A fundraiser for Mack Brin Farms this Sunday

I’m really hoping that everyone within the sound of my blog is able to help on this.

As you know, Mack Brin Farms in Ballston Spa recently suffered a horrific fire that destroyed their main barn and cost the lives of over 100 rabbits, along with some chickens and their prized San Clemente Island sire Chile.

Rebuilding a barn and repairing all the damage can take time.  And it can also take money.

And although there are some gofundme pages that have already raised substantial amounts of money…

Continue reading “A fundraiser for Mack Brin Farms this Sunday”

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Help out Mack Brin Farms if you can…

Last year, I photographed the San Clemente Island goats at Mack Brin Farms in Ballston SpaMack Brin Farms is one of a handful of farms in the United States that raises and preserves the San Clemente Island goat herd, of which barely 500 specimens exist today.  They do an excellent job and their farm is peaceful and happy.

That was until last Friday, when tragedy struck.

Continue reading “Help out Mack Brin Farms if you can…”

I wish I had a Mach V

We’ve all enjoyed action-packed cars in movies and in television shows.  Heck, The Fast and the Furious series may as well star the cars rather than the drivers.

We all have our favorites – an orange ’69 Dodge Charger with welded doors and a Confederate flag on the roof; a Lincoln Futura concept car that received a Bat-makeover for a 1960’s TV series; a jet-black Pontiac Trans Am with a T-bar roof that’s perfect for running cases of Coors from Texas to Georgia …

But for me, if I ever had the opportunity to own the TV / movie car of my dreams….

It would be a cream-white, sharp-finned, gadget-crammed Mach V.

This car.

Continue reading “I wish I had a Mach V”

Speaking for the Boreas Ponds

Boreas Ponds 3.  Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Boreas Ponds 3. Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Last Wednesday, I attended a public meeting at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  The meeting was designed to gauge public opinion and discussion regarding the State’s newly-acquired Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondacks, and the level of available access to the land.

There were several proposals on the schedule, including determining the former Finch Pruyn property as either “Wilderness” or “Wild Forest.”   I know that sounds confusing – almost as if you’re asking someone about their favorite ice cream flavor, and they say “Neapolitan.”  “Wild Forest” means that there can be motorized vehicles and roadways up to and surrounding the Boreas Ponds; while “Wilderness” means that the land would be restricted to foot travel only.

Currently, to visit the Boreas Ponds, one must travel a rutty, rocky one-lane road about three miles, park your car, and then walk the remaining four miles to the LaBier Flow, then another mile or two to the Boreas Ponds itself.  And the return distance is just as long.  And when public comment was requested, there were plenty of passionate opinions on both sides of the issue.

Many people showed up with green “I Want Wilderness” T-shirts, and they definitely wanted the land to remain untouched by snowmobile engines and aluminum motorboats.  Others argued for the “Wild Forest” designation, arguing that the economic benefit of hikers and hunters and tourists would help those who live in the Park area.

Everybody had their turn to speak.  Then my name was called.  I had three minutes to give my opinion on the subject.

I took the podium, and explained that I did not live in the Adirondack Park, nor did I have any financial stake in the decision.  I explained that I was a tourist who was thankful to visit the Boreas Ponds last October, and that I hoped to do so once again.  But rather than argue for Plan #1 (Wild Forest) or Plan #4 (Wilderness), I suggested that the State choose Plan #2.

Plan #2 would allow motorized access up to the LaBier Flow, but then one would have to walk the additional mile or two to the Boreas Ponds itself.  In that way, the Ponds tract would remain as pristine as possible, while still encouraging visitors to its beauty.

And with one minute left to speak, I added my own personal observation.

“On my way to the Boreas Ponds,” I said, “I purchased gasoline at the Sunoco station off Exit 29 of the Northway.  I also purchsaed souvenirs and snacks at the Adirondack Buffalo Company on the Blue Ridge road.  Now i obviously didn’t make a dent in the town budget, but I did spend money while I was here.  And if I did so, so will other visitors when they come to see this land and hike its trails and enjoy its beauty.”

Speech done.  With seven seconds to spare.

And I’m sure that when this is all sorted out, the State will create some sort of compromise that may not please everybody, but will give many groups at least some of what they’re desiring.

That would be nice.  Sometimes we all need some compromise in our life.

Plus, I do want to return to the Boreas Ponds next year.  And hopefully the walk will be a shorter distance from my car to the Ponds.

Who knows?  This could even inspire me to become an Adirondack 46er before God calls me to Glory.

Well, one step at a time, Chuck.

But it’s a nice goal to achieve, isn’t it?

Horse racing and hooded plovers: the battle for Killarney Beach

Before thoroughbred horses can race, they must train.  They train on private racetracks, they train on farms, and in Australia – they train on the beach.

In fact, one of the most famous horses to train on the beaches between Warrnambool and Port Fairy was Prince of Penzance, who won the 2015 Melbourne Cup, one of the most famous thoroughbred races worldwide.  He’s Horse #19 in this footage.

It was said that Prince of Penzance got his speed from running on the soft sands of the Australian shoreline, and before long dozens of other horse trainers brought their stallions to run along the sands as well.

But the increase in horse training at Killarney Beach in the Australian state of Victoria has also caused danger for one of the beach’s longtime residents.  A little bird called a hooded plover.

Hooded plovers live on the beach their entire life.  As chicks, the plover must find food within hours of hatching or they will die.  They are threatened by several predators, including European red foxes, feral cats, and even domesticated dogs.

And for the plovers who breed along Killarney Beach, they are also threatened by the hoofbeats of training racehorses.

The battle between the horseracing industry and environmentalists has reached a new fever pitch, with both sides arguing for their own position.  The Australian government has stepped in, and now some of the stables – including the Warrnambool Racing Club – have been issued licenses regarding where and for how long they can train their racehorses on the sands.

But the fate of the fragile seabird still rests in the hands of conservationists and naturalists.

Even Shane Howard, the lead singer of the Australian rock band Goanna, has taken up the cause to protect the hooded plover and Killarney Beach from the hoofbeats.

TWO SISTERS-SHANE HOWARD from BCRAG on Vimeo.

Such is his solo song, “Two Sisters,” and Shane writes about the song as thus:

“I spent so much of my life fighting for so many beautiful places in this country of ours … A little 20 km strip of remnant dunes, wetlands and beaches between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, rich with birds, like the little Hooded Plover, that are vulnerable to extinction. An ecosystem rich with recovering wildlife and plant life: Echidnas, Swamp Wallabies, Long necked tortoises, a number of snake species, seals, Blue whales, Southern Right Whales, short finned eels, all manner of sea creatures and so much more. There are kelp forests, weedy sea dragons, Antarctic seals and hundreds of species of birds … But now it faces another onslaught. Over a year ago, the racing industry descended on our beaches in what can only be described as an onslaught and racehorse training exploded on the beaches of our Belfast Coastal Reserve on an industrial scale. Our beaches are now turned into racehorse training tracks. No permits, no invitation, no fees. Public land to destroy, for free. Our beaches cannot survive such a devastating impact.”

This is a case of economy against ecology, of industry versus nature.  We have that in New York, where the Adirondack Mountains are listed as “Forever Wild” to protect the beautiful forests from excessive logging and timber and deforestation.  And we have the Pine Bush Preserve, where the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly thrives and lives, in an effort to protect Mother Nature’s tiniest creatures from urban sprawl and extinction.

Are there answers?  A compromise?  A total ban?  Surrender?

I don’t know.

What would your solution be?  Ban the horses from Killarney Beach?  Restrict them to certain areas away from the hooded plover nesting grounds?  Or is there even a solution that satisfies all parties?

This is a battle that I fear may not have a successful outcome.

Donald Trump: Apologies that aren’t apologies

Yesterday, a videotape of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump surfaced – a videotape that shows the business magnate using coarse, repulsive and misogynistic language towards women.  The comments – made in 2005, while Trump was riding with Billy Bush on an Access Hollywood van en route to Trump’s Days of Our Lives cameo appearance – disgustingly glorify rape culture, in that Trump boasts about his relationship with women and his attempts to seduce and fondle women.

Yeah, I don’t feel like repeating his comments in this blog.  NPR.org has a nice in-depth story about the candid comments.  Go there if you want to read and hear his statements.

A few things.

First, I don’t care if Donald Trump is talking to three people on a private bus or three thousand people in a rally.  These are boasts from someone who seems proud of himself for his carnal conquests; imagining himself as a modern day Don Juan or Rudolf Valentino.  This is a man who is trying to achieve the highest office in the United States – the Presidency.  And yet here’s another example of his candid and vulgar comments, which show the real side – and, in fact, the really seamy side – of Trump.  Not “The Donald.”  Not “The Trumpster.”  More like a fratboy from Tappa Kegga Bru who wants to sample the wares of the I Felta Thi sorority.  Urgh.

And Billy Bush is not blameless, either.  At no point during the video does Billy Bush even suggest that Donald Trump is wrong for his comments or his braggadocio.  In fact, it sounds as if Bush is actually admiring Donald Trump’s boasts, and gleefully adding a few of his own.  Classless.

Then again, after the reveal of the video, Trump made a statement – first, saying that Bill Clinton had said worse things to him on the golf course (yeah, sure, whatever), and then he went for the apology-that-isn’t-an-apology – “I apologize if anyone was offended.”

Mr. Trump… sit down for a second.

Listen to me.

What you said was hurtful and offensive and reprehensible, and it doesn’t matter if you said in 2005 or in 1985 or yesterday.  Saying “I apologize if anyone was offended” is like saying, “Well, if you found fault with what I said, well, sucks to be you.  Sorry you didn’t get the joke.  Sorry you didn’t understand the definition of satire.  Sorry you get easily offended by locker room humor.”  It also pins the onus for the offense on the victim, rather than on the perpetrator.  It’s like saying it’s the victim’s fault that they were offended by your comments.

I can speak from experience.  I’ve screwed up many times in my 53 years on this planet.  And when I’ve screwed up, I’ve apologized.  Here’s you you apologize.  You start out with, “I’m sorry that I hurt you.”  Or, “I’m sorry for what I said, I must make amends.”  And you show, by your actions and your deeds, that you are ashamed of what you said / did / caused, and that you want to make things right in the future.  If the other party accepts your apology, you move on.  If they don’t, well, then that’s the consequence of offense.  You can’t un-ring a bell, you can’t un-break a plate.

You’re not apologizing FOR someone.  You’re apologizing TO someone.  I know it’s hard for you to apologize for anything – heck, to listen to you on the campaign trail, it seems as if you can do no wrong, that your ideas are perfect, that your concepts are impeccable.

Yet when most people make mistakes, they apologize.  They atone for the failure.  They say, “I messed up.  I’m sorry.  I will learn from this horrible moment and try to be a better person.”

But here’s something, Mr. Trump.  Something to think about and grasp and comprehend.

This year, on the evening of October 11, and continuing throughout October 12, is the holy day of Yom Kippur.  This is the Jewish day of atonement, one of the most sacred and important days on the calendar.  Even if you’re not Jewish, the day can still hold personal meaning and importance.  You don’t have to be Jewish to ask for forgiveness on this day.  Call someone whom you’ve wronged and tell them that you’re sorry.  Tell them that you’re sorry that you caused them pain.  Not “I’m sorry if you were hurt.”  You caused the anguish, apologize for yourself.

And just because you’ve said “I’m sorry,” it’s not an automatic thing that the person you hurt will forgive you.  They might say, “Yes, I forgive you,” but that’s not a reset button.  That doesn’t give you a free pass to offend that person again.  In fact, the offended party now knows of your character and your temperament, and knows that if you’ve said or done this horrible thing one time, you certainly could say or do it again.  Forgiving isn’t forgetting.

This Sunday, at your next Presidential debate, if you do anything at all… if you have one moment of clarity throughout the debate…

Take a second and apologize for your offensive comments towards women and towards minorities and towards everybody whom you have offended and insulted and blasphemed.

Take that moment and show that you are a man who is willing to atone for his mistakes and poor actions.  Don’t couch the apology in weasel words and vagueness and playground statements like, “I’m sorry, but he did worse.”  And don’t be the man who says, “Well, I said it and I’m sorry, but Bill Clinton did this and did that with Monica Lewinsky, blah blah blah…”

Because that’s not an apology, either.  That’s just passing the blame.

Take a moment and apologize, Donald Trump.

And really mean it.

I’m not talking about acting Presidential.

I’m talking about acting like an adult.

 

 

Tying up loose blog post ends…

Route 9 at night.  Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Route 9 at night. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Over the past seven years, I’ve covered thousands of subjects in this weblog.  Many of them are personal; others are tertiary or tangentially connected to life.

And as I blog from day to day, sometimes I lose track of some of my blogging subjects.

So today’s post will hopefully tie up some of those loose ends.

For example:

So there you have it.  Loose ends, all nicely tied up in a bow.  Well, except for Rocky Mountain Film Lab.  And the Bottle Service web series, which still hasn’t seen the light of day five years after I participated in it.

I guess some blog posts should still have a “To Be Continued” sticker on them…