Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow Job

Okay, so this winter has gotten so long, so cold and so snowy here in the great Northeast that I actually asked a friend to let me go snowshoeing with him this weekend. I like walking; I like being in the woods and I like working out, but walking in the woods at 12 degrees is not usually my idea of fun. But we were three or four beers into the night and I was whining about the long winter and somehow I'm going snowshoeing this weekend.

The last time I went out in the snow with this yahoo we were in Lake Placid and he decided he would teach me how to cross country ski. I'm a bowlegged, beat up old wrestler whose knees aren't even in the same zip code. I was fine after I ignored his suggestions about how to ski down hills, but walking is more my style.

Anyway, Sunday in the woods should at least build up a good thirst and there is plenty of single malt scotch in my cabinet. You always need a goal.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Helping out with Polar Bear

So I'm heading north to Canton in the morning for one of my favorite events, the CP of the North Country Polar Bear Golf Classic. This is an anti-cabin fever event I helped our Affiliate start 12 years ago. They have built it into a major fundraiser and one of the pillars of the Winter Carnival in St. Lawrence County.
I just observe, glad-hand some of the sponsors I helped bring in and MC the banquet now. In the first few years of the event I used to go out on the driving range of the golf course at the University and help set up the nine-hole course. They cut the holes in the fall and lay large swatches of all-weather carpet for the greens. Each hole is between 50 and 90 yards and it takes about an hour to play the course.

It is like summer golf; most people playing just to get thirsty and win some of the prizes. It is a fun event and the food and beer afterward is always good. We have seen some interesting weather over the years. One year we had rain and mud in February, 10 miles from the Canadian Border.

I recall one year setting up the course at dawn - 7:00 am in Canton in February - and it was 22 below zero. There was a crystal clear sky, no wind and a beautiful sunrise. We finished setting up the course in two feet of snow that had fallen a couple of days before. The golf pro wanted to see if the storm had damaged any trees on the back nine, so we jumped on a pair of snowmobiles and flew across the open fairways at something in excess of 70 miles an hour. We traversed most of the course, passing deer foraging for breakfast, a fox trying to get out of our way and various other critters wondering what the hell we were doing disturbing their peaceful morning. We stopped along a partially frozen stream about a mile from the club house and spent a few minutes just taking in the scene. It was pristine and beautiful; breathtaking actually. An amazing morning and not a bad way to start your day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Wait, let me think this through. New York State is facing a $10 Billion deficit this year alone, and even more in the next couple of years. New Governor Andrew Cuomo is promising no new taxes and is planning on cutting and slashing state spending with the support of most legislators and so far, most of the citizens of the state. We are going to see painful cuts in public school aid, Medicaid, aid to local governments and on and on. Across the board cuts, and no new taxes you might believe.
Not so fast. Last week we learned that something close to $75 million dollars remains in the state budget to support the purchase of land and other costs associated with a new downtown Albany convention center that is projected to cost in excess of $200 million. The history of big construction projects in the Capital City suggests that it will actually cost much more than that.

The project has been pushed by Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and other politicians and some business leaders in the Capital District, but many people are still confused as to why this project is moving forward.
There are options, such as putting much less money into the convention center across the street from the Capitol or not building this potential White Elephant at all.

Come on Governor, does this make sense? You are proposing huge cuts in aid to schools and localities and 10% cuts to Medicaid, but we are going to continue to move forward with this folly in downtown Albany? Really?