Adirondack Bloggers, Twitterers, and Friends are welcome to join Small Pines, Adirondack Base Camp, and at least some of the staff of Adirondack Almanack at what’s being called “The Great Adirondack Meet-up/Tweet-up” on Thursday, July 16, 5 to 7 pm at High Peaks Resort, 2384 Saranac Ave (at the corner of Main Street) in Lake Placid.
We’ll be meeting on the deck at Reflections overlooking Mirror Lake. The bar will be available and food can be ordered from the menu.
Tonight in Lake George: Rich Ortiz is at Christie’s On The Lake. I heard a bit online and he sounds like he’s a very good guitarist whose lyrics come from the heart. He’s popular in southern Warren County.
On Friday at Maxfields, 15 Market St, Potsdam, (315) 265-3796, the band Thanks but No Thanks is starting between 9 and 10 pm. A four-piece rock and roll band, they perform a collection of material from the 70s until present day. I’m a huge fan of the bass player Colin DeHond – his other gig is as a Long Hare in the Dust Bunnies. If you miss Thanks but NoThanks Friday you can catch them Saturday at La Casbah, also in Potsdam starting, at 9 pm. Both venues offer dinner menus.
It’s a jam-packed Saturday with a bunch of very good things to choose from in one night: In Edwards at The Edwards Opera House, the duo Paul And Storm perform their original comedy songs starting at 7 pm.
In Saranac Lake at BluSeed there is going to be a songwriter’s concert starting at 7:30 pm. Mother Banjo is the headliner with a minimalist style and haunting voice she’s bound to please. Sharing the stage with her are local musicians The Dust Bunnies, TeresaHartford and Sarah Curtis. It’s looking to be a round-robin concert where all the musicians take turns sharing songs and probably includes some discussion about what was going on at the time they were written.
In Upper Jay at the Recovery LoungeBig Slyde (Formally Slyde) will be playing from 8 to 10 pm. Hannah is back for the summer along with her beautiful voice and bouzuki – you know they are going to sound fabulous. Big Slyde gets into such good grooves it’s easy to move when listening to them. I’d be there if I wasn’t otherwise engaged!
On Sunday in Tupper Lake at P2’s, they are continuing their Super Sunday Music Series with Steve Signall from 7- 9 pm. Steve is an excellent mandolin player and singer, and he often brings talented friends along with him.
An update on the standoff in the New York State Senate, where Democrats moved the issue into the court system. Lawyers for Malcolm Smith appealed to Supreme Court Justice George Ceresia to have Monday’s Republican vote on leadership change deemed illegitimate. The Republicans are still planning to meet today, depending on the current mood of Senator Hiram Monserrate.
Update update: Republicans entered the Senate Chambers today for the first time since Monday late afternoon. They were unable to conduct official business after Senator Monserrate left the floor, denying the hair’s-breadth majority a quorum.
The Cornell University Cooperative Extension 4-H Program is conducting two, three day Wilderness Exploration trips which are open to both 4-H and non-4-H youth. According to a press release issued by Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension “The trips are designed to give youth a basic knowledge of the Adirondack environment including its forest and wildlife. Low-impact camping is stressed, developing in youth an attitude that they are part of, not apart from, the environment in which they live.” The first trip, scheduled June 26 – 28 is for 9-11 year olds. The group will be camping and canoeing in North River area of, New York. The cost for this trip is $20.00 per participant. There is required a pre-trip meeting planned for Thursday June 18th at the Warren County Fairgrounds.
The second trip scheduled July 15–17 is for 12-15 year olds. The group will be canoeing and camping at Raquette Lake. The cost for this trip is $40.00 per participant. There is only one spot left on this trip, so call immediately if interested. There is a required pre-trip meeting scheduled for Thursday July 9 at 6PM at the Warren County Fairgrounds.
The 4-H Wilderness Trip Program is entering its 36th year of operation. Activities on the trip will include woods lore and safety, identification of forest trees and wildlife, compass skills, canoeing skills and safety. Pre-registration and payment for these programs is required by June 18 and July 1 respectively. Please call Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Warren County at 518-623-3291 or 668-4881.
What do you do on a rainy day when you have twelve wiggly pre-schoolers to entertain? You go looking for snails and slugs! These slimy creatures (the snails and slugs, not the pre-schoolers) can be difficult to find on days that are warm and dry, but bring on the rain, and the things practically come crawling out of the woodwork.
What is a slug, except a snail sans shell? Officially a mollusc, it is hard sometimes to reconcile a slug as related to oysters and clams. They may all be related, but on the family tree, slugs are definitely located on a twig of their own.
Most people really don’t appreciate slugs; after all, what’s to love about this squishy, slimy, oozing thing that eats your lettuce and other valuable plants? But, like so many unloved animals, if you really take the time to get to know them, you are likely to discover some fascinating facts.
For example, let’s take a look at slime. What purpose does slime serve? For one thing, it helps keep the snail from drying out as it crawls along the dry ground (assuming it hasn’t rained for days). It also soaks up moisture, another anti-dehydration strategy (and also the reason why the slime is impossible to wash off your hands/feet). Slug slime serves as an aid in helping slugs crawl over very sharp objects without sustaining any injury. Do you have your doubts? Go find a slug and set it to crawl over a sharp razor blade – a feat neither you nor I could accomplish! Some slugs use their slime to form a “rope” that they can use to lower themselves to the ground. A coating of thick slime can make a slug difficult to grab if you are a predator (think greased pig). Slug slime also acts like a map, leaving a chemical trail behind that the slug can follow back to its home.
Slugs (and snails) have tentacles on the front of their faces. On the slug, the two upper ones, which tend to be longer, also possess eye spots; these are the optical tentacles. These eyes are rather primitive, essentially sensing only light. The other two tentacles are sensory organs. As a matter of fact, much of the animal’s body is dotted with various sensory cells, although the majority are grouped around its mouth and tentacles.
Do you want a REALLY cool slug activity? Try this: find one good-sized slug and a piece of glass. Place the slug on the glass, lie down on your back, and hold the glass in front of your face so that you are looking at the slug’s belly/foot. After a few moments, the slug will calm down and start oozing its way across the glass. As you watch, you will see alternating bands of light and dark “roll” across the slug’s belly/foot in waves. These bands are caused by the muscle fibers on the slug’s belly/foot. Here’s what’s happening, according to the Field Guide to the Slug (put out by the Western Society of Malacologists): “There are actually two sets of these muscle fibers, each performing separate chores. To move forward, one set – those fibers directed inward and rearward – contracts between waves, pulling the slug from the front and pushing off toward the back. Simultaneously, the second set – the fibers directed inward and forward – pulls the outer surface of the sole forward, generating the pedal wave.” There’s a really good illustration of this on page 25 of this small volume.
Believe it or not, slugs are important. They are browsers, kind of like cows. They ooze their way along the forest floor sampling assorted fungi, lichens, algae, and soft plant parts. They will also eat other slugs, the odd insect or two, animal scats and carrion. In a way, they fill a vital role in the decomposition cycle of the forest. And they are constantly eating. And yes, slugs have teeth. Apparently their teeth are much like shark teeth in that they are continually being replaced. The teeth, however, aren’t used for biting off portions of food. Nope, that is done by a guillotine-like structure in the mouth. Once a piece of food has been lopped off, the slug applies uses its radula, a long, skinny body part that is covered with thousands of teeth (think rasp). It rakes this radula along the food, scraping it up and into the digestive tract. Makes you kind of glad that a)slugs are small, and b)humans are not on their menu.
Okay, so we’ve established that slugs are rather nifty, but even so, we don’t want them in our gardens, eating our plants. What can we do? Well, you can always go out with a salt shaker and sprinkle a bit of salt on any slug you find. This effectively dehydrates them and they die. Or, you can put out a dish of beer – the slugs crawl in, get plastered and die. Or you can put copper around your plants – apparently this causes an electrical charge to zap the slugs when they touch it. I’ve also read that putting wood ashes around your garden works fairly well: the alkali of wood ashes (the source of lye) is apparently an irritant to the slug’s mucus linings. But you also want to be sure you don’t get the wood ashes on your plants, for many plants also dislike a high pH.
Everything has a place in this world, and when everything is in its place, it is beautiful. Even slugs.
On National Trails Day, June 6, at an event in Wanakena, St. Lawrence County, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presented its Adirondack Stewardship Award to Paul DeLucia of Baldwinsville, Onondaga County, and his organization, known as Lean2Rescue, for their work in restoring Adirondack lean-tos. Since 2004, Lean2Rescue has worked on more than 30 lean-tos in St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Hamilton Counties, primarily along the western edge of the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Stewardship Award is presented by DEC to groups or individuals who demonstrate outstanding stewardship of the natural resources of the Adirondacks. “With the state facing one of its most severe fiscal crises in history, partnerships with organizations such as Lean2Rescue are even more important in helping DEC protect and manage the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a press release. “DEC is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like Paul DeLucia and the members of Lean2Rescue who are willing to contribute their time, money, and sweat to ensure our recreational facilities are there for the public to use and enjoy. We are grateful for their hard work and are proud to present them with this prestigious award.”
DEC Region 6 staff from the Divisions of Land and Forests, Operations, and Forest Rangers, along with the volunteers of Lean2Rescue, have rebuilt and renovated a total of 33 different lean-tos in wilderness and wild forest areas within the past four years. Lean2Rescue, with a core group of 20 to 25 members and additional assistance of up to 50 more volunteers, carried in logs, beams, boards, cement, shingles and more by hand, cart, and canoe to reach remote wilderness areas. Facing mud, rain, cold, and bugs, rescuers not only complete their mission of rebuilding a leanto, but then turn around and carry out old materials and debris.
Previous Adirondack Stewardship Award recipients include Chad Dawson of SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry; Joe Martens of the Open Space Institute; Dave Gillespie of the Alpine Club of Canada and the New York State Ranger School; the Family of John E. Foley of St. Lawrence County and John Dent of St. Lawrence County; Friends of Mt. Arab and Mike Carr of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Land Trust; Sierra Club’s Northeast Outings Committee and St. Lawrence County YCC; Paul Smiths College; the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society; Ward Lumber Company of Essex County; Edwin Ketchledge of Clinton County and the Chris Behr family of Vermont; Clarence Petty of St. Lawrence County and the Warren County Board of Supervisors; the Bouquet River Association of Essex County; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association of Herkimer and Hamilton Counties.
On June 1st the Bigger Better Bottle Bill was supposed to go into effect. Instead the bill’s implementation was delayed by a federal judge. Considered a landmark environmental victory, the legislation marked the first comprehensive update of New York’s 5-cent deposit law (known as the Bottle Bill) since it was created in 1982, and caps a more then seven-year campaign by a widespread coalition of environmental organizations. The judge’s ruling blocked the collecting five-cent deposits on bottles of water until April 2010. The law would also have allowed the state to begin collecting 80 percent of unclaimed deposits, money which bottlers had been keeping for themselves. According to the Associated Press the ruling may cost the state “an estimated $115 million in unclaimed deposits on bottles for water and other beverages that it was to start collecting this year.” Judge Griesa also declared that a requirement for New York-specific bar coding on labels violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.
The following press release was issued by a coalition of environmental groups:
Groups Call on State Leaders to Fix Law, Protect Environment & Restore State Budget
Today should have been a historic day for New York’s environment. After a long campaign involving hundreds of groups, businesses, and recycling advocates, a significant victory was achieved when the Governor and the State Legislature approved the Bigger Better Bottle Bill this spring. The expansion to water bottles and other key elements of the new law were scheduled to go into effect today.
But in a surprising decision, late last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa delayed implementation of all the new updates to the bottle law until April 1, 2010. This ruling went well beyond what Nestle and the other water bottling companies were seeking in their lawsuit. It not only delays the expansion to water bottles, but extends to all other parts of the new law, including the transfer of 80% of the unclaimed deposits to the state and the 1.5 cent handling fee increase for stores and redemption centers.
As a result, the state will lose at least $115 million this year in revenue from the unclaimed deposits, which will throw New York’s recently enacted state budget out of balance. More than two billion water bottles will end up in the waste stream rather than recycled. And many small redemption centers who were counting on the increased handling fee will be forced to shut down and lay off workers.
How did this happen? While many businesses raised concerns that the new law’s labeling requirements were impossible to meet by June 1st, the Governor, Assembly and Senate failed to come to an agreement on amending the law in a timely fashion. As a result, the decision to delay the bottle bill was made in court. Although no one could have predicted the judge’s decision, this matter need not ever have reached the courtroom.
On Earth Day, almost 50 environmental groups presented awards to Governor David Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for enacting this important environmental law. Now, we urge them to do everything in their power to bring the bottle bill back on track as soon as possible so that our environment, our businesses, and our budget will not suffer from this judicial setback.
Members of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill Coaliton include:
Adirondack Council • Adirondack Mountain Club • American Farmland Trust • American Littoral Society • Bottle and Can Redemption Association • Buffalo Audubon Society • Citizens Campaign for the Environment • Citizens’ Environmental Coalition • Environmental Advocates of New York • Group for the East End • Hudson River Sloop Clearwater • Jamesville Positive Action Committee • Land Trust Alliance • League of Women Voters of New York State • Long Island Environmental Voters Forum • Long Island Pine Barrens Society • Natural Resources Defense Council • New York-New Jersey Trail Conference • New York League of Conservation Voters • New York Redeemers Coalition • New York Public Interest Research Group • New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling • New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness • North Shore Land Alliance • Orange Environment • People’s Environmental Network of New York • Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter • Sure We Can • Surfrider Foundation • Upper West Side Recycling • Wildlife Conservation Society
The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) has announced its 4th Annual Adirondack Literary Award winners. The juried awards program honors books published in or about the Adirondacks in the previous year. The awards ceremony, which took place on Sunday at the Blue Mountain Center, is one of the Adirondack Center for Writing’s most popular events. More than seventy writers, publishers, and readers attended the awards ceremony this year. Adirondack Almanack announced this year’s submissions last week. Here are the winners: FICTION Matt Bondurant, The Wettest County in the World (published by Scribner)
A few short weeks ago it was widely reported that upstate billionaire, Buffalo Sabres owner, and former NY gubernatorial hopeful, B. Thomas Golisano, retired to Florida to spend his retirement pursuing a favorite hobby: toppling the New York State Legislature. Yesterday he returned for a visit.
“How are things in Albany? They’ve probably never been worse,” Betty Little said at an early morning breakfast in Saranac Lake Friday.
Making no attempt to mask her frustration with the Democrats’ ineffectual five-month-long reign over the New York State Senate, the Republican who represents much of the North Country was pessimistic as she gave an audience of Saranac Lake’s political, health-care, education and economic-development leaders her take on the situation in state government. She did not allude to any plans for a Senate takeover, but the candor of her remarks made Monday’s news of Republican blowback in the Capitol a bit less of a surprise. Little was joined by Republican assemblywomen Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward. All three represent Saranac Lake, which straddles two assembly districts.
The impending closure of Camp Gabriels minimum-security prison is draining a hundred jobs from the area. The inmates are moved out, and only a dozen or so guards and administrative staff remain on duty to shutter the place by July 1. The village got little encouragement on a reuse strategy for the facility.
“I mean there really is no money. We’ve got to face that,” Little said, complaining that the $132 billion budget passed by Democratic governor David Patterson and both Democrat-controlled houses of the State Assembly failed to reduce spending.
The three said executive-branch staff are in such flux that’s it’s difficult to know who the go-to people in state government are. Even things like the senate’s schedule are hard to divine, Little said. There are two weeks left in the session, but she doubted the Democratic leadership would stick to the deadline. Now it looks like the session might be prolonged no matter who is in charge.
“We’re spending a lot of time now trying to correct what was done in secret,” Little said, citing changes to Empire Zone rules and a new law that would allow drug offenders to seal drug-crime records if they feel that they have been rehabilitated of an addiction. “The new process seems to be put forth a proposal, vote on it and correct it because nobody has had a chance to look at it.”
Inevitably Senator Little was asked what she thought of New York’s 23rd District congressional seat, being vacated by Republican John McHugh, who is nominated to become Secretary of the Army. There are only three Republicans representing New York State in Washington, Little noted. “It could have been four. I have to say I know I could have won that seat,” she said, referring to the 20th District, where Democrat Scott Murphy just won a special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been appointed to the U.S. Senate. Saranac Lake is split between the two districts.
In an acknowledgement of dysfunction in her own party, Little called for an “open process” and polling as GOP leaders begin choosing a candidate to replace McHugh. The Republicans must pick a person who can win the seat, not just a person who wants it, or else the party could be redistricted out of the state, she warned. In the 20th District party leaders reached over Little to select James Tedisco, the opportunistic former assembly minority leader, who did not reside in the district.
Congratulating St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake for being named one of the top 20 places to work in New York State, Assemblywoman Duprey added, “Where we’re working is not.”
Provided he is confirmed, which seems very likely, John McHugh’s elevation to Secretary of the Army means another special election fight here in the Adirodnack region. I railed here about the failure of local media to accurately report on our last Special Election, that for Kirstin Gillibrand’s 20th Congressional District seat. Outlets as varied as NCPR and the Glens Falls Post Star united in declaring from the beginning that there were only two candidates – not surprisingly they were those from the two major parties, two other candidates were all but ignored as irrelevant. During the 20th race local political writers and editors even blatantly defended their undemocratic actions on the grounds that they were the arbiters for all of us as to which candidates were “legitimate” and “relevant.” All the local media’s nonsense and anti-democratic proclamations raised a constant barrage from local blogs who attempted to hold them to account. One response from Brian Mann at NCPR seems to have been a regular attack on bloggers for destroying the profits of local newspapers. His argument, expressed regularly by others in the old media business as well, is that the loss of our local newspapers will destroy our democracy. I know – it’s downright funny to actually argue that the loss of today’s local newspapers will actually hurt democracy!
Of course their arguments are ridiculous at best, self-serving and disingenuous at worst – but that’s what we’ve come to expect from local media. And why not, they are almost entirely owned by corporate interests, and if not, they have been educated on the corporate journalism model. Never mind that newspaper circulation reached a peak in 1993, long before blogs and other news aggregators existed; in fact, before the internet was any sort of real force in our lives (and not coincidentally at the height of both corporate media control and the power of their corporate two-party system). If the internet means the death of an old corporate media tied to the two parties that have dominated politics since the rise of corporate control of the presses, then good riddance.
Maybe I’m wrong – maybe a 23rd Special Election will prove to be the election that local media actually reports fairly and proves their worth. Maybe we’ll actually see an investigative report on the election that’s not tied to support for one of the corporate candidates. Maybe local media will cover all the candidates equally. It’s not likely, but it would be nice. Let me offer some advice – right now there are no candidates – when one announces, begin covering them, as each new candidate emerges, cover them equally until such time THEY say they are no longer a candidate. That’s called fairness, it’s a major tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.
So far, the Albany Project been the best provider of news and information about the potential upcoming 23rd Special Election. Here is a round-up of the reporting so far to show some of what’s already happening. First the old style media:
The Times Union’s Capital Confidential blog provides a list of Republican and Democratic potential challengers (let the bias begin).
Cap Con on what their 20th CD corporate candidate Democrat Scott Murphy thinks.
NCPR’s Brian Mann on how the race will be a repeat of the Republican-Democrat bruiser (there’s your first sports metaphor from me Brian) in the 20th CD.
The Zach Subar and Nathan Brown of the Leader-Herald let us know that McHugh’s Republican Chief of Staff won’t run – thanks guys – are their any other Republicans who won’t run that we should know about?
Now for the local independent blogs:
The Albany Project lets us know through actual reporting that their are 103,847 voters enrolled (out of 392,006 total) who are not designated as Republicans or Democrats (including three Socialists!).
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is setting baited traps in ash trees across upstate New York in an effort to search for possible infestations of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a tree-killing beetle. You will soon be seeing the purple prism traps deployed in treelines throughout New York, with a concentration in areas adjacent to neighboring states and Canadian provinces that have already detected this potentially devastating invasive species, including several Adirondack counties. » Continue Reading.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County is working with Cornell University and the Workforce Development Institute of New York to host a Green Jobs forum on Thursday, June 25, 10:00am to Noon. The forum will be broadcast to Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations located in 14 counties across New York State via Cornell’s distance learning network. The forum is free and open to the public. Information on the following topics and issues will be addressed: * what is meant by the term “green jobs” * where and in what sectors of the economy do they exist * information on available training programs * what does the future look like for the “green jobs sector”
General information about the workforce development institute and information about what services are available to the public will also be discussed.
The Green Jobs Forum will also provide information on starting a home performance / home energy audit business. New York State currently has training programs in place and some financial incentives available to entrepreneurs and home improvement contracting firms that want to expand into the home energy audit field.
Seating for the Green Jobs Forum is limited so if you are interested in attending, please phone Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County at 668-4881 or 623-3291 to reserve a seat.