Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Almanack Welcomes New Contributor Alan Wechsler

I’m pleased to announce the addition of Alan Wechsler to the Adirondack Almanack. Alan will be covering the outdoor recreation beat and his regular posts will run on Wednesdays at noon. Alan has been coming to the Adirondacks since his uncle took him on his first backpacking trip—with wet snow, followed by temperatures down to zero degrees—at age 15. He says he still hasn’t learned his lesson.

Today, his frequent adventures into the park include mountain-biking, skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and climbing (both rock and ice). A long-time newspaper reporter and avid outdoor photographer, he also writes for a number of regional and national magazines about the outdoors and other issues. Alan’s recent piece for Adirondack Life, Ski to Die, is an International Regional Magazine Association first-place feature-writing winner.

Got an Adirondack outdoor recreation story idea? Contact him at alwechs at juno dot com.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 7: Hoffman Concedes

Doug Hoffman conceded at 12:10 a.m., thanking “every single person out there who joined my team and fought for America. This was the biggest hill I’ve ever faced, and I’m a 46er, so I’ve faced plenty of them.”

The crowd at the Hotel Saranac had thinned but was enthusiastic, especially when the Conservative talked about an unlikely campaign that grew into a phenomenon. They cheered lines like, “We have to remember that a government that serves us everything takes away our freedoms.”

“We gotta fight back!’” members of the audience yelled. And they might, in a year, but Hoffman did not get into that tonight.

Hoffman said he called to congratulate Congressman Elect Bill Owens, who will be the first non-Republican to represent the district since the 1850s, and offered to help him to bring jobs to the area. “Let’s work with him together, but let’s make sure we get the message out there: we can’t spend money we don’t have.”

He closed with, “You don’t have to be polished, you don’t have to be poised, you don’t have to be a rock star to be a politician, so let’s all step up to the plate.”


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 6


11:00. High hopes of Hoffman supporters have been eroding all evening. Campaign spokesman Rob Ryan has had to alter his vision from sprint to marathon, as the campaigns prepare to unleash the lawyers.

There is much talk about absentee ballots. Campaign staff say they might have to spend the night at Hotel Saranac and get results tomorrow, if then. Hangers on wait for an appearance by Doug Hoffman that they expect will be neither concession nor victory speech.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 5


9:30. Fox News talent waiting to go live.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 4


Hotel Saranac. Hoffman HQ. TV outlets have been jockeying for preferred tripod positions on the press platform all afternoon. By 7:30 all the good spots are claimed.

. . . At 10:19 p.m. all those here who had said the race would be declared by 10 watch the TV quietly as Owens leads slightly in early returns. The candidate made a brief appearance in the lobby at 9:35, after a live interview with Sean Hannity, then went back to a room upstairs.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 3


Lunchtime. In an act of symbolic aggression, Democrat Bill Owens orders tea in the backyard of Conservative Doug Hoffman.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 2


Noon. Main Street. One of Saranac Lake’s endearing and enduring traditions is the Election Day bake sale benefit for St. Bernard’s Elementary School. Scheduled to run until two o’clock, the sale closed about an hour and a half early this year, perhaps having been eaten out of business by the hoard of national reporters and photographers covering congressional candidate Bill Owens’ lunchtime visit just up the street.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adirondack Youth Summit’s Zachary Berger

Zachary Berger takes a few moments to answer additional questions regarding his involvement in the first annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.

Q: When you attended the Adirondack Climate Conference, held at The Wild Center, in November 2008, what inspired you to initiate an Adirondack Youth Climate Summit?

ZB: Last November’s conference was truly a success. I was very honored to have the opportunity to attend it, but I felt it was under represented by young adults. At this conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools and the opportunity that schools have to set a model for their communities. The other students who attended the conference and I wanted to have our voices heard so we talked to Jen Kretser, Director of Programs at The Wild Center, and the planning process began.

Q: Though from Lake Placid you are now a freshman at RIT. Will you be attending this conference and if so what role will you take in this summit? If not, will you be attending the live stream and have you organized a group at your school to attend? What have you learned from this yearlong process and wish to pass along to others?

ZB: Yes, I will be attending the conference! I wouldn’t miss it for my life. Over the past year I have been part of the amazing team of people who worked endless hours putting this conference together. I will be at The Wild Center over the weekend doing last minute preparations, and during the conference I will be volunteering to keep things moving as planned.

If there was one thing I could tell others it would be: If you want to be successful in planning an event like this, find people with the same motivation and drive that you have. Having people to work with such as Jen Kretser from the Wild Center, and Mrs. Tammy Morgan from Lake Placid High School, really made this whole event come together.

Q: Why is it important for youth to have a voice on climate change?

ZB: Youth play a vital role in confronting climate change. We are investing years of our lives into our education, and will be entering the workforce very soon. Youth need to know the consequences of continuing to be carelessly affluent, what we can do both in our personal lives, and in our work lives to be more environmentally responsible. This summit will help students expand their knowledge on climate change while helping create carbon reduction plans for their schools.

Q: What is your own carbon reduction plan? What would you recommend for other young people that may inspire them to make a difference or to get involved in climate change?

ZB: Living at RIT has helped me to continue in reducing my personal carbon footprint. RIT provides every room with recycling bins for every room for electronics, plastic, paper, and cardboard. It is calculated that RIT’s recycling rate is over 70%. RIT also provides public transportation from campus into the city. Also, RIT is developing a new, web-based, rideshare website which helps those looking for rides and those who are willing to provide rides coordinate their schedules.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: First Adirondack Youth Climate Summit

Registration for the 2009 Youth Climate is closed but schools, universities, parents and children can follow the two-day event via a live stream. Conceived by then 17-year-old Zachary Berger of Lake Placid after attending the Adirondack Climate Conference last year, this year’s summit illustrates to all young people that their opinions and ideas can make a difference.

After much anticipation the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will be held November 9th and 10th at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The 24 attending high schools and colleges will each send a team of students, educators, administrators and facilities staff to develop a feasible carbon reduction plan that decreases energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to bring back to their schools and communities.

Zachary Berger, inspired by the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008, contacted conference planners to organize a similar gathering exploring climate change and its effect on the Adirondacks for the youth of the region. In early 2009, a steering committee, comprised of students, educators and The Wild Center staff, formed to bring Zach’s vision to fruition.

Berger says, “At the [Adirondack Climate] Conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools.”

The Youth Climate Summit’s goal is multilevel, according to ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan). The Summit will hold educational plenary sessions where research-based information will be presented about the economic and ecological effects of climate change. Participants will learn strategies to address climate change in the Adirondacks and how, when applied, communities will benefit monetarily.

Workshops are scheduled throughout the two-day event pairing students with experienced personnel to develop training skills to inspire participants to engage others to “green their schools and communities.” Through hands-on activities members will learn team-building skills in the hopes to engage classmates and coworkers in a grassroots effort to make their schools energy-efficient. During this process teams will develop a carbon and cost reduction plan to bring back to each school.

The following high schools and colleges are attending this inaugural year: Chateaugay Central School, Clifton-Fine Central School, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Heuvelton Central School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Minerva Central School, Moriah Central School, Morristown Central School, Newcomb Central School, Northville Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Saranac Lake Central School, St. Regis Falls, Tupper Lake Central School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, North Country Community College, Paul Smiths College, St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam.

These institutions will serve as models in energy efficiency, sustainable energy usage, building maintenance, landscaping & grounds management, school & community garden planning, and how to affect the current science curriculum in schools. (The Summit is aligned with NYS Commencement Level MST Standards.)

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summits are scheduled through 2011 to monitor the success of each climate action plan. There will also be the opportunity for those Adirondack schools that watch the live web stream to participate in future summits. The complete schedule information is available here.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad

Check in throughout the day for scenes from NY-23 in Saranac Lake.

On what was supposed to be a sleepy off-year election day, many counties across upstate New York’s 23rd congressional district rolled out new optical scan voting machines. A considerable departure from the old gray crank and ratchet machines that looked like something some glacier deposited in the town hall countless millennia ago, the new models are squat, lusterless black, cyclopsed affairs that look like the dog that ate your homework in second grade. Like that dog, these don’t appear to give receipts either, according to the poll watchers.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day in the North Country

And the focus of the national media focuses on the mythic character of the region. . .


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: A Speedy Trial

Following the capture of John Brown and his associates at Harpers Ferry they were first held in the armory’s guardhouse. The next day, October 19th, 1859, they were taken to the County Jail in Charles Town, about eight miles away. On October 25th (after being questioned by Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise, Virginia Senator James M. Mason, and Representative Clement Vallandigham of Ohio) John Brown was led into court for arraignment. He was manacled to Edwin Coppoc and escorted by some 80 militiamen with bayonets fixed. Brown was still suffering from his wounds and needed to be supported at the bench. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Gearing Up: Snowshoe Season is Almost Here

Winter is nearly upon the Adirondacks and it’s time to blow the dust off your cold-weather gear including your snowshoes. Snowshoeing has increased in popularity and practicality in stride with technology. Gone are the days when the only choice was hand woven wood frame shoes. The framing, decking, cleats (crampons) and bindings are now made with high tech materials specialized for various conditions and preferences.

The first question becomes one of purpose. What environment will they be used for? Deep powder snow and packed trails are drastically different underfoot. Designs with increased length and width increase surface area and offer more stability and flotation in unpacked conditions. They are a bit less maneuverable, however, it tighter areas. They can also be used on packed trails in many instances. More compact models save weight and increase maneuverability when snow depth is minimal.

Specialized conditions sometimes require specialized shoes. Ascending to higher elevations via steep grades may require traverse through changing conditions: packed trail, unbroken powder, steep inclines with ice flows, summits with mixed conditions where, perhaps, crampons would be most valuable. Most models offer some crampons with varying degrees of aggressiveness for traction. MSR, for instance, offers a very specialized and maneuverable line of shoes that include aggressive crampons, metal “teeth” either around the circumference or in rows, a heel elevator to alleviate leg fatigue on inclines and an optional flotation tail to increase length and thus versatility across terrain.

No matter the environment, it’s also important to know which shoes perform best for your personal traits as well. Manufacturers usually have a weight chart to help choose between models or sizes of a particular model. Forums and product review sites can offer guidance on the positive and negative aspects of each.

As an aside, please remember that in the High Peaks Wilderness area, you “must possess and use skis or snowshoes when the terrain is snow-covered with eight or more inches of snow”. This helps reduce preventable rescues and protects both the wearer and other hikers alike.


Monday, November 2, 2009

New York State Supreme Court Elections Guide

Buried by the hoopla surrounding the 23rd congressional district special election, New York Supreme Court races have gone largely unnoticed this year. The Adirondack Park is divided between two Judicial Districts: The fourth, comprising Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties (with Montgomery and Schenectady outside the Blue Line); and the fifth, comprising Herkimer, Lewis and Oneida counties (with Jefferson, Oswego and Onondaga outside the park). Links to Supreme Court candidate websites after the jump. . .

The slate of candidates competing for two seats in the 4th District includes: Acting Supreme Court Justice Barry D. Kramer from Schenectady running on the Democratic and Conservative lines, Brian S. Stewart from Lake Placid and Bellmont (inside the Blue Line), running on the Democratic line, Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Meyer from Saranac Lake running on the Republican Line, Justice Thomas E. Mercure of Ft. Edward running on the Republican and Conservative lines.

Candidates for the two seats in the 5th District are: Acting Supreme Court Justice James W. McCarthy of Oswego running on the Democrat, Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, County Court Judge Walter Hafner, Jr. of Hannibal running on the Democratic line, and Supreme Court Justice James C. Tormey of Syracuse running on the Republican and Independence lines.

New York State Courts offers an impartial voters’ guide on all judicial elections (worth a visit) here.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

23rd CD Web Watch: Friend for a Day

Over the course of an eventful weekend in New York’s 23rd CD, Lake Placid resident and congressional aspirant Douglas Hoffman showed the flexibility of a skilled politician in declaring two significantly disparate feelings for his former Republican rival. On Saturday, Hoffman’s website displayed a heartfelt tribute to Dede Scozzafava.
Sunday brought a new week, a new month, a new clock setting, and a new emotion from the Conservative Party Candidate (click right image to enlarge)