Sunday, October 1, 2006

Canada: Our Enemy North of the Adirondacks?

Today Jessica Doyle over at Blog Herald has an interesting piece on plans to wall us off from our “neighbors” to the north. It’s a lengthy piece with lots of quotes, but here is the jist:

The U.S. Homeland Security Department announced Thursday that it will be installing high-tech devices along the border with Canada as part of a multibillion-dollar plan to reduce illegal entry into the United States.

Under the new plan, Canada’s border with the U.S. will, within three years, be patrolled by cameras, sensors, unmarked planes and watchtowers.

Apparently they are planning to install as many as 900 watchtowers along the Canadian border. Watchtowers! We can’t even think of a watchtower without calling to mind the Irish Pale, the Berlin Wall, and Internment Camps.

In the first step of the multibillion-dollar plan, the U.S. will implement the technology along a 45-kilometre stretch of border near Tucson, Ariz. This will be followed with similar security measures along the Canadian border.

A $67-million US contract was awarded to Boeing Co. for the implementation of the initial stages of the project.

Folks – who are we kidding besides ourselves. The idea of sealing off the longest undefended border in the world is ridiculous – it’s no wonder they gave the contract to one of America’s preeminent fear mongers and war profiteers.

Here’s a prediction – once the wall is built there will be a steady escalation in the criminality assigned to border-crossers until they start shooting them for leaving one country or the other without the “proper papers.” When the Berlin Wall was in action the zone between countries became known as the “death strip.”

Thousands managed to escape through or over the wall, which divided the city of Berlin for 28 years. But hundreds died trying to flee to the West before the wall fell [17] years ago — on November 9, 1989.

Some 5,000 East Germans escaped into West Berlin, often resorting to extraordinary means. They hid in hollowed out compartments in automobiles. Others swam, dug tunnels or piloted flying machines to freedom. One slid down a high tension line. Another hid between a pair of surfboards.

More than 170 of those killed trying to escape died in the Death Strip, where armed East German guards had orders to shoot to kill.

The most shocking failed attempt took place on August 17, 1962. Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old apprentice mason, broke for freedom across the Death Strip. East German bullets stopped his flight at the base of the wall. For 50 minutes he lay unaided, moaning, “Help me.”

West Berliners shouted “Murderers!” at the guards, hurled stones at U.S. military vehicles and threw first-aid supplies to Fechter.

Though the shootings are probably still some time away, here is the current problem for a region that depends on Canadian tourists and free trade with our LOCAL neighbors:

I think many Canadians are scared today. so scared that my Mom will not fly through the States on a much shorter route to reach Vancouver from NB to visit me. So scared that my two friends would not travel through the States driving from Vancouver Fredericton en route to live in Vancouver. I don’t believe that we are scared of the citizens of the US. I am not. But maybe we are scared that we won’t be able to get back home.

I feel the same way about the thought I taking a drive to Montreal – will they confuse me with a terrorist?


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Animal Encounters: Moose in the Adirondacks

Relatively fewer hunters and natural predators combined with the amazing adaptability of some species has led to a recent boom in the populations of New York’s largest animals – moose, bear, deer, coyotes and bobcats. In the past few years a 400 pound bear was shot in the City of Albany’s Washington Park after it wandered for a couple hours around the downtown area. In 1997, a moose wandered Albany’s inner city neighborhood of Arbor Hill before being relocated. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Feature: Adirondack Hacks

Today the Adirondack Almanack will begin a new occasional feature. Adirondack Hacks will offer randomly organized links to make life in the Adirondacks easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, and anything else that offers a better, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

DIY Jerky Machine
A simple jerky maker for dried fish, fruit, meat, or whatever

Become a del.icio.us Power User
Making the most of the popular social bookmarking program

Build Your Own Tiki Bar
Perfect for a South Pacific theme party

See Your Web Pages in 30+ Browsers
Find out how your site looks on various web browsers

Get Democracy Player
The future of Internet TV has arrived

Save Money on Your Wedding
Cutting the costs for the big day

The BBC’s Shopping List Generator
Be prepared for that next trip into town


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gov Candidates in Adirondacks to Meet the Voters?

Even though businesses can’t vote and the media is supposed to present all sides of the story, New York candidates for governor Eliot Spitzer and John Faso spent the day talking to the notoriously conservative New York State Business Council and the myopic Associated Press statewide meeting.

The first event was held at the Sagamore in Bolton Landing – not exactly a bastion of us common folk either. It really makes it clear who they are interested in impressing, and it’s not the actual voter but the candidate’s wealthy inside men (and women) in these organizations. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Own A Piece of History – The Climbing Iceberg

Though the season is all but over, it’s not too late to try out your own climbing iceberg! That is if you can swing the $2,500. It may be a great way to get the kids into climbing and once global warming comes into full effect you may have a fantastic relic of a time when icebergs actually existed.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

International Talk Like A Pirate Day: Adirondacks Edition

September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day and in celebration we’ll look at pirate treasure in the Adirondacks.

Obviously, pirates in the region were few and far between. OK, we can’t even come up with a single one, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have stories of buried pirate treasure.

University of California at Davis Professor of History Alan Taylor has explored “Treasure Seeking in the American Northeast, 1780-1830” and reports that: » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Status of Climate Change in the Adirondacks?

Who knows – few, if any, are bothering to ask – is anyone conducting research in this area? If so we’d like to hear about it. In the meantime this week’s climate news may give us an indication of what we’re in for ecologically (if not economically) and it looks pretty bad:

Temperatures Still Increasing More Than Expected
For more than 25 years Arctic sea ice has slowly diminished in winter by about 1.5 percent per decade. But in the past two years the melting has occurred at rates 10 to 15 times faster. From 2004 to 2005, the amount of ice dropped 2.3 percent; and over the past year, it’s declined by another 1.9 percent, according to Comiso. (Link)

Fluctuations in Sun’s Output Likely Not The Cause
Known variations in the sun’s total energy output cannot explain recent global warming, say researchers who have reviewed the existing evidence. The judgment, which appears in the September 14 Nature, casts doubt on the claims of some global warming skeptics who have argued that long-term changes in solar output, or luminosity, might be driving the current climate pattern. (Link)

Storms Will Be More Powerful
Human production of greenhouse gases is largely responsible for increasing storm severity, scientists say. (Link)

Higher Temperatures and More Droughts Expected
Continental Europe’s extreme summers of recent years, characterized by heavy floods or killer heat waves, could be commonplace by the turn of the century, a climate study says. Its authors believe that changes in the complex relationship between air temperature and land moisture, driven by global warming, will cause European summers to suffer from chronic variability by 2100. (Link)

Plants and Trees at Risk
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has issued a “position paper” saying that man-made global warming is changing the outlook for plants and trees worldwide. (Link)

Polar Bear Threatened
According to scientists from NASA and the Canadian Wildlife Service, increased Arctic polar bear sightings are related to retreating sea ice triggered by climate warming and not due to population increases as some may believe. (Link)

The English Garden Will Be a Thing of the Past
Britain‘s legion of gardening fanatics were warned Tuesday to get ready for global warming which threatens to spoil the traditional English country garden of legend. The immaculately mown lawns and flourishing flowers found in gardens across the country may become a thing of the past if stereotypically rainy Britain continues to struggle with drought and warmer weather. (Link)

So what does all this mean for us? Warmer temperatures? Less snow and ice? Fewer wetlands? More Hurricanes reaching us? Bigger winter storms? Damage to plant and animal populations?

And what are the financial factors for the Adirondacks, a region that depends on its natural environment for so much of its economic life?

And as important – why is our local media not bothering to ask these questions?

UPDATE 9/18/06: Almanack Reader and Lake Champlain Committee Staff Scientist Mike Winslow points us to his new article (response?) “The Heat is On” published today about the effects of global warming on the lake. Excerpt:

Physical changes mostly involve the temperature of the lake. Higher winter temperatures mean reductions in winter ice cover. Such reductions have already begun. Prior to the 1950’s it was very unusual for Lake Champlain not to freeze in a given year, but of late, an absence of ice cover has become a fairly regular event. Higher temperatures mean the lake will stratify earlier in the spring, setting up a warm layer of water over a colder deeper layer, and stay stratified longer. A 1979 study stated stratification in the Main Lake typically began in early June. Over the last four years however, stratification has begun in early to mid-May. Higher temperatures and a lake of ice cover means increased evaporation from the lake. As a result, there is a general agreement, at least in models of the Great Lakes, that average water levels will fall. However, changes in local precipitation patterns greatly influence any such predictions, and such changes may differ between the Great Lakes region and the Champlain Valley.

UPDATE 9/18/06: Almanack Reader and Interim Director of the Center for Environmental Programs at Bowling Green State University Philip G. Terrie suggests the following studies:

J. Curt Stager and Michael R. Martin, “Global Climate Change and the Adirondacks, AJES: Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies 9 (Spring/Summer 2002), 6-13.

The New England Regional Assessment (NERA) is one of 16 regional assessments, conducted for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), as part of the National Assessment of climate change impacts on the United States. The National Assessment is directed by response to the Congressional Act of 1990

Jerry Jenkins, Adirondack Atlas, p. 244. (At a new lower price!)


Friday, September 15, 2006

1950s Adirondack Ads Online: Gaslight Village

The Almanack keeps and eye on eBay for unusual items related to our region. This week an extensive list of advertisements for various resorts, hotels, and more have provided interesting reading. One of the more unique is the classic ad for Gaslight Village in Lake George, shown here. We’re glad to see that the convention center proposal for the former amusement park site is all but dead and the Post Star is now reporting that:

The Warren County Finance Committee on Monday unanimously recommended the full Board of Supervisors authorize the county to contribute up to $1.3 million of the $4.1 million purchase price [for the Gaslight Village property], with the village and town of Lake George each contributing $950,000, with the rest paid by private entities.

One of the proposals is an environmental project designed to mitigate the now painfully obvious effects of siltation from the stream than runs near the property and into Lake George where an enormous sand bar has developed over the last 20 years – a project that’s long overdue for a site that’s been an abandoned eyesore for too long.

UPDATE: Democracy in Albany has a timely discussion of the situation in Albany where their last coporate convention center the Knickerbocker (or Pepsi, or whatever they’re calling it now), like the Glens Falls Civic Center, continues to cost more as local leaders push for another convention center.


Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Adirondack Almanack: Recent Editorial Changes

Regular readers have probably noticed a few changes here at the Almanack (thanks in part to Beta Blogger), but I thought I’d review them and seek your input on how to make the only regional Adirondack blog even better.

  • An Adirondack news feed has been added at top right. So far, it hasn’t been as nice as we would have liked, but having the latest google news about the Adirondacks does offer a little something extra. Verdict: not sure if we’ll keep it; we may move to a topix feed instead.
  • We’ve added a section at right called “support the almanack” where you can:
    • Visit our Amazon store (make your purchases through the link and we’ll get a portion of the proceeds).
    • Submit one of our stories to Digg or make us one of your Technorati favorites; by doing so you help bring more readers – more readers, more support, support we could certainly use.
    • Subscribe to one of our RSS Feeds – we recently started using Bloglines as our newsreader – and we love it! No more dozens of open tabs or windows, easy reading, saving stories, and searching. If you don’t do RSS – we highly suggest you do.
  • We’ve made reading some of our more popular stories easier by adding some sections at right. Thanks to our new tags at the bottom of each story we’ll be able to occasionally highlight stories on particular topics. Some of the offerings we have as present are:
    • A selection from our collection of stories of danger and disaster.
    • A selection of some of our favorite posts from the past year and a half.
    • An opportunity to sample some more of our stories by type/category/tag.
    • An opportunity to read stories by county.
    • A revised Archive of all our past Adirondack Almanack stories.
  • A new blogroll of Adirondack blogs – these are all local blogs and local blogs only. Adirondack bloggers have come a long way in the past two years and we’re happy the community of Adirondack Blogs is growing steadily. When is the first Adk Blogger Picnic?
  • A newsfeed of recent stories we’ve dug on Digg. These are stories that are probably not directly related to the Adirondacks but are somehow relevant to our mission or Adirondack news and information.

There are some new features as well in the works including link dumps on specific topics. We hope you like the changes and look forward to your comments and suggestions. feel free to e-mail us at adkalmanack[at]gmail[dot com].


Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Adirondack Winter Survival Quiz

Regular readers know the Almanack is obsessed with stories of danger, death, and survival in our region’s wilderness areas. Now Field and Stream offers an online quiz to see if you know how to survive in the woods during winter conditions. Good luck!


Monday, September 4, 2006

New York Central RR – The Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railroad

Everything is well, now—we are done with poverty, sad toil, weariness and heart-break; all the world is filled with sunshine. – Mark Twain’s Sarcasm from The Gilded Age

Labor Day gives us a great opportunity to think about the historical memory of class in the Adirondacks.

For modern Adirondack workers Labor Day is little more than the season ending three-day weekend that signals the start of the annual southern migration of tourist everywhereis. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 2, 2006

Warren County: Eagle Point on Schroon Lake

The sandy beach landing at Eagle Point in Pottersville on Schroon Lake was probably used as a campsite for thousands of years. A short road along the point was already improved for at least 20 years before it was purchased by the State of New York in 1928. Over the next year the state built the Eagle Point Campground with 64 improved sites along a one mile stretch between Route 9 (the International Highway) and the lake – another eight sites were added later.

It now has hot showers, flush toilets, pay telephones, and a small quarters for the DEC caretaker. It’s also a favored spot for some of the folks over at Scream and Fly.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

10 Deadliest Accidents in The Adirondack Mountain Region

Yesterday’s crash of a Greyhound bus near Elizabethtown reminds us of some of the tragic events that have occurred in the Adirondack region. Here is a list of the ten we believe were most tragic:

October 2, 2005 – Ethan Allen Sinking
Twenty-one people drown when the Lake George excursion boat Ethan Allen flips and sinks while turning against a wave.

1903 – Spier Falls Dam Ferry Capsizes
Sixteen men and a young boy were drowned when a ferry carrying workers capsized on the Hudson River near the Spier Falls Dam (then under construction) in Moreau between Lake Luzerne and Mount McGregor. The ferry was overloaded when high water made a temporary bridge too dangerous to use.

November 19, 1969 – Crash of Mohawk Airlines Flight 411
A twin prop-jet commuter plane (a Fairchild-Hiller 227, a.k.a. Fokker F-27) flying from La Guardia Airport in NewYork to Glens Falls crashes on Pilot Knob killing all 14 onboard. The accident is blamed on downdrafts on the leeward side of of the mountain.

August 3, 1893 – Sinking of the Steamer Rachel
The Lake George excursion steamer Rachel, chartered by more than twenty guests of the Fourteen Mile Island Hotel to take them to a dance at the Hundred Island House, is steered by an inexperienced Captain out of the channel and into an old dock south of the hotel. the old peir tears a large hole in the side of the boat below the water line and twelve were killed – many caught on the shade deck as the boat listed and almost immediately sinks.

July 30, 1856 – Burning of the John Jay
The 140-feet long Lake George steamer John Jay, loaded with 70 passengers, catches fire near the Garfield House about ten miles south of Ticonderoga on Lake George. Five die trying to swim to shore to escape the flames. The fire is blamed on an overburdened soot-clogged smokestack – the crew had kept a large hot fire in the boiler in order to make up lost time.

June 3, 1927 – Chazy Lake School Picnic Drownings
Five students, one quarter of the Dannemora High School senior class, drown when their rowboat is swamped in a squall on Chazy Lake during an interclass picnic. The only survivor is their teacher Emma Dunk, whose hand was caught in the boat keeping her above the cold water after she lost consciousness.

August 28, 2006 – Greyhound Interstate Bus Crash
Five passengers are killed when a Greyhound Bus Company’s bus No. 4014, traveling from New York City to Montreal, and making midafternoon stops in Albany and Saratoga Springs, overturns on the Northway (I-87) just before Exit 31 near Elizabethtown.

1995-2005 – Drownings at the Starbuckville Dam
A dangerous backflow whirlpool kills five swimmers at the Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River over the course of ten years. The dam is finally rebuilt in 2005-2006.

August 12, 2003 – Split Rock Falls Drownings
Four teenagers, all ages 18 and 19, drowned at Split Rock Falls near Elizabethtown while on their day off from their jobs as camp counselors for a Minerva camp. When one fell into the water the other three tried to rescue him.

February and September 2004 – Border Patrol Checkpoint Accidents
In two separate accidents four are killed and more than 60 injured (four critically) when Canadian based buses fail to see a US Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87 in Elizabethtown – poor signage is blamed.

We’d be interested in hearing about others.


Monday, August 28, 2006

A Weekend in the Adirondacks

Every Monday the blogsphere includes a few blogs about travels to the Adirondacks. For your reading pleasure we have two from this summer. Check out Big Daddy – Hubba Bubba’s trip from Rochester to Hadley Mountain by way of Little Falls:

“Saturday, Dylan woke up in a massively bad mood (see lower left photo). We all hiked up to the Fire Tower at Hadley Mountain. Not a bad little hike of 1.8 miles in each direction with an elevation climb of a little more than 1000 ft. It is a very rocky climb. I carried a 32 lb child in a backpack up this little mountain. It was brutal but extremely satisfying once we got to the peak. The firetower is really cool and there were delicious wild blueberry bushes all over the place. We had a nice rest and Dylan had a great time. The view is spectacular from the peak and is in the photo of us with Dylan in the” backpack.

And on a more poetic note, a Philly transplant to New Jersey takes on Mount Jo:

Breathing in pine and sweet damp earth
Sweat pouring down to foster my rebirth
Heart crying out to escape my chest
Pleading with Katie for “one more rest”


Friday, August 25, 2006

Warren County: Starbuckville Dam / Schroon River

The new Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River was put into service this summer by the Schroon Lake Park District. The old deteriorated timber dam (a replacement for the dam someone dynamited in the 1890s) was replaced with a 158 foot long steel reinforced concrete overflow spillway (at the same elevation).

The old 16 foot gate was replaced with two 14 foot wide gates and a new a fish passage area was added along with a stepped spillway to reduce water turbulence below the dam. In the previous ten years five swimmers had been killed after being trapped in the backflow at the bottom of the dam. » Continue Reading.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.