Archive for August, 2010

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 8/31/10

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Sawmill Pond

Yes, it’s a million degrees today, but even so, the nights are longer and cooler, and in the heat of the day, you can see the changes in the landscape. The greens have grown dusty and rich, the thin yellow edge of spring fading, dissipating. Here and there are sprigs and lines of reds and oranges, the first licks of early autumn.

Over the course of the summer, I tutored a neighbor girl in painting. Yesterday, we stood in the hot trailing edge of summer and painted this pond and its fall-edged foliage. I’ve enjoyed painting with her. At 14, she is gifted at painting, among other things. But it’s been hard to get her to step out of doing what she does well.

It’s always scary, leaving what you know for what you don’t. But I think that if you have even just a kernel of faith, you will be led safely down the new path. I urged my young friend on, and watched her hesitate, admit that she was scared, take the first halting step, then the second, then the third. By the fourth, she was smiling. And though she didn’t finish her painting, she knows the way – and it’s no longer so frightening.

If you’re interested in buying this painting, please email me at for price and shipping/delivery information.

September Blues

Monday, August 30th, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

Here I am – desperate, hopeless and despairing – my eyes fixed on the calendar. Sept. 1, the worst day of the year and the start of the worst month. Never mind the equinox; Sept. 1 means summer is over. And the end of summer means the end of happy days and liberty. And it means back to school.

It’s been decades since I had to go back, but the pain has stayed with me. Soon I’ll see kids waiting for the school bus with backpacks full of books and lunch and pencils and notebooks, crayons and gym suits and rulers and note pads, and I will be glum for them. I’ll be glum even for the ones who’ve been looking forward to the start of another year in school. There are such people.

When I was in grammar school, I couldn’t have defined desperation, hopelessness and despair, but as Sept. 1 arrived, I always found myself desperate, hopeless and despairing. I dreaded being locked in a classroom at P.S. 33 in Queens for another year with Mrs. Terwilliger or Miss Lang.

But it wasn’t only the start of school that made me unhappy. Sept. 1. was also the end of magical summer.

As June turned into the sweet July days I could forget my dad’s anger as he read my abysmal report card in a menacing silence. I could forget the look of eternal disappointment on my mother’s face as she whispered to me – as she did every June – that things would be better in the fall, when I could start fresh. But I never started fresh. It never got better, neither my grades nor what they used to call my deportment.

Ma persevered – yet I always let her down. For that I felt terrible, but not for long. It was summer out there and it was calling me.
Summer was punch ball seven days a week. Or stick ball. Or marbles. Or getting money and buying a hot dog at the deli. Summer was staying up late. Summer was disconnecting a neighbor’s lawn sprinkler and slurping water on blistering days. Summer was bikes. Summer was skates. Summer was the bells of the ice cream truck. Summer was going to a Dodgers game with my father once he got past the report card’s summary line that seemed to define me and which made him furious: Could do better.

Summer was hanging out with Joel Greenspan, my best friend. We had a joint scrapbook in which we pasted pictures of airplanes. We were airplane crazy. Summer was spending time with Robert Kaufman, the doctor’s son who was born in Switzerland and who once called me a beast after I made fun of the goofy way he threw a Spalding. A beast, he called me. Can you imagine that?

Summer, most of all, was freedom: I could talk when I chose. I never had to raise my hand. I could have a lunch that was not like the watered down vegetable soup and jelly sandwich they served at school. In summer I didn’t need a hall pass. Summer meant I didn’t have to dive under my desk, close my eyes and clamp my hands over my ears because the Russians wanted to kill me.

Summer was rapture. It was ecstasy. It was perfect. And, as happens every summer, I think again of Dylan Thomas’s line: “ … in the sun born over and over, I ran my heedless ways….”

Such a joy was heedlessness.

Even in the rain, summer was a time for running. Or for finding an open basement door in those garden apartments in Queens and waiting out the storm. But I don’t remember too much rain. Summer was sun and breeze. We could trade baseball cards all year round, but in summer we played our beloved game with our mitts and our bats – and with our mothers’ caution not to let the hardball hit us in the head.

But always there were hints of the doom to come. The worst was the first back-to-school ads in the paper. A few, then many.

July was slow and easy. But August came and flew past. Soon it would be over, this wonderful time. Soon it would be Sept. 1 and the rest of dreaded September, and then it would be 10 endless months before the next summer vacation.

After Sept. 1 would come the terror of chilly gray Sunday nights. Sunday night – the worst time of the week even to this day when I have no homework to forget to do. On Sunday night, I would look at the clock and be astonished that it was already 8:30 and that those math examples had not been done. That science assignment had not been done. That reading about Lincoln or Plymouth Rock or Armistice Day or President Eisenhower had not been done, and I knew there would be hell to pay the next morning.

Jeffrey can be reached at

Gigli’s Photo of the Week 08/29/2010

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

CAMPING - Camping on a beach as a recreational activity offers you an opportunity to visit a special place of beauty and color. The waking up to the pastel colors of early dawn light. The wonderful smell of coffee brewing on an open fire. The haunting sounds of a distant buoy singing a ship's lullaby. The summer sea breeze blowing gently through your hair. The endless waves as it kisses an endless shore. All this and more when camping on a beach. Find that special place you can treasure forever in your memory.

Photography by Rich Gigli

This Mike Was Not So Wise

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

By Michael Kaufman

You won’t find my face on Facebook, my space on MySpace or my tweets on Twitter. I’d much rather talk to someone in person or write complete sentences to express my thoughts than exchange messages in code. As you read these words, tens of thousands of people across the globe are pecking away at  keyboards large and small, writing messages like “lol,” “brb,” “lmao,” “gtg,” “rofl,” and “wtf.” So maybe it is not my place to comment on the fuss created by Mike Wise, sports columnist for the Washington Post, who tweeted his way to a one-month suspension by intentionally using his Twitter account to plant a false story.  But I’ll do it anyway.

What the hell was he thinking? Or as someone has probably tweeted by now: “wthwht?”

Wise, a columnist at The New York Times before moving to the Post in 2004, explained that he wanted to illustrate how sloppy sports journalism has become thanks to social networking and the blogosphere.  On Monday he posted the tweet heard round the world: “Roethlisberger will get five games, I’m told.”

That would be Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League, who faces a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Speculation had been circulating that Roethlisberger’s suspension would be reduced. Wise got the not-so-wise idea to use  that to show how easy it is for people to plant false information online…. and to expose how little effort is spent nowadays in checking facts. Indeed, his planted “story” was immediately picked up by several media outlets, including the Miami Herald and ProFootballTalk.

A few hours after posting, Wise proudly revealed the truth about the hoax on his radio show. But to his surprise, instead of winning kudos for a masterful expose, he was roundly criticized. Furious sports bloggers denounced him and the Post, many complaining that both had lost their credibility.

Wise then tweeted a clumsy explanation.  “As part of a bit on my show today, I tried to test the accuracy of social media reporting,” he wrote. “Probably not the best way to go about experiment. But in the end, it proved two things: 1. I was right about nobody checking facts or sourcing and 2. I’m an idiot. Apologies to all involved.”

Later he was even more contrite, if not more eloquent:  “I’m sorry if I threw anyone off in my zeal to show the danger of social networking and who runs with stuff.” These apologies were not enough to appease the higher ups at the Post.

As Greg Sandoval of CNET News noted, “In addition to the ethical questions, Wise also failed to correctly calculate Twitter’s growing influence as a news source. If he looks upon Twitter as a playground or lab experiment, he should know that 190 million people visit the site every month. Many use it as a news aggregation service and early-warning system. Hot stories spread fast via the service…..But even in the digital age, some of the old rules still apply: people don’t like being misled. “

Sandoval also took issue with Wise’s claim that the hoax had proved him right. “His exercise proved nothing. Wise’s experiment was flawed from the start.  On his Twitter account, Wise identifies himself as a Post reporter. If he was trying to prove that nobody checks out unverified information, he must know that the Post’s name automatically lends the information credibility. It’s not unreasonable for other journalists to assume a report from a Post writer was properly checked out….The Post helped expose the conspiracy behind the Watergate break in and bring down a sitting president (Richard Nixon). Why shouldn’t anyone believe the paper when it says a quarterback will see a five-game suspension?”

“Mike did not follow our guidelines and has since apologized for it,” the Washington Post said in a statement to the Huffington Post. “We take these matters very seriously; however, we do not discuss personnel issues.”

“Seems overly harsh to me,” Post media writer Howard Kurtz tweeted in response to the punishment.  I agree with Kurtz. If they are going to suspend Wise for a month for misrepresenting by one game the length of a professional football player’s suspension, imagine the punishment that could be meted out for failing to investigate the lies and hoaxes planted to beat the drums for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Some good Watergate-like investigative reporting back then might have saved countless lives.

Michael can be reached at

Sustainable Living by Shawn Dell Joyce

Friday, August 27th, 2010

by Shawn Dell Joyce

The fact that Montgomery has a farmer’s market is a small miracle. The miracle worker in this case is Donna Dolan Jacke. Donna has a long history of community service, doing everything from assisting Marion Wild in the Montgomery Museum, to being a farmhand for hire to local farmers. About four years ago, Donna put the effort into making a farmer’s market happen every Friday in the Village of Montgomery.

The location has moved a few times to make farm market easily accessible. The Montgomery Seniors, a group that previously met at Wesley Hall, sponsors the market. That means that local seniors get coupons good for discounts on fresh produce, and the farm market proceeds are split with the seniors organization, a win/win situation.

The farm market has had a rough start. Donna thinks location has much to do with it. The Senior Center in Veteran’s Park was too far off the beaten path, and the old post office in the village downtown just doesn’t get much traffic. So, Donna is moving the market again, this time to a place near and dear to my heart.

Starting this Friday, the Montgomery Farmer’s Market will be at the Wallkill River School on Route 17K, all day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can stop for home-baked breads, artisan cheeses, fresh vegetables, fruits, and handmade goodies including art and crafts.  You may catch artists mingling with farmers, sometimes painting the abundant displays. There’s always something fresh and interesting at a farmer’s market.

The Wallkill River School is the perfect place for a farmer’s market since the mission of this nonprofit artists cooperative is to preserve our region’s agricultural heritage while creating economic opportunity for local artists. It’s unusual for an arts organization to have agricultural preservation as part of it’s mission, but when you paint on local farms, and you eat local foods, you have a stake in keeping farmers in business.

When you buy direct from the farmer, you are establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers, you are connected to the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food.  You also help preserve open space because as the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely.

Everyone who lives in the Wallkill Valley can appreciate the picturesque views of farms in full bloom, rows of corn ripening in the fields, cows lowing in the pastures. Our regional landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.

Supporting local farms also helps lower your village’s taxes. Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas other development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.

If you need any more reason to come to the farm market and support your local farmers, please meet me at the Farmer’s Market on Fridays from 9 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wallkill River School on Route 17K near Route 208. I’ll be happy to show you several more reasons why eating local is best for you and the community.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning syndicated newspaper columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in

Gigli’s Photo of the Week – 08/22/2010

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Photographer’s Dream – “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” –
Ansel Adams, 1902-1984.  (Photo taken last summer at P.E.I. Canada.)

What’s a list without Tesla?

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

By Bob Gaydos

“Nikola Tesla,” my friend Ernie said. “He should be on the list. He invented electricity and radio; he just did not get credit because he was a terrible businessman and would not promote himself.”

All true, and to which I might add, he had the good sense to be friends with Mark Twain, whom Beth Quinn says definitely belongs on the list.

The List, as I will henceforth call it, giving it capitalization for added prestige, is a collection of the 20 most influential thinkers of the 20th century and beyond. As I wrote previously, a couple of friends of mine had been talking about such a list and asked me who would be on mine. Given the choice of writing about fracking or why we are such a nation of hypocritical, self-important, narrow-minded bigots, I preferred to think about thinkers. I stopped my list at 29 and asked for other suggestions. Hence, Tesla and Twain, both of whom I would agree have merit.

To be accurate, Tesla gave us the alternating current system, which makes all of this possible today. Edison, (also on the list) preferred direct current. He was also a master of self-promotion, which is not necessarily bad thing. For example, Tesla sold his AC design on the cheap to Westinghouse, who got rich on it, while Tesla eventually wound up impoverished and, some said, a little nutty. His critics pointed to the Tesla “death ray” as evidence of his instability. But Tesla, a militant pacifist, called it a “peace ray.” Unveiled in July of 1934, The New York Times reported that the new invention “will send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles…” Tesla stated that the death beam would make war impossible by offering every country an “invisible Chinese wall.”

The idea was that no nation would think of attacking another one defended by a ring of particle beams. Sound familiar? He could not find any financial backers or interested countries and it seems no prototype or plans for the death ray were found after his death. But science fiction has prospered on the concept and the idea of preserving peace through overpowering defensive weaponry continue to challenge scientists.

As for Twain, no less than Hemingway and Faulkner called him the “father,” as it were, of modern American literature, the man who gave voice to a nation and challenged it to deal with its prejudices. All with great humor. So yes, Beth, English teacher that you are, even though he died in 1910, his thinking had a profound influence after his death (earlier reports of which were “greatly exaggerated”) and continues to do so.

Some other suggestions from readers:

  • Jim Bridges (who gets the award for answering from the farthest distance: Australia! Wow, Jim, that’s dedication.): “While you listed a few names I puzzled over, I noticed no musicians in your list of thinkers. I would add either Billie Holiday (birth name of Eleanora Fagan) or The Beatles (counting them as one), both of whom made significant contributions to contemporary music.” A maybe on the Beatles, Jim.
  • Tim Shannon (one of the guys who started this): “I agree with most of your list. I would add Ken Wilber, Vivekananda, Bob Dylan and Thomas Merton as candidates.” Hmmm, Dylan?
  • Michael Kaufman: “W.E.B. Du Bois, Charlie Parker, Lenny Bruce.” Liking Du Bois and Lenny, Michael.
  • LeeAgain (a loyal Zest follower) offers a couple of excellent local candidates: “Dr. Frederick Franck (Pacem in Terris) and Pete Seeger.” Pete’s influence is undeniable.

That is all for now in Social Studies 2010. I have not begun to whittle The List to 20 and I welcome new suggestions or comments on what we have (original list below). I have noticed that I have no presidents or military leaders on my list, perhaps because, while they may have been influential, it was not necessarily their own thinking that made them so. This effort has proven to be somewhat interesting and educational for me and, since I cannot figure out the stock market, I will not give it up yet. However, to maintain touch with reality I will also continue reading the autobiography of Jim Murray, one of the great (and influential sports writers) of the 20th century.

Here is my original List of 29: Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers (they count for one), Thomas Edison, Picasso, Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, Carl Jung, Jean Paul Sartre, Sigmund Freud, T.S. Eliot, George Carlin, Albert Camus, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rachel Carson, John Dewey, Bill Wilson, Dorothy Day, Bill Gates, Thomas Watson, Sam Walton, George Orwell, Margaret Sanger, Winston Churchill, Khalil Gibran, Philo Farnsworth, Betty Friedan and Isaac Asimov.

I already see some candidates for Triple A ball.

Bob can be reached at

On Net Neutrality

Friday, August 20th, 2010

By Jason Poggioli

With the explosion of the Internet in our lives, the topic of “net neutrality” is the latest Internet grass roots issue being discussed. Next to the creation of the Internet itself, net neutrality may be the most important question in the furtherance of networking the world together.

First, a little science.

All information flying around the wires of the Internet are carried as 1’s or 0’s (known as bits) by Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies. All those 1’s and 0’s are treated equally as they zip through the digital equipment tasked with handling your request alongside the requests of millions of others. The bits collectively are known as “traffic” because they are treated just like cars on busy city streets. Your request for the Zest of Orange web site, for example, may pass through numerous relay points on the way back to your computer and all that traffic is treated equally.

Right now, this concept of “equally treated traffic” is based on nothing much more than a gentlemen’s agreement among all the companies providing access to the Internet. When you request the latest political news article, and your teenage neighbor asks for the latest viral video, the complex technology at your ISP is set to deliver both with equal priority. The bits are treated equally – neutral in the eyes of the switching equipment – so no bit has a higher priority than any other bit as the traffic is governed on the way to your respective machines.

The result is that our site, Zest of Orange, has the same delivery priority as the results you get from a giant corporation like Google when you conduct a web search. Pretty amazing, right? A small mail order business in Uganda gets the same priority as billion dollar corporations like Google and Amazon. Regardless of money, power, or political connections the small mail order operator knows you’ll get access to his site with the same priority as Amazon. That great equalizer only exists because no Internet providers have begun to treat traffic differently.

But as more devices demand more bandwidth it’s becoming more attractive for service providers to change how traffic is handled. It would not be difficult for companies to create tiers of priorities based on price. Google and Amazon could afford higher costs, and traffic prioritization, while the small mail order business might have to settle for third-class delivery. Net neutrality is the idea that prioritizing Internet traffic is unfair and all bits should be treated equally.

Internet neutrality activists believe it’s imperative that the government step in with regulation now to guarantee that all traffic will always be treated equally. The potential profit in creating tiers means it’s only a matter of time before the Internet becomes a fractured network with speedy, higher price priority delivery going to those who can pay for it – leaving other Internet traffic waiting in line. You may ask, “So what if my teenage neighbor has to wait a second or two longer to start watching a skateboarding video while I get my search results from Google back?” But what if the service provider started slowing down traffic not for monetary reasons, but because it was a web site from a competitor? Worse still, what if political views became a factor and a service provider decided Fox News should be delivered ahead of CNN?

Others believe that the less regulation the better and if service providers want to start prioritizing traffic let the free market sort it out. Presumably, this argument goes, if one service provider begins prioritizing one type of traffic over another and it results in angry customers, then those customers can get service from another provider. Of course, this argument depends on there being enough competition to let users vote with their wallet. If you wanted to start getting Internet service from another company tomorrow, how many choices do you have?

Regulation proposes that a clear net neutrality law is needed to prevent private companies from deciding on their own which traffic to your computer takes priority. It’s not without its own risks since letting government officials put ink to paper on such a complicated topic could produce less than ideal results. Special interests may slip in anti-pornography or anti-piracy amendments allowing for FCC-style censorship of what is now a remarkably uncensored form of broadcasting and communicating.

This issue is undecided, but is being hotly debated. It’s a shame that a simple federal law can’t be passed just stating that all information traveling through the Internet must be treated equally regardless of content or origin. Seems simple, doesn’t it? You can read more about net neutrality here.

Schlessinger’s Spew

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

So let’s get this straight. You go on the air, use the basest ethnic slur 11 times in five minutes, apologize the next day, and a week later tell Larry King you’re going to quit your radio show so you can take back your stolen First Amendment rights? Are you serious?

Yours was no First Amendment issue. No one took away your rights. You just ran your cruel mouth, and decent people have exercised their right to tune you out just as advertisers can use their own rights to run commercials on shows that don’t offend the audience.

The history. Jade, a black woman, called you to ask how to deal with friends of her and her husband – he’s white – when they ask her for information on what black people are thinking. As though she were a racial spokeswoman.

No big deal was the essence of your response – which I guess is easy to say if you’re white and no one asks you to answer for the cretinous behavior of people of your own race, such as Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, Timothy McVeigh.

No big deal is typical of your two-minute psychotherapy sessions with callers; you often dismiss their feelings, put them on the defensive or change the subject. So when Jade asked about the use of the specific racist insult that everyone knows and only barbarians use, you dodged and generalized and then said, “Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO. Listen to a black comic and all you hear is [slur slur slur].”

So what you were saying is that you can utter your racist slander of black people on the airwaves because some black men use that expression to one another? That’s what you said, and Jade picked up on it immediately. A black comedian’s use of the slur of slurs doesn’t make it right or acceptable, she said. To which you condescended: “My dear, my dear.”

You said that complaints about racism in America at a time when we have a black president are “hilarious.” Hilarious? What on earth were you talking about? You went on that it was white America that elected Barak Obama, but Jade begged to differ, saying it was young America. To which you petulantly responded, “Chip on your shoulder. Can’t do much about that.”

So it’s all right to use this slur? Jade asked.

“It depends on how it’s said,” you answered. Wait a minute. Did you just suggest that sometimes it’s all right? You sure did. And then you elaborated, going back to those unnamed black men. “Black guys talking to each other seem to think it’s OK,” you said. Of course Jade wasn’t talking about black guys; she was talking about your use of the defamation.

The next day, you apologized on the air, and for a minute seemed to possess a touch of grace, a trace of kindness, and a hint of compassion that was missing during your tirade with Jade. “I didn’t intend to hurt people but I did,” you said. “I talk every day about doing the right thing, and yesterday I did the wrong thing.” You sounded sincere.

But then, six days later you appeared on the Larry King show, and all of a sudden, you were the victim. You said you were quitting your radio show at the end of the year when your contract lapses. And it was everybody else’s fault.

“The reason is, I want to regain my First Amendment rights,” you said. “I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry ….”

Is anyone buying this line?

You never lost your rights. Congress made no law to shut you up. But when you insult your listeners by trumpeting – [Slur, slur, slur] – decent people have a habit of walking.  The Bill of Rights protects your right to free speech, but it doesn’t force the rest of us to listen to you. And when we walk, sponsors have a way of looking for other places to spend their advertising dollars.

You don’t want people to get angry with you? Then enter a silent order. Because giving yourself permission to utter that particular slur because some black guys do it makes people very angry. Black, white, doesn’t matter.

Jeffrey can be reached at

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 10/24/08

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Give Me That Ball!

There are days, aren’t there, when the company of dogs is preferable to the company of humans? Or to put it another way,  that there are days when the company of humans is preferable to the company of dogs.

This long, hot stretch of a summer has been tough on our oldest girl. She’s a chow-German shepherd (not the dog in this painting, who is a bearded collie from the local dog park), and she’s 14. Her muzzle has grayed, and her legs are stiff. She sleeps a lot. But her eyes, behind a bluish, cataracty film,  are bright and interested. She greets me with a smile and a sparkle, and even, sometimes, a sprightly trot across the yard.

The glory days are behind her now, but we both remember. We remember how she ran across the fields, strong and fleet and tireless. We remember how she chased deer, and how she roared and snarled at strangers, protecting me from all danger. We remember how she leapt, how she plowed through snowstorms and rolled in drifts, and shook off the cold as though it were nothing. She dreams these memories today; I hear her nails clicking against the floor as she runs and races in her sleep, young again and fierce and proud.

If you are interested in buying this painting, please email me at

She follows me these days, with her eyes and with her body, too. Follows me and looks, sometimes, deep into me, into my eyes, into my heart, as if I have the answer for why she can no longer hear, no longer run. I can’t run, either, I tell her. But I can walk, and you can walk, and we can walk together. And I can love, and you can love, and that will never end.