Archive for February, 2010

Carrie’s Painting of the Week, 2/15/10

Monday, February 15th, 2010



By Carrie Jacobson

I love to paint snow. It quiets my paintings. The white areas shift the focus, bringing out the color in the rest of the world, without intensifying it. On a gray, snowy day, the sky and the earth seem to match, lending a mood and a distance and a softness to the landscape. I love the way the snow sculpts the facets of the earth, covers the details, softens the edges.

Painting in a snowstorm is not so much fun, though. The snow gets in the paint, and makes it like sand. So in the snow, I paint fast. And in a cold snowstorm, even faster!

Come see my work and Shawn Dell Joyce’s work in person! “Celebrations” opens at the Wallkill River School Gallery with a reception on Saturday, March 13, from 5-7 p.m. The show will be up for the rest of the month. The gallery is at 232 Ward St. (Route 17K), in Montgomery. Check the website (to the right, on this page) for directions and details.

Shawn’s Painting of the Week, 2/15/10

Monday, February 15th, 2010


“Chamber’s Tractors” is a pastel by Shawn Dell Joyce of the tractor dealership on the road into Montgomery. This painting, along with many others depicting the Village of Montgomery, will be on display at the Wallkill River School in March. See my work, along with fellow-Zester Carrie Jacobson at our reception March 15, from 5-7pm.

All the News Not Fit to Print

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

By Michael Kaufman

As newspapers across the country are continuing to drop like flies, the people now running the Times Herald-Record are doing their darnedest to win back readers and woo advertisers. In case you missed them, here are just a few of the steps they have taken in recent months to upgrade the paper.

They expanded the comics section by a full page after polling readers as to which comic strips they like best…and least. Sadly, Beetle Bailey and Prince Vailant didn’t make the cut. I haven’t read either in decades, but I found it comforting to glance at the familiar characters on the page. They will be missed.  

Another recent innovation was the expansion of the television listings, a much-needed service for those readers too busy to wait for the schedule to scroll into view on their TV screens.

But they missed the boat–or should I say the car or motorcycle–by not adding another page to the wildly popular “My Ride” section. Readers would like nothing better than to see more photos of people standing next to their prized classic cars and Harley-Davidsons. I especially like the pictures of the little kiddies at the wheel of their miniature cars. I think readers would also like to see some pictures of the family pets with the cars.

And what were they thinking when they told Barbara Bedell she can no longer run group pictures if the peoples’ faces aren’t at least as large as a dime? As she has correctly pointed out (several times now) in her column, this limits the number of people who can appear in a group photo. To include an entire group she may have to run several photos with just a few members each. This will mean less room for text. I am surprised that the powers that be at the paper have not figured out the obvious solution: Give Barbara Bedell another page!

After all, there probably isn’t much news to report anyway, at least as far as I can tell from reading the Record. One of the biggest stories in the news section of Sunday’s paper was about the restoration of the Glenmere Mansion in Chester, now taking reservations as a luxury bed-and-breakfast. It said the owners spent $30 million to restore the place, built in 1911, to its original splendor, “as well as to create an upscale destination meant for the wealthiest and most distinguished of New York’s upper crust.” 

“Polish master craftsmen restored the original ironwork balustrades and decorative wood molding; a Ukrainian artist painstakingly transferred a wall mural to canvas; and a famous modern landscape architect is in the process of recreating the gardens, designed by Beatrix Jones Farrand, America’s first female landscape architect and niece of novelist Edith Wharton.” Pretty swell, huh?

“I think there’s a real need for a high-end place to have dinner with a significant other, as well as to spend a night,” said Laura Bremer, a public relations specialist. She said the idea is to make the extra cost worth it for customers, especially in a tight economy. “People want to be taken away, and in this house, you really feel like you’re in Tuscany,” she said.

The article notes that modern luxuries of the bed-and-breakfast include a “sumptuous 1,250-square-foot penthouse on a private third floor, priced at $3,400 a night; custom-made Italian linens; radiant Italian marble floors in every bathroom; gas fireplaces next to every bed and some baths; high definition, flat-screen TVs; and gorgeous views…”

If that is a little too upper crust for you…not to worry! “Despite its luxuries, the prices remain on par with high-end hotels in the metro New York area. A night’s stay starts at $550, dinner for two in the Supper Room averages $100-$200, and one can still grab a burger, fries and a beer for under $40 at the bar…”  Gee, thanks.

I wish them luck but it seems to me that if someone has $3,400 or even $550 to spend on a night in a hotel room that will make them feel like they are in Tuscany, they’d may as well go to Tuscany, not Chester. (They’ll know for sure they’re not in Tuscany if they visit the nearby Brotherhood or Kedem wineries and taste any of the wines.)

On the same page as the Glenmere Mansion article was a “News Brief” that I’m sure was of tremendous interest to readers in the Mid-Hudson Valley: A 16-year-old matador in Caceres, Spain, killed six bulls in one day. Maybe they’re contemplating expanded bullfight coverage.  Don’t laugh: It makes about as much sense as what they’ve done so far.

Michael can be reached at


Disposing of ‘Disposables’

Monday, February 8th, 2010

By Shawn Dell Joyce

At some point today, you will probably be faced with the choice to use a disposable cup or not. Here are some factors to consider about how disposable that cup really is.

If we were to look at how much energy it takes to produce cups made from paper, polystyrene and ceramic, most people would automatically think the ceramic cup is the greenest choice. You’d have to use the ceramic cup 640 times before it would equal a polystyrene cup, and 294 times to equal a paper/cardboard cup, in terms of the energy it takes to produce the cups, according to

     In terms of air pollution, polystyrene produces the least amount of emissions to manufacture one cup. It also takes more water to manufacture a ceramic cup than the entire life cycle water consumption of the other two. Before you toss out all your ceramic cups and replace them with Styrofoam, Treehugger went on to find the ceramic vessel much more functional and durable with up to 3,000 uses compared to single-use paper, plastic or polystyrene foam.

If you go by just the energy expenditures, Styrofoam cups seem like the way to go. However, there is much more to a cup than its function. What happens to these five cups after their useful life is over?

Glass takes over a million years to decompose, but it is recyclable and when recycled it reduces pollution by 20 percent according to California’s Project New Leaf.

Paper can be recycled, but most paper cups are coated with plastic or wax and cannot be recycled. Even coated paper will biodegrade in five years, while uncoated and unbleached paper will be gone in a few days according to 

Styrofoam and plastic do not biodegrade. Instead, they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller particles that will eventually wind up in our bodies.

Scientists are just now learning the effects of photodegrading plastics and polystyrene on the environment. These substances have only been around about 50 years and are just now breaking down into microscopic sizes. As plastics get smaller, they are eaten by smaller creatures. As these creatures are eaten by larger creatures up the food chain, these plastics (and toxins) get concentrated inside living bodies, even in humans.

“Except for a small amount that has been incinerated,” says Tony Andrady, a Senior Research Scientist at North Carolina’s Research Triangle, “every bit of plastic manufactured in the world for the last 50 years or so still remains. It’s somewhere in the environment.”  

Nothing is really disposable. Many of the things we consider disposable, will probably outlive humanity as a species.  The greenest choice is to cup your hands and drink out of them as our ancestors have for millennia.  That may not go over to well in the school cafeteria, so get in the habit of bringing your own cup.

 Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning columnist and founder of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.

Shawn’s Painting of the Week, 2/9/10

Monday, February 8th, 2010

montgomery-watertowerPainting of the ubiquitous watertower in Montgomery. This pastel painting is one of a series of paintings depicting Montgomery on it’s 200th anniversary. Celebrate the bicentennial with me and Carrie Jacobson at our art show at Wallkill River School and Art Gallery on March 13, 5-7pm.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week, 2/8/10

Monday, February 8th, 2010
Good Sam II

Good Sam II

By Carrie Jacobson

Late Thursday afternoon, I dropped by the Lighthouse Gallery, near our home here in Connecticut, to give a final look at “Places & Pets,” the show of my work and Carden Holland’s work, set to open Friday evening.

The show looked great – but there was an open place on the wall above the desk of curator Chris Rose.

On the wall was Good Sam I, a painting of one of our dogs. It is a big painting, 30×30, all in blues. It’s a painting  that I love. (You can see it at the end of this posting).

The hole beside it was just about the same size. Chris wanted to know if I had another painting, another big one. Well, I do, but not one that I want to sell. And already, there were three not-for-sale paintings in the show.

So Chris gave me a challenge. Days earlier, he and I had been talking about the power and delight of painting fast, and he turned to me and asked if I could make another painting.

I took him up on it.

All along, I’d envisioned the Sam paintings as a pair. I mean, everybody needs a pair of giant oil paintings of a Samoyed, right?

So, on Friday morning, after a nearly sleepless Thursday night, I went out to the studio painted Good Sam II.

The pieces look great together! They are just about the happiest paintings I’ve ever made. And they were a wonderful omen for the opening.

It was a festive show, a true celebration, filled with family and friends – and strangers! There were children, teens, a dog, friends from my childhood and from this new life.

 Carden Holland, the marvelous artist who was the “Places” part of the show, had not shown in years and years. Practically her whole family came to the opening, which made it even more special. We have many friends in common, and many of them came to support and celebrate us.

I’d like to say it was a high-selling opening, but it wasn’t; still, it was wonderful, and I had the chance, again and again, to watch as people saw and connected and engaged with my paintings. And that’s a huge, huge thrill! If you came to the opening, thank you. If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry. The show will be up until the end of the month.

Groton is on the Connecticut coast, near Mystic. It’s a wonderful day trip from the mid-Hudson. Generally, the gallery is not open on weekends, but Chris will be happy to open it; just give him a call at 860-445-7626, ext. 108. Commissions from all sales go to support the Lighthouse Voc-Ed Center, which offers educational and social opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

For more information, see

For information on buying one or both of the Good Sam paintings, email

Good Sam I

Good Sam I

Rich’s photo, 1/08/2010

Monday, February 8th, 2010

WELCOME SPRING -  Maybe not yet. According to Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day 2010 prediction was six more weeks of winter, as he did see his shadow. Oh well, what do groundhogs know!

WELCOME SPRING - Maybe not yet. According to Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day 2010 prediction was six more weeks of winter, as he did see his shadow. Oh well, what do groundhogs know!

Photography by Rich Gigli



Welcome to 1984, GOP Version

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but don’t push me.

That said, there’s something very strange occurring in the country these days. Prevarication Central at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee seems to be doing its Orwellian best to rewrite history. They want us to believe the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Virginia didn’t occur on George W. Bush’s watch. Clearly they want the nation to believe the lie that Two-Gun Bush was so tough that America’s enemies knew that to mess with him was to risk destruction. It’s also possible that since Bush did such a masterful job of wrecking the economy, the GOP would like history books – and voters in the next election – to distance him from the catastrophe of 9/11. One disaster is enough.

On three occasions in the last three months, prominent Republicans who have served in elective and appointive positions in government have suggested the impossible – that the attacks must have taken place late in the administration of Bill Clinton, which ended eight months earlier, or very early in the administration of Barak Obama, which didn’t begin for another seven and a half years. How this is possible is never explained.

If such patent nonsense had come from the mouths of three people outside politics I could accept that they simply didn’t know what they were talking about. But it’s worse than that. This lie about the terror-less Bush administration was spread by three educated people who know better.

— “We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we’ve had one under Obama,” said Rudolph Giuliani during an interview by George Stephanopoulos last Friday on “Good Morning America.” Giuliani studied political science at Manhattan College and law at New York University. No domestic attacks under Bush? Has he forgotten the rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001? Has he forgotten Richard Reid, the lunatic who tried to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his shoes? Has he forgotten the anthrax attacks that killed five people including Kathy Nguyen, 61, of the Bronx – one of his 7 million constituents?  

— “We inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history,” said Mary Matalin in December. Matalin, 56, was an adviser to Vice President Cheney. She graduated from Western Illinois University, where she majored in political science, and from the Hofstra University law school. We “inherited” 9/11? Is she mad, comatose, or just a resident of another planet?

— “We did not have a terrorist attack during President Bush’s term,” said Dana Perino in November. Perino, 37, was Bush’s last press secretary. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Colorado, where she majored mass communications, two of whose requirements are getting the facts and telling the truth. She has a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. No attack under Bush? Nice try, but ask the families and friends of the 3,000 people murdered on Sept. 11 who was running the show. Ask the people aboard American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami who subdued Reid. Ask the friends of Kathy Nguyen, who died miserably of inhalation anthrax just 50 days after Sept. 11.

You have to be pretty cynical about the intelligence of the American people to look into a television camera and spew the drivel that came from Giuliani, Matalin and Perino. Not that they were challenged by their interviewers – who just let these falsehoods slide.

Jeffrey can be reached at

Of Trials and Tribulations

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

By Bob Gaydos

(Editor’s note: In the interests of full disclosure, let it be known that the following was written by me for the TH-R in my capacity as fill-in editorial writer when the new guy is on vacation. It turns out they didn’t use it because he wrote on the same subject for the same day. So it shouldn’t be a total loss, I figured I’d share it with Zest readers.) 

“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker, He will be brought to justice and he’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing and masterminding the killing of 3,000 Americans. That you can be sure of.”
 — Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s press secretary

That’s apparently all we can be sure of at this time. Where, when and how Mohammed will “meet justice” is apparently anybody’s guess as the Obama administration has hemmed, hawed, stumbled and bumbled its way through the process of getting the confessed 9/11 mastermind out of prison at Guantanamo Bay and into a United States courtroom.

With dazzling suddenness, the administration’s plan to try Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators at the federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, not far from the scene of the infamous act, fell apart over the weekend. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who at first supported the plan, changed his mind, he said, when he saw the scope of security plans Police Chief Raymond Kelly drew up for the trials. They called for closing off  large portions of the financial district and Chinatown with roadblocks and checkpoints and putting snipers on rooftops. Bloomberg said this would cost the city more than $200 million a year for several years. “It will also impact traffic and commerce and people’s lifestyles downtown,” Bloomberg said.

He said the price was too high, even for a chance to bring the accused terrorists to justice face-to-face. When Bloomberg flipped, Sen. Charles Schumer followed, as did many others.

Simultaneously, the call went out to find other suitable trial sites within the federal Southern District jurisdiction, including a few in Orange County. West Point, the Air Force National Guard base at Stewart International Airport and the federal Correctional Institution at Otisville were named as possible alternatives. One at a time. West Point: Out of the question. It’s an educational institutional housing future officers. Highland Falls would be overwhelmed. Stewart: It’s still an airport and it has no courtroom or lockup facility. Otisville: The most secure and remote. Would need a courtroom. And Otisville would need all of that $200 million the president has pledged to pay for the cost of the trials.

A fourth, unsolicited, suggestion came from Newburgh Mayor Nicholas Valentine, who said his city could handle the trial in the new courthouse across the street from his tailor shop. Unlike, Bloomberg, Valentine says the trials would be an economic and public relations boon for his city. That’s probably true, but the goal is to provide fair trials within the U.S. justice system for five accused terrorists, not to rescue a city that has had difficulty handling its own problems, which include a recent rash of street violence.

The White House never conferred with New York City officials before deciding to try Mohammed there. Big mistake. Before making another one, the president needs to meet with Justice Department and national security advisors to decide on the best approach. Resistance from local communities should not drive his decision, but should at least be considered. Nor should expediency rule the day. If, as has been suggested, Obama is again considering military rather than civilian trials, these at a minimum need to be conducted under U.S. trial laws, which do not allow hearsay or coerced testimony, but do allow the accused to see the evidence against them.

Anything less would be a capitulation to fear and would represent a final victory for Mohammed and his ilk, regardless of the verdicts.


Making Clean Energy Affordable

Monday, February 1st, 2010

By Shawn Dell Joyce    

Recently, we heard President Obama recommit to creating green jobs in our country after we watched in horror as China surpassed us as the world leader in green technology. But there’s positive movement on the local green front. Last week, Congressman Maurice Hinchey  announced that he’s bringing many green jobs to our area with a project at Stewart Airport. Meanwhile, municipalities have the opportunity through a new state law to create green jobs at a level that this year’s high school graduates can take advantage of, and that will benefit individual taxpayers as well.

 Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a state law that allows local governments to help homeowners finance upgrading their homes’ energy efficiency and add solar hot water, solar electric, wind turbines, or whatever green energy is appropriate. The beauty of the program is that it makes green technology affordable and within reach of average middle-class homeowners.

Here’s an exampe of how it work. If a homeowner decides he wishes to upgrade his home to solar hot water he can “opt-in” to the PACE program through the local town or village board. The cost of the retrofit and solar installation is financed through a mortgage company tied to the property taxes. What that means is that you don’t have to put any money down on the system (in most cases) and it is paid for through your property tax bill over the next 20 years. If you sell your house, the system — and the cost — goes with the house.


The benefits are immediate. The savings on utility bills is far greater than the amortized cost of repaying the loan through property taxes. An average solar hot water system costs about $5,000 installed, after rebates and incentives. Spread that out over 20 years and you notice a rise of $250-$300 in your property tax payment compared to the dramatic savings on your electric bill (18 percent and more in most cases.)

This makes pricey solar panels within the reach of average homeowners and protects mortgage lenders because the payment is secured through the municipality. It lowers the homeowner’s cost of living and raises property values.

PACE programs are planned or already under way in Albuquerque, NM; Athens, OH; Austin, TX; Babylon, NY; Berkeley, CA (which pioneered the concept); Boulder, CO; Palm Desert, CA; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Santa Fe, NM; and at the state level in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. New York recently passed PACE as well, and is offering municipalities the possibility of implementing the program.

Under the State Energy Program, the Department of Energy has received approximately $80 million worth of applications that could potentially use a PACE financing structure, out of $3.2 billion in total funding. The Department of Energy is also issuing a Funding Opportunity Announcement of $454 million under its Competitive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. This “Retrofit Ramp-Up” program will pioneer innovative models, including PACE loans, for rolling out energy efficiency to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in a variety of communities.

Orange County Planning Commissioner David Church is setting up grant opportunities for municipalities to implement PACE. What is your municipal government doing about it? Most of our local elected officials run on a platform of lowering taxes. While that has been proven difficult at best, what they could do is lower our cost of living instead for the same net effect.

There’s another benefit. If only 15 percent of residential property owners nationwide took advantage of clean energy community financing, the resulting emissions reductions would contribute 4 percent of the savings needed for the U.S. to reach 1990 emissions levels by 2020 according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

This one program could do more to generate green jobs in our area than anything coming down the federal pike. Imagine the resulting boom this legislation would have in the building trades. We would immediately see a rise in jobs for energy auditors, insulators, plumbers, solar installers, and many other local jobs that our children could do with a little training.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning, nationally syndicated columnist, artist, and director of the Wallkill River School in Orange County.