Author Archives: ellen

We are all 315ers… for now

As recently reported in the Post-Standard and elsewhere, area code 315 is the next New York code projected to run out of phone numbers… perhaps as early as 2010. The big question: Should we have an new “overlay” area code mingled with the old 315 (which would require 10-digit local calling), or should we have a regional breakup similar to what happened to 716?

Although 10-digit calling might not be much of a pain for cell phone users who are used to one-touch dialing anyway, a regional breakup might be a lot more feasible. 315 covers a huge area, and it would make sense to give the North Country and/or the Utica-Rome area its own area code. (But it would suck for folks in those areas, who’d have to change their phone numbers and business materials.) What do you think? Should we armwrestle for it?

Deer season

This item in yesterday’s Post-Standard caught my eye — concerning a gonadically-challenged buck that was bagged by some local hunters. It turns out that the poor deer had antlers that were never going to fall off or stop growing. Those of us who’ve seen the film Princess Mononoke wonder if these hunters just killed the Great God of the Forest.

So, after you’ve dispatched the Shishi Gami, what do you do for an encore? Perhaps you go shoot one of the Seneca white deer in Romulus — that is, if you have some big money to pony up for the privilege?

I’m not against sport hunting (and the aforementioned buck is probably better off without having to live with antlers that never stop growing). I know people who feel really strongly about it, however; and I question whether this ought to be allowed. (The developers of the former Seneca Army Depot deny that canned hunting is part of their plan.) That said, the white deer wouldn’t even exist without the artificial selection by Army marksmen in years past. Do you think big-ticket sport hunting white deer has a place on any nature reserve that might come about on the land?

Here’s a link to the Seneca White Deer website, and CBS News report about their efforts from last year.

Updated: Post-Standard on community hearing about Seneca Army Depot deer; New York Times on deer hunting and eating local.

Merry Christmas from Project Sunlight

Bitching about Albany just got about a hundred times easier with the debut of Project Sunlight‘s searchable online database this week. Depending on your level of political geekery and/or civic rage, you’ll want to take a while to look through the raw data about burning questions you’ve always wanted to know, such as… How much money did your local Assemblyman get from Daddy or his connections? (answer: at least $28,000) How much money did NYRI spend on lobbyists this year? ($181,096.00) etc. And needless to say, the Member Items database is going to provide hours and hours of fun.

But there are many other unanswered questions. Paging through the database is sort of like picking up a rock and observing the li’l critters underneath. For instance, what is the WNY Safari Club, and why do they have a PAC? From a quick glance at their website, it would appear that they hunt and eat Western New York’s officially nonexistent and certainly endangered cougar population. (Hm, that can’t be right; maybe I should find out more about them.) And does “Good Citizens for Good Government” imply that the rest of us are bad citizens? Who are these people who are bankrolling America’s Most Dysfunctional Legislature with their nickels and dimes?

I’m already a little disappointed that, for example, an elected official’s campaign contributions are not tallied (i.e., if one would like to easily figure out the percentage of Daddy’s contributions as part of the whole haul). There are probably any number of ways you could slice, dice and fricassee this data and I’m sure that Project Sunlight will come up with them eventually. However, this tool won’t catch on unless it gets used. I encourage state-watching bloggers to check in early and often. This is a real gift, however crude it may be at the moment. Thanks, Santa!

Winter questions

I haven’t ever done the “blog meme” thing before (i.e., “Friday Five,” five questions that everyone is supposed to blog about on Friday – it’s a friendly way of getting blog traffic to circulate) but here’s some winter questions and answers. Feel free to tackle these questions on your own blog, and I will add a link to your post.

1. What’s the winter tool you can’t do without?

2. The winter tool you could do without (i.e., find unnecessary or silly)?

3. Your favorite music to listen to when stuck in the house in a snowstorm?

4. The winter sound you least like to hear?

5. Your driveway shoveling pattern: vertical (up and down)? horizontal (pushing from side to side)? Or any which way?

My answers:

1. Can’t do without: The ClintonCam. No windows in my office, so it gives me a preview of road conditions downtown for the drive home. (Except, it appears I will have to do without it, since it isn’t working?)

2. Can do without: This plastic snowball maker. (Sure, if you’re having a perfect snowball fight to the death with Martha Stewart, maybe… but I guess I’m old-fashioned; you make snowballs with mittens.)

3. Favorite snow music: Right now, “Snowfall” by Manhattan Transfer.

4. Least favorite sound: The peculiarly unsettling sound of freezing rain. Which sounds just like rain, except louder. Too loud. When you hear this sound, something not-good is happening out there. (But here’s an even more unsettling phenomenon… a snow tornado!)

5. Shoveling pattern: Tends toward the vertical. I don’t feel comfortable unless I can get down to the bottom of the driveway and assess the snow-pack thrown up by the plows.

And you?

Updated: Northview Diary responds…
New York Traveler responds…
Life at Ground Level responds…

3 Upstate conversation-killers, and how to get past them

Blogging is conversation. Upstate blogging is conversation about Upstate New York. But sometimes, bloggers and public officials both make comments that seem to cause conversation go off into predictable yet unproductive directions.

I thought of a few of these “roadblock” statements, which not only infect conversations about New York from time to time, but also represent assumptions that may underlie the way our local politicians behave. For each roadblock, I’m also suggesting two common reactions that help kill conversation. You could call them the “hostility-based” and “fear-based” answers. I also make suggestions for “third way” responses that (one hopes) could begin to transcend the traps that the other two answers represent.
You’ll note that this response is not always a gentle one, at least on the surface. In my opinion, though, sometimes you need to be bold to advance a conversation past the same-old same-old. (Your opinions on an effective third response could be different.)

And the three killers are…
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