It’s Your Party And You Would Cry Too If It Happened To You. Don’t Let It Happen!

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Do you think you own your house? Better think again.

You almost lost it in this year’s New York State budget. You see, the state budget process is a very tricky – as in devious – tool. Unscrupulous politics have learned how to use it to enact legislation without even enacting it.

It’s an easy way to introduce controversial policies without the tediousness of actually having to vote on a specific law. Of course, those same conniving officials will quickly say, “Well, the budget IS voted on,” but that’s not the same thing as voting for a bill that only addresses the matter they’re trying to slip through via the budget process.

And about that process. You already know it only takes three people to craft the budget. It’s not an open forum. It’s a behind-closed-doors smoke-filled-meeting sort of thing. Just because we’ve changed governors doesn’t really change the process. Indeed, given the Continue Reading “It’s Your Party And You Would Cry Too If It Happened To You. Don’t Let It Happen!”

The Heart of America Rests Peacefully Within the Heart of Greater Western New York

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(The following is an excerpt from the chapter “We’re Baaack”
in my 2012 book 50 Hidden Gems of Greater Western New York.)

The muddy road seemed to hardly merit the official route number New York State had assigned it. A “repaving” project had caused the traffic jam, and presumably most of the IMG_9916_daniel_shaysmud. The rain had stopped when we begin to climb the small slope that would lead us to Union Cemetery. Union Cemetery is closed to new burials now, but the grave I’m looking for is from 1825.

We pull into the gravel road that circles through the interior of the cemetery. I’m not sure where the grave is. My research indicates there’s a marker. I’m thinking it marks the actual grave. I see a marker by the roadside at the edge of the cemetery. Turning into the graveyard, I assume that’s where the grave is, but as I drive up the moist lane, I notice yet another sign – Continue Reading “The Heart of America Rests Peacefully Within the Heart of Greater Western New York”

A Bridge Too Quiet

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I never understood the lure of trains. Don’t get me wrong. I love trains. I just can’t figure out why. I mean, I was born at the dawn of the Space Age, watched Star Trek when it was still on the air and followed NASA’s lunar program with diligent pride. Heck, I even majored in physics and astronomy, served on the Strasenburgh Planetarium’s 40th Anniversary Task Force and created an official astronomy outreach project (AstronomyTop100.com) that received the official endorsement of the United Nations during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.

Many were the times when I thought I was finally done with trains. But, like the mob to Continue Reading “A Bridge Too Quiet”

A Whole Greater than the Sum of Its Parts

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Now that we’ve marked the boundaries of Greater Western New York, the fun really begins. First, we can delineate the counties included. Greater Western New York contains 17 counties. These represent all the counties west of or touching the correct Pre-Emption Line. Those counties are:

● Allegany             ● Chautauqua
● Cattaraugus      ● Chemung
● Erie                    ● Genesee
● Livingston          ● Monroe
● Niagara              ● Ontario
● Orleans              ● Seneca
● Schuyler            ● Steuben            ● Wayne               ● Wyoming            ● Yates

We should note that Pre-Emption Line marks the western border of both Seneca County (maybe, depending on who owns Seneca Lake) and Chemung County. The Line slices through the counties of Wayne, Yates and Schuyler. As it stands, the eastern borders of Wayne, Seneca, Schuyler and Chemung form a fairly straight line from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania line. OK, maybe it’s not quite straight enough to convince an officer you’re not unduly influenced, but it’s close enough.

What exactly does this constellation of the 17 western-most counties of New York State tell us? I discovered this particular hidden gem while preparing for a January 2004 Continue Reading “A Whole Greater than the Sum of Its Parts”

Western New York’s Bread of Life Fills Both Spirit and Stomach

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Brother James looked just the way I would picture a monk looking. Tallish with an angular face, he wore the kind of retro heavy-rimmed glasses that aren’t really Abbey_of_the_Genesee_300retro, merely that old. His soft caring voice spoke with the peaceful contentedness so appropriate for the part you’d swear a Hollywood casting agent placed him. Only you wouldn’t swear here – and here is about as far from the superficial celebrity of Tinsel Town as you could get.

Where exactly is “here”? It’s the Abbey of the Genesee located in the hamlet of Piffard in the Town of York, Livingston County. About a mile west of the Genesee River, this community of Trappist monks belongs to the Roman Catholic order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. The Abbey of the Genesee came about from a Continue Reading “Western New York’s Bread of Life Fills Both Spirit and Stomach”