Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dryden v. Goliath, part 1

Because it is privately held, Anschutz puts out very little information about its finances and operations. It's not even possible to find names of board members. However, we know that Philip A is worth $7 billion, and that his largest holdings involve not oil and gas, but sports and entertainment, courtesy of subsidiary AEG, which, as it happens, is currently being sued by Michael Jackson's mother. So we can anticipate that Anschutz has a fairly large budget to hire legal assistance.

Then there's the town of Dryden, which budgeted $51K this year for legal expenses, including union negotiations.

But we do have a number of brooks containing smooth stones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Regrets, I've Had a Few...

Thanks to Wendy for forwarding this NYT article on local regrets from leaseholders. It mentions our lawsuit, too.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Lie of Local Energy

Local MD Niziol has posted to the Dryden Safe Energy site bemoaning the immorality of a ban on "local energy."

What makes him think that the energy is for local use? Have the gas drillers promised that to the town? Not that I know of. Are the pipelines limited to the town? Not that I know of.

Chesapeake/Anschutz are gas exporters. I believe in local energy; that's why we've gone somewhat off the grid and are heating from our own below ground warm earth. But I see no proof that gas drilling in upstate NY has anything whatsoever to do with local energy. Sorry, Dr. N.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading List

It's not easy to make analyses of scientific experimentation vivid and moving, but Mukherjee's anecdotal style turns this "biography of cancer" into a thrilling page-turner. The serendipity of discovery, the patience of scientists, and the importance of public relations are all focuses of his tome. Best book I've read all year, and perfect for the waiting room at Sloan Kettering.

Here We Go

It's not clear whether they have the standing to do this, but Anschutz certainly believes that it can win in a lawsuit against our town's ban on heavy industry. Choosing Dryden and doing this now seems a way to influence electoral politics in the only area around where there's a clear division between pro- and anti- in the race for town board.
If you read the comments on the article, you can see how things are going to play out over the next months.

LATER: Here's the actual complaint filed September 16.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


As I pack to head for NYC tomorrow to help Lara through reconstructive surgery, I am bombarded with images of the city ten years ago. Ten years ago, I had been ten years out of NYC, so the images, while familiar, seemed distant. Nevertheless, two months before the towers fell, we'd taken Olivia to a concert in the plaza in their shadow, and she had enjoyed the fountain, the crowds, and the salsa dancing. We told her how tall the towers were and that Uncle Mark once worked in a bookstore down below. So all three of us had a point of reference.

The towers opened a few months before I moved to the city. For the 13 years I was there, they remained a lodestar. If I came out of a subway and got turned around, they told me where south was. If I walked around downtown, I could figure out distances by searching out their tops. When I worked briefly in Brooklyn Heights, I ate lunch every day on the promenade overlooking the harbor they dominated.

The morning of the attack, PZ called me, because his girlfriend had called him from a hotel. (When you stay at a hotel, you always watch the morning news. At home, not so much.) We watched, 200 miles apart and connected by a phone line, as what we thought was a small plane hit the north tower again and again.

Within minutes, it was clear that it was not a small plane. We got off the phones to call others. I called Paul and Lara. Then I called Chuck, who was standing in the middle of Fifth Avenue looking south. He screamed into the phone, "Thank you George Bush, thank you Ariel Sharon, thank you etc. etc." I sat and watched. I got up and worked. I came back and watched. Soon, I recognized that this was no longer a workday. Around noon, Lara and Kevin arrived with pizza. We watched and ate as though we were watching an apocalyptic Netflix DVD. Lara's uncle was at the Pentagon, on the far side, away from the blast. Her mother was stuck on a flight home from Europe and would end up at Gander in Newfoundland for days. Paul and I knew people who would walk home across the Brooklyn Bridge, pack up their car, and never return.

I have been back to the city many times, but I've never visited Ground Zero. Don't want to; don't get it. I felt a bit the same way about seeing the Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. I won't go tomorrow, either. I'll sit in what's sure to be horrible traffic as police hopelessly search all panel trucks for whatever, and I may watch the news on TV, but my mourning will be less for the people lost than for the death of our belief in ourselves, for the descent, over ten years, into a sort of dithering madness, wherein the melting pot resembles a poisoned cauldron and the lady in the harbor not a guide but a guard.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Gold Standard

With the rise of Ron Paul and the fall of the stock market, more people are thinking about the fact that we base our monetary system on sand and fantasy and speculation. Of course paper money has no intrinsic worth. On the other hand, it's hard to believe that unusual metal veins in the earth's surface are worth anything, either. Cowrie shells? Maybe.

My own Paul likes the barter system and has recently traded his computer services for a reconstituted snowplow with the guys at Bell's Auto in Varna. It helps to have a skill; no one is clamoring for my editorial expertise, although I have been known to throw together a brochure in exchange for baked goods. And while I'm talking about Bell's, here's a shout-out to the great folks at Bell's in Dryden. For the second time in two years, they've charged me nothing for checking out weird noises that turned out to be mostly in my head (although today's involved scraping a little rust off the rotors). It's so nice to have a car place that's local AND good-hearted. Worth its weight in unusual metal veins, in fact.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Steady Rain, continued.

It rained continually all night long, and in the morning, we were in a State of Emergency, which means that the sheriff alerts us all to stay off the roads. Parts of Routes 79 and 13 were closed entirely. School was delayed and then cancelled, despite the fact that the driving ban was lifted by nine or so. Paul took the dogs out back and lost Alex to a large puddle in the Big Dig there, where she happily lay in the water with only her head poking out. Noonish, Paul drove to work, and Olivia and I crossed town around two. There were washouts along Hurd Road, lots of branches by the sides of roads, and some mushy spots along the edges of Ellis Hollow, but on the whole, it didn't look bad, and downtown was passable. McGuire Ford's parking lot was a lake, and water was definitely high in the flood canal. Other people posted nice photos on FB of the waterfalls and streams in the area. Exciting, but nothing compared to what they're facing in the Southern Tier, where Binghamton lies partially underwater.

LATER: Owego, NY, from the Ithaca Journal:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Steady Rain.

We have enough rain that driving more than 30 mph risks hydroplaning, and I had to stop suddenly on my way down Baker Hill for a tree across the road, then back up and try a different route—–but at least our kid didn't spend her first day of school overnight in a classroom, as I hear Newark Valley kids will do.

Meanwhile, Texas is burning to the ground. As PZ said in this week's letter: "Given that Governor Perry will undoubtedly give credit to God for whatever rain might fall in Texas someday, I’m fairly comfortable holding the opinion that the current drought there is a clear sign that He is currently a bit miffed that they’ve foisted the Lone Star state’s lone star on the rest of us. A sign’s a sign, after all. Don’t blame Jesus."