Sunday, December 20, 2009

'Wild' Bridge Between the Peaks

Interesting story, good for both the animals and people. I remember seeing deer literally jump off I-540s high bridges in Arkansas because of the limited (but available) crossings. I-540 mostly spanned bridges, but it had a few tunnels which appeared to be for wildlife to cross over and cars to go under.

By the way, the Times Union actually does a pretty good job covering issues in the Adirondacks. This story is probably gone by now, but stop by the main site here.

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Sunday, December 20, 2009

The decrepit and soon-to-be-demolished Champlain Bridge is many miles away to the north. But this portion of the border between New York and Vermont, where the states are separated only by a narrow strip of Lake Champlain, may represent another kind of bridge that endures unnoticed.

Running through more than 30 miles of mostly undeveloped forest country in the Lake Champlain Valley is a sort of natural span that experts believe has allowed solitary, wide-ranging predators such as bears, bobcats and fishers to migrate between the Adirondacks in New York and the Green Mountains in Vermont.

Now, a quarter-million-dollar, federally supported study of about 1,700 square miles between Whitehall and Rutland will seek ways to protect this "wild" bridge between the two ranges, and lessen the dangers presented by roads -- especially north/south roads like Route 4 above Fort Ann and Route 7 above Rutland. The study will also examine how to keep key sections of up to 5,000 acres of forest in this corridor intact, either by purchase or through conservation easements.

"This area is a pinch-point between the Adirondacks and the Greens," said Michelle Brown, a conservation scientist with the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which is coordinating the five-year study with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society and The Conservation Fund.

Brown and DEC wildlife biologist Joe Racette recently visited Dresden in northern Washington County to look over a Nature Conservancy purchase in the heart of the wildlife corridor, near the Chubbs Dock area. This land was purchased recently to help protect waterfowl habitat.

"It is helpful to think of large animals like this as electricity, in that they will follow the path of least resistance to avoid humans," said Racette. "What we are looking at here is trying to maintain a connection instead of restoring one."

Large carnivores like bears can range up to 10 miles in a single day, and up to 40 miles over the course of a season, he said. Even a smaller predator like a fisher, a member of the weasel family that can reach four feet long and weigh 10 pounds, can cover three or four miles a day.

Keeping the forest link open between the mountains allows for continued genetic mixing between animals, Racette said. When animal populations become isolated, genetic variability declines, making animals more susceptible to disease outbreaks.


Since roads can be deadly to wildlife...

"We will be looking at low-cost things to help make roads more permeable for animals crossing, like reconfiguring some culverts to make sure they are big enough for larger animals to pass through," said Brown, who noted that even changing where guardrails are placed can redirect where animals chose to cross a road.


Building roads with wildlife pass-throughs has been regular practice for years out west, where large animals like elk and caribou migrate in large herds. Such measures are being added slowly in New York, said Deb Nelson, an assistant operations director at the state Department of Transportation. One of the first roadway wildlife mitigation measures in the state, she said, was on Meadowdale Road in Altamont, where culverts were added to facilitate the passage of salamanders.

The state has also added wildlife-accessible culverts at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh and in the Utica area, and is using motion-activated game cameras to measure how many animals pass through, Nelson said.

DOT expects the Champlain Valley study will "help us make sound investment decisions based on sound science. We don't want to put something in and find that it's not working," said Nelson. "There are a million culverts under the roads in the state. Those culverts can serve as passageways for wildlife, or as barriers. We want to minimize those barriers."


For the Champlain Valley study, "our interest right now is making sure that we identify the most important landscapes for all the specific species that could benefit from it," Austin said.

The Champlain study is part of a larger, four-state project including New Hampshire and Maine that seeks to protect connections in the forests of the northeast.

Brian Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or

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Friday, December 4, 2009

The Real Pittsburgh Stealers

What happened over the last decade in Pittsburgh makes you wonder just how serious that fan is. When the situation in a major league city is so bad that the fans in that city wonder if they will be traded, you know you are doing a bad job as a baseball organization or a business in general.

If you want a business to succeed it requires initial investment, and continuous reinvestment. Great example of this would be both Merck and Coca-Cola. Coke thought it had the market forever, and just produced Coca-Cola and watched itself slip into obscurity despite being among the most recognizable symbols in the world. Merck, sitting on ridiculously long drug patents and proving patents DON'T spur innovation, shut down most of it's R&D division in the 1990s. A company that invents drugs can't grow without new drugs, and unfortunately R&D spending creates drugs.

On the flip side, the NY Yankees are a shining example of building a business, and turning it into an empire – the “Evil Empire”- via the principle of reinvestment. Yes, New York is the nations #1 media market, but it's also a place where competition for revenue is high. The Yankees share a city with other high profile events, a second baseball team who is in the national league (New York is a traditionally national league town), and they are within a 1.5-2.5 hour drive of 2 other major markets. Still, the Yankees have managed to capitalize on every possible aspect of revenue.

When George Steinbrenner purchased the team in 1973 for $10 million the who could have predicted the Yankees would be the worlds first $1B sports franchise, or that Yankee Stadium in it's current location could draw 3M and then 4M. No, not even George Steinbrenner believed he could draw over 3M at 161st St.

So how did he do it? How did he build the “Evil Empire”? Simple really, the Yankees were (and still are) an old school, rich mans pissing match. It's the essence of a sports franchise, Steinbrenner built it to win while innovating, he built it for championships, he reinvested the earnings into the team year after year like a business. It was a commitment to winning above all else that led to a quality product.

Remember the movie line, “If you build it, he will come.” “Build what,” he says to the voice? “Build a winner and they will come from miles and miles around. They will come to Cleveland, they will be bored, they will get back in their cars and they will drive to Pittsburgh. They will drive towards the lights, they will come to the gate, ask for a ticket, and they won't care about the price. “$30” you say, “I'll take 4,” they'll say. They'll buy jerseys, hats and giant foam fingers, sit in their seats eating hotdogs and Cracker Jacks. If you build it, THEY will come!”

And now we turn back to Pittsburgh. It's a team owned and run to make a profit first and foremost, just like many other franchises in baseball, winning is secondary. If they did win, sure it would be magical, after all, success usually isn't purely based on luck. You need a few good players here and there on a 25 man roster.

Bold statement, eh? I mean Pittsburgh is a beaten down blue collar industrial town, nestled in a country that doesn't produce anything anymore. It's a city that peaked in the 1950s and has been headed downward for decades. Right?


Pittsburgh has a bad reputation, which is truly a shame. It's honestly one of the most picturesque cities I have been to. Sitting at the confluence of 3 rivers, flanked by deep ravines and steep hillsides that give commanding views of the cities unique architecture, and 455 bridges. No, I didn't add a number via a typo, Pittsburgh has the most (piered) bridges of any city in the world, many of which are magnificent.

Oh, and it's now one of America's cleanest cities, after a long stretch of being on the American Lung Associations dirtiest. At times it held the lofty honor of dirtiest.. It's also a huge sports town, but another surprise is that it is a city with a lot of culture. Despite the blue collar nature of the city, it's also a city of old money and education. The result is a lot more culture than you'd expect. Pittsburgh is a city that could have completely died, but it reinvented itself impressively.

Of course, it's only a city of less than 400,000 people, with a total metropolitan population of 2.5M people. Pittsburgh is probably barely big enough to support a sports team, let alone 3 professional teams, and a few colleges. Naturally, under the best of circumstances Pittsburgh won't be able to outspend the Yankees, or even the Seattle Mariners. However, what the ownership of the Pirates has done over the last decade is simply US Steelcriminal.

Most people don't realize that baseball, while not having a salary cap, has both a luxury tax and revenue sharing. What this does is penalize teams like the Yankees for spending a lot of money. How it works is essentially redistribution of wealth. The Yankees generate gigantic sums of money, which they then spend, and pay a tax on the excess spending. MLB then distributes this money, along with other MLB revenue (national TV revenue, official apparel, sponsorships, etc) to small market teams. The Yankees don't receive MLB revenue, they pay their own way, and then some.

What does Pittsburgh do with it's revenue sharing proceeds? Darn good question, and if you can tell me then you are a step ahead of me. There is $400 million floating around somewhere from the last decade that Pittsburgh ownership is hiding. Certainly they haven't spent it on their team, nor the beautiful stadium which was publicly funded. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention PNC Park is a class ballpark. It would be beautiful in Staten Island, New York, but with the waterfront location, the bridges and skyline in the backdrop, it is simply the best park in baseball.

So where is the $400 million? Not on the field, not in the stadium, not in scouting, not in signing the good young players they have had to long term contracts on the cheap, and overall not in building a product or business that will grow. It's definitely not in hiring baseball people, because every time Pittsburgh gets a guy good enough to sell a jersey with his name on it, he is traded for 4 guys that cumulatively don't equal his level of play now or ever.

The Pirates are a joke, not because Pittsburgh can't support them, they are a joke because someone is milking them for the revenue stream.

JFK said, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (loosely translated, “I am a jelly doughnut”)

I say, “I am a Pittsburgher.” (loosely translated, “I am tired of being ripped off while watching bad baseball”)

Mr Selig, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL of ownership picking owners who won't compete. End the repression, sell the team to Mark Cuban, and watch a yearly pissing match between the Steinbrenners and Mr Cuban develop. Lets get some competition in the game, lets bring back the spoiled rich owners who play fantasy baseball with real money. Lets bring baseball back to it's roots, we don't want parity like football and basketball. Parity equals average, which means low quality. Parity is the restaurant with 3 star reviews; you want 5 stars and a certified master chef. We want competitive rivalries, we want dynasties, we want spectacular!

Evening Skyline Over Pittsburgh

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live Free or Die In Fear of Rescue

Yes, it seems this is in fact the new state motto of New Hampshire. I suppose the state was in need of a makeover after their entire identity was wiped out when the "Old Man" of the mountains died, following years on life support and steel feeding tubes, bonded by epoxy and wire.

Many times have I been asked what my goals in the backcountry were. Sure I have better answers but usually the first thing that pops into my head is to never need to be rescued. It sounds simple, but the reality is that it's a loftier goal than one would think. It doesn't take a lot to get hurt, lost, bogged down by bad weather. It's the reason we go out there, to challenge ourselves, while enjoying the solitude of nature.

I actually agree with both the premise, and the actual intent of the law outlined in the article below. And it seems that the people in this article should have payed some of the bill. How in Gods name do you spend 3 days on Mount Washington, and then go for the summit? Does anyone else feel like that kid was camping? Who blames a blaze on a rescue, did they have a map? And how do you miss a trail by 50ft and end up spending 3 nights on a mountain? Go up, or go down for god sakes. That said, enforcement of the law seems completely arbitrary. For instance, often you will change plans on the fly, or create plans IN THE BACKCOUNTRY. This is part of going into the wilderness and escaping the real world. This doesn't make you negligent or reckless. I've often "base camped" places and created my hikes in the backcountry. Having a hard set itinerary is great, but conditions change, and minor injuries change plans. So if you don't have a "flight plan" filed you foot a bill? I find it hard to believe that the idea that wilderness travel needs to be as rigid as air travel is not complete nonsense.

Taking a wrong turn happens in the backcountry. Missing your return time happens. Underestimating trail conditions and taking longer than expected just happens.

The rigidity and arbitrary nature of New Hampshire law means, I can no longer take a side trail, a detour, and I can't choose to bushwhack back because if something happens to me I'm going to foot the bill. Edward Abbey, the great American philosopher and conservationist, would be rolling in his unmarked desert grave if he heard of this nonsense.

"A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path; let them take risks, for godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches - that is the right and privilege of any free American." -Edward Abbey

Now let me tell you the flip side. I realize New Hampshire's alpine mountains are a mere 4000-6000ft, in terms of elevation they are a joke when compared to "real" mountains around the world, but the weather is actually brutal and unstable at times (as in often), and the result is woefully unprepared hikers. Elevation is misleading, a 5000ft mountain in the Arctic is much higher in relative terms than a 5000ft mountain at the equator. There are many reasons for this, but I won't bore you. Similarly, a 4000ft mountain range in a part of the world which sits in the path of multiple converging storm fronts is far more fierce than a range that has weeks on end of stable weather. The fact is, I have seen people with nothing more than a Poland Spring bottle, cotton clothes and a shirt tied around their waist, hiking above treeline on a day when we previously were pounded by storm force winds, and brutal cold. These conditions can turn for the worse at any time, and often do.

These people are far more likely to be unprepared for self rescue and/or survival in deteriorating conditions. They have no food, no shelter (shelter can simply mean adequate clothing), no navigation aids (maps, compass, altimeter, or headlamp), and they are oblivious to the dangers. Ignorance is truly blissful for them.

Accidents happen to all hikers and climbers at some point. Most accidents are minor, most times self extraction is possible, but occasionally help is needed, and people shouldn't be afraid to contact SAR or to wait for rescue if it is needed. These laws, or more aptly their enforcement, make an unwillingness to ask for help a reality. The law should be specific, if you are truly unprepared, truly lacking the equipment and skills required for your endeavor you should pay the actual cost of rescue. Not for the volunteers time, or regular working hours of state or federal rescuers. This would allow the state to recoup legitimate expenses, but not cause a prepared hiker to pay a bill. Likewise, there should be a panel setup to determine in certain terms whether the rescued was negligent or not.

New Hampshire's current guidelines are totally bogus, and create an unsafe environment for everyone involved. No, Daniel Webster, there is no longer a sign that says: "In the mountains of New Hampshire men are made," those days died with the Old Man.

Hikers in NH must be prepared -- or pay for rescue

CONCORD, N.H. --Stranded with a sprained ankle on a snow-covered mountain, Eagle Scout Scott Mason put his survival skills to work by sleeping in the crevice of a boulder and jump-starting evergreen fires with hand sanitizer gel.

He put plastic bags inside his boots to keep his feet dry as he sloshed through mountain runoff hidden beneath waist-deep snow. After three cold days last April, rescue crews spotted him hiking toward the summit of Mount Washington, the Northeast's highest mountain.

New Hampshire officials praised his resourcefulness. So grateful was he for his rescuers that Mason, 17, sent $1,000 to the state.

Sometime later, New Hampshire sent him a bill: $25,734.65 for the cost of rescuing him.

New Hampshire is one of eight states with laws allowing billing for rescue costs, but only New Hampshire has made frequent attempts to do so -- even strengthening its law last year to allow the suspension of hiking, fishing and driver's licenses of those who don't pay, according to an Associated Press review.

National search and rescue organizations insist just the possibility of being billed is dangerous policy. Hikers may delay calling for help while they think about the cost, and that could put them -- and the mostly volunteer corps of rescuers -- at greater risk.

Other states with laws allowing them to recoup costs rarely, if ever, enforce them, largely for that reason, the AP found.

"If it had happened in Colorado, he would have been applauded for being able to survive for three days," said Paul "Woody" Woodward, president of Colorado's Alpine Rescue Team. "New Hampshire is way out on their own on this one."

New Hampshire officials counter that being properly prepared -- not the size of the scout's bill -- should be the message about visiting wilderness areas. And, fish and game officials say, many of the state's trailheads are posted with signs warning hikers they may be billed for rescue costs if they aren't properly prepared.

Mason, now an 18-year-high school senior, from Halifax, Mass., has hired a lawyer to try to negotiate a settlement. Officials said he was found to be negligent because he veered off the marked path, was unprepared for melting snow that made a shortcut perilous and went up the mountain with an injured ankle, not down.

The bill included more than $24,000 for a helicopter and labor provided by state fish and game officers. Volunteers provided their time at no charge.

Three states besides New Hampshire -- Hawaii, Oregon and Maine -- have general laws allowing agencies to bill for rescues. Only Maine has attempted to recoup money a handful of times and the bills were never paid. California, Vermont, Colorado and Idaho have laws allowing state agencies to bill in limited circumstances, but the laws are rarely enforced -- and when they are, draw a firestorm of protest from search and rescue groups.

Two years ago, the fire department in Golden, Colo., rescued a hiker from Kansas who had sprained his ankle and later billed him for $5,135. The outcry from national search and rescue groups influenced the city to change its policy and settle with the hiker for 10 percent of the bill.

Only New Hampshire has consistently billed people. Last year, lawmakers increased the likelihood of being billed when they lowered the legal standard from reckless to negligent to make it easier to collect.

Records obtained by The Associated Press from a Freedom of Information Act request found that New Hampshire spent $413,543 on 275 rescue missions over the past two years. The state issued 16 bills for rescues totaling $41,435 -- with Mason's $25,000 bill the largest. The state spent far more, $59,426, on a December 2007 search that was not billed. In that case, the body of the 70-year-old hunter was found four months later. His family was not billed.

"We're not going out there with the intent to bill everyone," insists Fish and Game Maj. Timothy Acerno.

Policies vary across the country on penalizing people who ignore weather warnings, don't carry flashlights on long hikes, fail to leave itineraries, ski out of bounds or are otherwise unprepared or act irresponsibly.

If Mason had gotten lost in a National Park, his rescue would have been free, said David Barna, chief of public affairs for the National Park Service.

New Hampshire officials stress they only bill those who are negligent.

Acerno said that experienced search and rescue volunteers and fish and game staff consider what a reasonable person would have done and measure the person's actions against a hiker responsibility code that calls for knowing the terrain and conditions, taking proper gear, leaving an itinerary and turning back if conditions change. The attorney general's office makes the final determination.

Hannah Groom, a 21-year-old college student from Cumberland, Maine, learned the hard way.

While grateful for rescuers' help, Groom said the $3,360 bill sent to her and a friend was steep for one night on New Hampshire's Baldface Mountain in May. The two had planned a day hike, but took a wrong trail. She blames confusing trail markers.

"I do not believe that charging two young adults such a high fee for a mistake caused by poor trail markers is warranted," she wrote The AP in an e-mail.

Acerno said they were billed because they didn't tell anyone where they planned to hike and didn't have proper equipment, especially a flashlight.

Seasoned winter hiker John Winship, 46, of Boxford, Mass., paid the state $4,000 instead of his $1,479 bill after spending four days on Mount Washington last March when he missed his trail by 50 feet in a snowstorm. The third night out, he was getting frostbite.

"I was so grateful I got out of it. I have 10 fingers and 10 toes," he said of the experience.

Allen Clark, whose volunteer Pemigewasset Rescue Team participated in the Mason search, believes the punishment should be fixed dollar fines, not bills for state workers' time.

"This is an essential service the state should adequately fund," he said.

Woodward, of Colorado, said New Hampshire's image has been badly tarnished.

"If people are going to come to New Hampshire and go take hikes and make a mistake and get billed, they aren't going to come to New Hampshire," he said.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The White Mountains in 3.5

How long does it take to get to New Hampshire's White Mountains from the Capital Region (Albany, NY area)? 5 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours? Apparently, somewhere in that range for the uninformed and unimaginative.

Much to the chagrin of most, and after extensive route setting it is time for me to smugly gloat. I have it down to a very respectable sub 3:25 drive time to the Western Whites. Add in a gas stop and pee break and you are still at your destination in less than 4 hours.

I hear the bullshit calls, now go ahead and wipe the spit off your monitors because I have an independent witness, and my witness was also insistent it wasn't possible. As far as my speed, nothing crazy. I like having a drivers license, and some (however limited) money left in my checking account.

Why on earth would I blog about this? Simple, we met quite a few people on the trail this weekend, and each time where we were from came up, people said, “wow, Albany, that is a long drive to go hiking.” Well I agree (actually I don't but I hope others do and stay off my White Mountain trails, just like others hope I stay off their White Mountain trails), but 3:25 is very reasonable for a weekend of hiking. Bearing in mind that when I lived in the NY Metro area, at times I drove to NH and/or the Adirondacks 3-4 weekends a month, and those drives were in the 5 to 7 hour range, driving mostly on interstates at 65-75mph. We are talking 600-800 mile round trip weekends with 10-14 hours plus behind a wheel. It's been a long time since I had to do those, and I don't miss 'em.

As far as the route, well, it's too complicated to spell out. Honestly, there is no big secret except for my little shortcut at the end, which most people probably don't take because it's remote, extremely curvy, hilly and deep in moose territory. All I do is take the small curvy mountain roads that everyone else avoids like a case of herpes. Since I travel at the off hours (overnight and early morning) I am able to keep up my average speed on the back roads, and I shave many miles off the odometer. Moose and deer are my only significant impediments to arriving safely and quickly at the trail head.

Going via 90 and 91 like my kin from the NYC Metro, it would take me about 6 hours even though the average speed would be 20mph faster than the typical 45-55mph back roads. Cutting across VT 9 is faster and shorter but not nearly as good as going NE across VT. The total distance of my routes is less than 180 miles to Lincoln, so doing the math I'm averaging just over 52mph yet still getting there faster and using less gas.

Don't even get me started on my shortcuts through VT when I hike or ice climb in the Green Mountain state. Forget the pavement, go dirt and cut your mileage in half!

Bottom line, I've said it time and time again, if you live between Albany and Glens Falls, you like the outdoors and you like to travel, in my opinion you live in the best part of the Northeast. NYC, Boston and Montreal are all 3 hours from me. The Catskills and Gunks are just over 1 hour from me. Lake Placid is under 2 hours.Most places in Vermont's central or southern Green Mountains are within 2 hours, and of course, the White Mountains are between 3:30 and 4:15 depending on eastern or western end of the range. And no worries, I can ski, ice climb, hike, bike and paddle 5-30 minutes from my back door.

So break out a map, and enjoy the back roads of VT and NH as you head off on a drive to get to your favorite mountain destinations.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Absolutely Ridiculous, Good Bye Craig Leubben

I'm re-posting this blog from which Stewart Green talks about Craig Leubben whom I didn't know personally, but had a great impact on my climbing safety and technical abilities through his books. Craig was competent enough a climber and a writer to keep me and my rope mates safe over the years.

Knots for Climbers, How To Ice Climb, and Climbing Anchors are a few that come to mind as being well worn, with Climbing Anchors probably being the most influential book on my shelf aside from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills.

News of a highly skilled and competent climber being killed is always sobering, but we are lucky that Craig was a climber, teacher, writer, and photographer even if the end result was tragic. A lot of us learned through his books and articles, others learned first hand through his guiding. I'm certain Craig has had an immeasurable impact on climbing safety and the progression of novice climbers, he will be missed.

Details are emerging about the death of Craig Luebben, a well-known climbing guide and author from Colorado, who died yesterday in a freak climbing accident on the southeast face of 8,120-foot Mount Torment in North Cascades National Park.

Leubben and partner Guillermo “Willie” Benegas were climbing the Torment-Forbidden Traverse route, a mile-long Grade III rock and ice route that connects Mount Torment and Forbidden Peak. The long moderate route includes technical snow and ice up to 50 degrees, rock climbing, and scrambling on easier terrain.

As the pair neared the top of the Taboo Glacier below Mount Torment’s southeast face at about 6 a.m., they encountered a bergshrund or huge gap in the glacier. While leading, Craig climbed onto the upper part of the bergshrund when without warning an immense slab of ice broke away from the glacier. The chunk of ice, approximately 100 feet high, 20 feet wide, and ten feet thick, swept Leubben about 45 feet into an ice moat. Large pieces of ice hit and critically injured him, leaving him hanging on the rope. Apparently a cam he had placed kept him from falling further. Benegas immediately climbed down to Craig, pulled him onto a ledge, and called 911 on his cell phone. Luebben, however, died before rescuers arrived by helicopter. Rangers then rescued Benegas and removed Luebben’s remains.

Craig Luebben was not only a genuine person, but also an incredibly experienced and careful climber. He was the author of seven books about climbing, including Advanced Rock Climbingcoauthored with John Long, and Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills, which won a 2004 National Outdoor Book Award. Craig, a fellow author for FalconGuides, knew all about climbing technique and safety, and taught lots of skill classes in setting up anchors, climbing safety, and self rescue techniques.

Last evening when I first heard the news about Craig, I was sitting on my front porch talking with my son Ian Green. We didn’t have any details about the accident but both agreed that it had to have been rockfall because Craig was just too smart and cautious and experienced climber to mess up.

Whenever we venture into the high mountains, there is always the possibility of stuff happening that is simply beyond our control. That was the case here. A terrible event happened to two extremely experienced and competent alpinists. There was nothing they could do. It was the mountain—taking Craig home.

Details on Craig Leubben's Tragic Climbing Accident by Stewart Green

Friday, July 31, 2009

Goodbye Caney "Wonder Dog" Serpico

In The Mountains of NH, Men are made.

Born: January 20, 1999  Died: July 31, 2009 at 5:25pm

Justin was his person:  June 8th 1999 - forever.

Love you, and thank you for showing us Wonder Dog one more time last weekend. You are indisputable proof that no matter how bad things are that there is no such thing as a bad day on the trail.

I miss you already but I know you are arrogantly leading the pack somewhere. Go play with your best friend Russell. Say hi to Mom (just try to pretend you know/want to heel when she walks you).  Go find Madi, she wanted a white dog, and now she has a really good one.

I always felt like you were a person trapped in a dogs body. If that is true, I will gladly be your dog next time around.

Right now I can't imagine having to go so long till we spend time on the trail together again, but we will always be closest to you when we are in the mountains.

First or Second Overnight Paddling Trip (2000)

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Hike and Swim at the Kayaderosseras

Thursday Caney had that bored Border Collie look on his face, he isn't feeling better, and he is less and less mobile each day but he still
has plenty of life in him to get out on the trail.

A day on the Kayaderosseras

Friday we just spent a few hours on the grass chillin but it was hot humid and unbearable, and Saturday we didn't do much of anything but watch baseball and movies with the weather being much the same, so he was due for a day out if he was up for it.

A day on the Kayaderosseras

After last night when he wanted to play with the random 150lb Bull Mastiff, we realized how boring we humans were and needed to get out and be more BC like.

Kayaderosseras Creek

So today we are hiking and swimming at the Kayaderosseras Creek south of Saratoga Springs. He isn't swimming much because I think it hurts him, but he has been wading chest deep in the creek before and after we walked a mile on the trail. His big thing has always been to herd water surface bugs by swimming after them, or looking in the water for frogs or fish, ever since his first backpacking trip. For a second he even showed us a glimpse of 1999 Caney from the Buffalo River at Kyles Landing when he dove for a group of bugs on the water.

Caney At Kayaderosseras Creek

For the last 20 minutes he has walked and waded a 200 foot stretch of shoreline and gravel bar over a dozen times. Before the hike he spent another 20 minutes wading in the water.

Caney At Kayaderosseras Creek

He just took a break for 10 minutes where he laid on the gravel bar and intently watched the creek flow by
as he scanned the forest for birds and animals.

Sometimes it amazes me how much we are alike. I'm not a gym rat or a neighborhood jogger. I enjoy walking around town at night when it is peaceful to think and relax, but other than that I get most of my exercise on the trail or water, and am most motivated to be active in preparation for those days.

I remember pre surgery in 2000 being in constant
pain most of every day, but for a few days a week when outside in the
mountains my pain was so much more manageable that it was either gone or at least not overwhelming. I think Caney is very much the same.

We forded the creek to the wide gravel bar on the opposite shore,which made for a nice place to layout and watch Caney explore the Kayaderosseras. Unlike the trail walk above the shoreline and through the open fields, the mosquitoes, whom have been as bad this summer as I can ever remember, didn't bother us a bit.


After an ice cream, and a stop by the grocery store to get Caney some food (steak and chop meat which he is eating between 1.5 and 2lbs of a day), we rented a movie from Red Box. First time we rented from the "Futurama" style machine, and I forgot how bad upsampled DVD is on a 60in DLP. We usually rent 1080i via the cable box but Red Box is $1 per night, or $3 cheaper. Caney doesn't care about the visuals, he loves the surround sound (as do I), so he was plenty happy with the sounds of Indiana Jones. As usual when the movie was over, he got up and went to bed. Some things never change!

Red Box

(photos from palm Panasonic FX01)

-- Sent from my Palm Pre wireless device

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sweet Kisses For You...Thank You Very Much

Second backpacking trip to Harriman (1999)
(photo: November 1999)

From July 12th 2009:

When we got Caney in June 1999 he came out of the box with the ability to give kisses. You would do the kissy sound, and say kisses, and he would give them. Pretty cool.

Several years down the road he realized that kisses were special and only for when you deserved them. He developed what I call "sweet kisses" and "fake kisses." He still acknowledged the kisses command, but he would not kiss your lips or face. Instead he would come up short, almost like a peck that didn't quite reach. If it did reach it was quick and half hearted, just barely a peck. Sometimes I wouldn't accept that, and I'd grab his snout and give him a big fat kiss right on his lips. Believe it or not, I've had vet techs and veterinarians comment on his lips, and for a dog they are pretty nice. I once had a vet tech give him a kiss right on the lips while he was in for an appointment. When he was a puppy they were pink so they really stood out like real lips, along with pink spots on his nose. As he got older they turned darker, as did his nose, but they are still handsome.

Today we were sitting on the shoreline of the Hudson River and just hanging ou at the Pines and Caney came over unprompted and gave me sweet kisses, and lots of them. That made me feel good because I felt like he was saying we are doing a good job, and he loves us.

What Aim and I have noticed recently, is that while he has always been nervous and less happy when we were separated, he seems to not want us to be apart at all right now. If we leave together he wants to be with us, and if we are apart he seems much more larthargic. He won't walk with me to the mail boxes, but tonight Aim came out with us, and he was eager to walk.

During the course of the day Caney made a few friends, ate a hot dog that was offered from some people BBQing on the river, and got his usual attention and compliments from strangers every time we crossed paths with someone.

He obviously didn't have a ton of desire to get in the river and swim, but he did swim for about 5 minutes, and chase a few sticks. Overall we walked about a mile through the forest along the shoreline. Not a big day for a border collie, but he had a little pep in his step and was definitely happy to be out there.

He even amazed me when Aim wanted to go down a steep shoreline embankment, I said I don't know if he can make....(and as I was in mid sentence) he shot down the near vertical incline in 3 hops. It took us quite a few more. On the way up, I was certain he would need help but he was up top giving us one more encouraging (and arrogant) look of encouragement, coupled with disappointment for his much slowy 2 legged hiking partners.

Aside from the 1lb of steak he had, the 1/4lb of ground beef, and the croissant, he had pizza with us on the deck of Nino's in Lake Luzerne. The pizza was actually pretty good but in hindsight this was way too much for him. Nevertheless, it was nice to spend a beautiful day together outdoors.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hey I'm still a border collie!

No he isn't gonna climb a 6000 ft peak or hike the Great Range but he keeps reminding me why he is Wonder Dog, and why he is borderline invincible. Even Achilles had a heel, Bolt had styrofoam, and Superman had kryptonite.

Today after breakfast I got ready to leave for my PT appointment, gave him a kiss and opened the door. From laying down 10 ft away, he was up and out the door before I could react. I should have put him back in but it was too nice out to do that. So I did the only thing he would let me do, got a bowl, a water bottle, and a leash and headed out the door with him. He flew down the stairs toward the car like he was 110%.

To late for PT and with no suitable shade to park we were forced to find alternative entertainment before our lunch date with Aim.

We walked along the bike path on what is a sunny, dry, cool-ly breezy, 75F degree day, near perfect as far as we are concerned because we both hate the heat and humidity. We walked a half mile, and now we are laying in the grass, in the shade watching cyclist and rollerbladers, walkers and joggers occasionally pass by.

In a few minutes we will be on our way to lunch at the Control Tower. Time for a hamburger and buffalo chicken wrap.

-- Sent from my Palm wireless device

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Today was a good day...

Today was a good day, first time I was sort of happy since Wednesday afternoon.

Lunch at 5 Guys...Petsmart...and then a short hike before it stormed.

Caney woke up and had a croissant with his pain meds, I made him some ground beef and cheese for his main course. Yes it was a departure from steak, but better than his diet of the last 16 months.

Then we took a shower together. Amazingly I only learned he preferred showers when we got in together, rather than me wash him solo, sometime last spring. He never has been tough to bathe but he gets right in like this without any trouble. He wants to be treated like a person, and I think he feels we are equals like this, rather than a dog forced to get a bath.

Had to be careful drying him so he was pretty wet when we went out to lunch at 5 Guys. We ate outside and he ate a hamburger hot off the grill in under a minute. It was insane. I ate my burger a bit more slowly, it was delicious but I haven't been hungry. I ended up giving him half of it, and Aim gave him the last of hers. He still wanted more, so we gave him fries. You could tell he was only eating them to be polite. While (healthy) humans don't consider french fries a veggie, a dog on hospice sure does. Meat and dairy only please.

As we walked back to the car someone had a little pep in his step, just like he did when we left home. We were planning to go to PetSmart anyway which was about 1/4 mile down the road, with the pending rain we were gonna drive but Caney looked like he wanted to walk. We started walking and when we got to the intersection we needed to turn hard right, no joke Caney made the turn before we did towards PetSmart. I don't know if these places have dog whistles or dogs have a homing device to go there but he does the same thing with Petco. Only PetSmart was out of sight and still about 1/8th mile away.

When we got to PetSmart he turned directly towards the doors which magically open for dogs (ok that isn't true, they open for everyone but Caney thinks it is). We walked every aisle and he visited all the animals, smelled every single bag of food, every bin of treats, and eventually picked out some Bil-Jac Gooberlicious peanut butter treats. I asked him if he was sure -after picking a $9 1lb marrow bone the other day and not touching it because he hates heavy toys and treats- and he grunted YES. I opened the bag, and he gobbled up a treat.

We walked back to the car, and he passed a few stores he stared into but didn't have magic dog doors or any interesting looking stuff in them, Caney kept walking.

We got back to the car, he refused to get in the back, apparently he doesn't like the skid plate or door opening on the rear of the SX4. So he had to get in the driver seat where he was going to stay till I convinced him while it was a small car we he had no hands and couldn't reach the pedals. Yes, there are some things Wonder Dog can't do (at least legally).

We got home and he wouldn't come out, I said he could come out the front if he wanted or I would help him. He just looked at me with those eager eyes saying, "it's a good day, lets do something else."

So I went inside without him and told Aim to change shoes we were going for a walk at Ushers Road Preserve before the storm. 15 minutes later we were at the preserve and Caney jumped right out of the car. He was ready to go.

Well he did great, keeping up easily even at a fast pace we kept to get done before the storm. We finished just as the rain came down.

Back home he got right out of the car with a little help, and got up stairs where he drank a bowl of water and got on the couch with us for a nap.

Time for a cheese omelet.

Yes it was a good day!

-- Sent from my Palm wireless device

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wonder Dog Gets Unleashed

We got the terrible news today that Caney definitely has cancer and it has spread to his spine. Fortunately he didn't have to undergo the biopsy to confirm this, and fortunately, we waited long enough on the planned surgeries that he didn't spend the rest of his life recovering from a needless and complicated surgery.

We are obviously heartbroken, not only because we love him, or because he is still so young and energetic (even at 11), but because he has been a part of Aimee and my life really almost from the beginning. He was born at just about our 1 year anniversary, and we got him after just 16 months together. Really a whole stage of our life has been spent with Caney, and he was a big part of it.

For some time he hasn't been very energetic around home, not seeming to want to take walks, but he has been a different dog on the trail. I joked that he was saving his energy for the trail, and maybe he has been, but the tumors on his spine have sapped him of his mobility, regardless of his boundless desire.

I knew something was wrong 3 weeks ago when he wasn't keeping up on the steeps on Hadley, he finished the hike though, 4 miles and 3000ft gained and lost. Then 2 weeks ago he wouldn't walk with me to the mail box after I noticed he was having trouble on the steps. For a dog that would get faster the more technical and steeper the terrain, this was a definite sign something was wrong.

Although I feared there would be a day he would have to be carried out from the mountains, he has yet to ever let us down on a trip. Now I wish that would have been the case rather than this.

Caney never ceases to amaze us, even at almost 11, with tumors on his spine he was able to walk the same muddy rutted portage path as us multiple times this past weekend after I wasn't even sure he should come, and when we finished he still looked the least tired of the group. The only difference was he didn't carry his usual load, but he still no doubt had the toughest job of all. He did his job, keeping the group together and making sure we got done at a reasonable pace. We have never hiked with anyone who wasn't impressed with him on the trail, even those who normally don't like dogs always seem to say, "If I could get a dog like that, I would get a dog, he is such a cool dog." We have always been equally impressed and equally proud of his abilities.

While there isn't a lot to be happy about, the good news is he still feels well enough to eat, and maybe take a few more easy hikes and camping trips over the next few weeks.

For the last 16 months he has been on a restricted diet of what looked like dried carboard to increase his urine output and acidity, and for the last 2 months a highly restricted diet to keep him well hydrated, due to the problems that are now clearly more than stones and an abscessed prostate. He was such a different dog post cystotomy in 2008, the old Caney, even playing with the cat 4 days post op, and we just hoped that the problems could be fixed again. We always had the hope and belief that what was wrong with him was fixable, and we just needed to get him well enough to have it all fixed. As a result he wasn't able to eat any of his favorite foods.

Today he had steak with cheese, and as soon as I can find him some edible bagels or croissants he is going to get a dozen of each. Believe it or not, for a dog he is very picky about bagels. We once got him those stale hard bagel treats at the pet store and he refused to eat them, he never liked Milk Bones either and thought the Border Collie on the front of the box was a sellout.

On the menu canolis, bagels, croissants, steak, cheese and more cheese, and no more peas Caney...not in stews, and certainly not pureed!

Everyone loves you Caney!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tech honey Natali Del Conte compares Pre to iPhone

Great little short comparison of the Pre vs iPhone from tech honey, Natali Del Conte -an admitted iPhonophile, whom has broken/lost 7 iPhones, and still keeps buying them. Only my sister is more destructive to electronic devices.

Of note from the video, I'm kinda amazed that the Pre battery is so superior, or rather the iPhone battery is so poor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hadley Should Be Called "Not Too Hardley"

Hadley is listed as an "easy" family hike in many guide books, sure Hadley is a mere 2 miles, but it's steep. Vertically steep? No, actually not a single section of the trail can be categorized as a scramble., You never have to use your hands but it is constantly steep with an average 7% grade over the 2 miles.

Is it hard? Not at all, the footing is excellent for the most part on the ascent, but the descent can be a bit slippery in bad weather. Hadley is one of those deceptively more difficult peaks being  a 2600 foot peak that gains 1500 feet en route to the summit. Of course that can be said about many of the hikes in the northeast where trail heads can start out as low as sea level and climb as high as 6000ft.

Caney and I headed up to Hadley via route 9 by way of Wilton off the Northway, which much to my dismay is only 34 miles. Yes folks, Hadley is closer than Glens Falls, which means I was driving excessively far to get there. Probably 10 more miles going through Glens Falls. Going to short route sometimes takes longer, but aside from the annoying speed zones, it was actually a fast drive.

We got on the trail at 7pm sharp and hauled up the summit in some rain showers, I was hoping the weather would be much like it had been all week a mix of nasty storms and clearing blue skies. Great rainbow weather, and great weather potential for a great sunset. We did the 2 miles and 1500ft in 50 minutes.

Under the summer tree canopy unless the rain is constant and hard you really don't tend to get very wet. When we reached the summit at 7:50pm it had mostly stopped raining, and was just very lightly drizzling. I pulled my camera gear out of my LowePro Primus AW, which several months after buying it remains the best photo bag I have ever owned.

I set up my panoramic head, leveled everything and set my K10D to f/9 at 1/4th second, ISO 100, using a cable release and 2 second MLU. The resulting image is about 65MP at full size, from eight 10MP images.

We retreated off the summit after watching the beautiful lightening show in the distance, that eventually was overhead striking the fire tower (luckily we were already off the summit). The hike down took slightly longer than the trip up, and was a lot more wet.

Despite the weather it was a beautiful day in the mountains.

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Palm Pre vs. iPhone 3G vs iPhone 3GS Speed Test

Since I turn my phone off about NEVER...and I reset it about NEVER the first test is irrelevant, but please do revel in it. In 3 weeks my Palm Pre has been reset once, when I turn it off I go to airplane mode, which kills 95% of battery drain and means I still have access to the media/pda functions and instant network access with a press of a button. I'm happy to concede the turn on time (which by the way, is sometimes a minute, sometimes 30 seconds hers was weird at almost 2 minutes, maybe it was earlier firmware). However, I do browse the web all the time, and I do send emails/photos/SMS all the time. An extra 15 seconds per web page, and 15 seconds per email would add up fast.

By the way, ATTs network is famed out west for being superior to it's east coast version, San Francisco is not a small market hill town, if ATT doesn't have Sprints coverage in San Fran why would I think it covers podunk any better? Service is key to a phone like this being fully functional, without it the phone becomes a fancy flashy brick.

I love superior products in both interface and speed! Also love the superior Sprint network.

I love Pre-edom

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Momma Eastman Don't Take My Kodachrome Away

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama dont take my kodachrome away
-Paul Simon

A lot of people, without ever using a roll of Kodachrome, are going to be blogging about the demise of another film emulsion. Either they'll be happy (for unknown reasons, but most likely because they revel in the potential for film to be extinct, and have an excuse to write a bunch of nonsense), or terribly saddened and terrified that THIS is the death of film, as their iconic favorite emulsion bites the dust.

I sort of grew up on Kodachrome. By that I mean I shot that most often early on, and essentially learned photography on it. I never liked Velvia because it was too "punchy" with all the colors from the vibrant section of the crayola box. I also loved the etched in glass look of a K64 slide versus the E6 emulsions which are vibrant and beautiful on a light box but lack that etched look. Beyond that, Kodachrome is lauded for it's archival qualities, which are significantly better than other film emulsions.

The first roll of slide film I ever shot was Kodachrome 64, and I shot many rolls of that emulsion along with an occasional roll of K200. It was easy for me to expose, and seemed to do much better for me under varied lighting than Velvia, which had very precise needs for proper exposure. You can't shoot people with Velvia, you can't shoot in contrasty lighting, and Velvia was really an ISO 40 film rather than a 50.

Kodachrome 64 and 200 were very fine grained, high resolution films with a natural color palette. They could shoot people, wildlife and landscapes all on the same roll. The processing was more tightly controlled than other professional slide emulsions because Kodachrome was a K14 process. Pushing Kodachrome 64 to EI100 yielded very good results with no real loss of quality.

The K14 process which most likely created that "etched in glass look" is what in my opinion killed Kodachrome. In the late 1990s there were at least a handful of labs in the US that processed K14, film was also processed at Kodak in Rochester. I believe my K64 and K200 was sent out to NJ for processing. Then one by one the labs dried up across the world. At first it was just a matter of sending it to a different region. If you were in Europe your Swiss K14 lab might now be in Germany, and in the US you might send it to NJ from Mississippi, but it was still easy enough. Then one day it was just Dwayne's in Kansas for the entire world. Yes, 1 lab in the entire world to process K14 films. Since Kodak was the only manufacturer that I know of to use the K14 process, it meant there was a small market for it, unlike E6 slide films which had many films and could support more labs.

Imagine shooting Kodachrome 64 religiously and having to pay $25 to ship it each way to Dwayne's from Europe? You are out $50 before the film cost and the processing cost. Only the most loyal Kodachrome shooter is going to go through that expense and hassle for the love of an emulsion.

Once I realized I was at the mercy of a single lab to process my film, and also realized Kodachrome emulsions were at best OK, and at worst poorly designed for scanning and no longer fit into my hybrid film/digital work flow, I decided to find a new emulsion. That emulsion was Fuji Provia 100F. Provia is another well rounded film that was designed with the hybrid "shoot to scan" photographer like myself in mind. Provia is a beautiful film, and better for my needs, but Kodachrome K14 films are still something that has never been reproduced when directly printed from or viewed on a light box. Provia on the other hand can be processed at home, or any lab that does standard E6 processing. If you get a good lab, your results should be as consistent as Kodachrome, although probably not as archival.

Despite some of the rampant complaining on these internets, Kodak didn't kill Kodachrome, why would it? Kodak wants to sell film and sell a lot of it. Sure Kodak makes digital camera sensors, and digital photo frames, and Kodak is a world leader in all sorts of imaging technology from medical, to document scanning, to the technologies that aren't even main stream yet (think OLED among many others), but film and paper are still the core of Kodak's name, and it's business.

There is still a strong market for film, but it's a reduced market fueled by enthusiast and disgruntled digital shooters. Film isn't the must have of a few decades ago, it's now largely a niche market. If a product isn't pulling it's weight, it needs to be discontinued for the financial health of the company. The bottom line is Kodak could go down with Kodachrome or cut the dead weight and produce films that it can sell.

Kodak, in my opinion, has never caught up to Fuji since Fuji released Velvia and changed the color film game. Part of Kodak's problem (again in my opinion) is it tried and tried to reproduce Velvia but never could prove it had an emulsion that was better, and thus had no stability in it's film lineup. One Kodak film after another challenged Velvia, but none were Velvia, even Fuji couldn't reproduce Velvia and eventually had to reintroduce it's discontinued Velvia. However, Kodak has produced many fine films before, and most importantly after it went from #1 to #2 in the race for the best emulsions. Kodak films have gotten better at being scanned, and improved in resolution and tonality. Over the last few years Kodak has released several entirely new or reformulated films.

So 6 months shy of Kodachromes 75th anniversary it's been announced Kodak is discontinuing Kodachrome, something only the most naive could claim they didn't see coming. 75 years is a long time in the modern world to produce any product, and K64 will still be on shelves and will still be processed on that 75th anniversary. I would say use this as an opportunity to shoot as much K64 as you can, and also as an opportunity to realize you can't shoot a roll or two of film a year and expect it to be produced. Personally, I won't be buying any K64, but I am supporting black and white film and my current favorite Provia 100F in 120 format.

If you like film, if you are interested in film, or if you just want to see your favorite emulsion survive, you need to shoot a few rolls a month. If you like developing your own film you need to process enough to keep the chemicals in production. I know a lot of people are like me, we like film, almost prefer it, but don't like the hassle of processing and scanning it. Unfortunately, the hassle will be gone all too soon if we don't suck it up and start shooting our favorites!


Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak's taking Kodachrome away

Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.

The Eastman Kodak Co. announced Monday it's retiring its oldest film stock because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age.

The world's first commercially successful color film, immortalized in song by Simon, spent 74 years in Kodak's portfolio. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and '60s but in recent years has nudged closer to obscurity: Sales of Kodachrome are now just a fraction of 1 percent of the company's total sales of still-picture films, and only one commercial lab in the world still processes it.

Those numbers and the unique materials needed to make it convinced Kodak to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Mary Jane Hellyar, the outgoing president of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group.

"Kodachrome is particularly difficult (to retire) because it really has become kind of an icon," Hellyar said.

The company now gets about 70 percent of its revenue from its digital business, but plans to stay in the film business "as far into the future as possible," Hellyar said. She points to the seven new professional still films and several new motion picture films introduced in the last few years and to a strategy that emphasizes efficiency.

"Anywhere where we can have common components and common design and common chemistry that let us build multiple films off of those same components, then we're in a much stronger position to be able to continue to meet customers' needs," she said.

Kodachrome, because of a unique formula, didn't fit in with the philosophy and was made only about once a year.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The genius of WebOS and Synergy

I use MS Outlook as my desktop client for email, calendar and contact info. Through third party apps (Fonebook) I can even download my friends Facebook images, and birthdays into my Outlook, as well as updated contact info.  Fortunately the Pre does away with local storage of data, and puts it all in the "cloud" meaning you can sync all your accounts (Facebook, Google, Palm for now) with Synergy without every truely storing a contact on your Pre (you have access even offline, but they continuously sync when you have a signal).

The fact that Synergy is cross platform, meaning it doesn't require an specific desktop operating system is ground breaking. Palm allowing PRE to be virtually OS independent using Synergy via the "cloud" is something that should both separate it from the competition and also force the competition to do similar things (competition is good!).

Unfortunately, not everyone has there data already in the cloud (Google or Facebook), and in my opinion Google's weakest application is Google Contacts. Plus, Google by default adds every email address you ever responded to you your contacts. Finally, the Pre is still being tweaked, and currently you can only select to sync all or none with Google and Facebook.The means if you are someone that friends every person you meet in life or online through Facebook you could have 500, 1000, or even 5000 contacts that you actually don't really know or need contact info on floating around your Pre. Google is just as bad when email replies are factored in.

So until Palm updates the Synergy portion of the Pre to break down contacts and/or selectively add groups of contacts, I will not use Google or Facebook with Synergy. .

What I did to solve the problem was sync my Outlook one last time with Facebook, then I did a 1 time, 1 way sync using Palms data migration utility for the Pre with Outlook to my Palm profile on the Pre. This is now synced with my Palm profile in the cloud. For the time being my Palm profile is my only contact database, but it's pretty accurate and essentially includes Facebook since I was able to update Outlook with Facebook using the Fonebook utility.

Palm truely has a cutting edge product and some head turning features, but the WebOS still is in it's early stages and not everything is perfectly sorted out, so for the time being little adjustments must be made to make the most of the WebOS and Synergy!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Press Release: Adirondack Council Calls on Encon Commissioner Grannis to Close Forest Preserve Roads in Wake of Judge's Decision

Released: Thursday, May 21, 2009LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today called on NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Grannis to use his administrative authority to re-close a former road in an Adirondack Wilderness Area that was opened to motorized traffic today by a state administrative law judge.“It appears from the judge’s decision that the state didn’t properly close this road when it assumed ownership of it and converted it to a hiking, ski and horse trail,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal. “But today’s decision doesn't have to be the final word on the matter.“Commissioner Grannis has the authority to use the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to prohibit the use of motorized vehicles on this and other roads that are affected by this decision,” Houseal explained. “We urge Commissioner Grannis to begin that process right away. He should have done so today, as this decision was announced, to avoid the chance that someone is already out there riding a jeep or an all-terrain vehicle on this road.“It is also imperative that the DEC issue its ATV Policy for state lands, which was first announced by Commissioner Erin Crotty during the Pataki Administration,” Houseal said. “DEC cannot allow fragile wildlife habitat and water quality to suffer in New York’s premiere Wilderness Park due to DEC’s inability to complete its work in a timely way.”Commissioner Grannis can act right now to stop motorized traffic in off-limits locations in the Adirondack Park by exercising NYS Highway Law Section 212, Houseal said,
Press Release: Adirondack Council Calls on Encon Commissioner Grannis to Close Forest Preserve Roads in Wake of Judge's Decision

Threats to wilderness areas never seem to stop. Some people might call Article 14 cumbersome but without it and the APA (which has seemingly gotten soft over the years) the Adirondacks would look about as poorly preserved as our over commercialized national parks.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Your Smoking Hot New Palm Pre Smoking Hot?? Bug Fix

Not sure if this is a bug, or not but there seems to be a widespread issue of the Palm Pre running hot and sucking battery down even when not being actively used. Below is a fix for it!

Let me just say, to the competition haters and Pre buyers who are crying about this, bugs occur with every new product. As long as the company acknowledges it and fixes it, it's not an issue.

Now you as a 1st generation buyer need to deal with these issues as best as possible. The Pre WebOS is awesome, and the phone works well out of the box but here is a fix for the heat issue.

1. Update to version 1.02 with OTA (over the air updates in your apps menu on the 3rd screen). It's 60MB but if you have a good 3G signal OR you have you Pre hooked up to WiFi it takes about 5-10 minutes to DL, plus 10 minutes to install. Technically Sprint and Best Buy stores should be doing this before you leave the store. The update is a major update, adds some features, and fixes some minor bugs, the OS seemed snappier as soon as I did it as well (and it was snappy before).

2. load your contacts into your Palm Profile from outlook if you use Outlook. Palm sent out an email to people who setup there palm profile when they turned the phone on with a link to this. Once this is done, sync with Outlook (this is a one time, one way sync). Set Palm Profile as your default contact management. This will sync your contacts to the "Palm Profile Cloud" as well as your calendar, notes, and task. The Pre auto backs up your Pre to the cloud daily, and auto syncs your contacts with both Palm, Google, Facebook and Exchange using Palms Synergy. This works great and means no more lost contacts and Apps. However, PLEASE NOTE THE PRE DOES *NOT* sync/backup your USB drive information which includes your photos, and MP3s. Please make sure you back this stuff up yourself.

3. Facebook seems to be fine in synergy, as does google (my wife is running both with no heat issues) but some people reported google to be an issue. Since at this time Google contact sync is all or none (as is Facebook),  I'd not use google contacts for the time being. Contacts is Googles weakest app anyway so just leave it off the Pre for now to play it safe. Google adds any email address you ever reply to as a contact, and all show up on the Pre.

4. When setting up email you CANNOT use Hotmail. It seems Hotmail is the cause, or the main cause of the heating issue. Microsoft has tried very hard to make it's email as proprietary as possible, and even as a long time Hotmail user I have to say, it might be time to move on. So remove Hotmail from the Pre.

4a. Google uses IMAP folders/sync so my advice is to go into your Gmail options and have hotmail checked via google. I would have your Hotmail sent directly to your archived folder, and not your Inbox to keep things more simple. This won't get your junk mail, but the bad news is since Hotmail is HTTP based, the Pre never could access your Junk mail folder anyway. Nothing is lost, and everything works just fine like this. Gmail is a superior mail server and the IMAP is less taxing on the Pre, plus IMAP syncs much better with Outlook and Outlook Express desktop clients.

4b. If you have other accounts it might make sense to check them through Gmail as well. Although it seems Yahoo and Exchange are not an issue as both are currently running on my Pre, and it's now running ice cold.

4c. My setup is this, Hotmail through Gmail, my corporate exchange email through exchange set to continuous checks (counter intuitive but seems to not drain the battery), and my Yahoo at 6 hour intervals since I don't use it for much except Yahoo based services (Flickr and such).

5.Turn off the GPS auto locate. This wasn't and isn't a cause of any known problem but it will increase battery drain with all phones.. If you are questioning why you would do this I can assure you that your phone also uses A-GPS which means it can get a rough location (actually VERY ACCURATE) from your cell tower triangulation, just open the Google Maps app with the GPS off while standing in your basement with a cell signal, and notice the blue dot is fairly accurate!!. This means GPS is just a drain. Again, you might be wondering if Sprint Navigation will still work? The answer is yes, when you turn on Sprint Navigation ( a very good TeleNav/TeleAtlas based text to speech GPS app) the GPS DOES turn on. However, when you close it the radio turns off again and you go back to A-GPS. This is the best of all worlds!

6. Finally to increase your battery life while at home, make sure your Pre Wifi radio is on at the house or at known WiFi locations.  The Pre will turn off the EVDO search when a strong WiFi connection is present. Sprints 3G network is great but the WiFi is stronger, and faster in most cases. This will give you better performance, and better battery life. Turn it off when you are out and about since it will continuously search for networks, many of which are secure and useless.

I just want to stress that I know many people are going to jump on any issue found with the much hyped Pre. All I can say is I will have my 96 hour hands on review out shortly and overall this phone meets and exceeds expectations, CONSIDERING the fact I have waited through 6 months of hype for this phone. Deal with the minor issues by fixing them yourself where possible, report them to Palm/Sprint, and give Palm and Sprint the 30 days you have to return the phone to work out any MAJOR bugs in a 1st generation hardware and software system. Believe me when I say, if this phone fails, Palm is gone, and Sprint has nothing novel to bring customers back to it's revamped and very good network, both companies have a lot at stake and this phone has to be priority #1 for both companies.

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