Friday, May 31, 2013

Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging Challenge™ day 31

i was all bunched up about number 9 on the list of activities, thinking that i had to make the house numbers match the calendar day on which i did them, but then i realized it's totally acceptable (once again, they're MY rules to start with) to do all these things in advance -and quite frankly you just HAVE to do some in advance- so all i really have to do is make sure i report to you on the proper day that matches the house numbers and even relaxed some it was still not so easy to find two houses with the same street adresses, one located in the state where i AM and one in the area of the state where i was GOING.

i tried really hard, both on the way out and the way back.

it is a lot harder than i had originally thought, because there are fewer and fewer houses with numbers below 31 these days on account of enhanced 911 addresses.

and there's the additional challenge of your research. if you can FIND two matching addresses, even if you use multiple sources, when you get ont eh ground you might find that number 13 main street in that  town you have painstakingly gone to simply does not exist.

or that while according to your sources it is a residential property and in google earth it LOOKS like a residential property, when you get there it is a used car lot.

you can devote several days to this project and still not complete it.

WHY you would do such a thing is beyond me, but it's there all the same.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

life in clippings: what the mintzes are doing

i am still organizing what i have read about the ithaca mintzes.

it's not that i have a particular obsession with this one family, but the study of one group of people tells you a lot about their time and place, which i find maddeningly fascinating.

to be sure, the mintzes are in the papers a lot more than, say my family but just reading the papers of the time with some kind of focus gives you a view of the time.

i suppose i could do a study of all the mentions of benwick beach or fires in the city or the funding of the poorhouse, but i accidentally fell into the story of the mintzes.

i am developing some ideas about the function of newspapers in the 19th century as opposed to contemporary newspapers. maybe it says something about the plight of modern print papers, and maybe it doesn't.

to be sure, if there was a story that was shocking or lurid, it got covered and although there are many things no longer  considered shocking and lurid, some things just don't change.

the papers of that day included a lot of information about people visiting other towns or providing entertainment to local organizations and giving to charitable funds. i think this serves partly as both social glue and pressure to conform to social norms.

"we see you are here, visitor.", they say. "here's  who is doing their part in our community." "our local people are well-connected". "we know who stole that sign".

shocking to my sensibilities, it was at one time thought that the guest registers of hotels were news items.

i have no doubt that one of the reasons everybody bought newspapers is that they were in them. you hosted a card party? you can read about that in the paper. you went on the train and people were singing? it's in the paper. broke your arm? in the paper.

no, it is not facebook. there is a very big difference between "i had lunch in auburn" and "we noticed you had lunch in auburn and thought the whole city might like to know". there is a difference between "notice me!" and "we noticed you."

i know i keep telling you that i am providing links to the digitized versions of the pages in which i am finding the mintzes, but i really hope you are reading some of them.

anyway, here's my timeline of the various comings and goings of the mintz family as represented by newspaper clippings across a century and a half. the items on the timeline are all sourced to the newspaper pages on which they appear, so have fun with that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

hey, ho, the wind and the rain

for the rain it raineth every day.

last sunday (18 may) it rained in the afternoon. ten it rained again monday afternoon. tuesday night the sky opened up late and it rained heavily most of my sleeping hours. on wednesday there were a few hours in which it wasn't actively raining, but then at about 6 pm it really started RAINING.

and then it kept raining filthy blattereing, slat-splitting, barrel-busting rain right through until sunday afternoon when the sun came out and the weather tried to pretend everything was all good between us but the damage had been done.

thursday night the police were out in force, crawling the roads with their spotlights glued to the shoulders and i thought: i wonder if they're looking for washouts?

of course they were. when the water comes it eats away the dirt under the pavement and sometimes you see the sharp gully where the shoulder used to be and sometimes you don't see it so much until the pavement collapses and our road crews have been hot juggling to backfill with big stone just to keep the roads open, the ones they can save.

thursday night the water came and swept away a good deal of weed road.

used to be a lot of road up in essex and westford that were sitting low in relation to the lamoille river and its feeders would just get closed until the water backed off, and in the spring kayakers just use pettingill road as a temporary parking lot for the meltwater playground.

so when i saw the ROAD CLOSED signs i just thought that i'd have a little look at how much water is across weed road because that can be cool.

but the problem is not that there's water on weed road. the problem is not that the shoulder's been eroded or some of the pavement washed out.

there's a chunk missing so big you could drop a dumptruck into it and have room left over for a few smartcars.

i went to look at it on this first day of sunshine, this first day of not-raining and i was not the only person with that idea. it's like a party going on, all the cars and trucks parked and people walking in and out with cameras and -for some reason- paintings of guitars.

we were out to look at the damage to our roads, and weed road was the place to be.

Monday, May 27, 2013

telephone survey

when the young man calls me on the phone to ask me lengthy questions about waste disposal in my district, my first thought is that he is poorly suited for the job because he has difficulty reading the questions to me.

telephone survey people should be able to read well enough to ask the questions.

and i am not super fun for him to try to sort out answers.

i do not have a choice about who hauls the trash in my neighborhood. i also do not mow my own lawn.

i therefore do not have opinons on waste disposal in my district, nor do i have opinions on how yard waste is composted.

i also do not know what my income is. yes, i've heard the figure. i simply don't remember.

it's a LONG survey. there are a lot of things on it i might have an opinion about if they were things i had to arrange for or take care of, but since haulage is the province of my HOA, however the trash gets taken care of is how it gets taken care of.

i follow the directions about recycling, but past that it's really not up to me.

i figure the only reason i'm not a total waste of this young man's time is because he's probably getting paid hourly and his supervisor is probably checking to see that he made the calls he was supposed to make.

the fact that he has this job and that his reading skills are poor indicates to me that he is probably some broke-ass kid with few prospects so even though i'm ticked off to be disturbed by phone surveys at my home, i try to be nice.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

life in clippings: ben mintz, inc.

i am STILL not writing my geocaching logs for the afternoon of may 4th because in the telling of the story i am totally stopped in playing junior historian around the mintz family just because i happened to have walked by some of their graves and for some reason gotten interested.

i found altogether more stuff than you probably need to know about one family living in the 19th and early 20th century in one small town in central new york, but i find the portrait of that life to be really, really fascinating.

it's not just about the mintzes; it's about life of that time and place.

in 1876 ben mintz established a clothing store at 129-132 state street in ithaca. apparently there is a louis mintz operating a clothing store in ithaca also, but it is not clear to me whether this louis mintz is ben mintz's brother or another louis mintz who appears to be living in ithaca also at this time.

later on maybe i will have answers.

just not now.

but as i was following the lives of the mintz family in ithaca, i kept seeing notices and ads from their store, and i put together a timeline of some of those ads as a sort of rough history of the business.

so far i know that ben mintz dies sometime before 1922 and that the family carried on the business for some years after. the 1930 ithaca business directory lists a bunch of mintzes as employed there.

and parenthetically, if you're in the mood for clicking links, i'm telling a sort of narrow story but i am linking you in many cases to digitized copies of the original publications where i found the information and by golly you can get LOST in those things. i totally recommend it.

i have not yet been able to find in what year the business closed.

there is a book in the tompkins county public library called Ithaca and its past : the history and architecture of the down-town by Daniel R. Snodderly, and it is available in two parts for online viewing:

(oh, goodness! how totally awesome is that?)

i mention it mostly because on page 32 there is a handsome illustration of the 100 block of state street and also because there are many lovely photographs state street buildings and the town in general, which is nice if you like that sort of thing.

i do.

it is interesting to note, however, that the author mentions only briefly the building at 121 to 131 east state street (page 36). he says:

Note also the alternation of
two- and three-window groups on the second floor, and the change
in brick color. (The first floor was originally divided into two stores.)
S. S. Kresge's built this structure to house a five and dime store, and
CVS bought the building in 1969. Barr Brothers hardware was at 127
from the 1880s until the 1920s.

he does not mention that half of the first floor was taken up by ben mintz inc.  from 1876 to at least 1930. i have no idea why he leaves this bit of information out; there's certainly no shortage of evidence and the book mentions a large number of stores with lesser tenures.

that's enough for now, i think. i am still up to my armpits in mintz histories, but i'm done writing for today.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

life in clippings: the mintzes of ithaca

yeah, i'm still working my way up the hill toward the party. i parked at the bottom of the cemetery to have a look around, but then i noticed that i was not too far to walk to a party i was going to, and i had some time on the way to visit with the graves.

no, it's not incongruous.

because i said so.

anyway, up in the jewish section there was a plain stone that caught my eye and it turns out he's an interesting fellow. there is much one can learn about him just from newspaper clippings.

the stone reads:

JUNE 29, 1889
APRIL 14, 1944

i'm just giving you the pertinent excerpts that illustrate his life, but i'm linking you to the full pages in the publications where i found them, and they are worth reading.

lawrence m. mintz lived at 402 west seneca street with his parents, ben and rachel mintz and his brothers harry, aaron, and jay.

ok, let's face it: i've waded in pretty far here to construct a biography of a long-dead stranger, and there are some things i KNOW and some things i think are true.

there are a lot of mintz children in ithaca; up until some point after 1901 but before 1916 ben's brother louis also lives in ithaca with his family and in july of 1884 the ithaca daily democrat reports that the family business, mintz's clothing, is owned by louis. the proprietorship seems to have passed to ben at least by 1912.

the 1901 ithaca city directory lists ben as the proprietor of "ben mintz clothing and men's furnishings" and louis's occupation as "com trav", or commercial traveler, which is a travelling salesman.

in 1901 both brothers have homes in ithaca. ben and his family live at 402 west seneca street and louis and his family live at 222 spencer street.

in ben's family beside the four sons listed in the 1916 poole account, there is a daughter, ruby whom i know about by way of a headstone inscription and i think she died in infancy.  there are two other sons, gustave e. and lionel. there is also a daughter, esther etta)

i have some guesses about the birth order of the mintz children.  i do not know in what year ruby was born. it is equally likely that she was born before or after jay. the size and inscription of her headstone suggests she died in infancy, which i'm going to say makes her up to about two at her death, so a death date of 1887 puts her birth somewhere between 1885 and 1887. i believe jay was born in 1886, assuming he is 21 when he graduates from cornell.

i'm making that assumption about jay's age at graduation because of those mintzes whose birth dates and graduation years i know, they are 21 at graduation, so if it's not exact, it's a pretty close approximation.

the 1901 ithaca city directory lists the ben mintz household as including ben, aaron, etta, gustave, and jay. since wives do not appear to be listed as separate persons anywhere, i will assume rachel is implied. aaron and jay are listed as students, while gustave is listed as a clerk at the clothing store, which makes him of employable age. 

harry, lawrence, and lionel are not listed in ben's household in the 1901 directory. harry would have been about 24 years old and old enough to have his own residence.  lawrence and lionel would have been 12 and 10 respectively. since wives are not listed in the directory, i am guessing that minor children are not listed either.

since aaron and jay are both listed as students but are about six years apart in age, i am going to guess that aaron is a student at cornell and that jay is attending ithaca high school in 1901. i am also going to take a wild flying guess that in the mintz family all children at least finish high school, so even if gustave never went to college, he falls in the birth order somewhere between aaron and jay.

for the purposes of my handy-dandy chart, ive gone ahead and placed estimated values and relationships alongside known ones. i would love to SHOW you my handy-dandy little chart, but i'm having trouble getting the thing to download properly so you can see it.

it's a pretty safe bet that when the daily democrat reports in 1884 that

Mrs. B. Mintz and family, Miss Anna
Mintz and Mr. Louis Hurwitz returned this
morning from a trip to Cazenovia and Sy­racuse. 

the only two children of her family present are harry and esther.

louis's 1901 household lists louis, aaron, dorothy, and fannie.

yes, a different aaron. both brothers were owners of the clothing store at some point. both brothers have sons named aaron. both brothers have sons named gustave. this suggest an interesting family dynamic. i have no idea what that dynamic is, but i bet it's interesting.

louis and his wife sarah have five children that i know of: dorothy, fannie, gustave, herschel, and aaron.   gustave, a lifeguard at benwick beach dies at the age of 18 when he is rather famously drowned by alexander karst. dorothy and fannie both become teachers and when louis moves the family to newark NJ sometime before 1916, apparently only dorothy stays behind in ithaca.

herschel dies in newark in 1916, and louis the following year.

there's an anna associated with louis's household and i suspect she is a daughter, but i do not yet know enough to say for sure.

it's kind of a lot of work to go through to construct a biography of unrelated people who i don't know, but it's interesting to look at this one slice of life and what can be discovered.

there's a harry mintz of binghamton who is not ben's son harry, but is a relation of ben.  he promises to be interesting in his own right.

later on i will have some charts for you.

charts are awesome.

timelines! maps!!

*shakes tiny fists in paroxysms of joy*

Friday, May 24, 2013

two guys you've never heard of

near the bottom entrance of the ithaca city cemetery i a monument that it very large and unusual in its design. it is very "modern" and ornamental and includes a bronze relief of the deceased.

edgar kelsey apgar or at least his surviving friends and family seem very much impressed by his importance in the world and his role as man of means and destiny. to be fair, his obituary was run in the new york times and he was a friend of grover cleveland, but if you google him, you won't find much about him beside the book (privately printed) that his friends engaged a prominent historian to write in his memory.

the historian was fairly important, and the book is listed as an oh-he-also-wrote.

the book, in memoriam: edgar kelsey apgar: obiit a.d. 1885  is available in its entirety for free as an ebook and i will quote for you a portion of the preface:

you still probably never heard of him.

farther up the hill i walked by the simple monument of a world war II veteran. i had pretty much only been researching civil war veterans because there's so much that can be found out about them, but i thought maybe i would like to try with men of more recent times and see what could be found.

there isn't  a lot you can find online about most of these soldiers without going to a paid site (not in my budget). there is a wealth of information available to you in the national archives if you can actually GO there and request the specific rolls of film by hand.

but still, there are some things you can find out about their general circumstances if you can follow at all  the history of the regiments they were attached to. it isn't always a good indicator, because while a regiment may go here or there and fight such-and-such battle, and individual man might have gone right with them or spent his time in a hospital from wounds sustained on patrol early on.

things happen and it's often hard to track individual men.

george f. hall jr.  was 33 years old when he died in 1956. he had been assigned to company c of the 53rd armed infantry battalion and i'm going to assume that he did some of the heavy lifting since he was awarded a bronze star.

the 53rd AIB (part of the 4th armored division) saw heavy fighting in normandy and their first engagement involved getting "hammered by a strong counterattack, courtesy of the 2nd SS "das reich" panzer division".

more of that general history can be found here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

name restored

i am sitting down to write my geocaching logs from my may roadtrip and of course while i love a good ammocan as much as the next person, i'm not really about racking up those smilies. i'm about going to see what's there and telling the story, so if i happen to be passing a cemetery often i check it out because THERE ARE STORIES THERE.

when i was a kid i got kind of involved with a group of graves in a back corner of a cemetery and subsequently spent a LOT of time in the town clerk's vault poring over the spidery handwriting of old records to piece together as much of those stories as i could.

it's become a thing with me, passing through old cemeteries and snapping pictures of stones that catch my interest and later on looking up what i can.

the internet makes this a lot easier than it used to be, and digital photography helps you not have to take so many notes and digital manipulation of images can reveal worn down features of stones and saves you the trouble of having to get permission to do rubbings.

you know that, right? rubbings are now known to be a thing that wears down stones. back in the 70's we used to think they were an excellent conservation tool -and properly done they are- but they are not without consequence and they do contribute to wear so if you're going to do rubbings you should get permission and do it right.

anyway, a couple of weeks ago i was in the ithaca city cemetery and i looked at a lot of graves there and bit by bit you're going to be hearing about a lot of those people but right now i'm just going to tell you about one.

civil war veterans are great for looking up, because even though records of that era are often incomplete or inconsistently spelled, we were a people who recorded every engagement and casualty in a way we did not do in subsequent wars. you can find a LOT of informaton on these guys and their units.

a lot of civil war veterans are buried under their veterans' benefit headstones, which makes them easy to find. and where the stones are not too worn, you can take the information about their company and regiment that's usually on the stone and go to town with the looking-up.

but sometimes the stones are too worn, or too mossy, and you can't read a name or you can't make out a unit and that's when you have to do some sleuthing between military records and cemetery records and anything else you can find.

i am not certain in my present crisis of faith if there exists such a thing as an immortal soul, but i am certain there is an immortal portion of us, even if it is comprised only of that part of us that wishes to be remembered and commemorated.

sometimes the name on the veteran's headstone is misspelled. sometimes his name is misspelled in his service record. sometimes he didn't spell it the same way from time to time himself.

so i found a grave with the name nearly obscured and i took a picture and figured to sleuth him up later and call out his name for the first time in a long time.

i hunted him up in the ithaca city cemetery map, which took some figuring based on where he was buried, and found him listed as "edward fraylie", and no known date of birth or death.

his regiment is worn down, too, so i had to go through the rosters. is that the 148th? 146th? 149th?

143rd. not company o, but comapny d.

i found his service record.

from the new york state military museum and veterans' research center:

FRALICK , EDWIN.—Age , 22 years. Enlisted, September 23,
1862, at Ithaca, to serve three years; mustered in as private,
C o. D , October 8, 1862; mustered out with company, July 20,
1865, at Washington, D . C.

if you want to see the history of his regiment, it can be found here.

so i wrote to the woman at the city cemetery to tell her what i'd found and this is what she said:

Thank you for the information regarding Mr. Fralick.  When the cemetery database was created we had 3 data sources to combine into it. A lot of the information was handwritten in the fancy script of the 1800's and depending on the writer and the script it was difficult to determine the spelling of some names.  The veteran information you provided certainly was valid proof of the correct spelling of Mr. Fralick's name.  The information we had did indicate he was a Civil War veteran for the times you indicated as well.

I appreciate you taking the time to note the information from the headstone and to share the same with our office.

edwin fralick, born 1840, here's your name back.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

getting the boot

i was over in lower buttermilk because i had some time to kill before going up to the college for larry's last class and there was the first stage of a geocache there i wanted to find which i wasn't having any luck at but then i decided to go across the street to that parking lot to see if there was maybe an electrical outlet to plug my computer into and i saw the bean boot.

they drive around in this thing for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, but if you see them, they give you some stickers.

it's cool enough just to see it, but hey, i like stickers. i don't know why; i never put them on anything.

but yeah, i saw the boot!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


let's start here: i lost nearly ALL the video i took on my roadtrip because of my failure to notice a computer glitch by which canon's camera software doesn't actually download videos you take WITH YOUR CANON CAMERA onto your computer, so when i put all my photos on the computer (you know, for safekeeping) i just assumed that the videos got loaded too because it used to do that with an older canon camera.

so basically the only video i have is from the two days of images that i saved to dropbox (which works awesome but i only have limited space because paying for an account just isn't in my budget) or from the day that i had on my camera when i got home and loaded directly onto my mac.

so i lost the video of the snapping turtle trying to kill me. and i lost the video of me hopping like a deer across a road. AND I LOST THE VIDEO OF THE ETERNAL FLAME.

WHY would canon make image downloading software that doesn't download the videos you shoot with a canon camera?!?!?!?

that is about four different kinds of wrong.

it is very, very wrong.

and i KNOW birds shit on windows, but why did one have to shit, right now, on the window i am looking out of?

that's just more wrongness.

and i'm cranky.

bird, when the neighborhood cat is looking to eat you i will hold you down so she can get you more easily.

canon, if i can find a big enough cat to eat you, it'll be the same thing for you.

now i need a paper towel.

and a nap.

Monday, May 20, 2013

home for the rover

i am home.

i have been home sine saturday afternoon, but it is the tradition of this blog to tell stories at least a day late, so we're running right along here.

today's highlights: i used TWO real actual flush toilets, one of which IS IN MY HOUSE.

i also discovered that while my turnip is dead, my potatoes have thrived (throve? thriven?) in my absence and will continue to live in benign neglect on the patio.

i did a whole load of laundry and put spankin' clean sheets on the bed. i have begun to unpack. since unpacking also means spreading crap all over the house to air out before i put it away, i am not in a big hurry to empty the car.

i have begun the (extremely) long process of transferring all the photos and videos onto my desktop machine.

i was gone 17 days and drove over 2300 miles. later on, maybe, there will be a count of how many parks, cemeteries, and state and national forests i visited.

i was not out for all of the month of may but let's face it: at some point driving around in a car containing THAT much dirty laundry loses its charm and you just feel like having a real shower and sleeping in a bed maybe.

there's no point in staying out just to stay out.

at some point the idea of coming home seems nicer than staying out and that is exactly the moment to head for home.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

one day in ithaca

thursday was the great ithaca write in.

this is the entry i sent in:

i have only just left ithaca. i'm sixteen years old and i had to catch a ride to get there for an audition at the college and it was cold and the kind of january morning when all the streets that go up and down get right of way because there's no other way to do it but i'm used to the cold and i hope i will come to school there.

i have only just left ithaca. my mom and i are on our way home from freshman orientation and we are in dryden and there are seven and a half hours ahead of us in the car and we only have one cassette tape to listen to. i am terrified.

i have only just left ithaca. i am twenty-one years old and i don't yet have a job but i am young and talented and everything seems possible. i am going to be a music teacher and i hope i will get a job in northern vermont, which is where i'm from. i realize that ithaca is the only place on earth besides my home for which i can be homesick.

i have only just left ithaca. i am thirty-five years old and i have been teaching music in the same school in northern vermont ever since i graduated but every year i take a personal day and come out to ithaca for a weekend and every year when i spill over triphammer road and see the city appear beneath me i turn off the car radio and have a moment of silence and catch my breath to see it and i shout woo-hoo! and i try to remember to change lanes in time on route 13 so i don't end up halfway to elmira just caught in traffic. leaving the same way i cry a little every year and i know that someday when i leave ithaca i will not be coming back.

i have only just left ithaca. i'm almost fifty, and in may or october each year i pack my car and leave home and i travel without plan or itinerary but i keep ending up in ithaca. it is beautiful, stunningly, spinningly beautiful and i know how to get through the octopus in the late afternoons and i know the back roads and tiny parks much better than i did when i was in ithaca most of the time.

i have only just left ithaca. i am on my way to get a pizza in trumansburg and then on to a campsite in hector and i MEANT to go somewhere else but it is springtime and in ithaca i can remember what it felt like to be young and talented and have everything still be possible. you wouldn't notice me passing through because a car with out of state plates doesn't look out of place, and my bikes don't look out of place. it's hard to look out of place in ithaca.

i have only just left ithaca. this morning i woke up on a campsite in hector and realized i was ready to go home so i drove into town to say my goodbye and to buy some things to take back with me and right now i am stopped in a parking lot in the adirondacks. i am halfway home and already thinking that soon i will want to come back to ithaca because even though this morning i was ready to leave, i am just as ready to return.

i have only just left ithaca.

i have only just left ithaca.

i have only just left ithaca.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

who is going to jail?

i am assuming that when this posts three or four days from now john boehner and the other fools in washington will still be all talking about it.

that thing with the IRS and the tea party?

when i heard about it i was all like "government abuse of power!" and then i heard a sane commentator explain it as probably a marginally legal and mostly harmless attempt at government functionaries trying to find a way to sort through a mountain of paperwork.

government employees do this all the time. they profile us by race or nation of ancestry or affiliations with groups.

and the thing about the tea party and patriot organizations is that those words ARE good indicators that an organization is walking that fine line between a tax exempt thing and a non tax exempt thing.

i'm not saying it's ok, whatever happened.

but here's my deal.

do you remember that little ole thing where some big banks engaged in ACTUAL criminal behaviors and collasped the economy?

oh, but we can't try them or punish them because reasons.

but we can have political theater around essentially non-events and demand that paper pushers go to prison over it because we're so busy with the 2016 elections that we can't be bothered to govern the country.


Friday, May 17, 2013

wardrobe change

i think in an earlier post i sort of suggested that i'm all about shoes.

today before lunch though, i managed to change shoes five times, change clothes three times, and wear five different hats.

life's like that sometimes.

after my morning bike ride (which involved a five mile uphill climb against a headwind at the end) i went into tburg and stopped at the good to go market where they have all kinda awesome things to eat at pretty good prices.

i got the breakfast burrito because the nice young lady at the counter said it was her favorite. it was a fried egg and bacon in a spinach wrap with black beans and rice and sour cream and salsa, as big as my head and only six and a half dollars.

and this place sells mostly local foods and things made with local and/or organic stuff, so that's food you can eat and feel good about.

later on i will have things to show and tell you, but it's just too hard to get all that organized while i'm living in my car.

because there will be pictures.

and links.

today i am headed out to a museum and tomorrow i will ride a nice rail trail.

it's nice out here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging challenge™ day 16

it is day 16 of the Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging challenge™   and today's activity is #11 from the list.

16 duck brook circle, west bolton , vt is too far out of town for there to be any pizza deliverability.

here's how far it is from the house to the nearest pizza place.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

hey, lady!

hey, lady! yes, you. the lady in the blue SUV who pulled into the trumansburg library parking lot at ten o'clock sunday morning to return books.

i made a snap judgement about you and your moral character.

i assumed you were thinking about stealing my computer until you noticed that you were not alone in the parking lot.

this is not going to be one of those heartwarming stories about the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions. i'm going to stand by my assumption that you are a moral reprobate and here's why: when you got out of your big SUV you had a library book in your left had and a candy bar wrapper in your right hand.

i watched you drop the candy bar wrapper on the ground. you did not do this accidentally. you casually let it slip in the practiced fashion of entitled litterers.

can you explain to me why you could not have kept that in your pocket until you got to the next trashcan?

if i had been closer and not looking for my hat in the back seat of my car i would have just handed it back to you.

but then i noticed something.

you had not just gone to the book return box. you went over to my computer and you shut the lid. and because you are a litterer, i assume you would have stolen it if you thought you could.

and while we're at it, i was sitting here on the patio writing this and a woman came and parked in the handicapped spot. i am not sure why she did this other than she is lazy and feels entitled. apparently it is a moral handicap.

Monday, May 13, 2013

barbecue day

apparently the second saturday of may is traditional barbecue day all throughout the finger lakes region. somehow it doesn't seem to me to make economic sense for every church and civic organization that dots the land to have a chicken barbecue all on the same day. it there are three chicken barbecues going on in one small town, it strikes me as unnecessary division of market share.

in other news, i saw some spectacularly bad driving along route 20A west of warsaw last week.

the posted speed limit is 55 and i confess i was doing 65, but even so i was seriously holding up traffic, along with some other cars. drivers kept coming by us and passing us THREE AT A TIME and apparently traffic in the oncoming lane is simply not thought of as a big deal out here.

while that was interesting, it wasn't the really alarming driving.

the alarming driving was the part where the car in front of me was turning left and a driver three cars back decided to use that moment to pass the whole line of cars and so passed me and the cars behind me on the left, nearly plowed through the car turning left and then merrily swerved suddenly to pass that car on the right.

did that driver maybe slow down after nearly causing a horrific accident at speed? no, he did not. he sped up and passed two more cars, arriving at the traffic light so that i waited in line just behind him.

so he didn't have any net time saving by all that. probably he was sitting there congratulating himself on being such a great driver.

i'll tell you who the great drivers were: me and anyone else in that line who saw that bozo coming and realized he was going to try to pass the car turning left and gave him enough room for his escape maneuver.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

no soap, radio

i am in an area of new york state west of the finger lakes and about the middle of it, if you're looking at your map vertically.

there is excellent cellphone reception.

it is hard to use my ipod in the car because of interference from way too many radio stations.

because of this, i have had my radio on "scan" for the better part of two days.

here is my short inventory of the radio stations available to me, by type:

  • two NPR stations that are apparently on the same frequency and therefore cannot be made intelligible because they are not playing the same programming. if you are on one side of a hill, you get one. if you are on the other side of the hill, you get the other.
  • christian stations that play crappy christian music
  • christian stations that play christian weather and christian news
  • christian stations that play wholesome hymns and rousing sermons and the christian music of elderly white people
  • ultra conservative christian stations that feature very much bible "study" and commentary.
  • stations that seem to play nothing besides "piano man".

Saturday, May 11, 2013

no traction

this is my confession: when i find crappy religious tracts in geocaches, i just take them. i take them and i burn them.

yes, i know, jimbob the ultra christian asshole, you spent money getting those things printed up and you leave them in geocaches all over as some kind of misguided signature.

quite frankly, i am totally good with you placing a signature that speaks of your religious identity and all that, but here's where i draw the line: your crappy religious tracts that i have been seeing all day go so far as to tell OTHER PEOPLE that they are somehow at fault and that you are the arbiter of what is good for other people and i know you think you;re doing everybody a big fat favor by "saving" them when in reality you're just being a big pushy asshole who thinks the states of other people's souls are somehow his business.

it is not a favor. you are wrong. you are wrong because it is not your place to direct others, nor to judge their souls, nor to instruct them that they are flawed.

if they ask you, you may deliver your opinion.

if you give your opinion unsolicited to strangers -or worse- leave this message out for strangers to read thereby littering the landscape with your claptrap that just uses resources and takes up space, you have stepped over the line and not only do i take your crappy tracts out of caches where i find them, but i save one copy to ridicule and burn all the rest.

have a nice day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

evening at the library

right now i am sitting on the patio behind the ulysses philomathic society.

it is more commonly thought of as the trumansburg public library, which is what it is.

trumansburg's proper name is ulysses. everybody just calls it trumansburg.

or tburg.

but back behind the library they have good strong wifi and a lovely patio and it is a very pleasant place to sit and have my pizza and listen to birds call.

above me some bird is ripping bits of bark off a birch tree, presumably for nest building. and a little grey bird of a species i can't identify in this light keeps posturing and showing off his wings and i can't see to whom all this is addressed, but i imagine she is very pretty in a species specific sort of way.

they also have electrical outlets out here on the patio, so i am charging my little appliances.

the sun is about to go down so i ought to be getting back to my campsite.

a week from now this post will roll up up my blog and you will be able to read it, but by that time i will probably have moved on to some other town.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

may day! may day!

ok, so you're reading it a week later, but last wednesday i left my happy little home to go live in my car for my may roadtrip.

or at least i started to.

because i got as far as shelburne road and all my check engine lights came on. and since i wasn't out of burlington yet, i turned around and went to see my mechanic to ask if maybe they could squeeze me in and do a little diagnostic?

you know, before i hit the road for a few weeks?

and they did.

only mechanic guy (whom we'll just call bob because it's not his name and even though if you look a little you can find out his name, i think he'd just as well not have his name on this story so...)

anyway, bob comes to get me and he says he wants to show me something and it is the kind of conversation you start with your mechanic when you bring it in for a tire change and inspection sticker as i did last fall and bot discovered i needed a new headlight assembly.

and a new head gasket.

and he starts of telling me that they found the problem and fixed it cheaply and then he says "now we get to the bad part, the part that's ruining my afternoon and is about to ruin yours"

and i am desperately trying to think what thing he might have found wrong with my car that he is describing that way because "ruining my afternoon and about to ruin yours" is not how he described three days worth of repairs that ran me about two thousand dollars and my mind is spinning, unable to figure WHAT COULD BE THAT BAD????

and then we are nearly around the corner when he gets to the part of the story where the technician (whom we'll call mike) started to pull my car out of the bat not realizing that the door wasn't all the way up and my bikes are still on the roof and just then i come around the corner and i can see it:

my rear window exploded and my mountain bike lying twisted and hanging from what's left of the rack.

and i just started to cry.

oh, god, not my bike, please not my bike.

because if you follow my story at all you know how much i love my bikes. and this bike is my best bike, my racing bike, the best bike i have ever ridden and i just collapse to me knees in the parking lot, crying.

i gain composure after a minute or so; it must have seemed an eternity to bob, who is kneeling beside me telling me he will make this right and as soon as possible and he will repair my car and i think he still doesn't get that i am far less concerned about the car than the bike.

and i get up on the ladder to take the bike down and we get it down and THE BIKE IS UNDAMAGED!

i am going to have to ride it rough to see if it still performs but i think it is fine. there isn't a scratch on it, and the brake rotors aren't even out of alignment.

tally of damage: destroyed bike rack, easily replaced. exploded rear window and dented tailgate.

bob determines that he can just replace my tailgate and he has found one that matches my paint code and everything and quite frankly i'd been noticing that my hinges and handles had not been working so well these days because they're getting old and i live on a dirt road, so i'm probably coming out ahead on that count.

i have to unpack a lot of my gear and repack it in order to remove all the glass because when a window explodes, it explodes.

and i am missing a day of my trip, but it could have been SO much worse.

and bob is totally taking care of everything because he is a classy guy and he runs a classy business.

the thing about the accident? everyone who transports bikes frequently has done that exact bonehead thing at least once. i myself have done it twice, so there's no point getting all mad at mike for a thing that we all do sooner or later.

it is a terrible feeling when you do it to your own car and gear. i imagine it is a very terrible feeling when you do it to somebody else's car and gear.

so. in a couple of hours they will call me to tell me that the body shop has delivered my new tailgate and a couple of hours after that i'll be on my way.

as crashco always says, you're either having a good time or you're having a good story to tell.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

a failure to care

recently i was in the vistor parking lot at a large university.

ok, let's say it was UVM. there's no point pretending it wasn't.

anyway, the visitor parking is not for employees (there are staff spots in that lot, so staff can park in THEIR spots) and the lot is fer sure NOT FOR STUDENTS. there are a lot of parking lots at UVM and for most of them you have to have an appropriate staff or student pass but there are these couple dozen spots in the waterman visitor lot for VISITORS. it's a metered lot, but it's for visitors.

the UVM police will ticket you for parking in the visitor spots if you have a student or staff parking permit. especially a student permit.

i only mention it because i was parked next to a young woman who apparently did not care. it was pretty easy to identify her  SUV as belonging to a student, and her vehicle was visible from across the street, painted on three sides the way it was.

i am guessing that since she's graduating in a few days she just doesn't care.

it made me giggle.

Monday, May 06, 2013

ramps and oysters

holy honkin' hounds of hades.

i do not know what you had for dinner tonight but i will bet odds-on it was not as good as my dinner. this is not just my characteristic immodesty talking; your dinner wanted to be as good as mine, but it wasn't.

it's not your dinner's fault. it's not your fault. my dinner is just so awesome that very little has a chance against it.

i am going to pause here and say that it is no secret that i am posting pretty far into the future here. if you follow my story at all you might already be saying but flask! isn't it may already? aren't you off in some remote location, sleeping in your car?

why, yes. yes i am. i left home last wednesday and it is my habit to do two things: the first is that i do not tell people where i am going or where i am. this is partly because i may know where i am, but not where i'm going or when i'm coming come, barring the start of race season.

the other thing i do is that i write blog posts pretty far into the future because i never know where i'm going to be.

ok, ok, ok. you can tell actually which posts i write ahead of time (if you care about that kind of thing) because i schedule all posts i write ahead of time to run at seven or seven thirty in the morning. if the post has a time that doesn't end in 00 or 30, i wrote it same day.

i like to post at least one day ahead of time so it gives me time to put stuff together and i just have a lot of stuff i want to say and we can't have me out in some wilderness with no show-and-tell so in the weeks leading up to my departure i sometimes go into overdrive.

so really it's 27 april just after dinner.

which brings us back to my awesome dinner.

this morning i noticed that a whole bunch of my mushrooms were ripe. so i planned to make some version of this thing. but then i was in the grocery store because i needed to buy an onion to do that and they had RAMPS!

ramps, my friends. that springtime delight. i have never found ramps in the wild although i hope one day to do so.

but at the tiny grocery they sell ramps, which are not a domesticated species and therefore have to be gathered in the wild. ramp season is fleeting, and spring greens are a primal thing. back in the day when we ate from our root cellars all winter, anything edible and green that came up in the spring got et.

the people of the supermarket have lost the traditional desperation and relief of late winter and the spring greens, but in some communities and among some individuals this vestigial memory runs strong.

so i had mushrooms grown in my kitchen and ramps gathered out in the woods and i made a light pink sauce and put it over angel hair pasta.

short version: all parts of the saute done separately to capture the flavors of the mushrooms and the ramp greens. white parts of the ramps go in the sauce.

it is past good.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

turnip farm

i'm growing turnip.

just one.

i had one turnip that was going bad before i used it, so i cut off the bottom and tossed it into my stock bag and i stuck the top into some dirt, which i'm told will get you a new turnip.

we'll see.

here's a thing you may never have considered: turnip as entertainment value.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

proper scrambled eggs

several months ago i read an article about how to make "proper scrambled eggs".

i want to caution you against anything that purports to tell you what the proper way of doing things is.

this recipe was very time intensive and labor intensive and used something like a tablespoon and a half of butter for EACH EGG being cooked.

but i tried it, because the person seemed to know a thing or two about deliciousness.


here is how to make proper scrambled eggs in my house:

start off with fresh eggs from chickens who spend their days outside having nice chicken days. just because we're going to eat their offspring and later them doesn't mean they can't have nice lives in the interim.

plus the eggs just TASTE better. go on, try it and see.

put a tiny bit of olive oil or butter in the pan. jest barely enough to grease the surface. when the fat is hotted up, pour the eggs in.

stir 'em oncet or twice before they set and when they are at your preferred degree of firmness, put them in a dish and eat them with toast. i like mine with english muffins.

i do not bother to butter my toast.

because it's perfect just that way.

Friday, May 03, 2013

democrats 2014

i'm going to come right out with the full disclosure. i'm not a democrat. for many years i have voted alsmost entirely for democratic candidates because i am more afraid of the repbublicans than i am of the democrats, and i support in principle at least a lot of what the democrats are saying.

but the democratic party isn't doing much for us in terms of civil liberties, or privacy rights, or even the right to due process and certainly not anything about working on the problems of poverty and unemployment.

news from financial analysts released this week tells us that the rich are still getting richer.

are the democrats actually talking about any of those problems? no, they are not.

instead they are talking about how important it is to beat and humiliate the republicans and i am NOT on board with that.

here is a selection of emails i get from the democrats every day:

I am so grateful for all that you have done to help build a strong infrastructure that enables Democrats to fight back and go toe-to-toe with the onslaught of attacks led by the billionaire Koch Brothers and Karl Rove.
But if we want to continue exposing the records of the most outrageous and extreme Republicans in the country, your support is needed urgently.
That’s where House Majority PAC’s GOP Rapid Response Fund comes in. They use it to target advertising that exposes the GOP’s extremist records in ten of the top districts nationwide. They just need 42 more members from Vermont to contribute before the April 15 deadline -- please give now.House Majority PAC is dedicated to winning a Democratic Majority in the House. They need your help today.
Your support matters – thank you! Please act now.
Yours truly,

(my name) -- We have to move fast so I'll keep this quick:
There are only THREE weeks until Elizabeth Colbert Busch faces Republican Mark Sanford in the special election for South Carolina's 1st congressional district. The latest campaign poll has Colbert Busch up 3 points against the disgraced ex-Governor -- pretty impressive for a district Mitt Romney won by 18 points!
But now, national Republicans have taken notice. With their deceptive attacks and a sizable cash advantage, Sanford's backers could do some real damage to Elizabeth's campaign. In a race this close, we can't let Republican attacks go unanswered.
Will you donate $3 or more right now to help us fight Republican attacks like these?
We have three weeks left to try and put a Democrat in a seat that's been Republican for over 30 years. This is when we need you most.
(my name), stand with us right now and chip in $3 or more today:
Kelly Ward
DCCC Executive Director

(my name)--
This is it:
Tomorrow is our ad buy deadline in the South Carolina special election. Elizabeth Colbert Busch (yeah, Stephen’s sister!) has a real chance to become the first Democrat to represent this ruby-red district in 30 years.
But right now, Elizabeth is in danger of getting drowned out by misleading Republican attacks. We can’t let that happen – especially in a tough district like this. We need $200,000 by midnight tomorrow for our Democratic Rapid Response Fund to fight Republican attacks like these and set the record straight.
Name: (my name)Supporter record: 13550910Suggested Support: $3.00
A win here would be huge! Picking up a district that Mitt Romney won by 18 points would be a giant thorn in the sides of Boehner and Cantor.
But the Republicans still have three weeks to blanket the district with lying ads aimed at tricking voters. And it could work in South Carolina and around the country if we don’t fight back. Don’t let that happen.
Donate $3 or more and help us fight Republican attacks like these before tomorrow’s deadline:
Thank you for your support.
Democrats 2014

(my name) --
Well, this is embarrassing:
When John Boehner endorsed Mark Sanford, he must’ve thought the South Carolina special election would be a cakewalk. After all, this district is about as red as it gets.
But Elizabeth Colbert Busch (Stephen Colbert’s sister!) could prove him wrong. Elizabeth is up by 3 in her latest campaign poll!
Now Sanford’s flooding the airwaves with every smear in the book to tear down Elizabeth’s campaign. We can’t let an ad blitz like this go unanswered. We’re just $115,000 short of what we need to fight Republican attacks like these right away.
Name: (my name)Supporter record: 13550910Suggested Support: $3.00
(my name), can you chip in $3 or whatever you can to help us immediately fight back against Republican attacks?
Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points and a Democrat hasn’t held it in 30 years. Can you imagine what an embarrassment it would be for Boehner if Elizabeth won this seat?
But that also means that winning seats like this is going to take everything we have. We have to stay strong and meet every Republican attack with the truth. Can we count on you?
Thanks for your support!
Democrats 2014

(my name) --
Think of how humiliating it would be for Republicans to lose one of the reddest seats in the country.
Well, Elizabeth Colbert Busch has a real chance to knock off Mark Sanford in South Carolina's special election two weeks from today. That would be quite the upset for a district that Mitt Romney won by 18 points.
Even Republican leadership is getting twitchy about this race. Senator Lindsey Graham just said that losing this ruby-red seat would “undercut” the GOP House majority. We agree! Will you help us raise the $77,000 we need by tomorrow night's deadline to defeat Republicans like Mark Sanford?
Name: (my name)Supporter record: 13550910Suggested Support: $3.00
DEADLINE: Give $3 or whatever you can today to help fight back against Mark Sanford and Republican attacks >>
If Republicans lose this seat, it will have national implications for Boehner and his teetering majority. But there's only 14 days left.
Help us get the truth out and fight back against Republican attacks like these: Chip in before tomorrow's deadline.
Democrats 2014

(my name) --
You know what would make John Boehner furious?

If Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch wins the upcoming special election in South Carolina's first district -- that's one of the reddest districts in the country!
We're only 13 days out, so we need to go into overdrive to fight Republican attacks in races like this.
Name: (may name)Supporter record: 13550910Suggested Support: $3.00
Will you chip in $3 or whatever you can before tonight's midnight deadline?
We have a real opportunity to defeat Republicans on their home court -- that would have national implications for Boehner and his party (and it'd be unbelievably embarrassing!).
Will you chip in before midnight?
Democrats 2014

and you know what? i am sick to death about this being about showing each other who has the bigger dick instead of making laws to benefit the nation.

so i sent them this letter.

of course it won't make a difference, but i feel better.

dear democrats 2014,

every day i get something from you about humiliating the republicans.

wouldn't your time be better spent, um, working for civil liberties and marriage equality and income equality and tax reform and keeping medicare?

it seems to me very much like you are not the party of helping people but the party of beating and humiliating republicans and i haven't the stomach for it.

i am keeping count of each time i read the words "embarrass", humiliate", "fight" and "beat"  and for every time your campaign materials have the message of humilating anyone, i will be sending $3 to the campaign of a candidate you wish to humiliate, along with a copy of this letter.

i am betting they will be able to use that to their advantage.

bear in mind that while i used to be a likely democratic voter, you guys have just turned into too much assholes and the only way i can think of to stop you is simply to send my money to the republicans with an explanation as to why.

love, flask

Thursday, May 02, 2013

politically incorrect

ok, boys and girls. it's time for a rant about language use.

can we talk about the term "politically incorrect"?

no, wait. i'm not asking your permission, really. i'm just charging right ahead.

the term "politically in/correct" should properly be used, either ironically or unironically to denote language use and concepts that either promotes or obstructs a political agenda.

if you want a nice summary of it, you can find one on the wiki.

politically correct speech can be really useful if you're promoting an agenda like gender equality or disability rights.

if you're for those things, it's politically incorrect to call things you don't like "girly" or "retarded".

if you are, say, opposed to the idea of racial equality or to civil rights for gay people, it is completely politically correct for you to call black men "boy" and to call everything you don't like "gay".

because all those language uses represent ideas that are in line with your political aims.

more recently however, people have come to use the term "politically incorrect" as a badge of pride that roughly translates into "i am going to say a really asshole thing right now, and i wish to deny you the opportunity to be offended by it"

and then lately the term has even devolved into something that means the rough equivalent of  'i'm going to say something that is not stylish" or just simply "i'm not making apologies for liking what i like".

you all need to stop it.



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