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…

Choose your path … stone or earth…

Choose your path … stone or earth.

A photo posted by Chuck Miller (@kchuckradio) on Sep 4, 2016 at 7:17am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Choices.

We make them every day.

Necktie or polo.

Slacks or skirt.

Left or right.

And the choices we make have an overlying theme to them.

Can I do it.

Is it too tough.

Will my family understand.

Will she say yes.

Will he say no.

We are creatures of free will, endowed with the ability to decide based on rational thought as well as on instinct or situation.

Sometimes the choice is difficult, it takes all of our will power and concentration.

Sometimes the choice is easy, but again it takes all of our will power and concentration to make it.

East or west.

Fork or chopsticks.

Steak or chicken.

Sunscreen or sunblock.

Stone or earth.

As in the picture above.

You can take the path of the earth, the path that has been carved with eons of animals and travelers before you.

You can take the path of the stone, the path carved by those who built the trail that previously didn’t exist.

You can take the path of the earth and be the guide, the one who helps others.

You can take the path of the stone, build that path and be the one who helps others.

To be the one who blazes the trail, to mark the pathway with painted marks or metal badges on trees.

To be the one who encourages, who supports, who assists.

Be the one who volunteers at a place of need.

Be the one who listens when a loved one is in crisis.

Be the one who welcomes home the soldier.

Be the one who welcomes home the wounded.

Be the one who adds to life.

Be the one who stops to help the stranded motorist.

Be the one who drops an extra donation in the prayer box.

Because, honestly, the choice of stone or earth isn’t one of ease.

The people who chose the path of stone built the walkway to assist those, to make their journey easier.

The people who chose the path of earth built their pathway for others who can’t easily traverse on hilly or rocky or rooted ground.

What is your choice?

It isn’t a choice of “will you help someone today.”

It’s a choice of “How will you help someone today.”

Say hello at the gas station to the person pumping gas in the car behind you.

Show up at a volunteer event and ask to do something to help.

Build something beautiful.

Help someone build something beautiful.

Help someone make the world a better place.

Help make the world a better place.

Help make the world better.

Help make the world.

Help make.

Make.

Be the advocate.

Be the ally.

Be the confidant.

Be the assistance.

Be.

Give.

Do.

Build.

Create.

Understand.

Comprehend.

Assist.

Provide.

Guide.

Build the path of stone.

Clear the path of earth.

Whatever choice you make – whether of stone or of earth…

Make that choice today.

And make it tomorrow.

Choose.

Thank you.

Stop sharing the “shoplifted item explodes in woman’s vagina” stories!

Be warned.  What I’m about to share this morning is both disgusting and offensive and racist and stupid.  And I’m only doing this because I’m sick and tired of stories like these populating my Facebook feed.

Last year, the website Now8News.com reported that a Greenville, North Carolina woman had allegedly stolen a canister of holiday cookie dough at Walmart by smuggling the tube into her private parts.  But before she could escape the Walmart with her ill-gotten gain, she was confronted by a Walmart security guard.  The two tussled, she fell to the floor, and the cookie dough canister exploded inside her.

Many of my Facebook friends circulated that post as if it came from a real television station’s website.  I mean, it came from Channel 8, right?  Somewhere in this country there’s a Channel 8 that’s covering the news, right??

No.

First of all, look at some of the other stories that Now8News.com has recently promoted.  I’m not linking to them, as I don’t want to give any credence to Now8News… but… they have clickbait headlines like:

  • Government Offers Free Birth Control for Muslims and Immigrants in Exchange for Welfare Benefits
  • Woman Claims She Became Pregnant By Black Man After Using Toilet Paper Contaminated With Semen
  • New Penis Implant Will Alert Your Cell Phone When Your Man Is Cheating

In other words, Now8News is a fake news site, barely on the same level as the old Weekly World News supermarket tabloid.

The fake news story itself was disgusting and offensive, and, for all intents and purposes, played on arguably the most vulgar humor ever – a black woman has to steal cookie dough (and other things, if you read the article) by smuggling them between her legs.  At a Walmart.  And the photo they used to document this image showed probably the closest representation to the old Little Rascals character of Buckwheat.  Give me a break.

So why am I griping about a fake Internet news story from last year?

Because it’s reappeared THIS year… with a new, and more distasteful, twist.

The website News10Live.com has reported that a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania woman had allegedly stolen a canister of consumer-grade fireworks at Walmart by smuggling the tube into her private parts.  But before she could escape the Walmart with her ill-gotten gain, she was confronted by a Walmart security guard.  The two tussled, she fell to the floor, and the fireworks canister exploded inside her.

Yeah.  Again.  Ugh.  And don’t even get me started on some of the other News10Live.com “news stories” that they’ve posted on their site.

Okay.  Let’s start here.

I understand that these are parody sites that think it’s April Fools’ Day all year round.  That doesn’t mean that Now8News.com and News10Live,com are the second arrival of the Onion.  That being said, the stories themselves are offensive and disgusting and racist.  And you should not share them on your FB pages as if people might believe these stories were true and honest news pieces.  These articles would barely pass a giggle in an after-hours sketch comedy show.  That, and the coincidence that the perpetrator in both stories is described as a Welfare mom with kids, just adds to the disgust.

Enough already.   Enough.

Sharing these Internet faux news stories not only gives these websites credence, it also gives them clickthroughs – which means they get money from advertisers because you visited them – AND it keeps them in business to print more of this junk.

Oh, and I forgot about this one.

Another fake news site, ScorchedEarthNews.com – which has been posting “Upstate New York is the worst place to live, survey says” articles of late, has added to the “black woman smuggling things in her vagina” story by claiming that a woman in a Price Chopper in Malta had gone into the bathroom with a pack of hot dogs to do … yeah.  That.

Okay, everybody.  Quick rule.  If you see a story on your Facebook wall that involves any woman allegedly smuggling cylindrical or tube-shaped items out of a Walmart or a Price Chopper or some other establishment by means of the two-legged hideaway, and said item either explodes or melts or solidifies inside that area, and the cops / EMT’s / store employees have to rescue the woman or arrest her…

It’s fake.  Fake and disgusting and not even worth your time to post it on your site.

Recognize those stories for what they are.

And don’t post them.

Ever.

Please.