For nearly two decades my family has grown much of its own food. If we can’t produce it ourselves, sometimes we purchase through a cooperative buying club and place an order online each month. A semi-truck deftly maneuvers the backroads and delivers the items to our club site where a handful of co-op members unload, sort, and weigh groceries and organic produce. We buy in bulk and save money. It’s like a slick combination of Sam’s Club and a natural foods co-op.
But one aspect has been conspicuously absent: most items, especially the produce, are not locally sourced. Enter the next generation of online cooperative buying clubs: Wholeshare. » Continue Reading.
Many famous works of literature have Adirondack links, some of them surprising. The Adirondack Center for Writing has created an Adirondack Literary Map that shows where these passages are all set. The map includes everything from a Nancy Drew novel set in Lake Placid and “The Spy Who Loved Me” in Glens Falls to classics like “The Sweet Hereafter,” celebrating the intersection of writing and place within the Park.
When Sylvia Plath broke her leg skiing at Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake, she sent this telegram home to her family: “BRINGING FABULOUS FRACTURED FIBULA NO PAIN JUST TRICKY TO MANIPULATE WHILST CHARLESTONING.” Whether this was before or after she wrote scenes of “The Bell Jar” from the Adirondacks is up for debate. » Continue Reading.
Have you altogether stopped watching, reading or listening to your go-to news source because it doesn’t provide the information you’re seeking? Well, you’re not alone.
The recently released Pew Research Center’s Annual Report on American Journalism, “The State of the News Media 2013”, finds that the power of journalism continues to shrink as the news industry continues to cut jobs and news coverage. In fact, estimates for the decline in newsroom employment – at newspapers – in 2012 is down 30 percent since its peak in 2000. » Continue Reading.
The encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.
Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails? » Continue Reading.
Occasionally escaping technology is essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind, especially as high tech gadgets increasingly invade every facet of modern life. From incessantly checking email, the ever-present Internet surfing temptation and the constant threat of an irritating cellphone ringtone disturbing every moment, it is important to find a refuge before becoming mental roadkill on the information superhighway.
The Adirondack backcountry used to be such a refuge, but it may not remain so for much longer.
Recently, the Washington Post, among others, reported about a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plan to create a super Wi-Fi network, so powerful it could “penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.” And presumably, into the interior of the Adirondack backcountry. Worse yet, it would be free for public use. » Continue Reading.
At times, it seems as if the entire world is going digital. The Digital Revolution is in full swing, ubiquitously deploying its combined forces of computers, tablets, smart phones, Internet, Wi-Fi, etc., penetrating every aspect of our modern lives. Its newest weaponry, Facebook, Twitter and numerous other social media websites continually distract us from the real world, whiling away the moments of our lives.
Luckily, there are still a few refuges from the constant information bombardment of the 21st Century. The Adirondack backcountry is one such place, where the Information Age has only a small footprint in the form of handheld GPS, an intermittently functioning cellphone or a personal locator beacon. Here the backcountry exists much as it did long before digital gadgetry took up arms against our sanity.
As the days grow shorter and the evening temperatures cool, hobos of the insect community begin making their way to our doorstep. Reduced light and temperature act as a switch to halt their feeding frenzy, turning now to find shelter for the winter months that lay ahead. Having stocked up on food reserves, they intend to use our homes as over wintering sites, guest cottages if you will, to increase their chance of survival.
Two invasive insects making their way into our homes include the newly invasive brown marmorated stink bug and the multicolored Asian ladybird beetle. Both are exotic species that hail from regions of China, Korea, and Japan yet readily adapted to climates and habitats in the U.S. They are most commonly found this time of year gathering on the sun-facing exposure of structures, restlessly making their way into the upper rooms and attic of your home. In the spring, they will all leave. » Continue Reading.
I have been traveling for most of the summer and fall, hiking and painting in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks and visiting family in Atlanta, so have not written much for the Almanack. I have literally taken thousands of digital photographs. Dealing with all those photos has prompted me to think about how our use of images and technology is evolving.
First, all of us with digital cameras have learned that we can now take unlimited numbers of photos. Up close, far away, every possible angle, multiple views – only then we end up with huge numbers of images, like I did, and it becomes an immense task to do something with them. » Continue Reading.
The 26th season of Project FeederWatch begins November 10, and participants are needed more than ever. By watching their feeders from November through April and submitting their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, bird watchers make it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent. New or returning participants can sign up anytime at www.FeederWatch.org.
After unusual winter weather in some parts of the country last season, many participants found themselves asking, “Where are the birds?” » Continue Reading.
Remember Napster and the legal cases against individuals who used it to obtain copies of songs without paying for them? Citizens were pursued relentlessly by huge companies and eventually made an example of in court, getting hit by fines in the thousands of dollars. I’m not defending what those individuals did, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s an entirely different story. A large company has been brazenly stealing from thousands of citizens, and they may well get away with it.
In this case, instead of music, it’s books, and instead of citizens, it’s a gigantic company, Google, that has completely ignored longstanding law and violated the rights of thousands. On their own, they redefined US copyright law in order to suit their business plan, copying millions of books without bothering to seek authors’ permission. » Continue Reading.
Regional booksellers and other North Country retailers who began selling e-books to earn profits and stay afloat will soon be faced with a big challenge in the online arena (as will stores across the country). The battle of the e-readers will soon break out once again in grand form, just as it did last year in the months prior to the holidays. It led to fantastic profits for Amazon in 2011: they pushed hard to sell Kindles, knowing that the real money was in e-books. Once a customer bought (or was gifted with) an e-reader, they were sure to make use of it―and the strategy worked. E-book sales went through the roof.
Due to a recent court decision, the company will once again bombard us with fantastic deals on readers and e-books. They were going to do that anyway, but the situation has taken a sudden, dramatic change in Amazon’s favor (and perhaps other large online retailers, like Barnes & Noble). I mention Amazon because they once controlled 90 percent of the e-book market. While that number has dropped to about 60 percent, it is likely to rise again with the recent court ruling. » Continue Reading.
If you write books or read them, prepare to be amazed (I certainly was), and if you shop online for books, the information below is important to you. Somewhat of a fraud has been perpetrated on the public in the world of books. While it doesn’t meet the legal definition of fraud, it violates what we might call “the spirit of the law” in providing information (in book form) for resale.
Yes, if you write a book, you can write anything you want, but the fact that you’ve written a book doesn’t mean anyone is reading it. Feedback in the form of sales, comments, and media coverage will eventually let you know if anyone is reading your work. » Continue Reading.
For more than 125 years, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the largest producer of printed topographic maps, has portrayed the complex geography of the nation. Prior to 2009, USGS topographic maps were created using traditional cartographic methods and printed using the lithographic printing process.
Now the USGS National Geospatial Program is nearing completion of the conversion of these these historical printed topographic quadrangles to an electronic format (GeoPDF). The scanning and processing effort serves the dual purpose of creating a master catalog and digital archive copies of the irreplaceable collection of topographic maps in the USGS Reston Map Library, as well as making the maps available for viewing and download online. » Continue Reading.
It’s been a bit surreal to read about this summer’s record-breaking drought from the lush, thunderstorm-drenched environs of Long Lake. But while the central Adirondacks may have had plenty of rain this summer, other parts of the North Country have not.
I have been tracking drought conditions across the region with stream gage data from US Geological Survey that measures stream levels and transmits the information in real-time to the internet. The USGS began stream gage construction in the late 19th century, and now maintains 7,500 gages across the country including dozens in the Adirondack region. The data from these gages are used for many purposes including flood forecasting, water supply allocation, wastewater treatment, highway engineering and recreation (rafting anyone?). » Continue Reading.
A “Notice!” was placed in the June 22, 1949 issue of the North Creek News by the Water District Superintendent Kenneth Davis and Supervisor Charles Kenwell informing local residence about the drought situation facing them over 60 years ago. » Continue Reading.
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