Welcome to the Finger Lakes! Our theme song:

In a town this size, there's no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know...
In a smokey bar, in the backseat of your car
In your own little house, someone's sure to find you out
What you do and what you think
What you eat and what you drink...

(Kieran Kane)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A local speaks out

In a letter to Dryden, NY's town board, resident Ron Szymanski puts Dryden's me-too fracking ban  in perspective.  Syzmanski lists the logical problems raised by such a ban, and hits what we think could be the result most harmful to the ordinary Finger Lakes citizen.
ANTI-BUSINESS.  The natural gas drilling ban limits opportunities for local businesses, from trucking to restaurants.  The County recently dropped a road ordinance because of its unintended consequences on local businesses.  In addition, it denies Dryden residents access to jobs and further compromises our tax base.
We suspect that prohibiting the growth of easy entry jobs, and the prosperity those jobs might bring to locals, is one of the unstated goals of the organized defenders of the region's status quo.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Horrors of government shutdown

How ever will we survive if the Republicans don't cave as expected, and the federal government is forced to stop providing vital services?  Midwestern observer IowaHawk analyzed the federal budget, and makes some dire predictions, such as...
Roving bands of outlaws stalk our streets, selling incandescent bulbs to vulnerable children.
Mankind's dream of high speed government rail service between Chicago and Iowa City tragically dies.
Sesame Street descends into Mad Maxian anarchy; Oscar the Grouch fashions shivs out the letter J and the number 4.
No longer protected by government warning labels, massive wave of amputations from people sticking limbs into lawn mowers.
Before they shut down the internet, go read the entire list.

Summer activities

Before the Finger Lakes leaves begin to turn, be sure to play this one poolside, on the dock, or on the deck, while enjoying a local beverage of your choice.

Working at the pool

Harrison, on the job

One of our high school summer jobs involved a large, private swimming pool.  We arrived early, removed drowned wildlife from the pool filters, cleaned up the empties from the previous evening's goings on, topped off the chlorine tank, then jumped in the water and scrubbed the pool walls by hand.  Although we were usually out of there before the first sunbather hit a chaise lounge, we still remember it as a primo gig.

New York City high school kid Harrison Anastasio also has a summer job at a pool.  Harrison's position sounds like more fun:
By 11 a.m. on a recent sweltering Sunday, Harrison Anastasio had already collected the cellphone numbers of five bikini-clad women on the rooftop pool at the James New York Hotel.
“Don’t forget to text me,” one of the women whispered to the 17-year-old, flashing him a coy smile. Anastasio colored slightly beneath his Wayfarer sunglasses. But he wouldn’t forget. Though it sounds like the setup for a 1980s sex comedy, it’s his job.
Back then, we'd have offered that service, too.  Bikinis were widely available, but nobody had heard of cell phones.

Don't try this at home

Our North Country correspondent located and removed this swarm of honeybees in Oswego County.  This is a job for experts only, so let us know if you'd like the bee guy's contact info.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who is the gas industry?

The force behind the energy industry

Here in the Finger Lakes, it seems every self-important leftist follows the "no-fracking " dogma religiously, without considering opposing points of view.  Since these right thinking drones are found everywhere in an academia-dominated bioregion like ours, the media has no trouble locating them when they need an opinion on the evil plutocrats running the shale gas industry.

The pro-energy, pro-jobs, pro-prosperity point of view is always represented as "the gas industry."  What the "mainstream" media, which does not do well with economics, is missing is that the "gas industry," as they understand it, does not exist.  Unlike coercive government programs, the "gas industry" would not exist if every man, woman, child and reporter didn't choose to consume energy on a daily basis.  The "gas industry" is really nothing but a willing servant, doing the demanding bidding of the common man.  But the "gas industry" is much easier to demonize than, say, Mrs. Smith's fifth grade class, which can study environmentalism in a nice warm classroom in January in the Finger Lakes, instead of shivering in a crude shelter in the woods, hoping to survive until spring.

What we really need is a way to create energy from the Finger Lakes' unlimited supply of hypocrisy.  Why, even our newly arrived "off the grid" cultists are usually hiding a gasoline powered generator from Lowe's somewhere on the homestead.  The next time an anti-energy "friend of the earth" asks you to sign her "let's outlaw fracking" petition, you should first ask her to shut down her website, give up air travel, stop drinking coffee, and turn over her smart phone, Volvo keys, prescription drugs and imported synthetic clothing.  

And, speaking of energy consumers, Lonely Conservative has also grown impatient.
We’re surrounded by so many stupid people who buy into the crap the left is spewing, but we’ll never see them turn off their power. Where the heck do they think it comes from?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Afghan teens shop for tunes

Stylish Afghan teenagers check out the latest hits at a local record shop.  Some of the disks available are even "stereo compatible!"  

This happy scene is, however, from the 1960s. Since the photo was taken, certain cultural changes have occurred in Afghanistan.  This picture could not be replicated today, or, regardless of the billions of dollars US taxpayers have spent to make it otherwise, all involved would risk beatings or execution.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweden loves Bonnevilles

Lined up for a photo - in Sweden!

In addition to American music, our friends in Sweden have a thing for American cars.  We don't read a word of Swedish, but we do recognize a Pontiac Bonneville wherever we see it. 

For a look at what's going on in Swedish hot rodders' garages, Klicka Har.

Keystone State vs. Empire State

This morning's Wall Street Journal compares Pennsylvania's approach to shale gas extraction to New York's.
Politicians wringing their hands over how to create more jobs might study the shale boom along the New York and Pennsylvania border. It's a case study in one state embracing economic opportunity, while the other has let environmental politics trump development.
The Journal reviews the benefits the citizens of the commonwealth to our south have been reaping from hydrofracking, and points out that PA has created a structure that encourages safe drilling.  
Then there's New York. The state holds as much as 20% of the estimated Marcellus shale reserves, but green activists have raised fears about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing and convinced politicians to enact what is effectively a moratorium.

The Manhattan Institute study shows that a quick end to the moratorium would generate more than $11.4 billion in economic output from 2011 to 2020, 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs, and $1.4 billion in new state and local tax revenue. These are conservative estimates based on a limited area of drilling. If drilling were allowed in the New York City watershed—which Governor Andrew Cuomo is so far rejecting—as well as in the state's Utica shale formation, the economic gains would be five times larger...
Such bows toward the obsessions of rich, big-city greens explain why parts of upstate New York are the new Appalachia.
Don't worry, Cuomo has a plan to "create jobs" for your kids. 
"Yes, we work with cities. Yes, we work with towns," Cuomo said. "But the economy works or doesn't work in a regional context. Economically, there are regions."
Cuomo said the makeup of 10 geographic regions across the state, as well as councils to guide their individual development strategies, would be announced "in the coming days."
Those regions will put together a consolidated "mega-application" to compete for $130 million from the Empire State Development Corp. and additional grants offered by other state programs, rather than having to develop separate applications for each funding source.
Bold added.  If Cuomo's gibberish makes any sense to you, please help us out by explaining in the comments section.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sweden loves American country music

Now is the time at South of 5 and 20 when we dance begin posting the occasional YouTube video.  For starters, we submit for your approval Stockholm's own  Long Gone Smiles Band in a live 2009 performance, in English, of a Bill Trader tune, a big hit for Hank Snow in 1953.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We're #2!

2. New York
Taxes paid by residents as pct. of income:
Total state and local taxes collected:
$243.9 billion
Pct. of total taxes paid by residents:
Pct. of total taxes paid by non-residents:
 Additionally, the state has exceptionally high property tax rates. According to the Census Bureau, the top ten counties in the U.S. with the highest property taxes as a percentage of home values are all in New York.
New Jersey still has the lead, but the Garden State better watch its back...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dryden residents support fracking

The Town of Dryden, NY, a rural township evolving into a bedroom suburb for Cornell University, held a big anti-fracking hoedown last night.  Dryden's town board conducted a public hearing an on a me-too anti-fracking law.  We hear the usual anti-energy suspects were out in force.

Not to be overlooked in the "let's-return-to-the-stone-age" hysteria, supporters of a more balanced point of view have quickly organized as the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition. Check out the Coalition's website (linked) for a ton of facts and analysis. 

Jet Set update

Glenn Reynolds says it again:
I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ONE GODDAMNED THING ABOUT MY CARBON FOOTPRINT: Michelle Obama Flies To Aspen and Back For Fundraiser Tuesday. “But those with Aspen ties aren’t done giving. First Lady Michelle Obama will arrive in our fair city a week from today, on Tuesday, July 26, for a luncheon to benefit her husband’s bid for a second term, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The first lady will be hitting up two ski resorts in one day, first stopping in Park City, Utah, for a breakfast before hopping a flight to Aspen. It will be a quick fundraising trip. She will promptly return to Washington, D.C.”
And until until they get rid of all their smart phones, iPads, laptops, websites, antibiotics, Saabs, plastic kayaks, Kubotas, led flashlights, cordless drills...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Syracuse Nationals

Over 80,000 people checked out over 7,000 cars at last weekend's Syracuse Nationals.  Bob O'Connor founded the annual event only 11 years ago, yet its already one of Upstates's most success enterprises.  Held under typical Central New York cloudless skies, with summer-like temperatures, this year's show had something for everyone.  In addition to Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran), Henry Winkler (Fonzie) and Brock Yates (Brock Yates), there were a whole lot of cars. A few photos:.



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not fonda Jane

Senior citizen Jane Fonda was scheduled to appear on the QVC shopping channel today to pitch her new book.  Not gonna happen.  Too many people who remember "Hanoi Jane" called QVC to complain. 

Perhaps the owner of this '64 Ford Fairlane spotted at the Syracuse Nationals yesterday (closeup of rear window below) was among the protestors.  40 years may have gone by, but what goes around still comes around.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fracking threatend by new fuels?

If this works out, there may be little need for hydrofracking.  Per TigerHawk, a Massachusetts  startup called Joule Unlimited has developed on an organism that can produce liquid fuels on demand.  Great, but at what cost?  How about thirty bucks a barrel?
Joule says it now has “a library” of fossil-fuel organisms at work in its Massachusetts labs, each engineered to produce a different fuel. It has “proven the process,” has produced ethanol (for example) at a rate equivalent to 10,000 U.S. gallons an acre a year. It anticipates that this yield could hit 25,000 gallons an acre a year when scaled for commercial production, equivalent to roughly 800 barrels of crude an acre a year.
By way of comparison, Cornell University’s David Pimentel, an authority on ethanol, says that one acre of corn produces less than half as much energy, equivalent to only 328 barrels. If a few hundred barrels of crude sounds modest, recall that millions of acres of prime U.S. farmland are now used to make corn ethanol.
We expect the professional opposition to shale gas will soon rush to invest in Joule's venture.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July in the Finger Lakes

Now Barry's after our fireworks

Recently, over Cayuga Lake

 John Adams got the fireworks started in 1776.
Why are fireworks on the Fourth of July important? The first Fourth of July celebration was in 1776 at the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The beginning of the greatest experiment in democracy the world has ever seen. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and freedom.
John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776 saying that "the day will be the most memorable in the history of America.
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival . . . it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade . . . bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore."
Now Barry Obama is trying to put an end to them.
Few would think of this south-central city in Kansas as having a big smog problem. But under current standards it's now one day away from breaching the EPA's standard for ozone, the main ingredient in smog.
That's because the city's 4th of July fireworks pushed its ozone levels over the EPA limit for the third day this year. One more violation and it could find itself forced to produce an EPA-approved smog-cutting plan that would, as the Wichita Eagle reported, "cost taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars."
Now, the EPA is expected to announce later this month if it'll tighten the smog standard even more. Doing so would shove still more cities into the "polluted" category and leave many more with just a fireworks display between them and costly EPA mandates.
This has nothing to do with ozone, and everything to do with putting you in your place, amigos.  Wake up.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Town of Ithaca bans fracking

Town residents boarding Cornell's new campus shuttle

Well, that's settled.  WHCU AM reports:
The Town of Ithaca has become the first municipality in Tompkins County to ban hydrofracking for natural gas.

The ban came Monday night as the Town Board unanimously voted in favor of changes in the zoning code clarifying drilling  will never be allowed within the town.
In order to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, the bedroom suburb's town board also banned smart phones, iPads, radios, televisions, refrigerators, air conditioning, cars, trucks, buses, farm tractors, electric lights, air travel, universities and modern medicine .

Monday, July 11, 2011

Smokey in the dashboard

The Wall Street Journal reports that today's economic environment is changing the nature of the long haul truck driver's job.
Gary Vann pines for the days when he could put the pedal to the metal in his 18-wheeler and hurtle down empty stretches of highway at 100 miles per hour. "You talk about fun, man," the 34-year-old Tennessean said.
That was in the late 1990s, when Mr. Vann was a rookie truck driver and oil was cheap. Now, with diesel at close to $4 a gallon, trucking companies are moving to cap soaring fuel bills by tapping the brakes on their drivers.
Several big companies have tweaked the computerized governors on their trucks' engines in recent months, dialing down the top speed. Mr. Vann's employer, Titan Transfer LLC, cut it to 65 mph from 70 mph. Titan also drops extra cash on drivers who know how to get the best fuel economy out of their rigs, and puts extra pressure on the leadfoot.
Older drivers, who lived the 1970s trucker culture, are, needless to say, dismayed.
It's a good thing John Gilbert didn't have an egg under his accelerator in the 1970s. Back then, he often high-tailed it from Los Angeles to Baltimore at an average speed of 80 mph. Mr. Gilbert, now 69, would cross the country in three days, not the five his company gave him for the trip. That gave him two days to relax at home in Baltimore, with his bosses none the wiser.
The low-tech tools of the trade were catnip to rogue truckers. The CB radio helped drivers skirt speed traps. Faced with federal rules limiting the number of hours they could drive in a day, truckers kept written logs—sometimes several versions of them—to hide illegally long days from authorities' prying eyes.
Mr. Gilbert reminds us of a driver we knew.  Cue Jim Croce.
I drive a broke down rig on "may-pop" tires
Forty foot of overload
A lot of people say that I'm crazy
Because I don't know how to take it slow
I got a broomstick on the throttle
I got her opened up and head right down
Nonstop back to Dallas
Poppin' them West Coast turn-arounds
And they call me Speedball
Speedball Tucker
Terror of the highways
And all them other truckers
Will tell you that the boy is mad
To be drivin' in a rig like that

You know the rain may blow

The snow may snow
And the turnpikes they may freeze
But they don't bother ol' Speedball
He goin' any damn way he please
He got a broomstick on the throttle
To keep his throttle foot a-dancin' round
With a cupful of coal black coffee
And a pocketful of West Coast turn-arounds

One day I looked into my rear view mirror

And a-comin' up from behind
There was a Georgia State policeman
And a hundred dollar fine
Well he looked me in the eye as he was writin' me up
And said, "Driver, you've been flyin'!"
"And ninety five was the route you were on, it was not the speed limit sign."

Friday, July 8, 2011

CNY school administrators drawing scrutiny


The school board also fired its interim superintendent and director of operations after a May 15 Post-Standard article revealed the district had awarded Director of Operations Paula VanMinos a contract that guaranteed her tenure or three years’ salary — $308,000.
The article also revealed that VanMinos had been staying overnight at the apartment of the man who signed the contract, then-interim Superintendent Lawrence Zacher. The district terminated its contract with Zacher. In addition to the FBI probe, the state Comptroller’s Office is in the midst of a nearly yearlong probe of the school district’s finances.
Meanwhile, former Trumansburg school superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, who may have been involved in overtaxing T-burg residents during his stint at the Finger Lakes district, is now being looked at by the State Comptroller's office for the same problem at his new gig over in Ilion, NY.
According to the report, filed on the comptroller’s website on June 13, it stated, “The Board did not adequately monitor its fund balance. Consequently, the District has accumulated approximately $1.95 million in excess funds that should be used to benefit taxpayers by reducing the tax levy, funding necessary reserves, reducing debt, and/or paying one-time expenditures, in accordance with statutory requirements.”
These overpaid bureaucrats are driving our property taxes higher every year, even as our economy has collapsed. It's well past time for taxpayers to get involved.  These scammers work for you.  It may sound as unpleasant as root canal, but you need to attend meetings and ask questions.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Manufacturing returns to Seneca Falls

Don't write off our economy just yet.  Whether or not fracking ever happens, it appears manufacturing is making a comeback in the Finger Lakes region.  Finger Lakes Daily News reports:
The Cayuga Indian Nation of New York plans to begin manufacturing it's own brand of cigarettes later this year at the former Klionsky Scrap Metal property at 61 Ovid Street in Seneca Falls.
No need to wait for Andy Cuomo's expensive regional economic development councils.  Not subject to onerous New York regulations, not subsidized, not taxed, and producing a potentially deadly product, but a factory nonetheless.

Especial Hotel California

Carretera Sin Fin (Road Without End) is a Spanish language blog from Madrid that appreciates classic American music.  Our amigos Jimmy and BolaOcho put together some insightful themed mixes.  

If you ever wished you lived in Laurel Canyon in the 70s, check out Especial Hotel California.  The mix is downloadable, but the process is not for the technically timid.  Ask your kid to assist.

Prominent figure predicted fracking benefits for Southern Tier

Wilkin's Store, Sullivanville, NY
Readers are invited to identify the high profile observer who made this statement:
"The economic potential from the Marcellus Shale could provide a badly needed boost to the economy of the Southern Tier, and even many environmentalists agree we want to produce more domestic natural gas that reduces the need for environmentally damaging fuel sources such as coal..."
No, it was not CNY's Unlikely Hospitalist.  Neither was it Syracuse's Lonely Conservative, or even our own analysts here at South of 5 and 20Investors' Business Daily reminds us that the speaker was then-candidate for governor Andy Cuomo, in a campaign statement released last year.

Photo credit:  Decrepitude of the Southern Tier

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cuomo attacks NYT over fracking report

In a shocking turn of events, New York governor and rumored second-term Obama vice president Andy Cuomo has come down hard on the New York Times over its biased coverage of hydrofracking.
The Cuomo administration is charging The New York Times with using its news pages to crusade against natural-gas drilling in the impoverished Southern Tier section upstate.
"To get the story so blatantly wrong by posting a misleading headline on the Times' home page is a disservice to your readers," Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens wrote to the paper Friday in reference to a Times "exclusive" that Cuomo had supposedly given a go-ahead to use the controversial hydrofracturing technique for gas drilling.
"The Times has a responsibility to present accurate and balanced coverage of such a controversial matter, and it failed miserably in this case," Martens, a Cuomo appointee, continued.
In Fred Dicker's New York Post piece, linked above, we note the sympathetic reference to "the impoverished Southern Tier section upstate."  Fred left out "but nonetheless oppressively taxed."

Have a great Fourth!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Last Army draftee to retire

When the draft notice arrived in the mail in 1972 at his home in Eugene, Ore., tens of thousands of troops had been killed. Anti-war protests were rampant. Draft notices were being set on fire and returning soldiers were treated as part of the problem. The military wasn't a popular job.
The return address on the letter was the White House. Just 19, he was impressed that President Richard Nixon would write to him.
"I opened it up and it said, 'Greetings from the president of the United States.' I said, 'Wow, how's he know me?'" Mellinger said, laughing. "It was a form letter that said my friends and neighbors had selected me to represent them in the Armed Forces and I was hereby ordered to report for induction."
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger will retire from the Army this summer.
Mellinger was drafted to fight the Vietnam War, and the Army believes he's the last draftee to retire, after 39 years. Most did their two years and left. But Mellinger had found home.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New York getting ready to frack?

Cuomo to take the plunge?

New York DEC Commisioner Joseph Martens, a standard issue liberal environmentalist, had this to say about hydrofracking today:
“I believe it can be done safely,” said Martens, a former open-space advocate who was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. “With all of the precautions that we have built in to the process, I believe it can be done safely.”
Sounds like all the deals have been made.  As we've been predicting, money talks.  The professional opposition will have a fit, of course, but that's their job.  Now, where did we put that lease agreement.......?