Archive for July, 2012

Gigli’s Photo of the Week

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Photography by Rich Gigli

Statue of Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!  – Emma Lazarus


On the Declaration

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

I do this every year around July 4 – sit down with my copy of the Declaration of Independence and marvel at this extraordinary, if imperfect, document, the signing of which amounted to a self-imposed death warrant for Jefferson, the Adamses, Franklin, Hancock and the others. The Declaration is, after all, a 26-count indictment of a sovereign.

The Declaration was the courageous thumb in the eye of George III and a hope for a reasoned future. But, problematically, it didn’t do much for all the participants in that American future.

I’m always astounded by the manner in which the signers described George III and his atrocities. Not once in the Declaration’s 1,381 words did they use his name. Instead, they reduced him to “he.” It said a great deal when the signers informed the world that the King’s outrages against his people entitled him to no more than a pronoun in history.

“He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.”

“He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.”

“He has erected a Multitude of new Offices and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.”

“He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren or to fall themselves by their Hands.”

And so on.

Just in case the world didn’t quite understand George’s treachery, the signers declared on paper what many colonists would have been afraid to whisper: “In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.”

The Declaration of Independence was not without defect. It spoke of the King’s atrocities but did so on behalf of one class of people, not for all classes.

The signers believed it was “self-evident” that all men are created equal. We, 236 years later, can insert italics to discuss certain truths that Jefferson et al. ignored. All men equal in 1776? It would have been more accurate for the signers to state it as: “all men, but not all men are created equal.”

The nation would require decades and centuries to finish what the Declaration began.

It took America 89 years after the Declaration of Independence to adopt the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlaws slavery.

Five years later, the right of all citizens to vote (regardless of race, creed, or – most significantly – previous condition of servitude, but not regardless of sex) was guaranteed by the 15th Amendment.

It would take 144 years after the Declaration was signed for women to get the right to vote.

It was only as recently as 1964 – 48 years ago – that the 24th Amendment ended the payment of poll taxes. In 1971, the voting age was reduced to 18.

In a kind of reverse order, the Declaration has spent the last 236 years catching up to America, which itself hasn’t set speed records when it came to extending rights – or equality – to all.

It had its shortcomings, but when you read the Declaration’s charges against the King, plus the signers’ reasoned explanation to the world of how tyrannical George was and how they persevered in trying to reason with him, you find that you’re light years removed from what passes for political discourse in 2012.

Summer Driving

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

By Shawn Dell Joyce

We drive a lot here in the boonies. Everything we do seems to require a car trip and we rack up an average of 10,000 miles per year, per person (including non-drivers). Summer is an especially busy time for our cars as we head out on family vacations, and chauffeur the kids from place to place.

Here are a few simple tips to save you gas and money, and reduce carbon emissions as well.

–The U.S. Department of Energy notes that several short trips, all begun with a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as a single, uninterrupted trip that covers the same distance. Combining errands can improve gas mileage because your engine will be warm for more of the trip. It might also mean you travel fewer total miles. This one simple habit-change can save about 20 percent of your fuel and mileage, or about $260 per year.

–According to CNN, every 10 miles per hour you drive over 60 is like the price of gasoline going up about 54 cents a gallon. The most fuel efficient speed range is 45 to 55 mph for most vehicles. Accelerating quickly burns twice as much gas as keeping a slower steady speed. So does braking quickly as you lose all that momentum your car just worked so hard to generate.

–You save 1,200 pounds of carbon or the equivalent of 55 gallons of gas by implementing safer driving. That adds up to $130 per year you could keep in your pocket.

–When stuck in traffic, turn off the engine. You can lose up to one third of your fuel by idling.

–Keeping your car in top condition will save as much as 30 percent in fuel efficiency. Dirty spark plugs, or a clogged air or fuel filter will reduce your fuel economy. The Energy Department estimates that replacing a fouled air filter alone can increase your mileage by 10 percent, while replacing an oxygen sensor could result in a 40 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

–Check the air in your tires and save up to 3.3 mph. You can find the proper pressure listed on the jamb of the driver’s side door.

–Clean out your car. Stop paying for all the extra gas needed to haul that junk around in the back seat and trunk.

–Cleaning the outside of the car reduces drag. Another way to keep the vehicle streamlined is to remove those roof and bike racks when not in use. They only add extra weight and drag.

–Of course, the best way to save gas and money is to park the car and get on your bicycle. More communities across the country are creating bike paths and bike routes to make bicycle travel easier and safer. Take your bike on vacation and enjoy getting around at a slower, healthier pace.

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

Carrie’s Painting of the Week

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Marlborough Pond

By Carrie Jacobson

It was nearly three weeks ago that I made a painting – that’s the longest I’ve gone without painting in my admittedly short but very full painting career.

And why? Lyme disease knocked me flat.

So when I finally had the energy and strength to go out and paint, I had to wonder whether I’d be able to. After all, painting came as a gift, unbidden and unexpected – and maybe it will go that way, too.

I needn’t have worried. My eyes, my ideas, my hands, they all worked as well or better than they had before the hiatus.

And I remain grateful.

Interested in this painting? Please feel free to drop me an email at