Tuesday, July 31, 2007


O and I visited Grisamore Farms, our favorite spot for berry picking. It's ideally situated in that between-the-lakes rolling pasture, the owners kindly mark off areas of poison ivy, and the berries are terrific. We went early, but there were many people there already. Still, the picking was good, and I zoned into that happy state where you eavesdrop on bits of conversation as the flies buzz lazily around and the sun bakes your shoulders while you strip the shiny berries into the bucket with a satisfying -plop-.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I've Got a Secret

Mark sent this ancient clip of something that seems too freaky to be true--composer John Cage appearing on "I've Got a Secret," one of my grandmother's favorite game shows.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Trip in Pictures

From a visit with Elbridge Gerry, inventor of the gerrymander, to a pleasant evening on the porch of the Red Lion Inn, here is a smattering of what we did on our summer vacation.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We're Back!

After an overnight at PZ/Lisa's beautiful newish house, we arrived back to hot sticky weather and dogs who had partied a little too much while we were gone. The housesitter called the night before we left the Vineyard to say that they'd gotten into Alex's painkillers. Since she didn't know which one had eaten them all, both dogs got their stomachs pumped. They look none the worse for wear, but our poor housesitter may never do this again. . . .

The only important thing in the Journal since we left is this.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What a Day

This was one of those perfect MV days. The haze burned off early, and we had sunlight and a high of maybe 78 with a nice breeze. Paul biked a dozen miles or so while I was still asleep. O and I hiked a couple of miles. Then we all went to Lucy Vincent Beach (south shore, private, but the Feinsteins helped us get a pass). There was a vicious riptide that kept O from going in past her knees, but it could not have been prettier. Then we drove around looking for Portuguese sweet bread, which we located in Vineyard Haven, and clams for Paul's lunch. We were stopped for speeding (40 in a 25-mph zone), but they let us off with a warning. After lunch, we hammocked, jigsaw puzzled, read, dozed, etc. Dinner was at Gay Head (now Aquinnah), one of the most spectacular places on the planet. (Living in Dryden, which is pretty spectacular itself, I'm usually fairly critical of other pretty spots, but Gay Head is one of my favorites.) Tomorrow we expect a high of 90, which means every human being on the island will descend on the waterfront. But this was a good day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


It's cool and cloudy in Marblehead, where I'm sitting in Elizabeth's office, admiring the sloping front yard. The cousins are playing video games (O brought her own controller), and the other adults have taken Robert's new truck to get a dresser from a nearby friend. The house is spacious and has a beautiful half acre back yard, hard to find this close to the city.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Off to MV

We leave tomorrow for two days in Marblehead, MA, with O's cousins; six days on Martha's Vineyard in the Feinsteins' house; and one overnight at PZ/Lisa's new manse in East Chatham, NY. Posting will be sporadic, or possibly nonexistent.

Caucus Results

Mary Ann Sumner for Town Supervisor!
Dave Makar and Joe Solomon for Town Board!
Jason Leifer for Town Justice!
All results unanimous.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reading List

She's one of my favorite writers of police procedurals, all of them set in Great Britain although she's American, and most starring Inspector Thomas Lynley and his assistants Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata. I was surprised to find the usual heroes not mentioned here, but George has turned her hand to the theme that most interests her as an outside observer of the British class system. She writes quite believably about a kind of cliff-hanging poverty in which every choice is the difference between a good and a dire outcome. The characters are fully wrought and rather wonderful. I bought a copy for our local DA, who witnesses this kind of saga all the time. Few who didn't live it have told this kind of story this well. Despite knowing the outcome from the moment of reading the title, I found this a captivating page turner--at over 500 pages!

Condemned to Repeat It? Not Likely

Here's a scathing review of the NYS Regents American History exam by a teacher who regularly grades it.


Tonight is the Dryden Democratic Caucus. We're one of the few places around that still chooses candidates through this process rather than by petitioning. In theory, all Democrats in the Town of Dryden are welcome, but in reality, very few show up. So it's not as democratic as it was meant to be. We'll be nominating two Town Board members, a Town Supervisor, a Town Justice, and a Town Clerk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Go, Dryden

Here's some nice free advertising for our town board candidate. Sadly, the editor failed to note that Dryden Schools have been moving their meetings around for years. We hold two a year at Freeville, two a year at Cassavant (in McLean), and two a year at Dryden Elementary. The rest are usually at the library in the HS/MS.

The Emergence of Ron Paul

Carrie sends this:
Our friends at Hotline made this excellent point: We all know by now that Paul has more cash on hand than McCain. But he also has more cash on hand than seven other presidential hopefuls combined (Tancredo, Brownback, Huckabee, Kucinich, Hunter, T. Thompson, and Gravel).
He's a genuine libertarian and the only Republican running who's truly against the war. He's also against the war on drugs, btw. Of course, he's "pro-life" and basically a nutcase, but don't count out his appeal with a wide-ranging constituency.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Went and Choked, and Then There Were Nine

Republican Jim Gilmore has left the campaign trail and thus has left my list at right.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


We ended up having a perfect day weather-wise, despite the sudden downpour an hour before the event. The backyard was especially stunning, and it was cool enough to stay outside without discomfort. I didn't do a head count, but there were quite a few people here, and O made fast friends with two ten-year-olds who were visiting their grandma and insisted on coming to the party. It's fun hosting an event when you have no responsibility for anything other than supplying the location (and a minor amount of cleaning up afterward). Our congressman gave a brief speech that was well-received (although interrupted briefly by Roxie, who escaped from the bedroom and started to sing in the doorway), people drank plenty of donated wine and raspberry iced tea, and we had little in the way of leftovers (and took in some $ in the meantime). If Simon sends me pix, I'll post some (or send you over to his blog, if he posts 'em there).

LATER: (click on photos for better viewing and titles)

Friday, July 13, 2007

At Home and Abroad

PZ writes from Tibet, where he's adjusting to the altitude and staying in the spectacular former Nepalese embassy. His favorite thing is the monastery in Lhasa, which he submits should be one of the seven wonders of the world. His least favorite thing is the driving: "The problem with going so slowly is that it's not like they drive more safely; it was just that we all had lots more time to watch the horrible dangerous near-collisions from multiple passing vehicles and buses develop. I much prefer speedy slashing, there's less time to panic."

Here at home, we're getting ready to host our Congressman at the TCDC fundraiser this afternoon. Here's hoping the weather stays okay--they're threatening us with possible thunderstorms.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I'm sure I maligned her at the time, as I did her husband, but Lady Bird seems so benign now, with her charming twang and her Texas bluebells edging the highways.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Simon Blogged His Truck, So. . .

Here's what I've been driving the past two days while my car was in the shop. It's scary big, drives like a schoolbus, and gets maybe 10 mpg, but at least it had A/C during these 90+ degree days. Backing up and parallel parking are just out of the question. In the background is the old 6-cylinder truck we have yet to sell.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Committee Assignments

Last night was the reorganizational meeting of the Dryden School Board. We re-elected Anderson Young and Russ Kowalski President and VP, and committee assignments were as follows.
Policy Committee: KAZ, Brad Rauch
Strategic Planning Committee: Anderson Young, Brian June, Brad Rauch, KAZ
Safety Committee: Jeff Bradley
Facilities Committee: Brian June, Brad Rauch, Anderson Young
Audit Committee: Chris Gibbons, Russ Kowalski, Brad Rauch, Karin Lamotte
Finance/Budget Committee: Chris Gibbons, Brian June, Perry Dewey, Karin Lamotte
Representative to TST SBA: Chris Gibbons
Legislative Liaison: KAZ
DAA Negotiations Reps: Brian June, Russ Kowalski
Exempt Employee Negotiations Reps: Jeff Bradley, Perry Dewey
The Board decided last year to outsource policies to some group in Erie County that's putting them together for lots of school districts. This seems weird to me, since it's one of the Board's two duties, the other being budget preparation. Nevertheless, it will be a huge job this year to take what Erie sends, compare and contrast it to what we already have, and merge the two. Strategic Planning is critical and hasn't happened at all in the several years this committee's been around. And as Legislative Liaison, I'm the liaison between the district and legislators from the village, town, county, state, and federal gov't, as well as to the Central NY School Board Association. I'm starting today with a letter to Frank Proto on the County Legislature, asking for a meeting to discuss moving the Health Dept into the NYSEG building, a move I totally oppose.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Uber-Hamiltonian Executive Power

This is a rather chilling article on the minority report from the Iran-Contra investigation, which turns out to have been authored by a Cheney-picked American Enterprise fellow with assistance from the guy who's now Cheney's chief of staff. The minority report clearly indicates Cheney's views on executive power with regard to foreign policy.

I hope someone's writing the definitive book on our VP, who seems to have had his hand in every nefarious overseas activity of the past 20+ years.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hatin Flickr

I'm experimenting with Flickr, which has absorbed the Yahoo Photos I once belonged to. Here's a link to photos O took yesterday at Waneta Lake.

There's no question in my mind that Flickr, for all its innovations, is worse and less user-friendly than Yahoo was.

Live Earth Dead Wrong

Paul points out the inherent folly of a worldwide concert to combat global warming in which thousands of participants fly or drive huge distances to attend a show that uses the electric power of a small city.

In today's column "Live Bad Go Green," Thomas Friedman suggests that we take carbon offsets one step further and allow people to break a commandment as long as they offset it by planting trees. I think indulgences already cover this, but he's right about the fact that we're looking for a quick fix for which no one has to sacrifice. Not gonna happen--or if it does, it will surely result in class warfare, as the haves increasingly push back on the have nots, keeping them driving donkey carts in the dark.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Why Me?

This report helps explain why I'm censored in China. I mentioned Tibet because PZ was traveling there, and I've used the words equality and Democrat. On March 28, I wrote, "It's clear that if we really want a revolution in this country, we've got to catch the other side abusing small pets." All of this is block-worthy.

Just to make sure there's a good reason, here goes:
Dissident Taiwanese pornographers are revolting.

Friday, July 6, 2007


PZ, who has logged on successfully from Dubai and Ulaanbaatar, reports that my blog is blocked in China.

Perhaps KAZ means "boogers" in Mandarin. I'd protest, but I hardly know what to say.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The New Moe, Larry, and Curly

Today O and I traveled up to Skaneateles to get these adorable guinea fowl chicks to replace the ones we raised from chicks and fed inadvertently to owls. While we were up north, we drove over to Auburn and visited the Harriet Tubman House, which is just scandalously in disrepair, considering her importance in American history. They claim to be fixing up the real house, which is pretty much a shell. Right now you can visit the lower floor of the house she used as a home for elderly African-Americans. The tour consists of a badly synched video with lines through it from decrepitude and a walk through the old-age home, which was restored in 1953 and hasn't had much done to it since.


This is a thoughtful piece by Michael Kinsley that gets to the heart of why the Libby case is squirm-worthy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pardon Me

There's a lot being said about the fact that GWB has pardoned hardly anyone, including some woman on death row in TX for whom the Pope intervened. Here's a comparative list, courtesy of CNN:

George W. Bush:
Pardons: 113
Commutations: 4 (including Libby)

Bill Clinton:
Pardons: 396
Commutations: 61

George H.W. Bush:
Pardons: 74
Commutations: 3

Ronald Reagan:
Pardons: 393
Commutations: 13

Jimmy Carter:
Pardons: 534
Commutations: 29

Gerald Ford:
Pardons: 382
Commutations: 22

Richard Nixon:
Pardons: 863
Commutations: 60

Lyndon Johnson:
Pardons: 960
Commutations: 226

John F. Kennedy:
Pardons: 472
Commutations: 100

Dwight Eisenhower:
Pardons: 1,110
Commutations: 47

Harry Truman:
Pardons: 1,913
Commutations: 118

I've also seen an analysis claiming that Bush commuted rather than pardoned Libby because that preserves Libby's Fifth Amendment privileges and keeps him from talking.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Plants and Critters

Dave, Mary Ann, and Simon keep posting beautiful garden pix, which make me feel left out. We don't do much in the way of vegetable growing, because we won't use a fence. I do have some brussels sprouts happening, and we've got tomatoes and peppers, some in pots and some out past the bird cages. Paul's been getting into planting for wildlife. Last year, we had a whole field of kale for the deer, who adored it. This year, he rototilled the whole hillside and planted wildflowers, getting rid of the brambles in the process. Sadly, we've had little rain, so the flowers are making slow progress--but the brambles are coming back like there's no tomorrow.

We've got some new asparagus, which should be edible next year, we hope. And the herbs have flowered prettily.

Today a starling decided to pose on the weathervane. We have a murder of starlings this year, and I don't know why. They nested in the birdhouses, and the fledglings got chomped by the dogs as they learned to fly (not all of them, but several).

Meanwhile, I planted identical flowers in two barrels on the patio. One did well, and the other had its flowers vanish. I replanted, and they vanished again. Then O spotted the little vole and his tunnels in the barrel. I was making him very happy by feeding him roots, stems, leaves, and flowers over and over again.

Petition Season

Late June and early July mean the beginning of summer to most people, but to committee workers, they represent the dreaded petition season. This year, we're carrying only two--one with a delegation that will pick our three supreme court judicial candidates, the other with us local reps. Nevertheless, I've as usual waited till the last moment and must get out this week to collect signatures.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Supremes Veer Right

In case you were wondering whether the Roberts Court was making a sharp right-hand turn, here's a nice review.
Equal protection bad
Price fixing good
Antitrust laws bad
Student free speech bad
And one of my favorites is the notion that we, the taxpayers, have no legal standing to challenge the Bush administration's spending of our federal tax dollars on faith-based initiatives.

Cheney, The Complete Story

Here's the entire Washington Post series on Cheney. I'm still working through it, but I consider it a must-read.