Ithaca Blog

Monday, August 27, 2012

Maurice Hinchey To Be Honored At Labor Day Picnic

Maurice Hinchey, Ithaca's representative in Congress, will be honored at this year's annual Labor Day picnic, sponsored by the Tompkins County Workers Center.

Hinchey has served in Congress for 20 years and is retiring this year.

Hinchey has been a leading progressive in Congress. He was among the few who spoke out against the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq in 2003, and one of 11 members of Congress supporting a bill for  Bush's impeachment.

Hinchey was a strong supporter of Barack Obama's health care bill, and a leading opponent of hydraulic fracturing, which specifically threatens his district.

The picnic is from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday 3 September, at Stewart Park. The Workers Center provides beverages and a barbecue and asks guests to bring a dish to share.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Road To NYC: Route 80

We drove to NYC this week, and through research can say that Route 80, not Route 17, is the way to go, and will be for many years.

Route 17 is turning into Interstate 86 and the construction has started in earnest, which means so have delays.

We took 80 on the way down and 17 on return, for research purposes.

80 is the superior road in the first place, as an interstate. It has more lanes and is graded better.

(It is little-known that, on all interstates, one mile out of every five miles has to be straight, so an airplane can land on it.  This may be little-known because it is perhaps by no means true. I am not sure, but it gives you something to do on the interstates, try to reckon out that one straight mile every five.)

It has delays, of course. But not like 17, these days, where long stretches of the road are one lane, by design. This means when something goes wrong, it is essentially no lanes, until the problem is fixed. We saw a back-up of about 5 miles around Liberty. (Going the other way, luckily.)

It's too bad, because 80 is rather charmless and forbidding. Route 17 has the Roscoe Diner and fine views  of the Delaware. (In 80's defense, it has a beautiful stretch at the D. Water Gap, but it is fleeting and hard to enjoy.)

Anyway, get used to it. I guess it is a good opportunity for someone to start a good diner somewhere around Whippany.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What We Mean When We Say "How Are You"

I just got back from vacation in Maine, which is wonderful but involves a long car ride. I am lucky, though, in that I get to make the trip with my friend Gil, who can really drive, talk, and listen.

We go eleven hours and do not turn on the radio or music once. There is no reading. There is just talk.

Alike and akin as we are, though, we find we differ strongly on a simple conversational topic: the greeting.

It came up because I was telling Gil about some aspect of life I should be pursuing, but am not, and when he asked why, I said, "Ahh... I hate to say this, even, but I'm pretty busy."

"Why do you hate to say that?," he asked. "There's nothing wrong with being busy."

"No," I said. "But there's something wrong with mentioning it."

I detect a puzzled look.

"You know," I said. "Those people who you ask how they are, and they say 'I'm really busy.' I hate that."

"I say that," Gil says.

"Well, knock it off," I say.

"I mean, what I think I usually say is 'I'm tired.' "

"Well, knock that off, too."

"Knock what off? Telling you how I am when you ask me?"

"I'm not asking you because I want to know. I'm asking you to mark an interval."

"Well, I guess that doesn't occur to me," Gil says.

"I guess not," I say.

"You know," I say, "you don't have to tell me you're busy and tired. I assume you're busy and tired, if you're alive. Do you have to trumpet it? Come on. Are you busier than Hillary Clinton? Are you more tired than Mother Teresa?"

(Mother Teresa long ago went to her eternal rest, of course, but this is who came to mind.)

"Do you have fewer hours in a day than other people? There are 24 for us all. So you can't be any busier than me, unless you're not managing your time well.

"Why don't you say that to people when they ask how you are? 'I'm not managing my time well.' Admit it! How's that for a conversation stopper?  Plus, what should be your abject shame?"

We rode on a while. We were each trying not to be first to laugh. I don't recall who won.

I also don't know how we will greet one another when we meet next time. But I trust it will be as genteel as this. It is good to have true friends.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog