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Last week began the Burnwell Saga (click on the link to see where we're at). The outpouring of information via emails and phone calls has been wonderful. I just wish you were this active when it came to local political corruption!
Anyway, I need to make a decision on what to do. The one question that remains open is, am I using too much propane? I use it only for cooking and for hot water. I've a standard stove and a 30 gallon hot water heater that I've turned down a bit. All the pipes are wrapped and insulated. There used to be a propane floor furnace but when the vent rotted out, rendering it unsafe to use (at least in my opinion) I turned the pilot light off on that (there's a cutoff switch) so that's not even in the picture any more. Even at that I'm still burning, according to Burnwell, about half a gallon of propane a day an amount which seems rather excessive... but I could be wrong.Last year while Pulte Homes' contractor was blasting away the top of Mt. Gilead around Lori Kemp's house and turning it into one of the more egregious environmental disasters in the region, a situation evolved where an employee allegedly fell (or was pushed) while allegedly on private property and the homeowner was charged with a crime. Not that blasting hundreds of tons of rock and ledge and undermining the foundation of one of our last remaining historic homes isn't illegal, it's not. It's a crime, but it's not illegal. Huh.
This case has been in Judge Spofford's court over and again and nothing has transpired other than delay after delay. The last time we were there was on November 30th where the DA asked for yet another postponement so that he could prepare additional - SURPRISE! - evidence against the defendant. We don't know what that is but it's clear that the entire case is political and must be stopped. If this case moves forward it will be clear to everyone that the County DA's office is engaged in behavior we're only used to seeing in Alabama or Mississippi and that Judge Spofford may unwittingly be aiding and abetting this 17th century witch hunt.My favorite county legislator was in the news again this morning. Sheriff Donald Smith, whom I'm usually kind to, has been a bit upset by legislator Tony Fusco's 'alleged' interference with Sheriff's giving tickets at the intersection of Wood Street and Bryant Pond Road and has written a rather scathing letter about it to anyone with a mailbox. The Sheriff says Tony might be interfering in police work. Tony says he's letting victims know their rights. You can read Mike Risinit's NYJN article here. Personally, I'm always leaning on the side of civil liberties but then these days that makes me a bad American, a target for the police and a terrorism suspect.
If you live in a community with a public water supply you're going to want to take a look at this database from the Environmental Working Group. Over on the right side of the linked-to page you enter your zip code and press search and it presents you with a list of public water supplies in/near that zip code enabling you to view the test results for each system. Actually, don't click through. You don't want to know. Here's a sample:
Hey! Is that a bomb in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Haisong Jiang gave his girlfriend a kiss at Newark airport last week and the entire nation went to high alert. The Imminent Death From Terrorism Alert System (IDFTAS) went off the scale: airplanes were grounded, NORAD was activated, thousands of travelers were strip-searched and their great-grandparents and third-grade teachers were hauled in for questioning. In fact, New Jersey and Federal police agencies spent five days searching for the man shown in amorous embrace in a grainy airport surveillance video.
New Jersey Senator Lautenberg told the media that he demanded Mr. Jiang be found guilty of a felony, whipped, waterboarded and sent packing back to Communist China as a warning to others that kissing your girlfriend goodbye is just another one of those rights we have to give up in order to believe the myth that we're always safe from harm.An online dating service, Beautifulpeople.com, has purged their databases of more than 5000 overweight members. Management said, "Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded."
FOXNews stalwart Brit Hume said this about Tiger Woods:
"He’s said to be a Buddhist, I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith, so my message to Tiger would be “Tiger, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."When Rush Limbaugh was released from a hospital in Hawaii he said that he'd received truly excellent care. So, what's the problem? What Rush, in an Excellence In Broadcasting faux pas, apparently did not know is that Hawaii is as close to a single-payer health care state as we have. Do you think Rush will change his mind on a national, single-payer health care system now that he's seen the light?
And Now, A Word From The Founder;
"Dale Robertson is a man of courage and conviction, a rare commodity in today’s topsy-turvy world. Dale, is the Founder of the modern day Tea Party and also President of TeaParty.org."From The Atlantic magazine:
Is America going to hell? After a year of economic calamity that many fear has sent us into irreversible decline, the author finds reassurance in the peculiarly American cycle of crisis and renewal, and in the continuing strength of the forces that have made the country great: our university system, our receptiveness to immigration, our culture of innovation. In most significant ways, the U.S. remains the envy of the world. But here’s the alarming problem: our governing system is old and broken and dysfunctional. Fixing it—without resorting to a constitutional convention or a coup—is the key to securing the nation’s future. Read more in the story below.
And now, The News:
firstname.lastname@example.org • January 7, 2010
YORKTOWN — Battling a biting wind, Lucille Munz lugged cinder blocks over to a greenhouse to anchor its plastic sheeting against the gusts.
Munz, director of the Hilltop Hanover Environmental Center, waxes eloquent about its programs and the ways the center pursues its mission as a learning laboratory for sustainable farming.
The American Planning Association has honored the farm with its 2010 National Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Best Practices for Sustainability.
"For us here at the farm, it validates in many ways what we're doing," Munz said. "We're slowly moving forward, and it's nice to know that this is being recognized."
Preservation groups and land trusts are beneficiaries of the economic recession, as prices on land have dropped low enough for many to buy up land for conservation purposes.
"The purchases by conservationists and state and local governments assure that thousands of acres will be put aside in perpetuity for parks, watershed protection or simply preservation of open space.
'We are getting a second bite at properties that never should have been developed in the first place,' said Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit group that buys land for preservation. 'We are working on dozens of these deals across the country, and I know other land trusts are as well.'
Although the bubble burst in 2008, it was only in the last six months to a year that many developers and banks became desperate enough to slash prices deeply enough for the trusts, Mr. Rogers and several other conservationists said."
Stalled housing projects and abandoned subdivisions are being bought by these groups and turned into parks and preserves all across the country.
WHEN Andrew Pattison was looking to pursue a graduate degree in sustainability, he drew on his post-college experience working as a conservation biologist in upstate New York. Butterflies were his thing, and he produced numerous recommendations about what should be done to protect them. “I found that quote-unquote important people who were decision makers would read the reports I filed and then not follow them,” Mr. Pattison says.
Those frustrations led him in a different direction. “I knew I wanted to study the way decisions were made on environmental policy,” he says. He also knew where many of the important decisions were made: in cities. With energy and climate policy, he says, “the problem is global, but all politics are local.”
Mr. Pattison, 32, is now a doctoral student in the sustainable urban infrastructure program at the University of Colorado, Denver. It’s one of a growing number of graduate programs in sustainability where the issues affecting cities are front and center.
“We’ve seen a growth in programs that are more focused, either on a particular geographic area or on a discipline,” says Paul Rowland, executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The organization’s Web site, aashe.org, lists nine universities offering doctoral or master’s degrees in urban sustainability studies, and many more programs include the urban environment as a central part of their studies.
By Michael Randall
January 04, 2010 2:00 AM
NEW WINDSOR — Developers of a 400-home housing complex and the City of Newburgh are locked in a federal court fight over the water quality in a backup city water supply.
Hundreds of pages of legal documents have been compiled and filed in the six months since the City of Newburgh sued both the developers of The Reserve housing complex and the Town of New Windsor, where the massive project is located.
The city's suit claims storm water runoff from the development off Mount Airy Road is increasing the turbidity, or cloudiness, of nearby Brown's Pond. The city uses the pond as a reserve water supply. The city's suit says that violates Mount Airy Estates' state pollution discharge permit and storm-water-pollution prevention plan.
In September, the city filed legal papers to halt expansion of the development until problems are corrected. The defendants moved to have the suit dismissed. One defense expert, John H. Crow, a professional wetlands, water and soil consultant, said that despite the "sheer quantity" of written testimony submitted by the city, "the substance is slim."
He said city consultants don't cite any "actual harm" caused by the increased turbidity of the water.
Kentlands is well known among planners as the first New Urbanist neighborhood meant for permanent residence. Although Seaside, FL was the first N.U. project of any kind, it's a resort and is not meant for year-round occupation. Kentlands, on the other hand, is a regular city neighborhood where thousands of people live every day.
Construction began on the 350 acre Kentlands, designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk in 1988. Although New Urbanism has become very popular over the last decade and a half, Kentlands is still looked as one of the best and most well designed examples.
In the mid-90s, National Geographic moved out of their headquarters campus abutting Kentlands. Although all their offices were in a single, massive building, it was surrounded by hundreds of acres of park land. When the nursing home company Manor Care moved their headquarters to the site shortly thereafter, they decided such a large campus was unnecessary and sold off much of the land to a developer. The powers that be in the City of Gaithersburg, noting the overwhelming success of Kentlands, re-zoned the undeveloped land from commercial to mixed-use. Thus was born Lakelands, another New Urbanist neighborhood (also designed by DPZ) that is essentially an extension of Kentlands. The differences being that Kentlands and Lakelands are owned by different developers and employ slightly different architectural styles (Kentlands is generally Colonial while Lakelands is generally 1900s Vernacular). Other than those minor differences, the two form a seamless neighborhood of almost 600 acres.
The photos in this tour have been taken over the course of about 4 years. Many of them show the neighborhood in various stages of construction. Indeed, much of Lakelands and Market Square are still under construction.
There's a piece in the Washington Post that should be required reading for anyone who cares about their health, and the health of the world around them. It's about how the chemical industry is able to operate without much oversight at all, protected by trade secret laws that prevent them from having to publicly disclose (or even not-publicly disclose, in some cases) their ingredients.
This is problematic for rather obvious reasons. More than anything, though, it forces us to put an awful lot of trust in companies that are not accountable to us, or to public health agencies. A hypothetical: Let's say company X makes a floor cleaner. Chances are good that a handful of the chemicals used in said floor cleaner are not made by the company selling you the finished product. Does that company know what's in the ingredients they purchase from a third party chemical manufacturer? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Do they know whether or not that ingredient is safe? Almost certainly not. If you want to know if it's safe, can you find out? Almost never.
So that was hypothetical. Here's a real life example that's even scarier:
By Tom A. Peter — GlobalPost
AMMAN, Jordan — Ali Malhas is something of a hybrid car evangelist. Now on his second Toyota Prius, he was one of the first people in Jordan to buy one after they went on sale here in 2004. Since then he estimates that he’s convinced about 10 to 15 people to buy one for themselves and he sometimes thinks of possible advertising slogans for the Prius just for fun.
When you drive a Prius, “You become a better person overall,” contends Malhas, a freelance computer engineer who surprisingly does not work for Toyota or any of its affiliates.
As countries throughout the Middle East look for ways reduce their carbon footprint, Arab consumers like Malhas will play a critical role. Top-down environmental reform in the Middle East has often proven slow and ineffective, whereas soft government encouragement often gives individuals the push required to move things along at the grassroots level.
Since coming back to the United States after three years away in China, I have been asking experts around the country whether America is finally going to hell. The question is partly a joke. One look at the comforts and abundance of American life—even during a recession, even with all the people who are suffering or left out—can make it seem silly to ask about anything except the secrets of the country’s success. Here is the sort of thing you notice anew after being in India or China, the two rising powers of the day: there is still so much nature, and so much space, available for each person on American soil. Room on the streets and sidewalks, big lawns around the houses, trees to walk under, wildflowers at the edge of town—yes, despite the sprawl and overbuilding. A few days after moving from our apartment in Beijing, I awoke to find a mother deer and two fawns in the front yard of our house in Washington, barely three miles from the White House. I know that deer are a modern pest, but the contrast with blighted urban China, in which even pigeons are scarce, was difficult to ignore.
And the people! The typical American I see in an office building or shopping mall, stout or slim, gives off countless unconscious signs—hair, skin, teeth, height—of having grown up in a society of taken-for-granted sanitation, vaccination, ample protein, and overall public health. I have learned not to bore people with my expressions of amazement at the array of food in ordinary grocery stores, the size and newness of cars on the street, the splendor of the physical plant for universities, museums, sports stadiums. And honestly, by now I’ve almost stopped noticing. But if this is “decline,” it is from a level that most of the world still envies.
The idea of “finally” going to hell is a modest joke too. Through the entirety of my conscious life, America has been on the brink of ruination, or so we have heard, from the launch of Sputnik through whatever is the latest indication of national falling apart or falling behind. Pick a year over the past half century, and I will supply an indicator of what at the time seemed a major turning point for the worse. The first oil shocks and gas-station lines in peacetime history; the first presidential resignation ever; assassinations and riots; failing schools; failing industries; polarized politics; vulgarized culture; polluted air and water; divisive and inconclusive wars. It all seemed so terrible, during a period defined in retrospect as a time of unquestioned American strength. “Through the 1970s, people seemed ready to conclude that the world was coming to an end at the drop of a hat,” Rick Perlstein, the author of Nixonland, told me. “Thomas Jefferson was probably sure the country was going to hell when John Adams supported the Alien and Sedition Acts,” said Gary Hart, the former Democratic senator and presidential candidate. “And Adams was sure it was going to hell when Thomas Jefferson was elected president.”
By Crawford Kilian, 1 Jan 2010, TheTyee.ca
Such is the mystique of the bagel that even some of its deepest admirers assume only experts, using arcane techniques, can make it. In fact, you can create a near-perfect bagel in your own kitchen.
More mystery than history surrounds the bagel's origins. Jewish folklorist Leo Rosten dates bagels back to 1610 in Cracow, Poland. They were given to women in labour, perhaps to ensure a safe and easy delivery since they were considered lucky.
Others say a Viennese baker in 1683 produced a circular bun, a beugeln or stirrup, in honour of a victory won by the Polish king Jan Sobieski. Whatever its origins, Rosten says it soon came to symbolize the unbroken circle of life. Served after funerals, the bagel offered both physical and symbolic consolation. The modern bagel arose around 1910. It was an American invention; some unknown genius thought of boiling the bagel before baking it, which created a shiny skin and broke down some of its starch into sugar.
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