Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick’s Day

Padriac reminds me of Ireland, and Ireland reminds me of Irish Republicanism and the working class. Those are two themes, along with the Irish diaspora (and drinking) that are heavily reflected in Celtic punk.

Wikipedia says Celtic punk (paddybeat, celtcore) emerged from “both the British folk rock bands of the 1960s and 70s who first electrified the music of the British Isles and more directly in folk bands such as The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers.” Wikipedia points to the Skids 1981 album Joy and the Pouges.

Irish oriented punk in America might be traced to the many Ancient Order of Hibernian halls that hosted late punk shows in the early 1980s. Celtic punk came into popular American culture with Black-47

Check out The Men They Couldn’t Hang – he’s an intersting tidbit from wikipedia about the band:

Their first single, “The Green Fields of France“, was released in 1984. Written by Eric Bogle (of “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” fame), the song’s protagonist imagined having a conversation with one of the fallen soldiers of World War I whilst sitting by his graveside. It received considerable airplay on the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and finished at No.3 in Peel’s Festive 50 for that year. It became a big hit on the UK Indie charts.

The following year they were signed by Elvis Costello to his Demon label, and released their debut album, “The Night of a Thousand Candles”, and its accompanying single “Ironmasters”, a self-penned number by main songwriter Simmonds, linking the Industrial Revolution to the present-day treatment of the working class. The original final line of the song – “and oh, that iron bastard, she still gets her way” (a reference to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) had to be removed for the single version to ensure radio airplay. They were again named in Peel’s yearly Festive 50, this time at No.11.

In 1985 the band signed for MCA records and released “How Green Is The Valley”. The record included “Ghosts Of Cable Street”, a political number concerning The Battle of Cable Street in 1936 and “Shirt Of Blue”, which regarded the miners’ strike of 1984-5. At the end of promotion for the album Shanne Bradley left to create music with Wreckless Eric and The Chicken Family, she was replaced on bass by Ricky McGuire (ex UK Subs).

In 1987 the band switched to Magnet Records and the new record released was, what many fans consider their best “Waiting For Bonaparte”. Once again the strongest songs were stories of historical origin. “The Colours” told of an English mutineer sailor during the Napoleonic War and “The Crest” a stretcher bearer during World War II. Sadly whilst “The Colours” was at no.61 in the British top 75 it was blacklisted by BBC Radio 1 due to the line “You’ve Come Here To Watch Me Hang”, which echoed the events happening in South African townships at the time.

Flogging Molly, Black-47, The Barleycorns, Dropkick Murphys, Fighting Men of Crossmaglen, The Pouges, is all great St. Paddy’s Day musical fare.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two Years Old – An Adirondack Blog History

This week marks our second anniversary here at the Adirondack Almanack. Big thanks to all our regular readers and a big hello to the new readers arriving every week. If you like what you read here, why not support the Almanack by making your next Amazon purchase through us and/or letting your friends know about us? If you own a local business contact us about advertising here.

Before we get started on blogging in the Adirondacks, Rebecca Blood has put together a nice history of blogging – which has been said to have begun in December 1997 when Jorn Barger first used the term Weblog.

State of the Blogosphere

David Sifry (founder and CEO of Technorati) periodically updates the state of the blogosphere. Here are some of his most interesting blog facts from one year ago:

[Technorati] currently tracks over 75,000 new weblogs created every day, which means that on average, a new weblog is created every second of every day – and 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created. In other words, even though there’s a reasonable amount of tire-kicking going on, blogging is growing as a habitual activity. In October of 2005, when Technorati was only tracking 19 million blogs, about 10.4 million bloggers were still posting 3 months after the creation of their blogs. In addition to that, about 2.7 million bloggers update their blogs at least weekly.

When Adirondack Almanack first went online in 2005 Technorati was tracking over 7.8 million weblogs. They apparently stopped tracking the number of blogs after last summer’s debate over the accuracy of Sifry’s assertion that there were 55 Million weblogs and growing. Still, the number is huge and growing all the time.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimated in July 2006 that the “US blog population has grown to about 12 million American adults,” about 8% of adult American internet users. “The number of US blog readers was estimated as 57 million adults (39% of the US online population), although few of those people read widely or read often.” [link]

Adirondack Blogs

A look at the sidebar of Adirondack Almanack reveals that there are now 20 blogs written in the Adirondacks, nearly all created in the last year or so. When Adirondack Almanack went online there was (we believe) just one, Brain Clouds, by North Country Public Radio’s poet-web-guy Dale Hobson (apparently founded in April 2002). Coincidentally, the Adirondack’s second two blogs, Adirondack Musing and Adirondack Almanack, were founded on the same day (March 10, 2005).

Mainstream media has been slow to catch on and local, old-style, media have reported only once on local blogs. The Glens Falls Post Star’s Conrad Marshall wrote a piece in May of 2005. Back in January, Stephen Barlett wrote a piece on blogging for the Plattsburgh Press Republican that regurgitated the typical threat-to-young-people scare tactics and failed to mention a single local blog including the paper’s own “folksy” blog On The Sly, written by Foxy Gagnon (hardly a danger to youth). Oddly, just a month later, the Press Republican announced what it’s calling a “newsroom blog” aptly titled On The Beaten Path and featuring a post by Bartlett. The blog is aptly titled because it travels the same well-worn road as the rest of the paper and so far goes almost nowhere exceptional.

As far as new media trends are concerned, the Glens Falls Post Star has finally smartened up and abandoned the online subscription model, and now provides free access to the Post Star’s web readers (which we suggested a couple years ago). They tried a Don Coyote blog which was abandoned fairly quickly. Then came Maury Thompson’s All Politics is Local blog, er column, which so far has had little new or unusual to add to the local political reporting. No local mainstream media outlet has managed to have a truly successful blog, even on the most basic level of Adirondack Almanack or Adirondack Musing, let alone the success of the Times Union’s Capital Confidential, which actually provides additional context to stories (by occasionally covering third parties for instance), local connections to national stories, and occasionally a breaking story or inside scoop.

What’s Good Locally

Many of our regular readers come to us by way of our RSS feed, having signed up after we mentioned we set up the feed and mentioned our own experience with feed readers (particularly Bloglines) last summer. A large number of regular readers of the Almanack also come by way of our e-mail subscription. All the local papers with web content have good RSS feeds, except the Adirondack Daily Enterprise which is on its way to missing the boat entirely.

Not surprisingly, North Country Public Radio is the one local media outlet that has an established web presence of real merit. While we salute their acceptance of the blog community, (especially their inclusion of Adirondack Almanack as a “featured blog”), their own blog – iNCPR: Staff Blog of North Country Public Radio – hasn’t had a post since late January. Despite a tag line that says “A peek behind the curtain at member-supported North Country Public Radio” there have only been eight posts, all but one in November of last year. They can be forgiven to some extent, because NCPR already has a great site with lots of local “behind the scenes” content and their small staff and small budget no doubt make it difficult to keep up with the blog. Their RSS feeds are well done and inclusive of the majority of their stories – something way ahead of the Adirondack’s other NPR station, WAMC, which is wallowing in fairly lame local content and proprietary feeds that make following their news on a standard feed reader impossible. So compared to the better funded WAMC, NCPR is a web giant who deserves the accolades we more often heap on it.

As long as we’re talking NCPR, here are a couple of questions / suggestions:

Where is the RSS feed for 8 O’Clock Hour?

How about including every story and feature program in the RSS feed seperately? We’re thinking about All Before Five in particular?

How about getting an intern to update the iNCPR blog?

How about doing a story on Adirondack blogging?

Now that you know how we feel, drop us a note (e-mail address at right) and let us know how we can improve the Almanack.

UPDATE 3/23/07
We received the following note from a reader. We’re reprinting it here because we think it accurately reflects the attitude at least some at the Post Star have had about new media – an attitude we hope they’ve changed.

I was either living in the area or had just relocated from North Creek to Buffalo when the P-S went to a pay site. I wrote to complain and received a bitchy letter back from an editor (can’t remember who, sadly) about how within two years every newspaper would be a pay site and I was basically lucky they’d been free this long. Right about now, I’m trying not to gloat.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Local Peace Activists Arrested Hillary Clinton’s Office

Although not a single mainstream media outlet covered the groundbreaking event, four local folks from the Saratoga Peace Alliance were arrested Monday after occupying New York Senator Hillary Clinton‘s office at the Federal Building in Albany New York to protest Clinton’s continued support for the Iraq War.

At 3 pm, sixteen members representing various area peace groups met (for a third time since last fall) with Tracey Brooks, Clinton’s regional Political Director. This was the third time they had met with Brooks since last fall. Several weeks ago local citizens had asked that Clinton vote against the appropriations bill to fund the Iraq War and vote to de-fund the war more generally. Clinton refused and vowed to continue to fund the war. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Adirondack Northway Cell Phone Controversy

When two men died on the Northway in late January and early February, right-wingers, downstaters, and anti-environmentalists offensively used their deaths to go on the attack. Never mind these unfortunate folks were traveling through isolated mountain passes in what was certainly the worst weather of the season, and in one case, the worst ice storm in at least several years – the wing-nuts raised their collective cane in disgust over those of us who they said cared more about the environment than people.

“But it should not have come to this. This could have been prevented,” our State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said. She failed to mention that she was one of those at the top of the list who could have prevented it. Little and our Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) failed to act decisively to force cell-phone companies to provide adequate cell-coverage, and more importantly, they spent more than four years pretending that having a cell phone on the Northway was a substitute for common sense in considering driving conditions before you set out to cross the largest wilderness in the east.

“You mean we can talk to people on the moon, but we can’t talk to people on Interstate 87?” Abraham Isaac, a Jewish community activist said. His Voz Iz Neias blog has become a center for New York City / New Jersey folks who just can’t seem to understand that the world is not made of high-rises, strip-malls, and unlimited cell service. Maybe they’ve spent too much time talking to people on the moon.

Assemblyman an opportunist Roy McDonald met with people at, get this, the Wilton Mall food court to call the lack of cell service “geographic discrimination” and to say that “people’s live should come first” – “There’s a substantial part and areas throughout New York that don’t have service, and I don’t want the upstate area to turn into a third world country,” he said. Gee Mr. McDonald, ever meet any of the rural poor in our area? Ever consider that South Korea has better broadband penetration than the Untied States?

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) said “Shame on those that would get in the way of human life, to lose a life for something as simple as not having a cell phone tower … is very telling about priorities.” Now that’s someone with priorities. Forget war, lack of health care or living wages, failure to fund education to such an extent that the courts had to force the state to act, a state legislature that is a laughing stock of the nation and about as un-democratic as it gets – no, the real priorities are cell service. Now that’s telling about priorities, namely Mr. Golden’s re-election prospects.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise said we were being kept in a “dark ages” by “absolute lunacy.” Blog writer Shlomah Shamos exclaimed the following outright lie “The untimely deaths of two beloved family men are on the conscience of the Adirondack Park Agency, who has been ignoring this issue and blocking all efforts” and asked “how many people have to die due to the lack of cell service on the Northway?” We’ll guess that many more will die on the Northway with cell service or without and Shlomah probably won’t give a single sentence to their deaths.

A guy from Jersey calling himself ironically, Right, Wing Nut! made the following assumptions, apparently out of ignorance of the facts (surprise, surprise):

LET ’em die – just don’t mess with our perfect view. That’s the message from New York environmentalists who’ve prevented the construction of cell-phone towers along Interstate 87 in the Adirondacks.

They like to call themselves “progressives”, but the enviorn”mental”ists are hell-bent on sending society careening backwards. Cutting off humanity from help so that a view may be perfectly preserved? Perfectly logical to the Greenies; and the deaths that result from their actions are consequences that they feel are worth the cost. I wonder if anyone has asked the survivors of the deceased their opinions…

And in the meanwhile, the Killer Greens have their way in the Adirondacks, and while folks die all around them, they pat themselves on the back…can’t wait until they can foist their policies upon the rest of us!

Ahhhh… sure… we’re not sure how the quality of life in Old Bridge, NJ is treating the Jersey Wing Nut, but we’re pretty sure the vast majority of folks here in our region would laugh at the thought of living there and our environment is the reason, not their cell phone coverage.

Anyway, here are some things to consider:

The Adirondack Park Agency already approved 32 – count ’em – thirty-two towers along the Northway. Even though they make a mint on out-of-service-area calls, the cell phone companies couldn’t make ENOUGH profit to install the towers.

Economic disparity makes owning a cell phone in Adirondack counties a lot less likely, even if service was available. The cell tower solution leaves the working poor, the elderly, and others who likely don’t have cell phones out of luck. They rely on common sense and avoid making trips across mountain passes during blizzards and ice storms.

Complete cell-phone coverage in the Adirondacks is a pipe-dream, unless there are towers on nearly every mountain in the region. Anyone who lives in the mountains, or even in the hilly suburbs knows they lose service all the time, no matter how close the nearest tower is.

Dependence on cell-phones in the case of emergency is downright stupid. Survival in the wilderness in the depths of winter is not dependent on the battery in your cell-phone or the nearest tower, it depends on your emergency preparation and winter survival skills – a $2 emergency blanket in the glove box might have saved the life of the first stranded motorist. The second died of a heart-attack while tromping through three foot snows.

If lower income people in our region can’t afford their own cell-phone service why should they be required to subsidize the cell service of downstaters? In Saratoga County, there was the plan to spend $12 to $15 million to improve cell service. The first call from Little and Sayward was to demand the state step in and foot the bill. If they were concerned about saving lives (especially of locals), they would fund helicopter rescue services, signs for thin ice, free health screenings, additional health centers, and a thousand other things people in the mountains need. $10 million would save a lot more lives (lost to heart attacks and broken bones) if it were spent on shoveling old folks’ homes out during storms.

Lake George Fire Chief Bruce Kilburn got it right when he said, “Some good preparedness and some prevention can alleviate and prevent a lot.” He suggested:

Having an emergency kit in your car.
Wearing warm clothes in winter in case you break down.
Carrying extra clothes or extra blankets.
Keeping emergency flares in your car.
Carrying an air horn in car.

He forgot to add: don’t cross mountain passes in the depths of a blizzard or ice storm unless you are prepared for the worst.

If there is anyone to blame for these terrible tragedies it’s the cell companies who just couldn’t make enough money – the proof is in the fact that those companies, Verizon, Sprint-Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobil among them, have now (according to Sayward) “committed to engineering [a] plan for the Adirondacks for us.” Unfortunately, Sayward still doesn’t get it, she added “so if we can gather the information, [sic] see if we can get this done over time.”

You keep working on it Theresa, but the next time someone dies on I-87 – take a few minutes to think about why you didn’t demand the cell companies install those long-approved towers. In the meantime, we’ll accept the message of Saranac Lake resident Mark Wilson, who said this week, “Life within the blue line is not easy, and it’s not meant to be easy sometimes.”

True enough.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

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

Build Your Own Snow Bike Kit

Heat Wave Wood Stove Fan

Make New Candles From Old Candles

Find Your Favorite Music Artist on Wiki Music Guide

Become Your Own Metalsmith

Convert Any Media Using Media-Convert

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


Monday, February 19, 2007

Adirondack Bacon

Sometimes other bloggers seem to throw the Adirondacks into their posts, for well, inexplicable reasons. Here’s a sample from Drink at Work:

Things to do with bacon when you’re in the remote Adirondack Mountains without cable

Drink 16 beers and throw raw bacon against the wall to see if it sticks. Repeat until dawn.

Strip naked, slap raw bacon to your face and make a fire in the middle of the living room. Chant whenever you here a snowmobile.

Cook three pounds of bacon, build a snow store front at the end of the road. Collect mad cash.

Hmmmm….


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 2007

TourPro has beaten us to the storm round-up here, so we’ll go back to shoveling – it’s time to take Adirondack Musing’s advice and get a Wovel while they are on sale.

Also, while you’re over at Adirondack Musing’s blog, take a look at his recent posts of photos of the 2007 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s Ice Palace; Here is our own Adirondack Almanack post about last year’s event (with some Almanack history goodness).

Musing is one of our favorite blogs so here is a list of some recent posts we’ve found interesting:

On Ticonderoga Airport Security:

One can argue that since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, airline and airport security have been improved significantly. It is also clear that “Homeland” security funds are not being spent in the most logical way.

For example, the Ticonderoga, NY airport is getting fenced in to the tune of $800,000 funded by homeland security funds. One reason for the fencing is to keep local drag racers off the runway. But maybe they are worried that terrorists might take over the old fort in Ticonderoga and wage war on the local populace.

Also from Adirondack Musing:

Low Frequency Noise and Wind Turbines

You Are One of the Richest People on Earth

The Past Was Better and I’m Not a Bigot

Michael Moore’s Promises to Conservatives

On Broadband Internet Penetration in The US

Musing’s Favorite Place – Crown Point on Lake Champlain

Adirondack Musing is just one of the region’s great blogs – check out the other Adirondack blogs at the right and the Bloglines Adirondack feeds here.

On a related note, it looks like the Adirondack Boys have left the room.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Black History Month: Adirondack Stories

For Black History Month, the Adirondack Almanack presents a list of stories of African-American history in the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Slaves
The first slaves arrived in New Netherlands in the 1620s and before slavery was finally, albeit gradually, abolished in New York in 1827, we have numerous examples of slaves in the Adirondacks. Several were taken captive by French and Indian raiders who attacked the Schuyler plantation (then Old Saratoga, now present day Schuylerville) in 1745. They were transported along the Lake George, Lake Champlain corridor to Canada. Black slaves (and some free blacks) were at the siege of Fort William Henry by Montcalm in 1757 and at the Fort George in 1780. At Whitehall, slaves owned by Philip Skene (who had a daughter that was half African American) probably mined the iron for cannonballs used by Benedict Arnold at Valcour Island in 1776. William Gilliland’s diary frequently mentioned “my negro Ireland” who cleared Gilliland’s land and planted his crops. Census records of the poor house in Warrensburgh noted two former female slaves were residents in 1850. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Warren County Sheriff Has A File On You

There was a scary revelation in Sunday’s Glens Falls Post Star by Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland in a story about Adirondack hermit Alan Como. According to Cleveland, his department has access to your tax records, they know who your relatives are, if you hold any licenses, and your prior addresses – all pretty well expected, but they apparently have ANOTHER 20 PAGES of your life stored away somewhere as well. 20 pages… that’s a lot of info.

“We used one of our global (background) searches on [Alan Como] and found almost nothing — no prior addresses, no relatives, no taxes, licenses, nothing,” Cleveland said. “When you do a search like that on most people, you get back 20 pages. With him we got three. We all looked at it and said, ‘Wow, that’s it?’ There’s nothing there.”

No wonder it takes them so long to.. ahem… “run your license.”


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aquarium of the Adirondacks

This week news broke of a plan for a Aquarium of the Adirondacks – described in their mission statement as a “unique interdisciplinary attraction as the only aquarium facility of its kind to feature species of the Adirondack Region in addition to aquatic exhibits from around the world.”

In smartly keeping one eye on the Adirondack region, the Aquarium hopes to “foster stewardship by merging culture, history and science to promote learning and understanding of the incredible depth of the Adirondack landscape and a broader appreciation and respect for the global world of water.”

Sure the earth is two-thirds water, but only recently has the underwater world around us been truly explored. Only recently, for instance, have we even discovered that America’s Oldest Intact Warship was laying in the south basin of Lake George.

The aquarium’s developers are looking for a location for a 60,000-square-foot aquarium with parking and outdoor features. Our suggestion? The old Gaslight Village property – how about a creative facility that is nothing like the poorly designed Lake George Forum (notice there are no photos of the crappy building on their site), but rather includes native architecture, integrated convention / aquarium / wetlands space – just onshore from one of America’s greatest wreck dives – the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau. An option on the land has just lapsed. Think of it, Lake George Steamboat Company, a National Historic Landmark and New York State Submerged Heritage Preserve, and the Queen of American Lakes.

The most important draw we have in the Adirondacks is our natural environment. Developing the Adirondacks as the premier location to experience the natural world is a good idea – the Adirondacks has the potential to be the greatest living natural history center in the east – that’s a sustainable and laudable environmental and economic goal.

Here’s hoping the Aquarium of the Adirondacks joins the Adirondack Wild Center in promoting it.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Way Back Machine: Old Timey NCPR and More

Just stumbled on a note from one of our regular readers, christyanthemum (check out her blog, and her online bookstore), pointing us to old versions of North Country Public Radio’s web page. The Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine lets you look up old versions of web sites going back to 1996 (85 billion so far).

These are quite a blast from the NCPR past:

November 1998 (Old School Style)
April 1999 (Old But Improved Style)
June 2001 (In The “New” Style)

The Internet Archive also houses an incredible collection of moving images, live concerts, audio, and texts. Some Adirondack related examples include:

A circa 1936 educational film from the National Tuberculosis Association (founded by Edward Livingston Trudeau, described as the man who introduced “the modern method” of treating TB) entitled On The Firing Line.

A live recording of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the Adirondack Mountain Music Festival at the Moose River Campground in Lyons Falls on May 31, 2003.

“Twilight” a recording of ambient drone chaos made in the mountains.

A down-loadable copy of Seneca Ray Stoddard’s 1874 Adirondacks Illustrated.

UPDATED 1/18/07: Ellen Rocco, Station Manager for NCPR, writes to us with this comment:

As for our website, aw, c’mon, this reminds me of the question I’m often asked about our former studio space in Payson Hall on the SLU campus: “Don’t you miss that charming old building with the double open staircase and 100-year old woodwork?”

My unequivocal answer: No!

It may have appeared charming to the casual visitor, but for those of us who used the space, charming was not the way we described the cramped quarters, wall paint chips on documents and tape, noise issues–including having to stop recording when trucks passed on the street outside or someone flushed the toilet over the production studio, etc. As with the old building, I have zero nostalgia for the old website. Now, users can find thousands of archived news stories and features, 22 topical series (I know the number because Dale Hobson, our web guru, just counted them yesterday) on things like rural homelessness, land-use, the justice system…, playlists and reading lists, blogs, regional concert hall and art gallery, links to all kinds of great websites, national/international news sources and on and on.

But it’s nice to know people are visiting ncpr.org…keep coming.

Ellen


Monday, January 15, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

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

Make A Toy Digital Infrared Camera

Build A Generator With An Old Lawn Mower And Alternator

Learn To Speak 19th Century

Make A Ethernet Temperature Monitor

Build A Cardboard Box Upright Bass

Find Your Favorite TV Shows Online

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


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Commentary: Adirondack Winter Sports Under Threat

If it wasn’t painfully obvious before, weather for this early January week that stretched into the sunny 60’s at some Adirondack locations should serve as a reminder that global warming is going to have serious impacts on the Adirondack region. Unfortunately, few here in the mountains seem to understand the gravity of the situation for our local economies.

Our friends working at Gore Mountain Ski Resort have been hardly working at all and consequently spending a lot less on dinners out, winter gear, and even beer and other important winter supplies. The few trails open on Gore are so crowded (with even the small crowd that’s there) that the die-hards refuse to make runs for fear of being run-over. Whiteface in Lake Placid has been forced to cancel its annual World Cup Freestyle competition (now being held at Deer Valley, Utah) and has virtually no beginner trails open.

Meanwhile, two of the largest developments in Adirondack history are expected to be rammed through the Adirondack Park Agency by pro-development George Pataki appointees. The most bizarre part of these projects is that they, believe it or not, have relied on development of two area ski resorts to appease locals and persuade some that the good they’ll provide for the local economy by way of skiing will outweigh the damage to the park.

Fred LeBrun noted in his column today:

[Tupper Lake project] developer Michael Foxman’s mega-vision to create the high-end Adirondack Club and Resort, which would include 700 expensive units on 6,400 acres, much of it in back country, has been highly controversial since it was proposed three years ago. Part of the plan, a sop to the locals, is reopening Big Tupper Ski Center as an economic engine.

In North Creek (Warren County), local politicos and real estate agents are pushing (with the help of newly appointed APA member, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chair, and Johnsburg Town Supervisor Bill Thomas) a project called – get this – Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain that would include exclusive trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private ski lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, on 430 acres, some of which on what was a town-owned park and before that the historic North Creek Ski Bowl where downhill skiing an early start in New York State.

Folks – skiing in the Adirondacks in the future will be all but dead. If there hasn’t been a proper ski season for Adirondack resorts in at least four years, and the experts agree that the coming year will be the warmest on record (again), it’s time to see the forest for the trees – no project tied to the ski season has a hope of being successful on that basis in the long run.

A recent regional global warming meeting reported that:

In the Northeast, the climate may be changing even more rapidly, particularly in winter. Compared to 1970, there are now 15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground in the Northeast, one study found. Some regional models also show an increase in average temperatures of 1.4 degrees over 102 years, but a spike of 2 to 4 degrees over the past 30 years.

“Climate has always been changing, so we can’t talk about climate change as something new,” said Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Climate Data Center at Cornell University. “Clearly, the temperatures we’re seeing today … are much warmer than we’ve seen for the last 1,000 years. Clearly, there’s warming almost everywhere.

“Climate change is upon us,” he said. “Climate is going to warm, so we do have to act and we do have to prepare.”

If there are any segments of the Adirondack economy that you can count on to take a nose dive in the next 20 years it’s winter sports. It doesn’t take a genius to understand “15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground” means that investing hundreds of millions in Adirondack skiing and snowmobiling industries is not a good idea. Despite the ignorant claim by Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center that there is “No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it,” you might also forget large investments in ice fishing shanties and winter carnival concessions in case you needed to be told.

So why – oh please tell us why – are state and local governments spending so much money on these debacles?

Let’s start with ballsy developers:

The [Tupper Lake] developer is calling for the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency to come up with $50 million to $60 million for infrastructure costs. In essence, that would require the county taxpayers to guarantee the bonds for his private venture. That is a stupefying request. Even more mind-boggling is that there are those in the town and county who are ready to go along with the developer.

And add a dose of misguided Republican cronyism:

Gov. George Pataki, down to his final weeks in office, announced plans Friday for a $7 million expansion of the state-run Gore Mountain Ski Center that will enable the Johnsburg attraction to boast having the eighth-largest vertical drop in the eastern United States.

The state will spend an additional $3 million to complete the railroad line connection between [Republican] Saratoga Springs and [Republican] North Creek.

Skiers from Saratoga Springs, as well as the Albany and New York City areas, will be able to take the train to North Creek and leave their personal vehicles at home, Pataki said.

“You’re not going to have the traffic; you’re not going to have the pollution, and you’re not going to have the congestion. But you are going to have the economic growth,” he said during a press conference at the North Creek train station.

Bill “Snow Is All We Have” Thomas:

When completed, skiers from New York City and elsewhere could take a train up to North Creek, delivered within a half-mile of the ski bowl area, Thomas said. “It’s very important to tourism in Johnsburg,” Thomas said of the resort plans. “I see it as a big catalyst for Main Street businesses.”

Betty “I’m Not Running For Congress” Little:

“Gore Mountain is a tremendous asset for the state and for our region. All of us here today share the desire and realize the importance of making an already great skiing experience at Gore Mountain even better. That requires sizable investments by New York State.”

Ahhh… Betty… New York State doesn’t make “sizable investments,” the people of New York State do.

Since 1995, the state has poured $70 million into the Olympic Regional Development Authority. If we assume about 100,000 year-round residents, that’s $700 per person! And that doesn’t count state and local tax discounts, increased costs of services for local communities serving ski resorts, the higher costs of goods and services priced for the tourist market, county funds (like the Tupper Lake 50 or 60 million), and who knows what else. According to NCPR, “This year, Lake Placid’s sports and tourism venues received more than $40 million in state subsidies. That’s roughly $15 thousand for every man, woman and child living inside the village limits.”

Developers, local politicians, ill-informing media – go outside! See, that there is no snow, and not likely to be regular snow at anything near historic levels in our lifetimes. Stop pushing fantasies that hide your real motive – unlimited development of the last great wilderness area east of the Rockies.

And while we’re at it – we received an e-mail from Bill McKibben today announcing a “a day of demonstrations for April 14” – a great idea (info at Stepitup2007.org).

It’s going to be an unusual day. People will be rallying in many of America’s most iconic places: on the levees in New Orleans, on top of the melting ice sheets on Mt. Hood and in Glacier National Park, even underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West and Hawaii. But we need hundreds of rallies outside churches, and in city parks, and in rural fields. It’s not a huge task — assemble as many folks as possible, hoist a banner, take a picture. We’ll link pictures of the protests together electronically via the web—before the day is out, we’ll have a cascade of images to show both local and national media that Americans don’t consider this a secondary issue. That instead they want serious action now.

If you are planning to organize an event, please let us know – we’ll list events as they’re organized – wouldn’t events at local closed ski resorts be something?

UPDATE: Pam Mandrel, over at BlogHer, has linked to this post and included some other posts about global warming’s impact on the American ski industry. Thanks Pam for a great follow-up.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

2006: An Adirondack Look At Last Year, And Next

From behind the blue line of the Adirondacks, the rest of the world sometimes seems amazing, and at other times, well, just strange. So continuing our new, New Year tradition of Lists to just one more, we decided to post a little tour of 2006 by way of the of the amazing and weird from the internets, Adirondack and otherwise, and include some of the best lists of 2006.

Prepare to be amazed hearty reader for the 2006 tour via internet link awaits!

You could start with the Wikipedia 2006 (year of the dog) page – but be prepared to spend some time. Definitely check out the 2006 Deaths, and while you are at it, the much smaller 2006 Births. Now that many local Adirondack newspapers have begun charging for obituary listings, maybe 2007 could emerge as the year of the public wikibituary.

Or, 2006 could be the “Year of the Wiki” more generally. The serious debate on top 2006 search engine terms notwithstanding, wiki and Wikipedia were one of Google’s top searches for the Year. This year we’ve seen all kinds of new wiki possibilities, including wikis for mixed drinks, food, and the TV show Lost. It’s become standard to look up almost anything using “[search term] wiki” – all that said, have you contributed to the Adirondack Mountain Wikipedia entry lately? The page on the Execution of Saddam Hussein is a remarkable example of how wikis can work – in a single day it was a lengthy piece on collective scholarship / reportage.

Locally, Adirondack Base Camp has offered an interesting look at business blogging, which he says will “Likely… be a major theme for Adirondack Base Camp in 2007.” Some of that “business blogging” is bound to be nasty – take for example the Albany Eye, once a notable regional blog from the state capital, but now apparently (after at least three changes in editor) taken over by a local media company. Perhaps it’s true, blogging will peak in the coming year.

Even if 2007 doesn’t emerge as the year the mainstream old media figures out Web 2.0, one thing for sure – media will be increasingly central to the Adirondack experience. During the next 12 months, according to Jeff Haig, from the University of Vermont, “Americans are projected to average more than 9 1/2 hours a day with the media.” While you are at it, check out Jeff’s recent pieces on the death of the American newspaper (1, 2). According to Forbes Magazine, the best papers will learn to be online.

Also for your linky enjoyment:

General
The New York Times Top Ten Top Ten
BBC’s 100 Things We Didn’t Know Last Year

Science
The Top Science Stories of 2006
Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006
The Top US Traffic Headaches of 2006
Top Ten Photos of 2006 From National Geographic News
Top Ten Animal Stories of 2006 From National Geographic News

Media / Internet
Top Google News Searches
Top 100 Internet Newspaper Sites
LifeHacker’s Top Ten Non-Google Map Innovations
Top Ten Urban / Internet Myths and Scams of 2006
Top Social Networks of 2006
PC World’s 20 Most Innovative Products of 2006
ProBlogger’s Hundreds of Submitted Reviews and Predictions
Top Ten Online Media Stories of 2006

From May of this year, PC World’s Top 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time – AOL (America Online) deserves its number one ranking for sure, but they’ve also got WebTV, Iomega Zip Drives, Internet Explorer, and products from Disney, Priceline, Macintosh, Gateway, Compaq, IBM, and more. If you still use one of these products, you should consider just giving up on the whole tech thing and just go back to snail-mail.

Food
Wine Spectator’s 100 Best Wines of 2006

Politics
Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top Ten Missed Stories of 2006
The Nation’s 2006: The Year of Living Dangerously
A Look Back From the Year 2017

AlterNet spent a lot of time on 2006:
The Most Popular Top 10 Lists of 2006
The Top Ten Most Popular AlterNet Articles of the Year
Most Outrageous Right Wing Comments of 2006
Top Ten Iraq Myths for 2006
The 2006 You Didn’t Hear About
Top 10 Sex and Relationships Stories of 2006

And finally,

2006: United Nations International Year of Deserts and Desertification

Oh yeah.. and Slog’s Best Songs of 1996


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Adirondack Almanack’s 10 Most Read Stories 2006

#10 Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder Suicide?
#9 Lake George Cruise Boat Ethan Allen Sinking
#8 Lake Placid’s “With Pipe and Book” Closes
#7 Local Adirondack History Up In Flames
#6 Adirondack and New York State Map Round-Up
#5 Adirondack Earthquake Anniversaries
#4 Adirondack Mining Accidents
#3 Thin Ice: Some Strange and Tragic Stories from Frozen Lakes
#2 Naughty Nurses and the Cult of Halloween Sex

and drum roll please…

the most requested story of 2006…

The Ten Deadliest Accidents in the Adirondacks

Thanks for reading, and thanks for contributing your e-mailed comments, and for supporting the Almanack through purchases from the Almanack Store and the suggested reading links.

And while we’re at it – we’d like to thank the top five referring Internet denizens – these folks sent more readers our way than any other spots on the net (save for the search engines). Thanks for the links and we wish you well in the coming year!

#1 North Country Now
#2 York Staters
#3 North Country Public Radio
#4 NYCO’s Blog
#5 Adirondack Musing