Monday, June 29, 2009


I'll probably be on the wrong side of the fence with my liberal friends but I agree with the Supreme Court decision on the Connecticut Firemen. Before anyone leaps to the conclusion that I condone discrimination against minorities, I don't. I'm a firm beliver in civil rights and I believe the laws against discrimination were, and still are, needed. OTOH they can be carried too far.

As an illustration I'll relate an incident from my own past. After I graduated from college I intended to teach art in the public school system but I graduated just as the state universities produced a glut of teachers and I found myself searching for a non-existent job. At one point I ran onto an SBA (Small Business Administration) brochure that was promoting small business loans to individuals who had skills they could turn into a business but had resources too small to support themselves much less get a traditional loan. That was me at the time.

Per instructions in the brochure I went to my local bank and asked to speak to the loan officer who handled SBA backed loans . The loan officer listened to my proposal but said he'd never heard of this program. I showed him the brochure and he promptly called the SBA and asked about it. After a conversation with several "Uh-huh"'s and a "No" he said "Thank you" and hung up the phone. He then told me that although there was such a program and I met all the qualifications that the brochure listed, he couldn't help me because I lacked one qualification that was not in the brochure, I wasn't black.

I didn't sue. I had no money to get a lawyer and at that time, almost 40 years ago, it probably wouldn't have gone anywhere in the courts anyway. After three and half years of temporary minimum wage jobs interspersed with periods of unemployment and food stamps I finally found a steady job that I didn't like but felt lucky to get so I stuck with it until retirement 30 years later. Because of my experience though I sympathize with those firemen. If the city couldn't show that the test was actually discriminatory against minorities, those who passed should have gotten the jobs. Discrimination is discrimination no matter who it is against.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chaumont Barrens

I went to Chaumont Barrens on Tuesday in hope of finding some Yellow Lady Slippers to photograph. Unfortunately they apparently peaked last week. I found only two quite small ones, one of which was in a clump of 4-5 that had wilted to the point of turning brown. My day was rescued however by the discovery of some Wood Lilies growing up in the midst of a dead Spreading Yew that was all silvery from being weathered. I had never seen a Wood Lily before but the Barrens is a unique environment for the North Country with several species not normally seen around here.

The Wood Lilies in this photo are all on one stem, two full blooms and a bud. The others I found were all single flowers per stem. In the past I've only gone to the Barrens when the Lady Slippers and Prairie Smoke were in bloom. I guess I should go back at other times of the year. Who knows what else I may discover.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


For several years now I've gone camping in June with a couple of fellow retirees. We spent the last two days at the Eighth Lake campground. Our site was actually on Seventh Lake just North of Inlet, NY. The DEC Eighth Lake campground straddles the space between the two lakes. John and I attempted to ride the Moose River Plains Rd. on our mountain bikes. I attempted, John succeeded. I ran out of gas after 16 miles and rode the last 6 miles with Bruce who was running support for us in his SUV. My excuse is that I am out of shape because I hadn't been exercising regularly after my gall bladder surgery but it was a pretty tough trip anyway. I'm not sure I'd have been in good enough shape even if I had been riding more this spring.

We found some Pink Lady Slippers in the woods right by our campsite. I even got a shot of one with a bee on it. Last night was a beautiful evening, clear sky that turned black with glittering stars. An owl and a loon sang us to sleep.