Posts Tagged ‘Orange County’

Alcoholics and Excuses, a Familiar Mix

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

The first 100 days of you know what have been disturbingly familiar to me, but I haven’t been able to put a finger on why until now. For the past decade, I’ve been writing a regular column called Addiction and Recovery. Self-explanatory. As I was writing my recent column, it came to me what that disturbing feeling was all about. I’ve actually written about it before in connection with you know who, but I think information on this subject can’t be repeated too often. So, here’s my latest Addiction and Recovery column. I think you’ll make the connection.

 ***

"I'm a single mom. I work hard. I deserve it."

“I’m a single mom. I work hard. I deserve it.”

Alcoholics are, among other things, creative people, especially when it comes to dreaming up excuses to justify their drinking. Living with an alcoholic can be a whirlwind of confusion, disappointment, and frustration. And that’s the good stuff. It is likely there will also be some combination of pain, anger, resentment, loss, anxiety, or sorrow.

And yet, the alcoholic will insist that his or her drinking is not the cause of any problems. In fact, may well insist that he or she needs to drink because of the problems: “If you had my life (wife, job, luck), you’d drink, too.” Sound familiar?

Alcoholics are also masters of justification when it comes to threatening to take away the one thing that, while it may well be killing them or doing other serious harm, seems to make life worth living. That makes it crucial for those whose lives are directly affected by an alcoholic to know when they’re hearing excuses that belie what they have seen and heard with their own eyes and ears.

Following are some of the common excuses alcoholics use when their drinking is called into question:

  • “My favorite excuse was always that I work very hard and I deserve to play very hard, too.” … So says J.T.E., a middle-aged Orange County, N.Y., man 30 years sober. It’s the  “bring-home-the-bacon” excuse. It ignores the fact that most people are working hard to bring home the bacon, or vegan substitute, but not everyone is drinking to excess (and maybe ignoring family responsibilities) to reward themselves for being such wonderful providers.

        This excuse is not exclusive to males. G.P., who also lives in Orange County, says, “My biggest excuse was simply that I deserved it. I was a single mom who worked very hard to climb the ladder of business success without an education. I also had my cars, home and never had a ‘run in’ with police. That being said, I deserved to binge drink my weekends away. I was a hardworking mom and nobody could tell me different. I’ve been sober since September, 2015.”

  • “It’s my life (my body, my health, my future), I’m not hurting anyone except myself.” … Alcoholics are also self-centered and egotistical. It may be hard for some to admit that their behavior is having serious negative effects on the lives of people closest to them, those who care the most for them. Hard as it is to believe, they may not even notice it. Denial is a powerful foe.
  • “I only drink to relax, to relieve the stress.” This is often an extension of the “bring-home-the-bacon” excuse. Again, the alcoholic likes to think he or she is unique — the only one with a stressful job. Drinking or using drugs to relieve stress because of a pressure-filled job is not uncommon, but is not necessarily the healthiest choice available. For some, it’s the worst choice and can lead to even more stress at work. Exercise and meditation are a couple of more healthful stress-relief alternatives.
  • “Everyone I know drinks. Why pick on me?” … Well, yes and no. It’s unlikely that everyone the alcoholic knows drinks the same way (as often, as much, as routinely) as he or she does. But if they do, then he or she needs to find a new group of friends to hang out with.
  • “I’m not an alcoholic. Now Joe, he’s an alcoholic.” … There are stages of alcoholism and Joe may well be an alcoholic who has used all these excuses to deny his problem and avoid getting help. It’s not necessary to compare and look for a lower bottom. The stereotype of the alcoholic as a wino with a paper bag no longer prevails, but it can still happen if someone is unable to admit the truth.  
  • “It’s expected in our society. I only drink to be sociable.”  … John (not his name), a man in his 70’s from Sullivan County, N.Y., with more than 30 years of sobriety, recalls how surprised he was in early sobriety to notice that not everyone at a wedding, dinner party, or banquet was drinking alcohol. In fact, some people never went near the cash bar. Again, wrapped up in themselves, alcoholics see only what they want to see. Alcohol may be a social lubricant, but for some it can also have the counter-productive effect of driving people away.
  • “I’m not an alcoholic, I can stop any time I want.” … Any time except right now. This is the classic stall. It’s often paired with, “This is not the right time.” Because you couldn’t possibly not drink during the holidays, on vacation, on St. Patrick’s Day, or next Tuesday. It’s never the right time, so why not just go ahead and prove you can do it?
  • “I only drink beer (or wine), not booze.” ,,, This excuse has been watered down in recent years as more people have become aware that, in whatever form, alcohol is alcohol. You drink enough, you get drunk. This is cousin to, “I only drink on weekends.” It’s not what you drink that matters, or even how much or how often; it’s the impact it has on your life. Alcohol and trouble. That’s why people are talking about your drinking.
  • “I drink a lot of wine (craft beer) because I really like the taste.”Please.

***

‘I changed my mind …’

Alcoholics are also good at justifying their drinking to themselves, not just others. M.G., a sober woman who lives in Orange County, says, “Some of my go-to’s were, they’ll never find out, just one, just one more, just for the summer — I have to get the need out of my system.

“One I didn’t realize until years into recovery was when I would set out, having told myself and usually also promised my family that I wouldn’t drink that night, when I’d get in front of alcohol I’d always drink it and say I changed my mind. Fact was, I couldn’t be around it without drinking it. I had no defense against the first drink. I wanted to feel good, to be cool, just one last time.”

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Casinos Arrive

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

By Jeffrey Pageroulette wheel

The news that Monticello in Sullivan County had been awarded the Catskills casino site brought mixed feelings, not the least of which was the happy understanding that the roulette spinners and the blackjack dealers will be doing their work there and not here.

“Here” being southern Orange County, where one of the losing casino concerns wanted to build his operation and, in the process, put Sterling Forest at grave risk.

Truth in writing: I must say that after leaving New York City many years ago, I lived for a time in Sullivan County, first in Forestburg and then about eight years in Liberty. It was a time when the big hotels – Kutsher’s, Grossinger’s, the Concord, the Raleigh, and so many others – were still humming, though maybe not as melodically as in years past. It was the start of the end, a time when hotel owners of my time in the mountains, generally a secretive bunch, used to talk out loud about how much fancier – how much glitzier – it had been before when guests were happy and plentiful, and the money rolled in.

A classic dialogue played out any number of times:

“So and so’s going Chapter 11. Couldn’t keep up with Milt and his sports academy.” Then would come the dirge with the grim lyrics: “Fell by the wayside.” Words heard over and over, fell by the wayside. Eventually they all fell by the wayside.

Sullivan County was troubled. By the middle 1970s, Broadway in Monticello was deserted most nights in all seasons. Liberty, always quiet despite the existence of Grossinger’s just down the road, seemed forgotten by the outside world. And South Fallsburg, a place described best by my colleague at the Times Herald-Record, Pete Kutschera: “The place looks like a traveling circus went through 20 years ago and they never got over it.”

No question, Sullivan County needs and deserves a boost. So they’re getting a casino and in all likelihood certain people are dreaming of the money rolling in. I hope a casino gets things moving again, but I have to wonder.

With all the campaigning for a casino site, some important facts about the county and the Town of Thompson and the village of Monticello seem to be missing.

Has anyone in government taken pencil to paper and come up with an estimate of what sorts of changes the area can expect with the opening of a casino? If it’s been done, I confess I missed it.

But right off the bat is the startling statistic that the winner, Montreign Resort Casino, wishes to install 2,150 slot machines, which works out to four slot machines for every resident of Roscoe. Is this progress? Is this any way to a secure future? It worked in Las Vegas where there was no competition but can it work in upstate New York when there’ll be competition from another casino in Schenectady and from gaming tables in nearby states.

In the meantime, how many more cops will have to be hired with the advent of casino gambling? Montreign, projects the creation of 2,400 new jobs. That will require more new housing, more school facilities, more teachers, more equipment. Tax bills likely will go up.

The real winner, if there is one, isn’t the bettor or the community. It’s the casino operator. Any other belief is naive. Is the area ready for such a non-bonanza bonanza?

I’m happy for Sullivan County getting what it wants, but far happier for southern Orange remaining casino-free.

Neuhaus Budget: ‘Smoke and Mirrors’

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

By Michael Kaufman

As if on cue, Orange County Executive Steve (Bait-and-Switch) Neuhaus proposed a $703.2 million budget Wednesday that included a threat to lay off hundreds of county workers if the county legislature does not agree to sell the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation to a private, for-profit operator. “Just on the face of it—lots of smoke and mirrors in order to get ONE result … sell Valley View,” said legislator Mike Anagstonakis, who has consistently voiced opposition to privatization, after listening to Neuhaus outline his budget plan.

Democratic caucus leader Jeff Berkman agreed that the budget as outlined by Neuhaus “was steered toward one conclusion only, which was to sell Valley View.” Both Anagstonakis, the lone Republican legislator committed to keeping Valley View county owned, and Berkman, whose caucus has mustered enough votes to deny the supermajority required to proceed with the sale, said they need to read through the entire proposal before commenting further. Berkman, however, also said he agrees with Neuhaus that the county has serious financial problems and that he appreciates the county executive’s appeal for bipartisan efforts to find solutions. But is there really anything to appreciate? Neuhaus has never reached out to the Democrats before and the only reason he is doing so now is because he needs a couple of their votes if he is to succeed in selling Valley View.

Berkman, meanwhile, has drafted his own proposal to “downsize Valley View as a way to save it.” The centerpiece of his plan is to sell 120 of the 360 beds at Valley View to a private operator and reduce the number of workers at Valley View. “Some county employees may have to face the choice of relocation to other county department positions,” notes Berkman, and others would have to agree to accept employment with the for-profit facility. Under his plan those who agree to be transferred would have “first priority consideration” to be hired and would also retain their right to union representation.

Is it a coincidence that both Neuhaus and Berkman seem to have the same private operator in mind? As reported by Chris McKenna in Thursday’s Times Herald-Record, Neuhaus “touted plans by prospective buyers to expand services to Valley View and offer jobs to its current employees. He highlighted one suitor in particular, which is said to have already developed a partnership with the new medical school Touro College opened this summer in Middletown.” Berkman meanwhile suggests the 120 beds “be transferred to a private operator affiliated with Touro Medical School,” and notes that the Danza Group, “owner of the former Horton Hospital where Touro-Middletown is located, could partner with a firm that provides quality nursing care and can be affiliated with Touro Medical School.” Valley View would remain as a 240 bed, county-owned facility, “and not be considered for sale, transfer, or corporate ownership alteration for a period of no less than two years.”

Two years? I guess that’s better than the May 1 deadline proposed by Neuhaus to end county funding of Valley View. It seems our Orange County government sometimes bears a striking resemblance to the federal government. I can envisage a moment where Berkman and Neuhaus negotiate an agreement on Valley View, after which a grinning Neuhaus declares, “I got 98% of what I wanted.”

We can’t let this happen.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.

 

 

 

 

Saving Sterling Forest One More Time

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By Patrick Gallagher

Twenty years ago, local heroes “saved Sterling Forest” from imminent death by development. A coalition of local individuals, multi- state agencies and a community of environmentalists at large fought off development of one of the last bits of wilderness this far south in the state of New York.

Among the convincing facts that turned heads and made sense were studies showing that not just the site of the commercial, residential, or industrial development would be affected, but that the access roads and fringes of developed parts of forests created impacts deep into the woods from the edges of the development.

The larger the development, the deeper the impact on species, flora, fauna, etc., because air, water and noise and light pollution levels are all pushed beyond their new surfaces and platforms as you introduce asphalt, diesel fuel, auto emissions, lights, sewage and other previously absent effluents to an eco system.

This is all pretty straightforward and commonly accepted.

Environmental impact statements were introduced years ago in an effort to model and measure what happens when you bring these man made elements and dubious efficiencies where they have not been before.

Certainly an E.I.S. can be helpful to one degree or another and they are absolutely essential given the reality that development will occur sometimes in some places, but there are places where it should not occur. And one is in our local forest.

Short term with enough public relations and subtle interpretation of scientific nuance, you may be able to present a somewhat favorable case that 5 million visitors a year to a former forest would be OK, but just a few miles away we have lots of sites and cities that say otherwise. Right down the road in the same town there are vents sticking out of a former dump that was poorly managed.

Right up the road is the old Nepera site.

Penaluna Road may ring a bell for Superfund watchers. The Orange County Landfill comes to mind. Chances are you could see them all on a clear day from the hills above the hideous ozone sink at exit 16 onthe Thruway..

Granted, these were allowed to grow and fester in days gone by with less regulation than we have now (or maybe not), but does anyone really think that we have come so far in our conservation and waste management techniques that the impact of 5 million visitors can be effectively managed in the midst of a rush to short-term and questionable community benefits?

Do we really want to invite Gentinstein to fund and build a new exit off the Thruway right into the heart of the area’s biggest self-sustaining clean air and water factory?

Do they need to be lurching around in Sterling Forest howling about building parks and easing local tax burdens supported by a giant pack of barking PR hacks tossing cash out of sacks of money?

This may be one of those rare moments when noisy geese and slippery droppings would be more desirable neighbors.

There is no waste in nature. Everything gets recycled in natural systems. The house (read Earth) always wins in this regard. Everything returns to the earth and is reused.

Since we are considering a casino in a forest, let us just briefly consider containing it as if could be a very clean capsule with minimal impact — which is what most people would want anyhow — and since it would sound great for public relations put the whole thing into a biosphere. Make it out of glass so we can count on transparency. and people outside the operation can see and quantify conditions inside.

Allow for a certain amount of water, a certain amount of air, the opportunity to grow the necessary food and whatever they think they need to manufacture and survive as fully functioning competitor for Foxwoods or Atlantic City. Every system has limits, but give them what they need to do the job if they are careful.

Let in the good elements, let in the less desirable, let in some drug, alcohol and gambling counselors, get the stockholders and short-term beneficiaries in there and close the door for a few years. They can have as many visitors as they want, but it has to function as a biosphere and an ecosystem to stay in business and the promoters and stakeholders gotta stay inside. It’ll be just like the real environment or the real spaceship earth but smaller, and when you run out of clean air and water and society breaks down there would be actual witnesses to the deterioration of the endangered species in the rapidly degrading environment.

Reality show possibilities abound.

Like the Irish might say. UP THE ANTE!

Patrick Gallagher lives in Warwick

 

 

11 Thoughts on Casino Gambling

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

By Jeffrey Pageroulette wheel

— A gaming corporation says that part of its proposal for a casino in Sterling Forest would be the construction – at its own expense – of Thruway Exit 15B about halfway between the New Jersey state line and Harriman, the Times Herald-Record reported this week.

— The impact of such construction on Harriman State Park would be significant. In fact, Exit 15B arose as an issue about 20 years ago and most people understood that such a project would probably force the state to widen Route 17A, whose hilliness and narrowness just west of the Thruway are what keeps Warwick and some other towns as rural as they’ve remained. Expand Route 17A and kiss Warwick’s charm goodbye.

— The Times Herald-Record said that such a casino would create 2,000 jobs. But the paper didn’t differentiate between construction jobs and permanent staff positions. On the matter of permanent jobs, the paper says nothing about the number of croupiers and chambermaids – never known to be career-starting positions – who are included in that group of 2,000.

— Something else I haven’t seen – maybe I missed it – is a serious investigation into what casino gambling has cost other host municipalities. Supporters frequently talk up gaming’s positive effect on property taxes. But I wonder how much in new expenses is added to municipal budgets – and, of course, to local taxes – as a result of casino gambling. This would include such costs as additional police officers, more assistant prosecutors, and more social services and public assistance caseworkers.

— Have there been any studies on the possible increase in prostitution and drug use?

— It is not unreasonable to assume that local traffic would be nightmarish.

— Does the value of your home go up because more people want to move close to the casino for fun and/or jobs? Or does it decrease because of the very existence of a casino just minutes away?

— I can’t be the only one to understand that there’s no quiet time when it comes to casinos. The longer the house stays open, the more of your money it can squeeze out of you. The roulette wheels never stop turning, the dice never stop being tossed, the blackjack decks never stop being shuffled.

— Sure, placing a pile of chips on No. 9 at the roulette wheel is a lot of fun and might even give you a snazzy return. But who was the last person you know personally who played at the blackjack table and went home significantly richer?

— Question: Does anyone living in southern Orange County really wish to have a casino just down the road?

— Finally, we should remember that Sterling Forest is both a water source for 2 million people in northern New Jersey as well as a pristine New York state park of 22,000 acres. When Sterling Forest was saved from large scale development nearly 20 years ago, when it was in private hands, it was the complicated result of two states working together even including New Jersey’s buying a small tract in New York’s forest. It was understood that New Jersey needed its water and we needed our park.

Making Orange County Bike-Friendly

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Bicycling is the lowest carbon-producing form of transportation (along with walking) that gives you exercise and a great view at the same time. Many larger cities are actively encouraging cycling as it helps alleviate traffic congestion and increases foot traffic in downtowns.

Using a code known as the “Five E’s,” the League of American Bicyclists rates bike friendly communities on such matters as Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. A community must demonstrate achievements in each of these five categories in order to be considered for recognition.

–For Engineering, a community needs to design a bicycle master plan using well-designed bike lanes and multi-use paths to accommodate cyclists on public roads, The community also must provide bike racks for secure parking.

–Education includes teaching cyclists of all ages how to ride safely in any area from multi-use paths to congested city streets as well as instructing motorists how to share the road safely with cyclists.

–Encouragement means a community promotes and encourages cycling through events such as “Bike Month” and “Bike to Work Week.” It also should produce local bike maps, route-finding signage, community bike rides, commuter incentive programs, and initiating a “Safe Routes to School” program.

–Enforcing laws that encourage safer cycling and road-sharing to help create a bike-friendly environment in the community.

–Evaluation and planning is simply determining ways to make cycling safer, and setting benchmarks to gauge success. Here the community is judged on its systems for rating current programs and on its future plans.

As more and more local residents park their cars and put on their bike helmets, it’s time for municipalities to create safer shared roads and employ other of the 5 E’s. As it stands, there are no 5 E communities in Orange County, but some municipalities, including Montgomery, are working on implementing parts of the program.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery. www.WallkillRiverSchool.com.

 

 

Orange County Staycations — Try One!

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

The Bear Mountain Inn.

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Instead of making pricey travel plans this year that damage the environment as well as your bank account, take a local vacation, or “staycation.” This is a chance to rediscover the beauty of the Wallkill Valley, and the rest of Orange County by taking the time to visit cultural attractions and natural places that you may be too busy to see in your daily routine. The month of June is Orange County Month according to the O.C. Tourism Office.

A staycation does not mean staying home and doing yard work, or addressing the list of jobs you’ve been putting off for the past year. “Instead,” suggests Pauline Frommer of Frommer’s Travel Guides, “become a tourist in your own hometown.” Plan to see tourist attractions and historic sites, take an art class, learn to swim, or enjoy a number of small adventures you always wanted to do if you’d had the time.

A fringe benefit of staycations is that you develop a deeper connection to your community and hometown. People feel more connected to a place when they experience its history and natural beauty firsthand. Try to see something different each day; a different spectacular view, a different museum, a new restaurant. At the same time, you benefit your community by pumping vacation money into the local economy.

Some staycationers even go camping locally to get away from the daily routine. If you are addicted to technology, and can’t imagine a day without email or internet, consider leaving the house and staycationing in a nearby campground or bed and breakfast. You’ll still save gas money and travel expenses, but you’ll feel refreshed after being away from the computer for a few days.

Here are a few tips for staycationing in Orange County:

–Explore the rail trail from Walden to Wallkill, or offroad from Wallkill to Gardiner/New Paltz. Or try Goshen’s Heritage Trail all the way to Monroe for a 20-mile bicycle ride. Find other rail trails at www.railtrails.org.

–Check out the new Orange County Tourism Guide for local motorcycle rides, as well as for art gallery and museum listings. www.OrangeTourism.org.

–Spend a Saturday touring farms and farm markets in your region to find out what is grown locally, and get a fresh delicious taste of the local flavors. There’s plenty of useful information at www.meetmeinmarlborough.com and www.localharvest.org.

–Pick an Orange County town and spend the day walking through it, antiquing, eating in local restaurants, and getting a real sense of the history and culture of the place. Try West Point, Pine Bush, or Warwick for quaint walkable downtowns with plenty to see.

–Take an art, music, or acting class. Wallkill River School offers outdoor painting classes on Orange County farms, historic sites and open spaces. Most of these are places off the beaten track and give you a sense of local color and flavor. www.WallkillRiverSchool.com.

–Orange County has more park land than any surrounding county. Take the family to a new park each weekend. Some particularly beautiful and family friendly parks are Bear Mountain, with an indigenous zoo, historic hiking/birding trails, and Perkins Point, a Mecca for motorcyclists, and Silver Mine Park in Harriman with a rich history, and a beautiful lake.

–Don’t forget Orange County’s historic museums like Hill-Hold in Campbell Hall, and Museum Village in Monroe, where you can get a glimpse of colonial life live, and in real time.

–Orange County has several campgrounds nestled in scenic places like Winding Hills Park in Montgomery, and Black Bear Campground in Florida.

–If camping is out, try a local bed and breakfast like Borland House or Buck’s Homestead in Montgomery. Both are historic homes within walking distance of farms, quaint downtown shopping and antiquing. Plus, you feel pampered and have no dishes to wash.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School of Art in Montgomery.