Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas 1969: The View from Warrensburg

By the end of 1969, more than forty thousand American soldiers had been killed in the war in Vietnam. Despite Richard Nixon’s pledge in 1968 that his election would bring “peace with honor,” and after a year of peace talks in Paris, it was clear that the killing would continue. That’s the background of this editorial that my father, Rob Hall, wrote and published in his Warrensburg-Lake George News in December, 1969. On this Christmas, with wars underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, I thought it might find resonance with Adirondack Almanack readers.

Our dream went like this:

It was my first full day in heaven and the day-room orderly told me that the Archangel Michael wanted to see me. I found him behind a golden desk in his office. “The Chief suggested that in view of your long career as a newspaperman you might like to publish a little weekly newspaper for us up here,” he said.

“I suppose it would occupy my time for me,” I said. “What shall we name it? The Heavenly Tidings, perhaps?”

He said any name would do and I remarked that I’d need a staff of two or three. I named several newspapermen I had known who had recently passed over the Great Divide. “Nope,” said the Archangel, looking over the big book on his desk, “they’re not registered HERE.”

“Well,” I said, “could you spare me an angel?”

“I should think so,” said Michael, “but will yours be a good news newspaper or a bad news newspaper?”

“Is there any bad news up here?” I asked.

“Only the tidings of wickedness from down below,” he said, “but we like to keep informed.”

In that case, I said, the Heavenly Tidings would be a mixture of both. “But what about my angel?”

“I can let you have Gabriella,” Michael said. “She’s a sister to Gabriel but as much the opposite as any sibling you’ve ever known. Gabriel is the one with the trumpet which he will blow on Doomsday. But Gabriella is so constituted that she is incapable of bringing anything but good news. If it’s bad news, forget it. She absolutely won’t handle it.”

“How odd,” I commented, and noticed that Michael seemed disposed to continue the conversation. He leaned back in his golden chair and adjusted his wings to the apertures in the backrest.

“It was a long time ago that we first became aware of Gabriella’s hang-up,” he said. “It was about this time of year and we had word from the Chief to keep an eye on the road from Galilee to Bethlehem. I gave Gabriella the assignment and thought no more of it until I came into the observation post and found her in tears.”

“I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” she sobbed. And when I asked her what was the matter, she said:

“Why that poor woman down there, riding that little donkey. And the kind old man with her. They are on their way to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. Not only are their taxes out of this world, there’s no inn that will give them a bed. I just can’t make out my report. Every time I try to write, the tears get in my eyes and I can’t see to write.”

“I told her that it was her duty to report the bad along with the good, but it didn’t seem to matter. She just kept crying like her heart would break.”

I peeked through the observation window and I said, “Look, Gabriella, they’ve got a place in that inn.”

“Yes, but look at the accommodations,” she said. “Just a pile of straw in the barn.”

“Now Gabriella,” I said. “People who love each other can be happy under the most adverse circumstances.”

“But she’s going to have a baby,” said Gabriella. “And there’s not even a midwife around to help. Oh, this is terrible.”

I really couldn’t figure out any way to comfort Gabriella, but I noticed a beautiful bright star moving toward Bethlehem.

“Take a look at the star, Gabriella,” I said. “That surely means something.”

“How beautiful,” said Gabriella, and she smiled through her tears. “And look, it’s stopped right over the barn where those poor people are staying.”

The intercom bell rang for me and I knew it was the Chief.

“It’s come,” the Chief said. “I have a Son. Send down an angel and some heavenly hosts, the ones with the most beautiful voices. This is not an occasion to be minimized.”

I started to ask where, but the star gave me the answer. “Gabriella,” I said, “there’s great, good news, tidings of real joy. Get down to that barn right away, and I’ll send you some help. Are you in good voice?”

“You can bet I am,” said Gabriella, and she laughed joyfully, because she had got the message.

“On your way,” I said and patted her on the back. And with that Gabriella opened her wings and swooped down.

She was the first one there, and I tuned in to hear her song.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to men.”

Gabriella was happy when she returned to headquarters. “A beautiful baby lying in a manger,” she said. “Oh the good news that I’ll be reporting from now on.”

“And,” said Michael, “that has been her assignment ever since.”

I told Michael I understood, and that Gabriella would be assistant editor in charge of good news. I said I’d try to handle the bad news myself.

“And speaking of bad news,” I said to Michael, “what’s going on with Vietnam?”

“One of these days, that will be a proper assignment for Gabriella,” Michael said, “but not, repeat not, in this week’s issue.”

For news and commentary from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror. Visit the paper online at http://lakegeorgemirror.com


Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene: Songwriters and Holiday Concerts

Well, I’m back from my trip and I’m sorry to say the music scene I’d hoped to encounter didn’t emerge; even guitar strings were hard to come by. It is truly eye-opening to see how fortunate we are to have such an art-oriented community. I think it’s easy to forget , not in the least because we live in the same state as cultural mecca NYC, how many places in the world have only the radio and recordings to stimulate the ears. So, get out there and support our huge pool of talent, starting tonight with Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios. I’ll be there at 7 pm.
My other recommendation is to carol if the opportunity presents itself. You could create that opportunity by gathering up a posse of your own. I was encouraged last year for the first time in many to join a group and it was so much fun I’m doing it again without question. Yes, it’s cold and doesn’t always sound great but the camaraderie is warming and sometimes, if you sing really loud, you get invited in for treats.

Thursday, December 17th:

In Saranac Lake, at BluSeed Studios, Open Minded Mic starts at 7:30 pm. Sign up is at 7 pm and there is a $3 cover.

In Glens Falls at the Charles R. Wood Theater, The Glens Falls Community Band is holding a Holiday Concert starting at 8 pm.

Saturday, December 19th:

In Upper Jay at The Recovery Lounge John Scarpulla will be passing a hat. This singer songwriter plays some lovely guitar to go with a sweet voice from what I’ve heard on line – the show starts at 8 pm.

In Lake Placid at LPCAthey are having their 9th annual Adirondack Christmas. The concert features Peggy Lynn, Dan Duggan , Roy Hurd and Frank Orsini. It starts at 7 pm, tickets are $12.

In Saranac Lake, Sven Curth is at the Waterhole. You can check out a video for his fun new song called “Jesus Loves Tractors” It’s a free show!

Sunday, December 20th:

In Saranac Lake at Will Rogers, the Madrigal Singers will being giving their Christmas Concert from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Call 891 -7117 with questions. It’s free!


Monday, December 21st:

In Saranac Lake at the High School Auditorium the Winter Concert will begin at 7 pm. This night features the Jazz Ensemble, Festival Chorus, Vocal Ensembles, Concert Choir and Concert Band. Phone 897 – 1473 with questions, it too is free!

Wednesday, December 23rd:

In Saranac Lake at The Waterhole The Pine Ridge Rounders, a local bluegrass band, are featured at Santa’s Ball. They hit the stage at 10 pm.

Photo: John Scarpulla


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crown Point Bridge Design Recomendation Made

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) announced today both a public survey and the agencies’ Public Advisory Committee (PAC) agree on what the new Crown Point – Chimney Point bridge (officially known as the Lake Champlain Bridge) should look like. The survey and PAC recommendation “will be one of many factors considered” according to officials in choosing a replacement bridge design. The co-lead agencies on the project (VAOT, NYSDOT, and FHWA) have not yet made an official decision and cannot do so until after January 11, 2010 when the comment period for Consulting Parties officially ends. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Gross Anatomy of Binoculars

Birdwatching is one-third knowledge, one-third patience, and one-third having the right equipment. Carpenters have all the right tools for their line of work, woodcarvers have the sharpest tools, and doctors, well they BETTER have the right tools! All said, they need these instruments to get a job done. In a similar way, birdwatching, whether it be from your home, car, or the trail, should be no different. You want the right equipment to see the best and clearest image. So I’m going to walk you through the specifics of binoculars and what features might be best suited for you. Hmmm, is Santa’s list still growing?

Once during a Christmas bird count along Lake Champlain we had to identify some ducks bobbing in between the waves way offshore. Binoculars of a lesser quality struggled w/the identification. A steady hand helped but it was clearly some top-notch binoculars that saved the day. My point here being the better quality binoculars showed us a clearer image and allowed us to figure out what we were looking at.

So lesson one-if you can afford better optics, then do so. But what are better optics? I can list all the brands that charge over $1,000 for binoculars(from here on known as “bins” or “binos”) but we don’t need to go that far. There’s plenty of good stuff on the market under $600.

First let’s look at some details. A most-common question asked is what are the numbers on bins(7×35, 8×42, 10×50)? The #7(or 8 or 10) refer to the magnification of the image you see w/the bins. My pair of 8’s magnify what I see 8 fold. Good but a 10x will be stronger(but will it be better remains to be seen).

The number after the “x” refers to the size(in mm) of the objective lens(that large lens at the end of the binos, opposite where you look through). So my 8×50’s have an objective lens size of 50mm. This is bigger than a 35 or 42 objective lens and it helps in allowing more light to come into the bins. It can also give me a much wider view of a tree, a line of ducks, or a group of hawks circling overhead.

Certain disadvantages come with owning a pair of bins with higher magnification. One factor is weight. More glass lenses in a binocular can really add up in weight. That’s OK if you want to weightlift and bird at the same time. Most of us don’t. So manufacturers came up w/lighter materials. This helps those of us w/coffee addiction and the inevitable “shakes”.

But one thing to consider is more is not always better. A 10x bino will magnify 10 times but if you’re a shaky hand, that shaky image is magnified! Many birders enjoy a middle-of-the-road size of 7x or 8x.

With advancing technology there are a number of things that bins manufacturers have put into their products. Many lenses are now “multi-” or “fully-coated” which means they are covered with something that decreases the amount of reflection inside the tubes holding the lenses. This in turn gives you a clearer and sharper image.

Waterproofing binos has also come a long way. Many companies have “nitrogen-purged” or “nitrogen-filled” products which prevent water from collecting inside the lenses. It also helps prevent that internal condensation on lenses that appears when you bring cold binos inside a warm car!

Looking at prices. I mentioned earlier if you can pay for more then do it. A very good pair of bins can run from $200-$500. Some lesser-priced bins can offer good quality but their life may not last as along as a $300 pair. They may also not have all the good features you should look for in binos.

Some names to consider(there are many out there) are Bushnell, Nikon, Vortex, Eagle Optics, Pentax, and Kowa. Higher priced bins are Swarovski, Leica, and Zeiss. Many birders have found the Nikon “Monarchs” model to suit their needs. You can find this brand priced around $275-$300, depending on the magnification. But if that’s too high I would look over all the Bushnell models out there. Some are very good at just over $100. Check out B and H Photo & Video

Finally I’ll mention the difference between a standard size pair of bins with that of a compact pair. Just like cars there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Standards are larger as well as heavier(but becoming quite light w/all the new tech advances). Compacts(great for hiking, canoeing, kayaking) are light and small and fit anywhere, but some lack in quality what they made up for in decreased size. Don’t buy the compact bins that have a 9x or 10x magnification. They loose quality as that number goes up. To have good magnification/clear image you need lots of glass which many compacts can’t offer you.

Well, by now you’ve taken your Fathers WWII binos out of the case and as you look through them you suddenly feel dizzy or drunk! Chances are the big chunk of glass(called a prism) in those monsters has cracked or shifted and giving a blurred double-image view. That can be remedied by replacing the prism, but at that cost you may as well invest in a new pair!

So, invest in what you can afford; look for fully-coated lenses; make sure the bins are waterproof; and find a magnification to your liking. But the best advice to you is to handle the binos before purchasing. Shopping online may be cheaper but your hands are not wrapped around the bins, weighing them, feeling them, and your eyes are not looking at a crystal-clear image. Stop over to Wild Birds Unlimited in Saratoga Springs and handle some binos there!

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that the ducks, referred to earlier bobbing on Lake Champlain, where lesser scaup. Catching the differences between greater and lesser scaup can be tricky. Greater scaup is slightly larger and seems to show brighter white on their sides as opposed to a duller gray on the sides of the lesser. In flight look for more white in the wings of the greater.

Photo: Brian McAllister. Those compacts are great for kayaking/canoeing!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

1931: Prohibition Agents Sieze a Large Still in Hague

December 5th marks the anniversary of the end of Prohibition in 1933. To remember that time when the social life of so many Americans was made criminal overnight, I thought I would offer this little nugget from the July 2, 1931 Ticonderoga Sentinel.

One wonders if the men arrested here ever served any hard time. I suspect they did. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Balsam Fir – An Adirondack Classic

The smell of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) brings a rush of Adirondack memories to anyone who has spent even a smidgeon of time in the Park. Whether it’s from sun-warmed needles scenting summer days at camp, or the woodsy scent of a balsam pillow on a cold winter day, for many people balsam fir means Adirondacks.

Now, I could use this post to regurgitate the statistical facts of the tree (it has blunt needles up to an inch and a half long, dark purplish cones two to four inches long, smooth to thinly scaly bark studded with resin blisters, grows forty to eighty feet tall and can live up to two-hundred years), but that would be boring. Instead, I’d like to take a look at how the balsam fir has ingratiated itself into the lives of so many people. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Good Start to the Adirondack Ski Season

Skiers rejoice—it looks like we’ll have a white Christmas this year in the Adirondacks.

The base may be a bit bullet-proof right now, but with snow on the ground and cold temperatures in the air, that means—with a bit of luck—good conditions for the ski industry during the all-important holiday season. The Christmas/New Year’s break is generally the most lucrative period for ski resorts during the season.

While conditions are nowhere as impressive as they were last year around this time, when back-to-back blizzards created some of the best early conditions in years, there’s enough snow to at least brag about.

Whiteface reports receiving 38 inches thus far, with 11-to 20 inches on the ground (“frozen granular,” the industry’s feel-good term for ice, thanks to a warm spell on Tuesday).

Gore is reporting 9- to 18 inches of base, and is optimistically calling it “packed powder.” Nearby Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center reported two inches of fresh snow on its 26 km. of trails from last night, so perhaps that’s where it comes from …

Backcountry conditions were good enough for skiers to get out for a few days, reports Garnet Hill guide Fred Anderson.

“The base is getting good,” said Anderson, who cautioned cross-country skiers not to try the backcountry until we get some more coverage: “It’ll be like a rock out there.”

Elsewhere, Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid is reporting 50 km. of trails, with an inch of powder over their hard-packed base. Nearby Cascade Ski Touring Center has 10 km. To the south, Lapland Lake near Northville reports 47 km and some very happy reindeer.

Meanwhle, to the west, McCauley Mountain in Old Forge still shows pictures of people in shorts on its home page. However, “It’s snowing right now,” reports an employee on the phone, and the mountain is open with 4 to 24 inches of packed powder. And Oak Mountain in Speculator is set to open this Friday.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Word of Life: Christian Fundamentalism in the Adirondacks

Oral Roberts died yesterday. He was one of the founders of televangelism and the principle behind Oral Roberts University. What you may not know is that the Adirondacks had its own radio evangelist, Jack Wyrtzen, the founder of Word Of Life ministries (in 1941) and the Word of Life Bible Institute (in 1971) in Schroon Lake. Unless you’ve spent some time driving around Schroon Lake, you may not realize that there is a two-year bible school here in the Adirondacks that grew out of the same kind of public evangelism made popular by Oral Roberts.

You won’t find fraternities or sororities at the Bible Institute, no late-night poetry readings or parties, and you also won’t find a degree, at least not one recognized as collegiate. But you will find a genuinely cult-like atmosphere to immerse your children, and a highly developed indoctrination program. As the Institute’s “Philosophy Statement” says “We believe that doctrine is the foundation for all of our endeavors.”

Word of Life Bible Institute‘s mission is to provide students “a rigorous academic atmosphere so that he or she might receive both fully transferable course work and structured discipleship in order to live his or her life with maximum effectiveness for the Lord.” How does today’s Christian youth achieve those goals at the Institute? Through rigid control of their every waking moment, isolation from their peers, parents, and culture, and severe punishment for falling out of line.

It’s all in the student handbook, and it’s quite a read (and quite different from Oral Roberts University). Of course the standard stuff is there:

Emotional exclamations such as ‘Oh, my God’ and ‘Oh, my Lord’ are a demonstration of disrespect for the name of the LORD

And sure we’ve got to figure that there is no swearing, gambling, sex, drinking, or drugs – but no physical contact?

Physical contact between persons of the opposite sex is not permitted on or off campus.

Physical contact between members of the same sex must be within the bounds of biblically acceptable behavior.

There is one exception:

When ice and snow present hazardous conditions, a male student may offer his arm to a female student.

In fact two people of the opposite sex cannot be trusted to be alone, period. The “Third Party Standard” assures they are not:

Two students of the opposite sex must have a third party with them at all times.

You figure it might be tough to walk to class while avoiding encounters with someone of the opposite sex? They got that covered:

Students are exempt from the ‘third-party rule’ only in the central area of the campus.

What if a good Christian couple has secured permission from their parents to marry?

Marriages are not allowed during the school year without prior permission from the Executive Dean.

What about getting engaged?

The Student Life Department must be consulted prior to any engagement during the school year. Parental/guardian permission must be given prior to the engagement.

And just to remind those who have committed the greatest marriage sin:

Divorced or separated students are not allowed to date while enrolled at the Bible Institute.

The world is filled with pesky “culture” according to the leaders of the Bible Institute. They are there to make sure you don’t experience any:

Word of Life uses a content filtering and firewall system to prohibit access to Internet content that is contrary to the Word of Life Standard of Conduct. . . . All activity is logged and monitored by the Student Life Department.

Just in case a student finds a way to expose themselves to the outside world:

All computer monitors must face the public and must be in clear view of supervisors.

What about music? After students have completed their first semester, have written “their biblical principles for entertainment” and have provided the Institute with a copy, they can listen to approved music, but only in electronic format, and only by headphones:

Radios, televisions, clock radios, etc are not permitted at the Bible Institute. They are to be sent home immediately.

All music played publicly at the Bible Institute [a privilege permitted Institute staff] must be screened and approved.

What about movies?

No movies of any kind (DVD, downloaded, streamed, burned, or otherwise) may be played in the dorm rooms at any time, nor may they be kept in the dorm room.

There is to be no attendance at a movie theater.

What about leaving campus?

Special Permission is needed from the Student Life Deans for any of the following:

To travel home or anywhere that would involve an overnight stay.
To drive more than 100 miles away from school, (ie. Canada or New York City).

What about the Second Amendment?

All rifles, handguns, bows & arrows, knives, wrist-rockets, BB/Pellet guns, airsoft guns, etc. are not permitted in the residence rooms, in vehicles or on the person while on campus. If you bring them, you will be required to return them to your home.

The “Code of Honor” provides the general atmosphere and restricts:

The use of traditional playing cards

Participation in oath-bound secret organizations (societies), from social dancing of any type, from attendance at the motion picture theater and commercial stage productions.

Christian discretion and restraint will be exercised in all choices of entertainment, including radio, television, audio and visual recordings, and various forms of literature.

Furthermore, it is expected that associates will actively support a local Bible-believing church through service, giving, and allegiance.

That last one doesn’t always work out so well, readers will remember 20-year-old Caleb Lussier, a student at the Word of Life Bible Institute in 2006 who “actively supported” a local church, the 77-year-old Christ Church, just across the street from the Institute in Pottersville.

Only his idea of active support was to burn it to the ground, though he did remove the bibles for safe keeping before lighting the gas. Caleb also threatened three other houses of worship, plus the one he set to the torch in his hometown.

According to local news reports, “Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said Lussier thought the members of Christ Church were hypocrites who deviated from the teachings of the Bible and the word of God. He allegedly robbed the church twice in May. On one occasion he left behind a message written in a Bible: ‘You’ve been warned.'”

Lussier was arrested in his dorm room after a member of another local church saw him at their services and warned the Warren County sheriff’s office that something wasn’t right.

“He didn’t think they were following the Bible the way he thought they should,” Cleveland told the press at the time, “He holds to the principle, but he said he went about it in the wrong way.”


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Newcomb VIC

This is a last weekend in many ways; last weekend of Hunting Season, ending of Hanukkah and the final weekend for holiday shopping. If you want to get all “glass half-full” then it is the beginning of snowshoe season and the start of the ski season and beginning of holiday sales! For us it is a time to get outside and safely enjoy one of the many reasons we chose to live in the Adirondack Park.

It is easy to get caught up in the pressure of the holidays no matter what we celebrate. So whether you are looking for a safe place to hike to avoid any hunters using the last eligible days to tag a deer or wish to spend time rather than money, the New York State Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Newcomb is well worth a visit.

Open since 1990, the Newcomb VIC is part of the Huntington Wildlife Forest preserve owned by Syracuse University and maintained by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The 236-acre property consists of an Interpretive Building that houses educational exhibits and a trail system for seasonal activities.

There are four trails to choose from: Rick Lake, a .6-mile loop; the 1-mile Sucker Brook (which allows for skiing along the northern section only); the Peninsula Trail, a .9-mile loop which intersects the Rick Lake Trail and the R.W. Sage Memorial Trail, a 1.1-mile trail open to both skiing and snowshoeing. The bonus track is the .7-mile connector trail from The Sage Trail that links to Camp Santanoni, a 12-mile round trip ski.

Snowshoes are now required so no foot travel is allowed on any of the trails. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you may sign out a pair for free; just provide a license as collateral. For small children (seven-years and younger) sizes may not be available so bring a sled or your own equipment.

Please keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on the trails in the winter months to enable naturalists to lead winter tracking clinics so visitors can see wildlife rather than dog prints.

The Newcomb VIC is located 12 miles east of Long Lake on Route 28N. The trails are open from dawn to dusk while the building is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.) No dogs are allowed on the trails during the winter months because of Call 518-582-2000 for current trail conditions. The VIC is free and open to the public.

Photo: Rich Lake Outlet in Winter courtesy Newcomb VIC


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New: Winter Sports Coverage at the Adirondack Almanack

Please join me in welcoming Christie Sausa of Lake Placid as the Almanack‘s newest contributor, heading up our winter sports coverage. Christie is a member of the historic figure and speed skating culture in the Olympic Village, and writes about those sports for the Lake Placid News and on her own blogs, including the popular Lake Placid Skater which she founded in 2007.

Sausa, who attends North Country Community College (she’s pursuing a sports and events management degree), will be taking her budding journalism skills behind the scenes at local competitions, and will also be writing about our local athletes, including the many World Cup and Olympic hopefuls. Her reporting for the Almanack will include the more popular sports (like ski-jumping, downhill, snowboarding, and cross country) the sliding sports (luge, skeleton, and bobsledding), as well as the more obscure local sports like biathlon, skijoring, and dogsledding.

When Sausa is not on the ice herself, or writing about what happens there, or learning about managing what happens there, she is helping her mom with their local business, the Lake Placid Skate Shop. Sausa was recently invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Placid, the Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition, the Skating Club of Lake Placid, and the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dude: Where Did You Learn to Say That?

You hear it all the time, dude. It seems some Adirondack folks can’t stop using it at the beginning or end of nearly every sentence. A remnant of the 1980s? You bet. A remnant of the 1880s? Dude, also correct. It turns out dude is one of those words often cited as “origin unknown” in English dictionaries that is in fact an Irish word adopted as slang by the rest of America (including all those Warren County Dude Ranches).

According to the late Daniel Cassidy, who spent six years dissecting the etymology of American slang words for his book How the Irish Invented Slang, dude is one of the many slang words and phrases that have come to us from Gaelic by way of the poorest Irish immigrants. Jazz, snazzy, moolah, slugger and even poker, are Irish words spelled phonetically in English brought to us by Irish street toughs.

Take this front page article from the February 25, 1883 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle:

A new word has been coined. It is d-u-d-e or d-o-o-d. The spelling does not seem to be distinctly settled yet… Just where the word came from nobody knows, but it has sprang into popularity in the last two weeks, so that now everybody is using it…

A dude cannot be old; he must be young, and to be properly termed a dude he should be of a certain class who affect Metropolitan theaters. The dude is from 19 to 28 years of age, wears trousers of extreme tightness, is hollow chested, effeminate in his ways, apes the English and distinguishes himself among his fellowmen as a lover of actresses. The badge of his office is the paper cigarette, and his bell crown English opera hat is his chiefest joy… As a rule they are rich men’s sons, and very proud of the unlimited cash at their command… They are a harmless lot of men in one way… but they are sometimes offensive.

According to any standard Irish dictionary, a Dud (pronounced Dood) is a foolish-looking fellow, a dolt, a numbskull; a clown; an idiot.

Sounds right to me, dude.


Monday, December 14, 2009

In the Adirondacks Quitting is Always an Option

The Climbing Code in The Freedom of the Hills has nine precepts meant to promote safety in the mountains. Some are common sense, such as No. 1: “Leave the trip itinerary with a responsible person.” Others are technical: “Rope up on all exposed places and for all glacier travel.”

Most of us violate some of the rules on occasion. Many times I’ve gone on a short hike without telling anyone or without carrying the ten essentials.

But I’ve had the hardest time over the years with precept No. 7: “Never let judgment be overruled by desire when choosing the route or turning back.”

When you set out to climb a mountain and you travel for hours in pursuit of that goal, it takes mental discipline to turn around short of the summit if, say, bad weather or fatigue slows your progress. If you’re a mountain climber, after all, you’re probably the sort who takes risks, the sort inclined to push on despite the dangers.

Several years ago, I violated six or seven of the precepts when I climbed the slides on the east side of Giant Mountain. I went solo, I didn’t tell anyone, and I got into a situation above my ability. I ended up ascending a very steep face, scratching dirt out of cracks to make holds. Essentially, I was rock climbing in hiking boots, and I had no rock-climbing experience.

It wasn’t the only time I got lucky.

This past weekend, I set out to climb Debar Mountain with Mike Lynch, the outdoors writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. I needed to get photos for a snowshoeing story that will run in the January/February issue of the Adirondack Explorer.

It’s a round trip of nine and half miles. We skied in a few miles and then switched to snowshoes when the trail got steeper. We were breaking trail the whole time.

Most of the climbing comes in the final mile or so. As we ascended, Mike started to fall behind, so I waited for him. He told me his asthma was acting up. He also may have been worn out from skiing eight days in a row. We decided to go a little farther to see if he felt better. He didn’t, so with less than a half-mile to go to reach the top, we turned back.

No doubt we could have made it had we pushed on. In the past, I might have regretted turning around, but I felt we made a smart decision—especially as we were running out of daylight—and that gave me as much satisfaction as reaching the summit.

A wise man once said: “The mountains will always be there; the trick is to make sure you are too.”


Monday, December 14, 2009

North Creek-Gore Mountain-Ski Bowl Shuttle Slated

A public transportation shuttle is being established in North Creek with hopes of more closely linking Gore Mountain with the village of North Creek. The shuttle will also make a stop at the historic North Creek Ski Bowl allowing skiers and boarders to take a single trail down and shuttle back up. Additional trails are expected to be open next winter.

Locally owned Brant Lake Taxi & Transport Service will operate the shuttle, which is being paid for by hotel occupancy tax receipts and local businesses. The free shuttle will run just 39 days during the ski season beginning December 19th, including weekends and holiday weeks, from 8 am to 4:30 pm, with a break for the driver’s lunchtime.

Gore Mountain spokesperson Emily Stanton told the Glens Falls Post-Star that the shuttle will provide access to North Creek village for Gore visitors who arrive at the mountain by chartered bus.

Additionally, a controversial “Gold Parking” program has been getting a lot of discussion on the lifts and in the lodges. About 200 spaces have been set aside for paid parking. The $10 fee has led to quite a debate over at skiadk.com and the Gore Facebook page.