Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chicken Eater

We saw this guy (well, not exactly this guy) crossing Hunt Hill at Midline on our way home from the library yesterday. He could easily nab several of our chickens without a second thought. Luckily, he has some geese to choose from at the Dusenberry Farm down there. Where there's one mink, there are probably many more.

Required Reading

Thomas Friedman on our lack of an energy policy--and the stupidity of the McCain-Clinton proposal.
While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.
A very distressing essay.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

True Cost of the War

I've been thinking that $600 billion was plenty, but I have heard the $3 trillion figure bandied about. Now here's an interview with the folks who did the math. They talk about the fact that the Pentagon has failed its audit for a decade but just goes blithely forward and that the government uses cash accounting, which hides the true cost over time of anything purchased via loans or "on time."
All the $600 billion that we have spent has been borrowed, so it's not like we've put any down payment down. This is the first time in our entire history that we've done this. We have not raised taxes or cut spending to pay for the war; we've actually cut taxes and raised spending. This is the first time since the Revolutionary War that we have borrowed from overseas for a war.

Monday, April 28, 2008


We were greeted by fine weather, hordes of reservists there for a military convention, and an assortment of chocolates meant for someone else. The Sagamore continues in its once-a-fine-hotel decline in services and accompanying rise in prices, although the spa is still very nice. We're contemplating a different venue for next year's trip.

Required Reading

Thank goodness, Krugman is finally turning his sensible lens on McCain's economic pandering.
Mr. McCain has said nothing realistic about how he would close the giant budget gap his tax cuts would produce — a gap so large that eliminating it would require cutting Social Security benefits by three-quarters, eliminating Medicare, or something equivalently drastic.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Required Reading

I knew I liked her. Will sent this from the NYT, which expresses what most of us outside the media world think about what's happening inside the media world.
[A]s long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.
Everyone should read this.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sagamore Ho

We're off today for our 11th Annual Baby Group Moms' Reunion at the Sagamore on Lake George. Usually we go weeks earlier, but this was the first and only weekend when we could all make it. Pictured here in a 2007 photo are the other three moms--Linda, mother of Gareth; Kris, mother of Rosie; and Lara, mother of Colden and Ana. We met in Lamaze class in the summer of 1996.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pup Takes Over

Like most parents, I'd forgotten what it's like when Baby Takes Over. Our house is strewn with toys, misplaced shoes, and chewed pieces of cardboard. Our newly mulched side yard has big holes in it where Puppy has dug frantically. Our eyes are red-rimmed from lack of sleep, and we have tiny puncture wounds in our hands and feet. Everything smells vaguely of Puppy. We're settling into a kind of routine, though. After Paul goes to work and O goes to school, Puppy showers with me (she likes that a lot, being a lab) and then runs with her sisters around the entire lawn. After that, she can sometimes be persuaded to nap for an hour or two so I can get some work done.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

McCain Quiz

I love this quiz from the New Yorker. It confirms everything I ever thought about McCain and then some--I barely got a D+. Try it at home! Then start worrying even more about November!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fixing Our Schools

Bob Herbert sounds the alarm about our cluelessness compared to other industrialized nations, as if we haven't heard that before.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, offered a brutal critique of the nation’s high schools a few years ago, describing them as “obsolete” and saying, “When I compare our high schools with what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow.”
In our small attempt to fix things at the local level, the BOE approved a budget last night with a downward effect on the tax rate, approved the installation of Dryden's first pre-K program (something I've been striving toward for eight years), and approved the initial stages of a strategic plan that calls for some dramatic changes in achievement by 2011. And there will be five candidates running for the four positions at the annual vote on May 20, making it a far more interesting contest than in the past couple of years. All in all, a pretty good night.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Required Reading

David Brooks on Obama's fall from grace. I especially agree that the pandering both he and HRC did during the debate around taxes and Iraq painted them into a corner they can't possibly get out of. Bob Herbert's good, too. President McCain, here we come.

From the Trail Cam

The DEC tells Paul that no one else has reported a bear in Dryden. So I guess he's ours. (PZ says he's probably a he.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Bear

Paul and I saw the bear last night. S/he wandered onto the patio next to the basement door, then sat down and pried the lid off the garbage can that holds the birdseed. S/he was not happy to find that all the suet was gone. S/he sat like one of our dogs and licked the edges of the trashcan, then ambled up the side yard and disappeared into the woods leading down to our old house. I watched through the night scope, and Paul tried to capture him/her with his night vision camera.

I'm not good with bear mass, but s/he was quite large, easily three times the size of any of our dogs. And s/he was alone--no cubs. Clearly s/he is bedding down somewhere close by. Paul found lots of bear scat. The dogs continue to be vigilant.

I'm wondering whether the chickens are in danger. Clearly a bear this size could make mincemeat of any of our fences/coops. Suet seems fine for now, but will it be enough???

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unnatural Nature

O and I spent the day at SeaWorld yesterday, which accounts for my sunburn as well as my vague sense of unease. SeaWorld was troubling enough when my parent company HBJ ran the place, but now that it's owned by Anheiser Busch, it seems to be much about supporting the troops while gouging the tourists. The Shamu show has a narrative that seems to involve believing in the connection between animals and humans--or maybe it's just about "believing" in the larger sense; it's not entirely clear. And although I'm halfway convinced that the education tourists who wouldn't ordinarily visit an animal park, aquarium, or zoo can receive at SeaWorld is worth something, I'm equally sure that seeing animals do tricks on humans' commands isn't the kind of education that helps. The theme for the parks is "SeaWorld: As Real As It Gets," which is sad, if true, since reality seems to involve a gift shop for every animal. There's a back message about conservation, but it's a Teddy Roosevelt sort of message, not at all about global warming or human encroachment on habitat. We can hope that our ridiculous $100 entry fee (with AAA discount! does not include parking!) goes toward their breeding program, which has been quite successful.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Paul writes that in the wee hours of Tax Day, he was awakened by a large crash, which proved to be the garbage can that holds our birdseed and suet being turned over on the porch. The dogs went quite crazy, and Paul heard something galumphing into the woods. When morning came, he observed that the metal pole that held up our long string of birdfeeders had been bent in half, and the birdfeeders decimated. The last time either of us heard of a bear in Dryden was around 15 years ago. Well, we have one again!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Westward, Ho

It's Spring Break! O and I are off to CA for a few days, where we'll do the SeaWorld thing, visit an old mining town and the Anza Borrego Desert, and hang by the pool.

What I Said. . .

The NYT editorial today agrees with me that the only path to change in Albany (short of a constitutional convention and redistricting) is to vote the mfkers out of office. They're polite about it, but the message is the same.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ferberizing the Baby

It's too early to do this with Sungiva, but we're following the breeder's instructions with Sadie. He claimed that after a busy day, she would sleep 6 hours. Wrong. Paul crated her at midnight. Precisely at 1 AM, 2 AM, 3 AM, 4 AM, and 5 AM, she awoke and howled for 45 minutes before falling asleep for 15. Hates the crate. The other dogs avoid her except when they're snapping at her or running away from her. Good thing she's so cute.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sadie Comes Home

Sooner or later, I'll get a photo of her that's in focus, but right now, she's just a tiny bundle of wiggling energy. Paul and I drove to the PA border to pick her up this morning. Alex and Roxie are definitely not amused.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Required Reading

Maureen Dowd on the depressing Petraus-Crocker hearings:
They arrived on the heels of the Maliki debacle in Basra, which made it stunningly clear — after a cease-fire was brokered in Iran — that we’re spending $3 trillion as our own economy goes off a cliff so that Iran can have a dysfunctional little friend.
And McCain once again mixed up Shi'ites and Sunnis.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A New Superintendent

Well, we did it. It was a unanimous decision, assisted by many stakeholder groups but primarily by Sandy herself, who just blew it out the box with her interviews, convincing any and all skeptics.

Another article in the IJ features Paul's boss, Bill Hurley, discussing the turnover of superintendents and why he's not tempted.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Grace at 95

It was a wonderful party, capped by a speech from the guest of honor in which she explained why she remains an optimist and knows that we all will elect a Democratic president, get out of Iraq, and even fix the economy. My kind of first cousin once removed. Some of the fun involved figuring out how the people there were related. I think I finally worked out that the guy across from me was connected to Grace via her father's family (the Glanzes) rather than her mother's (the Zahlers), and therefore wasn't related to me at all. But O had second cousins there, and I had second cousins once removed and twice removed and first cousins and first cousins once removed and a brother and two parents and who knows what else.

And every one of them supports Obama. Grace even said to me, "You must tell your superdelegate friend to vote for Obama. She simply must. Hillary has done some dreadful, dreadful things over the course of this campaign." So there you have it.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Forty years is such a long time. The IJ today published this piece by Dave Burak about Joan Baez's concert on campus the night after King's assassination. At the time, Dave was head of Cornell's chapter of S.D.S. Mark and I would meet him a year and a half later, when he visited the high school to talk to our chapter of Junior S.D.S., a chapter run by Winton Rossiter, son of famed historian Clinton, who would take his own life a few months later.

What the Journal fails to recall is an incident that took place on campus the very day King was killed. A group of students from the Afro-American Society took over the Economics Department to protest perceived racist comments from a visiting professor. It was a precursor to the far better-known 1969 takeover of Willard Straight. Donald Alexander Downs writes about all this in Cornell '69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Walk, Don't Run

I hear nobody's running for the fourth position on the BOE. Now's your chance! Pick up your packet at the district office. You have until 5 PM on April 21 to get the required 25 signatures.

Last night Paul and I had date night as we both attended the BOCES annual dinner, prepared and served by students from the culinary arts program. I was allowed to sit at the Newfield table. The desserts were, as always, fabulous. My favorite was a tiny cream puff whose pastry was molded in the form of a swan. I could envision dozens of them circling a wedding cake--and they tasted good, too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1968? Not So Much

A lot's been said about this year's resemblance to the mind-blowing year 1968 in terms of Democratic squabbling and the odds that the election will be thrown to the Republican. I decided to do a little reviewing of history.

First, factions. I think Dems in 1968 were much farther apart. The liberal left (including Hollywood) supported McCarthy, the antiwar candidate who had surprised LBJ in New Hampshire. When RFK entered the race shortly afterward, he did not really siphon off those supporters. His support derived from minorities, both religious and ethnic. He also won many important endorsements, including that of Cesar Chavez. Despite this, his campaign lacked traction. The middle-of-the-road traditional Democrats supported Humphrey. The Southern Democrats and a surprising number of blue-collar Dems supported George Wallace.

Although we like to suppose that RFK had the nomination wrapped up at the time of his assassination in June, in fact, his delegate count was well below Humphrey's, and McCarthy topped him in popular vote. And despite RFK's delegates' being split between McCarthy and late entrant McGovern at the convention, Humphrey won easily on the first ballot. He had never actually competed in the primaries; his rise was due to the party machinery, not the democratic process. Following 1968, the Democrats added a number of primaries to the mix, leading eventually to the system we have today.

On the other side, although Nixon was the clear front-runner, neither he nor Reagan had the delegates needed prior to the convention. Despite a fight to stop him, Nixon won on the first ballot. Coming out of the conventions, he was ahead of Humphrey by double digits in the polls. The election itself was much tighter, and the results were not clear until the morning after.

So despite the blather that passes for news today, the 1968 convention was not brokered on either side. Since John Edwards has so few delegates to broker, it's unlikely that this year's convention will be brokered, either. Even the antiwar mood is dissimilar; people largely agree that once again, "It's the economy, stupid."

But there's still hope. We could get together and run a flying pig on the ballot.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Upcoming Travels

April is a road-trip month, especially for me. Next weekend we're off to MA for Cousin Grace's 95th birthday party, stopping off to visit Robert and family (B). The week after that, O and I fly to CA for a quick visit over spring break (C). Then comes the annual trip to the Sagamore (D). In between we'll squeeze a lot of tutorial writing, some book proposal tweaking, early planting, a BOCES dinner, and various BOE meetings.