Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm So Glad I Failed theFarmVille IQ Quiz

Hurray!  I officially have a life!

I took the FarmVille IQ quiz and scored a 3 out of 10-"Fail".

I'm so proud!

It's official.  I have not been overdosing on FarmVille.  So there!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Moose Country

Here is a guest blog entry by a friend, who took a trip to Watertown yesterday as her sister had some business to attend to there.  She did a 418 mile drive in one day and gave me the following: some beautiful pictures too to accompany her narrative.  So herewith, my friend.

Blue highways  are the best ones, I think. 4-lane are great if you're on a schedule and/or just want to get somewhere, but on the 2-lane, there's always something beautiful and different around the next bend. It's interesting to see the little towns with the lovely old homes and even the not-so-lovely ones--it's how real people live, and that interests me.  And, of course, the out-of-door, wilderness, or anything related do, too.
The countryside around Watertown is very pretty--rolling hills and farms. The farms look prosperous  instead of run-down like so many are here. We took Rt. 12 to Lowville and were going to take the back road to Big Moose, but decided not to take the time because the road is very bad and, for me, it was a "school night."

There's the Moose River and the tiny rustic town of Big Moose (where Big Moose Lake is, and the river begins), and there were tons of moose around there at one time, but were "hunted out of existence" as one article said.  They are slowly being introduced back in the mountains, and traveling over from VT. Here are some shots I took of the river from Moose River Road. I love the boulders--they are everywhere up there. There are rafting trips and other touristy things that take place on it, but I've never done any of them. Have always loved the area so much and wanted to explore it thoroughly, but never seemed to be able to. Maybe it's not too late!

We were hungry and wondered where to eat in Lowville. As I was calling a friend (who had built a cabin for her sister) to see if he knew anywhere, I saw a diner and that was the very place he recommended to eat. Then since we weren't taking the road to Stillwater and Big Moose, he recommended Moose River Road at  Port Leyden. We did that, and it ends up on Rt. 28 outside of Old Forge. I picked up an Adirondacks map and a county map, so I could see exactly where we were going. I love county maps because all the back roads are on them, and the little towns are laid out like big cities. I just love maps in general.

Thank you, dear friend, for sharing with us. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tiger Woods, Alex Alexander and the BC Open - Memories

Well, this is probably where I don't gain in popularity.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the Dick's Sporting Goods tournament.  (one of the things is its somewhat unfortunate name, if you shorten the full name up a little.)  I didn't tell the entire truth in the previous post.  Fact is I had a very small (a very very very small) part in the tournament the DSGT replaced, the BC Open although it is true that I never attended the BC Open itself.  However, I had the pleasure and privilege of speaking on the phone with its founder, Alex Alexander, one of the greatest gentlemen to have graced the Triple Cities with their existence.  Mr. Alexander died earlier this year, and I was very remiss in not commenting about his death then.

 The BC Open had its moments in its almost 30 years of existence.  One of the probably most famous moment (outside this area, anyway) was the year Tiger Woods played in it.   It was 1996.  It was just about when he was thrust into the public spotlight.   Tiger tied for third.  Although the Sports Illustrated article didn't quote this, I remember very well Tiger being interviewed and letting everyone know he would never play in the BC Open again because....well, let's say he was underwhelmed by Endicott.

Well sorry we didn't lived up to your standards, Tiger.  The shame is that Endicott has gone downhill, badly downhill, in recent years.  But the Endicott of today wasn't the Endicott of 1996, before "the plume" was discovered, and before the downstate gangs discovered Endicott.  En-Joie may not have been the fanciest of golf courses but it was part of the legacy of the Johnson Family of Endicott-Johnson, and still is a gem of the Village of Endicott.  How many villages of 15,000 in this country can boast a PGA tour?  Or a decent municipal golf course, at that?  Plus, a golf course where the pros play, at "blue collar prices"?

(The BC Open was a PGA tour; it is a long and sad story how we ended up losing the Open but ended up on the Champions tour.  It even had something to do with our 2006 flood - the very last BC Open in 2006 couldn't even be played here because of all the damage.)

Finally, one more clarification regarding my enjoyment of the golf tournament yesterday: I know that golf tournaments have another element of enjoyment, the "19th hole".   I might have been a golf  newcomer but I'm not naive. But excessive drinking isn't my scene and I didn't stay long enough for the 19th hole to get going.

I know the BC Open will never return.  The Champions tour has its own strengths, and I hope to return to see it again one day.

Searching for Joey Sindelar

A friend and I went to the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in Endicott yesterday, which is part of the PGA "Champions" tour.  (I was too tired to finish this post last night.)

I've been at two practice rounds at a couple of other golf tournaments but this was my first honest to goodness actual golf tournament ever.  I am a golf vi...well, I can't say that if I am going to remain a family blog.  So instead:  I have never played regular golf.  That is because any game that involves a ball and me is a total disaster for both of us, and anyone else nearby.  Trust me on this.

Now, if all you have ever done is watched golf on TV....yes, that is as interesting as watching paint dry.  But golf in person is not like that at all.

You are out, on manicured greens with bits of lovely landscaping here and there, water fountains bubbling.  If you sit at a hole, people are talking in whispers even if the golfers haven't arrived to complete their rounds yet.  You sit and the birds sing, the winds blow.  It is peaceful.   You hear nature around you.  You walk around.  You watch the golfers study their shots.  Someone holds up signs asking for Quiet and it becomes even more still.  Then some cheers, and quiet again.  Certainly not like any other sporting event you've ever been to.  If you love peace and quiet, and I do, golf is the place to be.

Oh yes, one other thing.

You get very, very, lost.

This is where the Joey Sindelar part comes in.

But first, I am going to talk about the start of the day's play.  After my companion filled me in on the basics of golf scoring (par, eagles, birdies, bogeys, etc.) we watched Hale Irwin tee off to start the day's play.  We were just a few feet away.  His was one of the few names I had heard of.

It was not his day.  His shot hit a tree branch.  And, I think it was probably downhill for him after that, as he isn't in the running at this point.

Nevertheless, we wanted to follow him and his greatness around.  Now, when someone you want to follow plays, you wait until he hits the ball, and then follow the crowd to wherever it landed.    (If I'm not using proper terminology here, please forgive me.)  In this tournament, golfers were playing in groups of three, so all three had to hit, and then eventually they caught up with you.  You hoped.

The problem was, holes are not in order.  You don't go to hole one, then hole two, then hole three in a straight line.  Oh no, that would be too easy. 

If you look at a map of En-Joie Golf Course, where this tournament takes place, it resembles somewhat a map of the Finger Lakes.  If I remember correctly, hole 2 was followed by hole 9.  Which was followed by hole 8.  Which was followed by us getting totally lost, and losing Hale Irwin.  Instead, we followed a set of golfers including one David Frost.

What we then decided to do was try to find the winner of last year's Open, one Joey Sindelar. and follow him. However, between the maze of holes, the fact that some of the paths were roped off and the fact that some people were starting at the first hole and others at the 10th (I suppose this is normal but what do I know) this was like trying to find Dr. Livingstone in the wilds of Africa.  Okay, not quite.

We were trying to estimate where Joey Sindelar would be given that he teed off from the 10th hole, and at the time he was supposed to start.  This became quite the intellectual exercise.  After some false starts and climbing hills that seemed to be getting steeper and steeper, we decided to plop down by a hole, see who was coming along, and hope Joey would be there soon.

From the program, we saw he would be in the 4th group to come to that hole, based on who was there at the time.  So we made our stand...well, our sit, and got to see him.  And also Craig Stadler, The Walrus. Yes, he looks like one.

We did miss seeing Ben Crenshaw, who was one of the last to tee off.  By then, we were so lost we probably would have ended up in Asheville, NC if we had tried to walk any more.

So we finally left.  But since we never found the 14th hole, we missed out on some spiedies.  Oh well.

Would I go back?  Yes.  But I'd better learn more about the golfers first, and bring a good map and compass.

Finally: many thanks for the law firm of Hinman, Howard & Kattell in Binghamton for buying the gate yesterday.  All we had to pay was $5.00 for parking.  Cheap!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Riverside, Iowa - Trekfest Tomorrow!

Riverside, IA.  One of the most fascinating small towns in America.


Well, what if I told you that tomorrow there is a Trekfest in Riverside, Iowa, the future birthplace of Captain James Kirk?  That Walter Koenig is going to be there along with BarBara Luna?

But I won't be there.  I already took my vacation.  Darn.

This is my (weak) link with Riverside.  I used to have relatives in Iowa City which isn't all that far (about 15 miles) from Riverside.  We took a drive one day, found ourselves going through Riverside, and started seeing this Star Trek stuff.  As they would say nowadays, a real "WTF" moment.

I think it was in 2002.

I have photos but I don't know where they are.

Now I love Iowa (I've been there oh, maybe 15 or 20 times in my life).  But you have to admit that Iowa has some pretty unusual (even strange) stuff.  Maybe one day I'll even write about some of it.  But Riverside?

Well, Riverside may be best known (?) for a TV show called "Invasion, Iowa" (also known as the day Riverside got Punk'd).  This came out of a brainstorm someone had one day to contact Gene Roddenberry about making Riverside the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk.

And, Mr. Roddenberry, rest his soul, went for it.

I guess this was their idea to try to get tourists to Iowa. I don't know if it did.  But they did get someone's attention.

James T. Kirk's.

Actually, the real William Shatner showed up to supposedly film a movie in Riverside.  He enlisted the good folks of Riverside, who were asked to do things more and more outrageous.  It was supposed to be a spoof on Hollywood and a joke on Riverside.  But you know who really got punk'd?  James T....I mean, William Shatner, and crew.

You see, the place was so genuine, and I think the folks there touched Mr. Shatner so much,  that he (or the show) ended up giving them money for their community center.

Looks like they spent the money well.  And, they even have a casino now.

One day...maybe one day I will get back to Riverside.  Maybe even for a Trekfest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


1:50 pm today.  Peaceful downtown Binghamton goes about its business (some would say its boring business) when suddenly....the earth shakes.

I didn't feel it.  But others in my office did.

Someone's bobblehead went crazy.

Someone's relative in Rochester called to report that his building had just been evacuated.

No damage.  Just a lot to talk about.  The Binghamton Dinosaurs probably didn't even notice.  (no, it wasn't the earth shaking under their feet.)

So went the Canadian Earthquake of 2010.

I'm glad it wasn't more exciting.  I've experienced several earthquakes, none serious.  Ironically, a co-workers was in San Francisco this week.

Look what she missed.

The hART of Fighting Dinosaur Vandals

Yesterday, walking companion and I were passing the Broome County Courthouse, across from the State Office Building, when we saw two things.

One was the "Drawing" dinosaur, late of the Regency Hotel before it (the dinosaur based on the BC Comic Strip's Gronk, that is) was vandalized.  I had posted several pictures of this dinosaur the night, back on June 4, when I had taken pictures of the newly placed dinosaurs around downtown.  It had been moved to a place where obviously it could get more police protection.

And-its rider - B.C. himself-was being put back on by a young man.  (these riders seem to have been the main target of the vandal(s).)

We stopped and talked for a few minutes, expressing our displeasure at the vandalism and hoping these deserving dinosaurs could be preserved.  The young man assured us that they were taking various steps towards that end. (I won't reveal anything more).

We also briefly discussed the mosaic dinosaur (I had posted a picture of that but here is one from the Internet)

The second thing we saw was - a new dinosaur, on the lawn of the courthouse.  This didn't have a plaque yet, but our guess is it was sponsored by Wendy's: there was a hamburger painted on its side and it seemed to have red pigtails.

We can only hope that the vandalism has backfired-that it has caused Binghamton to protect this artwork, and to appreciate it.  I know it has done that with me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Piece of Nature in Downtown Binghamton

Last Friday my walking companion and I visited the downtown Binghamton Farmers Market and headed towards Chenango Street.  On our way past the historic Broome County Courthouse we saw two women, one with binoculars and one holding a camera with a telephoto lens.  They were intent on the nearby Press Building.

It could only be one thing.

Yes.  It was the Peregrine Falcons!

We are lucky enough to have had a pair of Peregrines nesting in downtown Binghamton, on top of the Security Mutual building, for several years.  Today, one fledgling and one parent were out.  I was able to see both of them once the women pointed them out, without binoculars.  One was perched on a window of the Press Building, one on a corner of the Security Mutual building.

It was a happy moment in downtown Binghamton.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Fathers Day Post - But Not What you Think

No, this isn't going to be about my father, as much as he deserves his own blog post.  Or 1,000.  Especially because he put up with me when I was a teenager, which I became a month after my mother and his wife died.

And it won't be about his younger brother, who I sometimes wished (when I was that teenager) was my father instead of my lame, fallible father.  But as an adult I came to see this Uncle as a man of many good qualities but a man nevertheless, a human, a  man who did his best but made some mistakes. And, blessedly, he is still alive today.

No, this isn't about my Uncle either.

This father is someone I haven't met many times.

He is the father of one child, of my son's best friend.

This child has Aspergers Syndrome, which is considered by many to be on the "autistic spectrum".  I have mentioned before that I have a brother in law with autism.  So who knows but having an Uncle on the spectrum caused my son to befriend this young man.  I don't think so, though.  I think they just "clicked".  They are both very hands on. Both love to work on cars.  Both can be a handful at times, but this young man has never worn out the welcome sign on our porch.

This young man graduates from high school next Sunday, a year after his "cohort" would have graduated. But graduated he will do, which is no small feat in New York.

The father and also the Mom went to many many meetings with the schools, something called in New York a "CSE Committee" and at all times they did what they felt was right for their son.  These meetings are so emotionally draining that you can only know if you've been to meetings like these.

Because of their advocacy, their son is the fine young man he is today.

During all this growing up time, the father had to serve at least one tour in Iraq and be a Dad long distance.

And another unsaid thing is, that the divorce rate among parents with children on the spectrum may be as high as 80% (although this figure is disputed.)

So now.....

All parents hold their breaths as their children achieve independence.

The parents of a child with autism pray for his or her independence...and hold their breaths twice as hard.   Many never achieve full independence.  If this young man doesn't, or even if he does, this special father will have to be fully involved in his son's life for many years to come.

So on Father's Day, I salute this man.  His Mom has been right there too, but in our society we tend to take that for granted. hate to say it but sometimes fathers, when they find out their children aren't perfect, cut and run.  There is another woman I know, who had a son born prematurely, with many problems and that is just what her husband did.

Our father in question today didn't.

He stayed the course.

Happy Father's Day to you. And to all fathers with children on the spectrum who stay the course.  And mothers.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Am Feeling Sorry for Myself

Got back a little bit ago from Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society 24 hour fundraiser.  Cancer doesn't neither should we.

I am feeling my age.

I put in an 8 hour workday yesterday and went to this...and had to leave after 1 1/2 hours.  My back and right leg were bothering me.  I was exhausted.  So was spouse, who put in his own workday.

We returned today and did maybe 1 3/4 miles of walking, had the leftovers from the survivors breakfast (thank you for sharing!!) and did a lot of sweating.

While I am at it, a shoutout to a special cancer survivor in my life, who is celebrating her 58th birthday today, and almost 30 years cancer free from one of the deadlier cancer.

But now, back to my whine.

I hate to make this admission.  I am tired.

I have to do this differently next year.  We are supposed to "think young" but the old bones and arthritic joints (and sciatica) have a way of bringing us back to reality.

I admire the survivors and can't imagine what they face each day.  Some chemos are very hard and have permanent side effects.

Yes, we have to move.  Motion is lotion, and all that.

Still, there was something....subdued....this year.  The Relay didn't give off its normal vibe.  Or maybe it was just me.

I hope it was just me, and is just the tiredness speaking.

My next entry will be more upbeat, about something that happened at lunch yesterday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Almost Time for Midnight Sun Baseball

You haven't heard me lately on my obsession with the midnight sun.

That's about to change.

For a while, Farmville made me forget my childhood obsession with the midnight sun.  Fear not, I have regained my senses.

Once again I visit the Fairbanks webcam at the University of Alaska to check the progress of the midnight sun  They are up to 21 hours and 42 minutes of daylight.  Today, at 2am (their time) it was quite light.

It still gives me chills to see that.

So, that reminds me that it is almost time for the Fairbanks Goldpanners Midnight Sun game.  Do you know what reminded me?  Well, last year we had gone to a Fathers Day old timers game in Cooperstown because I had to see Bob Feller pitch.   They were interviewing Bob Feller at the NY Mets game tonight.  So that reminded me of seeing Bill (Spaceman) Lee at that same Cooperstown game....and Bill Lee used to play for the Goldpanners.  That's how my thought process works, folks.

Who else played for the Goldpanners?  Dave Winfield, Tom Seaver, Graig Nettles and many, many other Major League ball players.

Just think.  I could see future major leaguers and the midnight sun, all at the same time.  What a bargain.

Perhaps I should add it to my "bucket list".

Two Reluctant Announcements

First, the hART of BC dinosaur vandals have struck again.  This time they struck the dinosaur decorated with mosaics decorated by famous mosaic artist Susan Jablon. 

They peeled off some of the mosaic tiles.

I don't want this blog to turn into the "look what they did now to the Binghamton dinosaurs" blog.  Considering I had mixed feelings about the project when it was announced last year though - the more these get vandalized the more this project becomes a part of me.  My walking companion was outraged to and went into a nearby store to talk to the store clerk about it.

The second announcement is, that I have once again turned off commenting.  I apologize to my fans.  Most of them know where I am email wise.  Feel free to email me if you wish to comment and I will post your comment.

Otherwise...I am truly sorry for those who legitimately wish to comment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Musings on the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival Part 2

I promised to post pictures back on May 7.  Now, over a month late, here I am.

Downtown Binghamton in the spring is no Macon.  But spring was pretty good to us, too.

The flowering trees, for the most part, have done their thing here.  The crabapples, in particular, were spectacular. (You'll have to take my word for it.)  The vandals of the downtown dinosaurs could not ruin spring for us.

So, it is time to think again about....Macon, GA. and its cherry blossom festival.

It was a long way to travel to see some trees, some would say.  Yes, a long way from the Binghamton, NY area.  But where in Binghamton would you see scenery such as this?  Pink was the color of the day, and many lawns in upscale areas had pink poodle lawn decorations as a fundraiser.

(this photo was taken with permission-of the human.)

A magnificant specimen.

Three smaller specimens.

One of North Macon's beautiful neighborhoods.
And last, but not least....I would be remiss if I didn't publish some photos of downtown Macon.  Here, one of the edges of the awesome Mulberry Street Arts and Crafts Festival.  And, a final shot of downtown.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Binghamton Farmers Market 1 State Government 0

With all the excitement of the "Binghamton High School Food Fight" and the dinosaur vandalism I never posted on the opening of the Binghamton farmers market.

This is an urban farmers market, smaller than it deserves to be.  It is held Tuesdays and Friday mornings and a mix of urban residents - all races, many ethnic groups, seniors, office workers, students, and more, come to help support our local Farmers.

For the opening, farmers were featuring local strawberries, honey, peas, and greens, plus locally grown meat.

The perfume of freshly picked strawberries was such a nice edition to downtown Binghamton.

The one bittersweet part is that Southern Tier Celebrates had to close, but we will still  have the Brown Bag music series this year (Fridays) due to other budgeting.  But now on to our next crisis.   Our state government may be shutting down next week.

Stay tuned for that, and for the next few days I will start bringing you some photos of happier times earlier this year when we were not in New York State.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Extreme FarmVille

FarmVille's first birthday is June 19. (If I have to explain FarmVille to you, it means you are one of the 17 people left in this country that haven't become addicted to this farming game on Facebook).  There's lots of speculation as to what will happen on June 19.

(FarmVille for the benefit of those 17 people, is a farming game you play with other Facebook friends.  You plant and harvest crops, to earn "coins".  You band together in co ops to grow crops cooperatively.  You send each other gifts.  You hold barnraisings (of sorts).   You buy some things with coins.  You, if you are into this kind of thing, decorate your farm with items you can buy with something called "FarmVille Cash" which either you earn (difficult) for with real money.  Or you can use the cash for limited edition animals, or for other things.)

Some people think that the game will add new levels (currently the most you can achieve is "level 70".  Or farm expansions will be added so everyone will have room for their Tuscan Villas, observatories, hot air balloons, pinwheels, wedding gazebos, biplanes, gnomes, topiaries, miniature Leaning Tower of Pisas, Taj Mahals, schoolhouses, colored hay bales and other necessities of the modern Farmville farm.


Here's what I think will happen.

Zynga hasn't captured one vital audience for online games-the teen and early 20 year old boys and young men who play lots of video games already.

My son, for example...I don't know what he thinks about Mom playing FarmVille, but it isn't too complementary.

Hence, I think that Zynga, creator of FarmVille (and other games) will roll out.....Extreme FarmVille.  Here's how it will work.

It's a beautiful day on the farm.  Sun shining, crops growing.

Suddenly, from ominous rumble.  The aliens land.  Stomping across the peaceful fields, they open fire with their massive weapons.  Barns burst into flames.  Turkeys, elephants, reindeer, and penguins (don't ask) scatter.

But the teenage boys playing the game, they aren't daunted. Creating military avatars, they fire back using special edition guns purchased in the Market.  Down go the aliens.

Just in time for the huge hailstones to start raining down.

Quickly the teens band together with a 5th level magician (150 FV Cash) who casts a spell and the hailstones melt.  The crops spring back into place using Unhail Spray (3 FV Cash).

It's almost time to harvest when.... the dragon comes and starts stomping the farms.  Then, more hideous screams. The vampires are coming....

Well, you get the picture.

So, Lexilicious, what do you think?

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Wish I had been Wrong

My blood is boiling.

Binghamton, we are better than this.  I know you don't need a transplanted native of New York City to tell you that. 

OK, AM, calm down.

I had gotten very fond of those dinosaurs, the ones I had blogged about last week.  I had met one of the artists last Friday.  These aren't nameless folks who spent countless hours on a labor of love.  These are people, hardworking people.  I remember parts of my conversation with the artist, too.  I remember expressing the hope that her dinosaur was in a good location, because there were people ready to vandalize her work.

The vandals have now struck again.  And struck.  And struck.   And now the project coordinator must take action.
So who is doing this? I have my suspicions.  I hope I am wrong.  I want to find out that the person (people) weren't natives.  Please.  Not natives.

What would John Hart have thought?  Would he have cried for his native city?  My adopted Triple Cities?

In my heart, I had predicted this would happen.  And now I am right.

The pictures I posted last Friday are historic, because these dinosaurs exist no more (like this.)

Vandals.  Lunchtime school brawls. (Oh yes, there is a Facebook page for the brawl, too.)  I wonder if they can find the dinosaur vandals through Facebook?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Food Fight Times at Binghamton High

Ah....exercise walking at lunch.  Always an adventure.

My walking companion and I were walking on the side of the river opposite of downtown just before noon today when we saw a couple of different groups of teenagers.  I wondered if Binghamton High (which is on the edge of downtown) had had an early dismissal.  We normally do not see students on that side of the river - there are no eating places where we walk.

Well, there was an early dismissal, sort of.  To be exact a food fight that spilled into nearby streets, and led to 9 arrests.  Allegedly, at one corner, nearly 100 students gathered.  Teachers and police both were victims of the violence. And this led to the end of the school day for many, but not all, of the high school because of a lockdown.  Those out for lunch couldn't get back in.  Those still in the school couldn't leave.  Hence the students we saw in residential neighborhoods across the river.

What a way to celebrate the day before the end of classes.

Who says Binghamton is boring?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why I "Will" Relay

One of the American Cancer Society's main fundraisers is a nationwide event called Relay for Life.  It is a 24 hour event, symbolizing that cancer takes no time out to sleep.  The least we can do is field a team to walk for 24 hours, and raise money and awareness at the same time.

This is my fourth year of participating.  Our team captain is a very involved woman, a cancer survivor, who fights tirelessly.

Why do I Relay?  Why does anyone Relay?  Well, a blog I stumbled upon today (using the "next blog" link) symbolizes why.  The blog I speak about today was written (and I do mean "was") by a young man who lived in Syracuse, who was diagnosed at age 29 with a rare heart cancer.  Syracuse is only a little more than an hour away from where I live in the Triple Cities.  It is called Will's Road to Recovery.

It wasn't.  What the blog is (or was) is a testament to a life cut short way too soon.  What a voice this young man had.  He still had so much to say.  So much to do.  So much to live.

THAT is why I Relay.

Back to the Midnight Sun

Between all the many things swirling around me, plus playing lots of Farmville on Facebook, I have been neglectful of the midnight sun in Fairbanks.

They only have another 1/2 hour or so to go for maximum daylight.  Now, if I log in at 6am, it is light on the U of Alaska webcam I like to view.

21 hours and 14 minutes of daylight.  Stuff of my dreams when I was young.

Dreams can still come true.

Not only that, it is going to be warmer in Fairbanks today than it will be here.  Hmmm., that has happened several times recently.

May today be a better day than yesterday, both for me and a friend I have been thinking of a lot recently.  She knows who she is.  The midnight sun has meaning for her too, memories of a happier time in her life.  We'll see how today goes for her.  May it bring good news for her.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Invisible People with Autism

I hang my head in shame.

Monday, during our walk, my walking partner excitedly started to tell me about an autism walk she had participated in.  She knows I have a brother in law with autism.  I've talked about some of my concerns and adventures with her as we've walked, while she shares stories about her son, her daughter and her grandchildren.

Maybe she wondered why I wasn't there.  I guess my head has been in the clouds the past few weeks.  The honest truth is-I didn't know about the walk. 

I'm puzzled (no pun intended, and those in the autism community will catch this unintentional pun) that I never even found out on Facebook.

My heartfelt thanks to Bobby Larnerd, owner of Bobby's Place, where the walk started.  Bobby is a very giving man, and this is not the only fundraising event he has participated in.  He even gave money out of his own pocket as a donation, in addition to all the work he put in to making sure this event was a success.

The purpose of the walk was mainly to raise autism awareness.  My walking partner's awareness was certainly raised.  Not only did she help with setup but she also did the walk.  She reported that a number of people with autism participated in the walk.  She asked me some questions based on what she saw and heard and I was happy to talk to her some more.

One of the things I talked about to her (with no disrespect meant to those raising children with autism) is that there is so little written about adults with this condition.  In other words, what will happen to those children when they grow up?  What happens when those children age out of many supports?

Well then, you are in uncharted territory.  And I can write countless stories about that.

Yes, write me, and I can tell you.  And I can also tell you about how grown up people with autism, how it impacts their parents as they grow older, and their siblings, and their siblings' loved ones.  And their families.  And most of all, themselves.  That's why I don't call it a "disorder".  It is a part of them.  I am not sure that, given the chance, they would permit themselves to become "neurotypical" (a person without autism).

I don't say this with bitterness.  And my heart goes out to those suffering in this epidemic - some say one in every 150 live births, others one in 165, some have other statistics.  However you measure it, there are a lot of affected people. 

When my brother in law was born over 50 years ago, this disorder was so rare it took years for him to be diagnosed.  I sometimes wonder how he would have fared with an early diagnosis, but what is done is done.

People walk so that this never happens again.

While I am giving out thanks:  My thanks also to various businesses who donated food and other supplies for the march.  I know who you are.  I also know the name of one business that didn't support you,and I hope you will change your mind next year.

Next year, I intend to walk! (But please, someone, remind me.)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

No, it isn't Jurassic Park! It's Binghamton NY!

Herewith, are the rest of the dinos I found the night of June 4, courtesy of hART of BC.  And guess what!  There is finally a map up on the website, so I have some of the names now.

 This first one, the HART of Steel, I couldn't get a good shot because there were so many people around it.  This is from a local electrical contractor, features flashlights for eyes, and had solar panels for a couple of its bumps. (not visible.)

This next one, by the Broome County Library, tells us to "Eat Well Be Well".  This is "BC Eat Fresh".
This dino is by B-Mets Stadium (our minor league ball park - a AA Mets franchise).  I took two shots, one to better highlight the construction BC dude, complete with goggles.  The name is "Building with hART".

This is the famous "stolen dinosaur" (stolen by a young man in his 20's, and recovered) but the BC rider was ripped off and the dinosaur is damaged.

And finally, BC Rides again.  I enlarged this one so you could see the mosaic work on it, courtesy of Susan Jablon Studios. (this is a famous mosaic designer we are lucky enough to have living in our area.)

Not all the dinosaurs are up yet.  I promise (well, maybe) to bring you some more soon.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Binghamton Does Dinosaurs!

Here are some other hART of BC dino sightings in and around downtown Binghamton, yesterday evening.

This first one-yes, it's a medical dino - comes to us courtesy of the Ladies Auxiliary of the local hospital.

This next one is one of my favorites.  Very simple but elegant.  The "coin" dinosaur.  (the bumps are pennies) in just the right location..
The "apartment building" 'saur.  And the "money" dinosaur.  The first is in front of the Broome County Courthouse (called GRRRR Hart) and the second (Hart on the Range) in front of Metrocenter (a failed downtown shopping mall, now converted to offices.)  For the latter, this dinosaur may represent the parking at Metrocenter - which if I remember correctly, is $20 to discourage the unfortunate office workers of downtown from daring to even TRY to use THEIR parking lot. 
So, what's next? (and the last for tonight).  A musical dinosaur.  Brought to us by Rogers and HART? (couldn't resist.)  This baby is called the Philhartmonic.

Next post, the rest of them.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Binghamton tries to Revitalize with Fiberglass Dinosaurs

The Triple Cities of upstate NY.  Boyhood home of the late cartoonist Johnny Hart.  Dinosaurs decorate our county park signs.  And BC cartoon characters decorate other things in our area.  Ironically, I don't believe that Johnny Hart ever lived in Binghamton itself (which is about a 20 minute drive from Hart's boyhood home in nearby Endicott). Details, details.

As they like to say've gotta have Hart.

Our area has now reached out to Johnny Hart's grandson (who now draws the BC Comic strip) for possible salvation.  Many small cities in our shoes have tried various things....exhibits of outdoor art are nothing new.  But fiberglass dinosaurs?  Why not?

As I blogged about last year, and Smithsonian magazine reported, Dinosaurs, inspired by the comic strip BC, have finally invaded Binghamton, New York as part of a program created by an organization called Hart of B.C. (and who doesn't love a bad pun.)

Right upfront, I will admit to some concern about placing decorated fiberglass (to me, though, it was more like Styrofoam) dinosaurs in downtown, at the mercy of the public.  Sure enough, at least one of the sculptures has already been stolen (and recovered, somewhat the worse for wear).  But, they were attracting their share of attention tonight, at First Friday.  Spouse and I weren't the only people on the hunt-and we were lucky enough to meet one of the artists.  I can be skeptical, but is there anything wrong with cheering up our....oh I hate to say it...our burnt out industrial town?

The first set of photos is of a dinosaur decorated by an employee of a local engineering firm-the artist that I met.  My spouse and I had a lovely conversation with her.   First, an overall view of her creation:  BC sitting on Gronk the dinosaur is the common theme of all the sculptures.

Next, some closeup shots.  These are various architectural drawings, and a "map" of our area.  Some parts are accurate, some are just plain made up.

Some of the dinosaurs will be auctioned off to benefit charity-others will have permanent homes around town.  I'll try to put up another post tomorrow, with other dinosaur pictures.  But first, a closing shot of this "HARTitectural" (not my pun!) creature...

Funny that my spouse loved dinosaurs as a kid.  But I bet he never dreamed of any dinosaurs like these.