Friday, June 19, 2009

Greene Scoops

SCOOPED OUT.. Catskill's new “peace, love and ice cream” parlor won’t be Scoop Me for much longer. That name, as it turned out, was taken. The new name for this annex to the MOD cafĂ© is peculiarly apt:

The musical "CATS," performed earlier this year at Catskill High School, will be performed anew this weekend at Columbia-Greene Community College. www.DragonFlyPerforming

SEEING THOMAS. Meanwhile, an original play about the Catskill life of Thomas Cole, founder of the game-changing Hudson River School of art, opens tonight (6/19) night at Catskill Point, as written and directed by Joe Capone. Further performances will be given Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, July 3, July 5, and the weekends of July 10-12 and 17-19.

HENRY HUDSON's voyage of discovery aboard the Have Maen, with his 18 men, "gave the Dutch a claim to land between the French areas to the north and English colonies to the south. In 1614 Fort Nassau, a trading post, was built near present-day Albany; in 1624 New Netherland was formed, the only 17th century colony in North America with a diverse population, and theonly one in which women had legal rights to own property."

FUEL CHANGE.. This week, for the first time in recent history, regular gasoline could be bought in GreeneLand for less than the State-wide average. At $2.76 per gallon, the adjacent Hess and Cumberland Farms stations across from Catskill Commons charged less than the State average of $2.82. At about the same time, the nation-wide average on regular was $2.69, the East Coast average was $2.66, and the California average (noted here just to make us feel better) was $3. Elsewhere in GreeneLand, the two bridge approach stations were charging $2.81 (Citgo) and $2.82 (Getty) while full-service Cenco (=Haines Tires) on Maple Avenue was at $2.80. Meanwhile, we duly note that the deal advertised by Price Chopper—insert your Advantage card in the slot at a Sunoco pump, get a 10-cent discount on up to 20 gallons if you’ve spent $50 or more with the card—really works. What is more, Sunoco’s habit of charging more than GreeneLand competitors seems to have been reversed. At two Sunoco stations here, the posted prices of regular gasoline were $2.68 and $2.69.

IN TANZANIA. “Sister R, Sister A and another nun were mugged on their way to church early on Sunday morning…, knocked over for the few shillings they were carrying for the collection plate. You would think nuns (and they are all in their 70's) who have devoted their lives to caring for the country's afflicted would be immune to being preyed upon, but they have to live in a walled compound and keep dogs to patrol the yard just like any other mzungu who live out here.” --from GreeneLander Deirde McInerney’s notes in connection with organizing medical care in Tanzania.

CHEATING? When she copied off another student’s test paper, says little Danae in the comic strip Non Sequitur, she wasn’t cheating. She was “information gathering” as part of an “enhanced studying program” that is “results-oriented, geared to produce the desired bottom line of test scores.” Punitive detention makes her “a victim of student rendition.” Instead of repenting, she plans “to get a lawyer” to “justify what I’m doing.” That would be consistent with Daddy’s wish that she “act more adult.”

Greene Rooms

------GreeneLand’s foremost resort (by size and self-advertised stature) is bankrupt. As reported in The Daily Mail (6/13), company lawyer Sean Serpe submitted a petition on May 31 requesting Chapter 11 protection from creditors for the Friar Tuck, and a hearing was slated for yesterday in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Albany. Among the Tuck’s creditors are Ulster Savings Bank ($3.1 million), tax authorities ($400,000), a fuel supplier ($266,000), and food providers. Proprietors Rosario and Ricky Caridi hope to keep the place going and, says Mr Serpe, “we’re very bullish” about that prospect. ------Yeah, right. ------The Friar Tuck offers support for the hunch that in GreeneLand’s hospitality industry, size relates inversely to quality. Our most capacious hostelries seem to be the most atrocious. Such is the pattern, at any rate, that emerges from reviews that travelers contribute to Trip Advisor and similar information centers. The 425-room Tuck catches the most frequent and most, uh, eloquent of pejoratives. ------“Run down, in need of updating, strange people around….” That is the start of a positive assessment of the Tuck. “True, no clock, hairdryer or iron” in the room; and “the TV was really small”; and “the walls are thin and I could hear the neighbors’ TV clear as a bell”; and the hallway is “spooky”; and in the game room “we played pool on a level table but no chalk for our cue sticks; and “half the video games were broken”; and at dinner the white wine came to our table uncorked and unchilled, without an ice bucket. Still, the Tuck’s “creepy and eerie” atmosphere, evoking “The Shining” or “The Twilight Zone,” “endeared the old place to us.” -----That assessment strikes a contrast of sorts with
*“falling apart” *“dirt, smelly rooms, moldy walls” *“wouldn’t stay again” *“ugliest, dirtiest, smelliest hotel I've ever stayed in!”; *“staff look like a bunch of zombies” *”…TOTALLY let down by just about EVERYTHING we encountered” * DISGUSTING, DIRTY, and UNSAFE” *”…deteriorating mess. Several of the electrical sockets did not work or were simply missing with just a hole in the wall. The air-conditioning was virtually non-functional. There was inadequate lighting and some of the lamps were burned out. The TV reception was poor. Garbage was piled up in the hallway and not disposed of for days. The buildings were damp and smelly. The food was horrible.” *“RUN AWAY!”
------Are those comments representative? We cannot know for sure, since only a few lodgers take the trouble to record their experiences. A broader canvass of reviews, however, does dispose of the notion that only the disappointed or miserable travelers speak up. Several GreeneLand resorts inspire esteem. Even love. -----The venerable, capacious Sunny Hill resort in Freehold is a sterling example. Some families have been vacationing there for 15 years and longer. Sunny Hill proves that bigness does not necessarily beget tawdriness. Moreover, other GreeneLand resorts that remain from days past—Pollace’s, Lange’s Grove Side, Acra Manor—attract preponderantly favorable reviews. -----Windham seems to be blessed with lodgings that win high praise from visitors. That applies not only to the cozy little places (Catskill Lodge, Catskill Maison) but also to the 31-room Hotel Vienna (“adorable”; “cozy”; “hated to leave”; “heaven in the Catskills”) and the 90-room Thompson House (“fabulous place with fabulous people”; “our new favorite hotel”; “Having your kids tell their friends it was better than Disney was evidence enough”). ------Hunter’s hostelries, on the other hand, attract mixed reviews. The Hunter Inn and Scribner Hollow Lodge have inspired strong praise (“absolutely amazing”; “can’t say enough good things”; “”charming”; “best dining in the region”) as well as strong put-downs (“hell hole”; “Dirty! Disgusting!! Smelly!! Noisy!”; “ruined trip”; “total ripoff”). As for the new Kaatskill Mountain Club, visitors have warned of thin walls and, more broadly, of “Hampton Inn standard at a Ritz Carlton price.” ------In ability to inflict pain on travelers, meanwhile, one GreeneLand establishment comes close to matching the Tuck. This challenger is the biggest place for transient visitors: the 73-room, Catskill-based, ironically named, Quality Inn. Thus: ------“Extremely disappointing.” “Dump.” “Beyond filthy.” “Gross.” Top of the line for “most disgusting, filthy hotel.” “Should be condemned.” “I should have slept in my car.” “I can’t believe that the Board of Health doesn’t shut them down.” “Worst Night of My Life.” ------Backing those summary judgments are specifications. Rueful Quality Inn visitors tell of “sickly sweet smell” and “stench of urine” in rooms, “noisy air conditioner,” “no hot water,” “Dingbat in charge,” “soiled sheets,” “toilet clogged constantly,” “bathroom floor sticky,” “one ice machine in July for the entire hotel,” “black mold all over the shower curtain.” And so on.

JOB STORY. While the rate of unemployment grew in New York State from April to May, and hit an 18-year high, it actually declined fractionally in GreeneLand. The May figure here, 8.5 per cent, was fractionally below (=better than) the April figure of 8.7%. Those numbers are higher than for the State as a whole (8%) and for neighboring counties (Columbia at 7.4%, for example) but they still record fractional economic improvement. Similar fractional improvements occurred in a few other counties (Rensselaer, Schoharie, Niagara, Warren…), although the April-to-May trend, nation-wide and State-wide, was worse.

AFRICAN STORY. "Sister A works at a government camp for the outcasts of Tanzanian society, lepers and albinos. Lepers are confined to these camps because of their disease and albinos because they are ritually slaughtered and dismembered by people who believe in witchcraft (google albino murders and see for yourself) ..... The government barely gives the camps enough money to feed the outcasts and Sister A brings them food and medicine. The lepers suffer obviously.... The albinos suffer because the sun does terrible damage to their skin and they all have skin cancer, so she brings them sunscreen and creams that the camp apparently cannot afford. They can afford it, says Sister A, and she says something in Swahili that Sister R translates for me [as] the local term for graft. Translated literally it means "take for yourself first" . By the time funds allocated to these camps actually get there so much has been siphoned off there is hardly anything left."

---------from GreeneLander Deirdre McInerney's blog about organizing medical treatment in Tanzania.

Friday, June 05, 2009

June Greenery

“THE EXTREME VIOLENCE, brutality and utter cruelty of your actions,” said Greene County Judge George Pulver Jr to Travis Augustine, have earned you “the maximum sentences allowable by law”: 25 years to life in State prison for murder, two to four years more for each of two property thefts, and two years of “local incarceration” for aggravated cruelty to animals—all to be served consecutively. -----While meting out those sentences last Tuesday, in his temporary courtroom in the former St Patrick’s Academy, Judge Pulver recalled that when, in July 2008, at 23 years of age, Augustine perpetrated the crimes for which his GreeneLand jurors found him guilty last month, he already was a felony offender. This time “You murdered a human being in cold blood by shooting her in the head…, you repeatedly shot her dog in the head causing its death, you dug a grave and interred the two bodies and then went about your blissful lifestyle without an ounce of apparent remorse—all the while using your deceased victim’s vehicle and debit card.” Moreover, “the person whose precious life you took—Martha Conners—had befriended you, and provided you with resources and a homestead and had encouraged you to abandon your life of drugs.” -----In choosing to impose the maximum allowable sentence for murder, Judge Pulver made a decision that he has reached only twice before. On March 31, 2000, he imposed the maximum on Daniel Horan, who had deliberately rammed his car at high speed into Elizabeth DeWald, who was walking home from a baby-sitting job in Windham. On February 13, 2002, Judge Pulver gave the maximum to Daniel Rodriguez, who had taken part in the Latin Kings gang murder of John J. Huntt. COLE FOR KIDS. "Last week we received about 120 nine- and ten-year-olds over two days who were the 'guinea pigs' for our newly designed school group programs. We rotated them through five stations around the site doing a different hands-on activity at each station. [Each station or module has been "designed to engage three different age levels," so we have fifteen different ways to engage and educate kids here]. Each one required creative hand-outs such as time lines and site maps to fill in, and fun learning objects ranging from compasses to plastic food. The looks on their faces were something to see. The teachers couldn't believe that this was the very first time we had tried it out." --E-mail message from Director Elizabeth Jacks to Trustees of Thomas Cole National Historic Site. HOOKED. "Striped bass days are numbered," says a Daily Mail headline (5/12/09) over a Dick Nelson column saying "Today the fish is considered abundant and the Hudson River migration alone has been estimated to exceed 50 million." That information dovetails nicely with results of this year's striper contest run by Tom Gentalen: 564 participants, 1000 hits per day on the Fishing Reports page of the River Basin Sports web site, $11,460 in entry fees dispensed as prizes, catches measuring over 46 inches and 40 pounds. TOTALLY TOTS, the multi-room section of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum that opened last September, has been cited by the museum’s executive director as the main cause of a huge jump in attendance and in members. The credit goes to designing GreeneLand-based installation artists Carol May (no kin to this here blogger) and Tim Watkins. More recent installations, says Mr Watkins, are an assemblage of “sea-like forms that gently dance in wind currents” in the indoor atrium of the University of Florida’s dental clinic, and, for an elementary school in Portland ME, a sculpture that "uses wind, sun and water to cause movement." Then there's a Colorado project....

HAPPENING, on just one GreeneLand Saturday:

Spring Rush, Catskill High School Business Club’s walking/pedaling/paddling event. ( ). Libraries Expo and book sale at Historic Catskill Point. “Homes Along the Hudson,” a tour of sites arranged by the Greene County Historical Society, with headquarters (registration, maps…) in the Freightmaster’s Building at Catskill Point.( ). Cat sculptures on the sidewalks of Catskill; bears in Cairo. Two art show openings in one place: Greene County Council on the Arts headquarters. ( National Trails Day at, and from, the Mountain Top Historical Society’s campus in Haines Falls, with guided hike to North Lake area followed by party and book signing (Robert Titus, The Other Side of Time). ( ). Hike to Sunset Rock and the Catskill Mountain House, with guidance from the Thomas Cole National Historic Site (, inaugurating Carol T. Savage Art Trail Docent Program. Instructional workshop on “silvopasture” (blending high-value timber with high-quality forage and livestock cultivation) in Acra. ( . Nickel social at Catskill Senior Center from 11am. Antique farm machinery shows in Ashland and New Baltimore. Ceremonial lighting of the Hudson-Athens lighthouse (an event that offers the perfect pretext for touting the word pharology). Jazz talk and performance (Ralph Lalama; John Hart) at Athens Cultural Center from 7pm.

TICKS “DO NOT FLY, jump or hop like fleas. They climb up on vegetation and wait for vibrations indicating a passing animal. When they feel the vibrations they extend their claw- like legs and grab onto anything that brushes by…such as a deer, a dog, a cat or your pants leg…. The tick's mouthparts resemble a many-barbed dagger that surrounds two thin straws. The barbs look like tiny fishhooks, which is why the tick is to hard to yank out once attached. One straw secetes saliva to thin blood and also contains a substance that dulls pain, which is why people do not ever feel the tick. The other straw sucks up blood. When the tick becomes fully engorged with blood…bacteria that are in the tick’s gut get into the salivary glands and then they are injected back into you! This is why it is important to pull the tick out and not apply any sort of substance that will make the tick release its grip.” As for tick repellants, look for products whose active ingredient is permethrin.

Bob Beyfuss, Cornell Co-operative Extension (via Daily Mail, 5/23)