Poe” at Elizabethtown’s Victorian-era Hand House Mansion. Cavalcade will produce “The Belle of Amherst,” about the life of famous poetess Emily Dickinson in July.

Barrymore, by William Luce will be presented at the Lower Level stage at the Adirondack History Center Museum Route 9N and Hand Avenue in Elizabethtown Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31, 2008 General admission $12 Only fifty guests can be seated at each performance, reservations are recommended Call (518) 946-8323 or visit

Friday, May 16, 2008

2009 Adirondack Mountain Club Calendar Published

The 2009 Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Calendar: With Wilderness at Heart has been published and is available for purchase here. You can still get the 2008 calendar at Amazon here.

The 2009 calendar features photographers Nancie Battaglia, Mark Bowie, Joanne Kennedy, Mark Meschinelli, and Hardie Truesdale and includes views of Lake Placid, Mount Marcy, the Shawangunks, Lake Champlain, Lake George, Lake Colden, and the Catskills. There are also smaller spore-print images created by Sam Ristich and Carol Shaw produced by placing mushrooms or woody fungus on paper. The late Sam Ristich, known as “the mushroom guru of Sligo Road,” was a well known teacher and speaker on things mycological.

ADK Publications staff Ann Hough of Keene, N.Y.; Andrea Masters, of Ballston Spa, N.Y.; and John Kettlewell of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., produced the calendar. Buying the calendar or other publications helps support ADK’s programs in conservation, education, and recreation. Also available are hiking, canoeing, rock-climbing, and cross-country skiing guides; natural history guides; and cultural and literary histories of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

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.

How to Build Your Own Fire Pit

Make A PVC Trombone

How to Use RSS in Your Job Search

Build A Digital Music Server

Make Inexpensive Water-Conserving Rain Barrels

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

‘The Adirondacks’ PBS Film Premiere

Two summer’s ago I was contacted by Working Dog Productions, in Dobbs Ferry, NY to conduct some image research for their documentary on the Adirondacks. I sent them about 600 images from various local collections (though they didn’t bother to properly credit me) which they combined with a lot of footage shot around the park on Hi-Definition video and lots of interviews (including whitewater guide Gary Staab, author Jerry Jenkins, and environmentalist Bill McKibben). “The Adirondacks” will begin today at 9 p.m. on all PBS stations.

Here are some details from their media release handed out at an event last Wednesday in Albany:

The Adirondack Council, WNED Public Television and the I Love New York campaign today showed portions of a soon-to-be-released, two-hour documentary on New York’s masterpiece of wilderness preservation, the Adirondack Park.

At the press conference, the movie was lauded by NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis, a week in advance of the movie’s national premiere on Public Broadcasting System stations (Wednesday, May 14 at 9 p.m.). Also speaking at the conference were NYS Sen. Elizabeth Little and representatives from the three sponsoring organizations.

“THE ADIRONDACKS” is the first movie to capture in high-definition video the soul-stirring beauty of the 9,300-square-mile, 116-year-old park. The Adirondack Park is located in the mountainous region between Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario. It is the largest American park outside of Alaska and covers 20 percent of New York State.

“This film captures not only the natural wonder and beauty of the Adirondack Park but also its one-of-a-kind status as a wilderness with residents,” said NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis. “The Park has 3,000 ponds and lakes, 1,500 miles of rivers, 2,000 miles of hiking trails, nearly 100 campgrounds and an enormous range of recreation from canoeing to skiing to my personal favorite – fly-fishing. And in contrast to America’s national parks, the Adirondack Park is home to 130,000 full-time residents and hundreds of businesses whose future depends on continued protection of the natural resources and a sustainable economy. This underscores the Park’s standing as a unique American treasure.”

“WNED in Buffalo and director Tom Simon did a masterful job of capturing the Adirondack Park’s stunning beauty in high-definition video,” said Brian Houseal, Executive Director of Communications for the Adirondack Council, the environmental organization that helped underwrite the movie. “This movie shows that New York is better at protecting wilderness, without excluding people, than anyone else in the world. Alaska’s wilderness areas might be larger, but there aren’t 70 million people within half a day’s drive of any of them. The Adirondack Council’s mission is to encourage state officials to carry on this proud tradition of wilderness preservation in an otherwise crowded corner of the world. The movie boldly illustrates the success we have enjoyed, as well as the need to carry on our work.”

“THE ADIRONDACKS represents the latest effort in WNED’s ongoing commitment to highlight the treasures of New York State and the Niagara Region,” said WNED President and CEO Donald K. Boswell. “We’re proud and excited to share the extraordinary sights and stories of the Adirondacks with the national PBS audience.”

“I Love NY proudly supports this phenomenal documentary that highlights the unique attractions within New York State,” said Daniel C. Gundersen, Upstate Chairman of Empire State Development, which manages the I Love NY tourism campaign. “I Love NY has a long history of promoting the Adirondacks, dating back to 1977 when its first television advertisement featured a grand panoramic view of the breathtaking mountains. This documentary highlights our Park and it is my hope that viewers will appreciate this extraordinary place as they make their summer vacation plans.”

Funding for THE ADIRONDACKS was provided by The Kevin T. and Betty Ann Keane Foundation; NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; The Adirondack Council; I LOVE NY; Ted and Lisa Pierce; The Lyme Timber Company; PBS.

THE ADIRONDACKS was produced, directed and written by Tom Simon (Working Dog Productions, Dobbs Ferry, NY). The director of photography was Peter Nelson. The editor was Sak Constanzo. The narrator is Russ Harris. The executive producer was John Grant. The musical score was composed and performed by Michael Bacon (Bacon Brothers Band).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stamp Honors Edward Livingston Trudeau

A press release issued today:

American Lung Association Founder Honored with New U.S. Postage Stamp

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2008—As part of its Distinguished Americans series, the U.S. Postal Service released a new 76 cent stamp today that honors Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau (1848-1915), the founder and first president of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, the precursor to the American Lung Association. Dr. Trudeau dedicated his life to researching and treating tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease that at one time killed one in seven people in the U.S.

Tuberculosis is also known as the White Plague or TB, and in the late 1800s, doctors did not know its cause, how to treat patients or prevent transmission of the disease. Dr. Trudeau himself contracted TB after caring for his ill brother, and moved to the Adirondacks, where he recovered. There he founded the first research laboratory dedicated to TB and helped patients recover with “open-air” treatments, promoting the treatment and containment of the disease through fresh air, rest, nourishment and a positive attitude.

“Dr. Trudeau was a true pioneer who led a public health movement and remained focused on the ideal that we can overcome a disease through coordinated research, education and advocacy,” said Bernadette Toomey, President and CEO, American Lung Association.

Under Dr. Trudeau’s leadership, the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis spearheaded research, launched the first-ever public health campaigns to halt the spread of TB, and fought for the establishment of local public health departments. Ultimately, research breakthroughs led to the first effective drug treatment for TB in the mid-1950s, resulting in a dramatic change in our nation’s public health.

“America has many reasons to celebrate Dr. Trudeau and his contributions to our country,” said Toomey. “The American Lung Association continues to honor his legacy by investing in research on asthma, COPD, lung cancer, TB, and many more lung diseases.”

The stamp bearing Dr. Trudeau’s portrait is the U.S. Postal Service’s 11th issuance in the Distinguished Americans series; it will be a 76-cent stamp, priced for three-ounce First-Class Mail letters. Artist Mark Summers created the portrait on the stamp, based on a photograph of Dr. Trudeau provided by the American Lung Association.

About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bird Blogs, News and Events

Though we are not technically a birding blog, we do like birds – including aves, the film, the theory, and the band.

Here are three local or specially relevant birding blogs we follow at Adirondack Almanack:

The Feather and Flower – a wider regional focus but written by an ornithologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Zen Birdfeeder – the blog of Saratoga’s Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop co-owner and author Nancy Castillo.

Rich Guthrie’s Birding – a Times Union blog by a “hardcore birder.”

Other sites worthy of note are the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center, the closer to home Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council’s Adirondack Birding Site.

The Cornell Lab, or CLO, call themselves “a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.”

CLO sponsors a number of interesting programs and events including their “Migration Celebration” (Saturday, May 17, 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.) at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Cornell. Family-friendly events include guided bird walks, interactive exhibits, live birds, games, and hands-on activities for children. This years theme is Tundra to Tropics: Connecting Birds, Habitats, and People. The goal is to raise awareness about the various kinds of habitat birds need, how these natural landscapes are disappearing, and what you can do to create bird-friendly spaces at home. The event if free. Contact (800) 843-BIRD or visit for more info.

­Bird Sounds Recording Workshop

From June 7 to 14, the annual Sound Recording Workshop offered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology returns to San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus in the spectacular surroundings of the eastern foothills of California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Participants learn state-of-the-art techniques for capturing bird sounds, guided by experts.

Learn to capture the sounds of wildlife through lecture, discussion, and daily field recording sessions participants learn how to effectively handle a portable field recording system to make scientifically accurate recordings of bird vocalizations. Participants learn how to conquer wind, how a roadbed can help overcome the sound of a rushing stream, and why placing a microphone on the ground is sometimes the best strategy. There is also an introduction to the science of sound analysis which converts sound waves into visual images called spectrograms. With signal analysis it’s possible to visualize a bird song note by note.

The Sound Recording Workshop fee of $895 covers tuition, class materials, ground transportation, food, and lodging. A $100 deposit is requested to reserve a space, which is limited to 20 students. Registration and payment are due by May 31. Learn more here.

NestWatch Community Observation Project

NestWatch is ­a new, free citizen science project funded by the National Science Foundation. Participants visit nests during spring and summer to collect simple information about location, habitat, species, number of eggs, and number of young in the nest. Then they submit their observations online.

All NestWatch materials and instructions are available online at, including directions on how to find nests and how to monitor them without disturbing the birds.

NestCams Online Live Nest Cameras

The NestCams site has been recently revamped. Live cameras show the nesting activities of Barn Owls, Wood Ducks, and Northern Flickers in Texas and California. More cameras go online all the time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Warren: Adirondack Railroads’ Time Has Come

The Adirondack Journal reported this week that Warren County supervisors “derailed” (pun apparently intended) a local tourist railroad development project by voting to pay a consultant for the design of two of the railroads train stations at Hadley and Thurman. Looking around the net, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is going on, but it seems as though the county may be dragging its feet on the plan to improve the long neglected Delaware and Hudson RR tracks between Corinth in Saratoga County and North Creek, near the Gore Mountain Ski Area.

NY State Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn definitely is, when he announced $20 million in rail funding last week to go toward 15 projects statewide, extending the Adirondack Scenic Railroad from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake was not on the list. In December 2006, former George Pataki had promised $5 million to make the 26 miles of track between the two villages passable. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Adirondack Museum Launches ‘Rustic Tomorrow’

Recently received from the Adirondack Museum, the announcement of a new project that takes Adirondack rustic design into the future. The exhibit will be an interesting addition to the ongoing (until October 31) Adirondack Rustic: Nature’s Art 1876 – 1950. Sounds like a great time to visit the museum. Locals get into the museum free during a few weeks in May (something they don’t advertise anymore, so give them a call for dates), but if you can’t make it then, here is a link to a $2.00 discount (see the “special offer” at the right, mid-page).

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York will introduce a very special exhibit this season called Rustic Tomorrow. Six modernist and post modernist architects or designers have been paired with prominent Adirondack rustic furniture makers. The results of these collaborations are one-of-a-kind pieces, distinctly futuristic in design, but constructed using traditional time-honored techniques.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the relevance of Adirondack rustic traditions to contemporary life and design.

Rustic Tomorrow will be on exhibit at the Adirondack Museum from May 23 through October 19, 2008. The exhibition will travel to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, N.Y. for a November 7 through December 13,2008 showing, and to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, N.Y. from February 14 to April 19, 2009.

The six unique pieces that are Rustic Tomorrow will be displayed at D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc. Gallery in New York City in April 2009. They will be sold at auction to benefit the Adirondack Museum.

Ann Stillman O’Leary, who founded her firm, Evergreen House Interiors, Inc, Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1989, originated the Rustic Tomorrow project. O’Leary has established a solid reputation in the field of interior design. Known for leading the renaissance in rustic architecture and interior design, she is sought after for her distinctive style that is both rustic and refined. O’Leary is the author of the best selling books Adirondack Style and Rustic Revisited. She has been featured on the Today Show, HGTV radio, Cabin Life, House and Garden Channel and in numerous national publications.

The Participant Partners

David M. Childs joined the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1971 after serving on the Pennsylvania Avenue Commission. Mr. Child’s diverse range of design projects circle the globe. He is the designer for the World Trade Center Tower 1 at the World Trade Center site, and the new Pennsylvania Station at the historic Farley Post Office building in New York City. His more recently completed work includes the new 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Childs is a Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA). His work has been widely published.

Wayne Ignatuk, owner of Swallowtail Studios in Jay, N.Y., spent eighteen years as an engineer in the laser industry before his woodworking hobby became a career. His style has evolved from twig chairs and tables to more complex designs he describes as “organic arts and crafts.” Ignatuk’s work has been profiled on HGTV’s “The Good Life,” in the book Adirondack Home, in Adirondack Life magazine and other publications. He exhibits his work at the finest rustic shows in the country.

In 1998 The New York Times declared Dennis Wedlick a “rising star in architecture.” The “rise” has continued as Wedlick’s work has garnered awareness and accolades in both the media and architecture community. He began his career working with world-renowned architect Philip Johnson. His own firm, Dennis Wedlick Architect, LLC has become synonymous with quality, craft, and the best in contemporary picturesque design. He was recently named to Architecture Digest’s AD 100 – showcasing the top international designers and architects.

Rustic furniture artist Barney Bellinger is the owner of Sampson Bog Studio, Mayfield, N.Y. It is an art studio where bark, twigs and natural materials are gathered into the hands of a craftsman inspired by the logging trails, wildlife refuges, fly fishing sites, and the Great Camps of the Adirondacks. Furniture created by Barney Bellinger has been exhibited at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Adirondack Museum, and the Ralph Kylloe Gallery, and appears in the permanent collections of the Orvis Company and the Smithsonian Institution.

Michael Graves has been at the forefront of architecture and design since he founded his firm in 1964. Michael Graves and Associates – the architecture and interior design practices, and Michael Graves Design Group – the product and graphic design group, have received more than 185 awards for design excellence. Design projects range from urban architecture to consumer products. Graves himself received the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed on an individual as well as twelve honorary doctorates. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The work of Furniture Artist Jason Henderson stands out for its ability to push the tradition of Adirondack style furniture into new and interesting design areas. His interpretation of rusticity is closely aligned with studio furniture and contemporary furniture design. His work has an “edge” and has earned a bit of notoriety. “Dining Chair” (2003) received the Most Original Design award at the Adirondack Museum’s Annual Rustic Fair and was purchased by the museum for the permanent collection. He was profiled by Adirondack Life magazine in 2006 in an article aptly called “Mr. Henderson Presents.” Henderson lives and works in the Lake George, N.Y. area.

Thomas Cardone has had a long career as an Art Director in the film industry. He spent thirteen years with The Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California before joining 20th Century Fox’ New York-based Blue Sky Studios in 2002. His most recent project has been art direction for “Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who!” which premiered in the spring of 2008. Among Cardone’s many film credits are “Ice Age: The Melt Down;” “Robots;” “Chicken Little;” “The Emperor’s New Groove;” and “Pocahontas.”
Russ Gleaves love of nature began when he moved to a log cabin in the Adirondacks as a young child. Raised in Queens, N.Y. Bill Coffey has created custom furniture with many of New York City’s finest craftsmen. His love for the Adirondacks – nurtured as a child on vacation – led him to Northville, N.Y. in 1999. There he met Russ, and the pair has been creating one-of-a-kind innovative rustic furniture ever since. The duo takes pride in crafting pieces that will be passed down through many generations. Customers in Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York City, and Japan have commissioned their

Allan Shope has been an architect and furniture maker for thirty years. He founded the distinguished architectural firm of Shope, Reno, Wharton Associates in 1981. Shope’s abiding interest in the use of sustainable building materials, land use, and alternative non-fossil energy sources led to him to found Listening Rock Farm and Environmental Center in Armenia, N.Y. The focus is on man’s problematic relationship with the earth around him. “Carbon neutral” is the minimum standard for the Center.

Judd Weisberg has his home and studio in Lexington, Greene County, New York in the Catskills surrounded by rivers, lakes, and streams, which inform his life and work as an artist, designer, teacher, and environmentalist. He creates furniture environments for the home, business, and for sets and properties for performing arts applications. Finishes are non-toxic and are expressive of the burnished or matte looks found in nature. His work is in private collections and homes nationwide Nils Luderowski is an architect whose practice is about residential architecture and design in an Adirondack vernacular. His studio offers traditional architectural services including site planning, interior design, furniture design, and custom artisan work. Luderowski pioneered the “New Adirondack Style” of architecture, an authentic blend of Shingle, Craftsman, Prairie and regional expressions, incorporating modern living requirements and current technology. In the mid 1990s he settled in Keene, N.Y. in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Mountains.

Creating unique and functional art has been Jay Dawson’s passion since he began designing pieces over 20 years ago. A self-taught craftsman, he has worked with wood in some form for most of his life. He is well known for both furniture and stairways and has developed a reputation for custom creations. He works with clients, architects, and interior designers to ensure that each piece meets expectations for beauty, quality and functionality. Dawson’s work has appeared in many publications including Smithsonian Magazine, Log Home Living, and the book Rustic Furniture by
Daniel Mack. He created archways for Woodstock 1999, the 2000 Goodwill Games, and the 2000 Empire State Games.

The Adirondack Museum has the finest collection of historic Adirondack rustic furniture and furnishings, not in private hands, in the country. The museum hosts an annual Rustic Fair in the fall. The fair attracts more than sixty highly skilled rustic craftsmen from all parts of the United States and Canada, and is the largest rustic show in the eastern part of the country. The 21st Annual Rustic Fair is planned for September 5, 6, and 7, 2008.

The Adirondack Museum is a regional museum of art, history and material culture. It is nationally known for extensive collections, exhibits, and research library that together reflect stories of life, work, and play in the Adirondack Park and northern New York State. The museum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007. To learn about all the Adirondack Museum as to offer, please visit

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. The museum will open for a new season on May 23, 2008, introducing a new exhibit Rustic Tomorrow. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, please call (518) 352-7311, or visit

This is the rest of the post

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Under Fire: Adirondack Economic Development Orgs

Local chambers of commerce and tourism folks have been taking a lot of flak lately. Take for example, the recent photography debacle. It seems that some believe that the The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council has been working on putting local photographers out of work by encouraging others to abandoned them in favor of, get this, flickr. The Landscapist has the story in two parts (1, 2), but it basically comes down to the Council’s requiring that photographers give up all the pay for, and rights to, their work (a much lamented practice):

It’s hard to criticize too severely (but not without some vigor) someone for trying to get something for nothing while stating so in a forthright manner – that seems to be part of human nature – but when they do it with a slight-of-hand photo-rights grab photo contest they have stepped over the line. At that point they are nothing more or less than scam artists.

Copyright and use-right issues can be an expensive and tricky business when dealing with most professional photographers and with a substantial number of informed amateurs. Corporations and professional organizations, to include tourism organizations, are acutely aware of this. Rights-grab photo contests are their way of avoiding the issue.

Apparently, it’s not the first time. One commenter on the issue noted that:

Our last economic development officer kept suggesting that I should “donate” images to her very well funded (using my tax dollars) office … I told her I would be thrilled to just as soon as my much anticipated “donation” of a 1Ds MkIII arrived from Canon. I’m still waiting for it.

Some see Todd Shimkus, president & CEO of the Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce, as part of the problem. He’s been outspoken (and tax-funded?) on conservative issues in the Adirondacks. Witness his latest attack on the APA, blaming them for a lagging Adirondack economy:

The culture of the APA, the backgrounds and interest of its staff and appointees, and the political environment in which it exists all militate against serious focus on the Adirondack economy — even though the agency is required by law to balance the region’s environmental and economic interests in all its decisions.

That’s an interesting take on the subject, especially given the Shimkus’ own record of political activism and his apparent failure of the Adirondack photography industry. The day before his organization was trying to take the wind out of the sails of local professional photographers, Shimkus was telling his conservative friends about the “broad economic benefits of snowmobiling and point[ing] to an industry estimate that snowmobilers spend $3,000 per season on tourism-related businesses, including food, lodging and other needs.” In Shimkus’ view, those needs apparently do not include the goods and services of local professional photographers.

The Adirondack region is not alone in questioning the role of local economic development efforts. A recent post over at Fault Lines: The Greater Utica Blog entitled Lost Chamber, Lost Jobs, argued that “the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce is a disgrace and an insult to its home community. It must accept significant responsibility for Utica’s decline.” In a second post two weeks later, the writer took a virtual tour of all the region’s websites – it’s worth a look.

On a related not-so-successful note, the much touted Adirondack Regional Business Incubator is still looking for space after plans to renovate an old warehouse in Glens Falls fell through.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Biggest Threats to Adirondack Water Resources

The Adirondack Council has released a report that outlines eight major threats to Adirondack water resources. Titled Adirondack Waters: Resource at Risk [pdf], the 32-page booklet describes the threats and what can be done about them. The eight risks include: Acid Rain, Mercury Pollution, Global Climate Change, Aquatic Invasive Species, Inadequate Sewage Treatment, Suburban Sprawl, Diverting Adirondack Waters, and Road Salt.

Acid Rain – More than 700 bodies of water in the Adirondack Park have been damaged and native fish, amphibians, and other aquatic life are threatened. Although they may look clear and pristine, the appearance of water bodies damaged by acid rain is actually due to a lack of native life in the water. Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which provides for the largest reductions in the pollutants that cause acid rain since the passage of the original Clean Air Act in 1963. Congress needs to put these new rules into law. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Adirondack Region Call-In With Gov Patterson

North Country Public Radio (NCPR) will be hosting a call-in special with New York Governor David Patterson tomorrow, Wednesday, at noon. The new governor will take questions at 1-877-388-6277 or by e-mail.

This is a great opportunity for letting the gov in on the concerns of North Country residents – issues of the Adirondacks and beyond.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dangers of Americade Revisited

Springtime means a lot of motorcycles on the road. It also means Americade, the annual motorcycle fest in Lake George that draws some 60 or 70 thousand riders to what is considered the World’s Largest Touring Rally.

According to their website, this year:

You can enjoy 5 new MiniTours, 3 Poker Runs (with a new route), a new scavenger hunt, 2 TourExpo tradeshows (bigger than ever), a new Moonlight boat cruise as well as a dozen daylight ones, 2 rodeos, 50+ seminars, 2 parades, parties, nearly $100,000 in door prizes!

Also: 17 manufacturers offering demo rides on the latest bikes and trikes, and on Saturday, World Champ Chris Pfeiffer will demonstrate his amazing riding skills. And… a whole lot more.

I wholeheartedly support Americade, but increasingly every year the rally draws criticism from our friends and neighbors. Among the chief complaints are the role tax money plays in supporting the event (which brings thousands of dollars to private businesses) and the sometimes caustic attitude of event organizers (who have repeatedly threatened to take Americade elsewhere if they don’t get their way).

Last year, I wrote a piece called The Dangers of Americade that questioned the deafening silence of organizers on the issue of safety. I pointed out that according to an Associated Press report, Americade founder Bill Dutcher stated that he was “aware of only one death among the hundreds of thousands of bikers who have registered for Americade over the years.”

My argument was simple, Dutcher assertion was blatantly false – many folks are killed coming and going to Americade. I argued that Americade organizers should stop obfuscating the facts and show some leadership on the issue of safety and in particular, on the continued cultural sense that automobile drivers own the road. Not even on their website, loaded with corporate logos and tips for attending the event, do they bother to even mention safety. They do take time to try to keep out the the folks they think are riff-raff, however, as I noted last year:

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.

That recently drew some discussion on the original post from a long time rider who took offense with my call for Americade organizers to show some leadership. One of the arguments the commenter made was that:

Americade is run by motorcyclist for motorcyclists and the overwhelming majority of the attendees are very experienced motorcyclists. Very few of the attendees are newcomers to the sport. When they are newcomers they usually are in the company of experienced riders who are introducing them to the fun of Americade. Americade does not pose any dangers for riders that don’t exist every other time they throw a leg across the seat of their ride.

Motorcycling is all about freedom and the responsibility that goes along with it. Anyone who expect someone else to be responsible for their safety on a motorcycle has no business being on one. All riders learn very quickly that they are responsible or managing the risks when riding. No one can do it for them.

That’s sounds great, but it’s not the truth. A new study by Gannett News Service reporters John Yaukey and Robert Benincasa called Risky Ride looked at data from the federal government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System:

Nearly half of the riders killed in 2006 were age 40 and older, and nearly a quarter were 50 or older. The average age of motorcyclists killed in accidents was about 38.

Half of motorcyclists killed between 2002 and 2006 lost control and crashed without colliding with another vehicle… Motorcyclists account for about 2 percent of vehicles on the road but 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to federal statistics.

The main point of the study is that the trend toward fewer helmet laws has led to an increase in fatalities. According to Yaukey and Benincasa:

Death rates from motorcycle crashes have risen steadily since states began weakening helmet laws about a decade ago, according to a Gannett News Service analysis of federal accident reports.

I don’t agree with helmet laws, though I think you’d be stupid to ride without one for any distance (yeah, I know, and even down the block… blah, blah, blah).

I do however, still think it’s long past time for Americade organizers to take a leadership role in rider safety – something – anything – to show a commitment to rider safety for bikers young and old. It makes even more sense now, that their is a rise in rider deaths with loosening of helmet laws to show the world that riders care about safety and don’t need the nanny state to keep them safe.

Don’t you think?

BTW: Last year’s post was prompted in part by 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 was in long term hospital care – the good news is, one year later, he is getting back to blogging. We missed his insights and are glad to hear of his return to the blogosphere.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pope and The Wind 3 Yrs Ago At Adirondack Almanack

Three years ago here at Adirondack Almanack we were wondering about how significant Pope John Paul’s passing would be for Catholics in the Adirondacks and we were Tilting at Wind Shills in hopes of keeping the tops of local mountains from being industrialized.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

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.

Test Drive An Electric Motorcycle

Tips For Bear-Proofing Your Home

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Build Your Own Trash-Can Smoker

Open A Beer-Bottle With A Chainsaw

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.

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