Monday, April 30, 2007

House Band

We hosted my old friend Bill Horvitz and the rest of his trio last night. They're on an east coast tour that included ABC Cafe in Ithaca, and will head to Syracuse tonight. Although Bill and I occasionally work freelance jobs in tandem, we hadn't actually laid eyes on each other since he left NYC for the West Coast nearly 20 years ago.

Sadly, as sometimes happens, our home proved less than hospitable, as an owl nailed one of the two guinea fowl at about 2 AM, ripping its head off and causing the remaining fowl to scream at the top of its little birdy lungs for the rest of the night. That led to lots of gobbling from local wild turkeys, and in general, things were quite noisy in a way that only the country can be.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Taking a Stand

According to Frank Rich's column today, the NYT has finally decided from this point forward not to participate in the annual Correspondents' Dinner, at which lions lie down with lambs and everyone kisses up to everyone else. Good move.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cute Chicks

Since Simon blogged about his chicks, I feel compelled to do the same. We have a variety of bantams and mixed breeds this spring, with guinea fowl chicks to come.

Here's an example of one of the bantams, full grown. We also have white ones with fuzzy feet.

And finally, here's a view of the dogs and chickens in the back yard. All pix by O.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Shopping for a Candidate

I've got news for all candidates--it's not about issues, it's about swag. That's why I'm strongly in favor of candidate stores. I'm happy to announce that the following candidates have 'em right on their websites. Get that cuddly Kucinich nightshirt now, before they're all sold out. Or hit the Dodd Mart for buttons. Other places to shop include the web sites of candidates Edwards, Giuliani, Obama, and Romney.

Alternative Graduation

I like the fact that some BYU students walked out of their graduation and into an alternative.

So Sad

Soon to join the diorama: The 57-pound beaver I found hit on Irish Settlement Road. I reported it to Paul, who immediately picked it up and brought it to the taxidermist. The taxidermist found three nearly-grown pups inside. It was the biggest beaver he'd ever seen. He has to use a baby bear form to mount it. It must have caused some damage to someone's car.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


First impressions: Clinton, Edwards, and Biden cleaned everyone else's clock. Kucinich was nutty but well-spoken. Gravel did too many mushrooms 40 years ago. Obama answered very few of the questions (the same could be said for Clinton and Biden, but they're so much better at that). Richardson looked dyspeptic and miserable. Dodd was senatorial in that way that makes you switch C-Span off after a minute or two, and it's still a little creepy that he has preschool kids. Everyone but Kucinich and Gravel is trying way too hard to avoid the wimpy-Democrat title. Obama should retain his photo-op-smile one minute longer instead of dropping it (and his wife) instantly when the cameras stop.

More later. Very excited to hear the Republicans next. And Brian Williams did a terrific job.

It's Not Easy Being Green

It ought to be easier. So far, we've tried unsuccessfully to explore wind, solar, and geothermal alternatives to the four-tank oil-burning system we currently have. We've had lots of people out to the house to draw plans and crunch numbers. One local geothermal place has bilked us of $500 by firing the guy who did our plans, losing our paperwork, and then refusing to take our calls. (This is actually the second company to lose our paperwork, giving new meaning to the ecologically-friendly "paperless office.") Next step, civil court.

Local, state, and federal ordinances do not provide meaningful incentives for individual homeowners to avoid fossil fuels. The default is always "no," and the minimal give-backs mean that it can take 15 to 25 years to break even or start to see a savings after putting in a system.

Meanwhile, I am told to reduce my carbon footprint by buying $9 cloth bags for my groceries at participating Wegmans stores. What a load of methane.

LATER: Paul points out that a key issue is the lack of reputable installers in Ithaca, that so-called "green city."

But Will It Be as Much Fun as "American Idol"?

Eleanor's Legacy sends this info:

Be sure to tune in for the first 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate sponsored by the South Carolina State Democratic Party! The debate will take place this Thursday, April 26th from 7 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT) at SC State University. Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Chris Dodd, former Senator John Edwards, former Senator Mike Gravel, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Senator Barack Obama and Governor Bill Richardson are all confirmed to participate. MSNBC will carry exclusive live coverage of the presidential primary debate and will stream it on Select NBC affiliates will also broadcast the
debate live. NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams will moderate.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Walk In

I talked to the district clerk today and discovered that four people are running for four seats on the Dryden School Board, meaning that my intentions to provide a choice are foiled, but also that I don't need to go door-to-door or do much of anything except show up.

This was really the year we should have run Paul instead. Oh, well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Yeah, you can make the argument that he was part of the Media Elite or that he had too much influence on the stories he wrote, but David Halberstam could write, and he could report, and he and his cronies (Sheehan, Arnett, Karnow) were journalists in a way that nobody covering Iraq seems to be (or perhaps is allowed to be).

Recommended: The Making of a Quagmire, The Powers That Be. And Sheehan's A Bright, Shining Lie. And the NYT today has a nice crop of early writing, including this one on the coup in Saigon.

Another Party Heard From

SAZ writes in response to Phil:
For once, I have to disagree with Phil. If there are copy cats out there, surely they were sufficiently inspired by TV coverage of the streams of ambulances filled with bodies and wounded students, heading for Virginia hospitals.

The NBC material, shattering as it was, might just have convinced some teacher or classmate to think, "My God, that stuff looks like Johnny Doe's last paper," or "My God, that stuff looks like Johnny's web site." And maybe, just maybe, the next massacre will be short-circuited.

Knowledge is always useful. Milton's Areopagitica said it better than I can, in 1644. I don't want NBC's big-shots or lawyers censoring what's shown on the air, at least not any more than they do already.

Monday, April 23, 2007


It's 6:30, and I'm still in front of the computer. My back is spazzing, and I've come completely un-spa'd. I think I'll look at a few more of the nice pix Kris sent this morning.

We were inundated by military officers during our time at the Sag--it turned out that a conference of M.A.N.Y. was meeting over the weekend. Lots of military wives in camo bikinis, lots of kids, many flattop haircuts. I cornered an important-looking guy in uniform and asked him what they were doing in Lake George. His reply: "Escaping from the war." I suggested this was a misuse of my tax dollars, and he said No, they had to pay for it themselves. $419 billion and counting, but National Guard members have to pay for their own travel and uniforms? Makes you wonder.

Back from Sagamore

Why, we look just the same, sort of. My letter to the manager resulted in chocolates and wine's being sent to our suite in the lodges. As always, our visit was a food-fest, walk-fest, and conversation-fest, but for the first time, we could walk around the village in shirtsleeves (we usually go in March).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Required Reading

Paul Krugman in the NYT about the privatization of Medicare and the complicity of some Dems and other coalitions you might not expect.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another Day, Another Vacation

I'm off with the girlz tomorrow on our annual Sagamore jaunt. This is our tenth anniversary! Seems like only yesterday that we were escaping toddlers for our first kidless weekend away.


Psychopaths We Have Known

All of this second-guessing of Cho and his motivations reminds me of our experiences when Jeff Dahmer was finally apprehended. Dahmer was a high school classmate of Paul's and Bill's in Akron, and both had hung out with him and visited his home. Now we were getting calls from Oprah (which Paul refused to take) and others, hoping that Paul might explain to Americans how to recognize a psychopath. But both Bill and Paul agree that out of their high school population, Dahmer would not even have been in the top ten "most likely to be a serial killer."

The point is that for all our desire to separate good from evil in understandable, visible ways, there's no real way to tell whether the guy next to you is likely to eat human flesh or take a handgun to school. It does appear that, unlike Dahmer, Cho tried pretty hard to get people to stop him.

LATER: Phil set the following thought.
I was appalled that NBC chose to air the video of the deranged Virginia Tech killer on network news. Cho was clearly insane, but, ironically, he was shrewd and lucid enough to understand that a major network would be sufficiently profit-driven to promulgate his diatribe against the world, no matter what civic dangers this might entail. By taking the bait, NBC has not only fulfilled a murderer's messianic fantasies (essentially rewarding him) but also gave hundreds of other mentally unstable, aggrieved young men a hero to imitate. I'm sure that the broadcast legitimized him their eyes, much as the Columbine killers seem to have inspired and legitimized his own rampage. I can't think of a more glaring instance of media irresponsiblity than this. NBC should be held responsible when (not if) copy cats begin making and carrying out threats in colleges and high schools around the country. It was sickening enough to watch Brian Williams emote on national television as he interviewed campus survivors (the self-appointed senstive guy who feels for the nation), but this kind of self-indulgant bathos seems peculiarly hypocritical when the same newscast tries to so cyncially to boost its ratings by with a "multi-media" video that panders to America's morbid fascination with violent pathologies. I hope that NBC will be held accountable by those portions of the journalistic establishment that still hold their profession to ethical scrutiny.

Required Reading

The NYT editorial on yesterday's paternalistic Supreme Court decision.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nature, Red in Tooth. . . .

Roxie loves to chase squirrels. Today, much to her surprise and mine, she caught and killed one. (That leaves us with only about 999 squirrels in the backyard.) This chubby squirrel was unable to do its usual acrobatics, thanks to the deep snow. Roxie didn't know what to do next and was easily called away. Later, a doe tiptoed up and gave the corpse a delicate sniff. Then she backed away and went to forage among the fallen birdfeeders.

Source of Hot Air

Simon points out that some of the vitriol in yesterday's IJ comments echoes the Drudge Report's headline for that IJ editorial: "Global warming activists urged to focus on Earth Day rallies and ignore snow as it 'piles up outside our windows.'"

Al Gore should take heed: The message is not getting through.

LATER: This has irked me enough that I've done something I rarely do--signed a MoveOn petition on climate change. You can, too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Beaucoup de Hot Air

I know that comments on the IJ site are routinely right wing, but today's (so far) 45 comments on a rather tame editorial on climate change are downright scary--and ought to serve as a wake-up call for those of us who think this is an issue without controversy.


As usual when there's wet, heavy snow, we lost power last night. We all slept downstairs. Paul built a big fire in the woodstove. It would've been fine, but each of our 16 smoke alarms decided to lose battery power over the course of the night, sending Paul scrambling all over the house with 9-volts and a chair. The beeping drives poor, injured Alex insane, so she had to crawl into bed with her head under my pillow. So nobody got much sleep.

Sites from the candidates column (see right column) that mention yesterday's tragedy at Virginia Tech: Biden, Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, Hunter, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson. Kucinich closed his site for the day. To see Clinton's statement, you had to navigate past her contribution page (this changed around five minutes ago). Candidates who mention prayers: All but Kucinich and Richardson. Candidates who mention gun control: None of the above.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Reading List

I broke my nonfiction streak in Aspen with three bestselling novels. The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a pageturning saga of how a single, major error in judgment affects a family and those around them. Absent Friends is a mystery set in post-9/11 Staten Island. The setting is better rendered than the mystery is, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. And I'm still reading Middlesex, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel by the author of The Virgin Suicides. It traces the genetic inheritance of an abnormality in the narrator by looking at the history of his/her family, and it manages to weave together the burnings of Smyrna and of Detroit in a clever and readable way.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gas Gasp

Paul's been griping about the sudden increase in gasoline costs--over $3 at some local pumps. This Washington Post article gives some of the reasons--refinery disasters are being blamed. It sounds a little fishy, and a lot like we're paying for other people's ineptitude.

I'm pretty sure that it's gonna take $5 gas for Americans to start paying attention to what, where, and when they drive.

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

We're bracing for a storm that's expected to dump a foot of snow here before Monday.

At the same time, I'm enjoying bad-CU-grad Wolfowitz's problems at World Bank, where he's being booed in the bank lobby for apparently approving an enormous raise for his girlfriend, fellow neocon Shaha Riza.

Hmm. Didn't something just like that happen recently in Dryden???

No Knees Is Good Knees

Everyone knows that the knee is a badly-made structure. Yesterday I finally went to the orthopedist to find out why mine isn't getting better. The diagnosis was some arthritis, some tendonitis, and maybe a tiny tear or two, and the recommendation was PT, which seems to be the 21st century replacement for drugs and cortisone shots. Meanwhile, Alex had surgery at the vet for a badly torn ligament in her knee. We're supposed to keep her quiet in her cage (not working), take her out in a sling (not working), and give her an assortment of painkillers (not working). She spent last night howling to get out of the cage until Paul went down to keep her company in the TV room for the rest of the night. And she wanted to go out every two or three hours. Right now she's supposed to be lying quietly in my office, but instead she's panting and pacing around.

And Burt just got titanium knees, which are proving hard to get used to. Soon all three of us will be in PT. Alex will go to a place where she can swim around in a harness. I wish there were a place like that for me.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh, the Hypocrisy

I was never a fan of Don Imus, but I am floored by the sudden spin promulgated by Sharpton and Jackson. To be fair, Sharpton has criticized gangsta rappers who get violent with one another, but as recently as 2002, Jackson was a huge, outspoken supporter of Slick Rick, who fought deportation and gained lots of high-level support in the African-American community, but whose best-known songs were absolutely hateful to women in general and black women in particular. Give me a freakin' break.

Jesse, I loved you back when you led rallies in Chicago in the late '70s. What the hell happened to you?

LATER: "Meet the Press" had a good response to the question, "Who appointed Sharpton and Jackson spokesmen for the community of color?" The answer, of course, is the media, who call the two of them the minute anything like this happens.

Required Reading

Paul Krugman in the NYT today on the Vast Christian Right Conspiracy, centered at Pat Robertson's Regent University, which has infiltrated every sector of the Bush administration. Here's a good quote:
But this conspiracy is no theory. The official platform of the Texas Republican Party pledges to “dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.” And the Texas Republicans now running the country are doing their best to fulfill that pledge.
He names names. It's rather chilling.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

MoveOn Vote

It's interesting to me to see the difference between those MoveOn voters who did not watch the Virtual Town Hall Meeting and those who did. Voters cast votes for the candidate they thought would be best to lead the country out of Iraq.

Sen. Barack Obama 28%
Sen. John Edwards 25%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 17%
Gov. Bill Richardson 12%
Sen. Hillary Clinton 11%
Sen. Joe Biden 6%
Sen. Chris Dodd 1%

Sen. John Edwards 25%
Gov. Bill Richardson 21%
Sen. Barack Obama 19%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 15%
Sen. Joe Biden 10%
Sen. Hillary Clinton 7%
Sen. Chris Dodd 4%
Richardson rises significantly when people hear him speak. Obama drops. That was certainly true when we heard the candidates in DC. Since MoveOn fails to include actual numbers, it's hard to tell what any of this means.

Post-Easter Bunny

Snow Flake 2 Outside my window, two rabbits are foraging in two inches of snow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pix from CO

Paul still has all the pix of the wedding on his camera, but here's a slideshow that gives you a glimpse of our week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Surprise Surplus

I still don't understand how DCS achieved a surplus (see April 9 issue) of nearly 2% of the budget. And I for sure don't understand why they are thinking of hiring guards with the money. It seems as though I have to be on the board just to make sense of what's going on.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Serbian Connection

Saturday's bride, now Lela Henry, is Serbian. Today I received this announcement about an old CU pal:
The President intends to nominate Cameron P. Munter, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Serbia. Dr. Munter, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as Deputy Chief of Mission in Prague. Prior to this, he served as Director of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq. Earlier in his career, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Warsaw. Dr. Munter received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his PhD from Johns Hopkins University.
That's more than I think about Serbia in a year.

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Flight!

Why is it that we were unable to change to an earlier flight in Denver because we had checked luggage, and Homeland Security rules say that no luggage may fly without the person who checked it; yet, when our five bags remained in Chicago while we flew, unaware, to Syracuse, the airline had no problem assuring us that the bags would fly on to Ithaca sometime today, quite unaccompanied?

We got home around 1 AM to a much colder and snowier place than the Rockies we just left. Lots to recap, but now I have to deal with 101 work-related emails.

LATER: The luggage arrived intact, delivered to our door, some 50 miles from the Syracuse Airport. Does this service help to explain rising airfares?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Wish You Were Here

Greetings from Aspen, where the sun shines daily and the snow is rapidly melting. O and Paul are off for a last ski at Aspen Highlands; I'm back from the spa and wasting time before the wedding. Paul is NOT officiating; it turned out to be a long-lived joke that got me but good. Tomorrow we fly out, landing in Syracuse nearly at midnight. We've had a wonderful trip.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fools

Money 3 Before I forget, the budget passed, just a few hours late. Only a true politician could claim victory with this one. How it will be paid for is apparently a matter of no concern. And before you start cheering about the increase in education $, pay very close attention to where that increase is going. More later. I haven't read the final version, and I doubt very much that anyone who voted on it has, either.

Day One, Nothing Changes.

Heading West

Colorado Our enormous piles of luggage--skis, wedding finery, etc.--mean no laptop, so I won't post again until April 9.

Lion, Lamb, Sheep, Goats

Lion SheepMarch did its thing, coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. We're almost out of snow except in a couple of plow-produced piles along the driveway.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting impatiently to separate the sheep from the goats with the revelation of first-quarter campaign fundraising by the long list of characters at the right.