Singing like a caged bird

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Twenty-five years ago the Olympic torch passed through my town, Saratoga passed directly by the "Spirit of Life" sculpture...

frosted spirit of life

...on its way to light the Olympic Flame

olympic flame IV

... in the Adirondack Mountains at the Lake Placid games.

mt marcy

Shortly afterward, a charter bus came through carrying a band of relatively unknown athletes. They stopped for dinner in nearby Glens Falls. I, along with maybe 50 other well wishers, had dinner with them and tried to give them support. I was too introverted to ask for autographs, but joined in the applause and mumbled greetings of good luck. They sure would need it...they were such underdogs. Little did we known in a few short weeks they would be bringing home the Gold in what has become know as the Miracle on Ice".

Soon afterward, a whole line of athletes came through town from all over the world, people such as Juha Mieto, the giant Finn, and Tomas Wassberg, the Swede, who would battle it out on the nordic ski trails of Mount Van Hoevenbugh.

The last ones to come through were the hordes of international and homegrown tourists. Adirondackers held their breath to see if tiny Lake Placid could handle the surge. A labor dispute between bus drivers and the contracted transportation companies caused a a lot of worry. But to the rescue came the buses and drivers from school districts all around the "North Country" as wwe like to call our region. There were some delays, in the frigid temperatures, waiting for buses to take spectators from Keene up past Cascade Lake and into Lake Placid. That some of the waiting tourists had foolishly not prepared for Adirondack weather made it a bit of a media buzz for a short period.

Knowing of the traffic coming off the interstate, I took the back roads through Blue Mountain, Long,Tupper and Saranac Lakes. I was able to get into the games with maybe a 15 minute wait for the next shuttle bus from Saranac. I had written for tickets over a year earlier. The tix for the nordic skiing were easy to come by....but all I could manage for hockey was the US v. Romania game. But I was there and soaking in all the excitement and fun.

USA vs Romania I

USA vs Romania III

Lost in the shadow of the miracle on ice was one of the greatest nordic races ever...after 15 grueling kilometers Tomas Wassberg edged out Juha Mieto by one hundreth of a second.

German Skier

Nordic skiers

The Olympics launched an economic revival of the Lake Placid area and it still hosts many international winter sports events. It is also home to one of the USA Olympic Training facilities and the Ironman USA headquarters. Main street has seen a plethora of kitschy tourist shops however...and the village has lost some of its charm to franchises etc...but still has its wonderful setting.

One of the economic benefits was the myriad of jobs generated in the region. Construction of the Intervale Ski Jumps for example.

intervale ski jumps

I did not know it at the time, but my future brother-in-law was working on those structures,and...initiating its first use. The following tale was confirmed by the brakeman himself, even though they spelled his name's Moak!
Moak Ski jump
Each day of the Olympic events, after sunset....

sunset adirondacks

The frozen over Mirror Lake was the scene of the award ceremonies. Fireworks were in order. There even was an untralight airplane as part of the spectacle.

Mirror Lake Awards Ceremony II

Mirror Lake Awards Ceremony I

Twenty five years later I can still feel the excitement and pride of little Lake Placid hosting the world! And yes, I definitely know where I was when the USA hockey team defeated the Russian juggernaut...downtown Saratoga Springs was deserted and silent in a cold winter night....but when the game was over the people spilled out on the streets celebrating!!!! It was a joyous night!

Friday, February 11, 2005


Saturday, February 5th, was the annual chowderfest in Saratoga Springs. Area restaurants compete for being named the best chowder of the year. All funds raised go to charity. This year the weather was an unusually warm day with a bright sunny sky. This weather brought out a big crowd of people to sample the "chowdah" as the real New Englanders would say.

chowderfest crowd

The different chowders contained all sorts of great seafood...

tavern menu.jpg

The fest goers came in all sorts..some with hats

chowdah hat taster.jpg

Some as couples,

couple tasters.jpg

Some as Crustaceans????

crustaceans II

Others were there just to lend a hand ladling out the manna.

ladle hands

Good times and laughs were abundant.

thru a parting glass.jpg

It was like a barrel full of monkeys, or at least one monkey busker.

monkey busking II.jpg

There was a report that Uncle Fidel had stopped by in his fatigues and ever present stoggie.

chowdah stoggie.jpg

In the end the sanitation crew must have been a little overwhelmed and the environmentalists down-hearted at the styrofoam headed to the landfill.

chowderfest pollution

And Brindisi's Restaurant continued the battle with Gaffney's...wresting the title back and being named Best Chowder of Saratoga Springs!


For the past year I have been uncovering the experience of my Dad's hellish journey through Europe long ago. Sixty years ago, this January, the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment had been assigned a mission to prevent the demolition of the Schwammanauel hydro-electric dam on the Roer River in Germany. The regimental 3rd Battalion was to conduct the raid. H Company was to be the lead company. And 2nd platoon was assigned to be a diversion by running out of the willow trees and across the 200 yard wide and one foot deep river just below the dam. My Dad was the Platoon leader for that diversion. It was considered a suicide mission. This photo below was taken on a railway car in Belgium heading toward the dam which is near Schmidt, Germany. This type of rail car was called a 40 and 8 because it could haul 40 hommes et 8 cheval...40 men and 8 horses.

Before the raid was to take place, it was fortunately cancelled as the 78th Division had captured the dam. Otherwise, I probably would not be writing this blog today. The men in this photo had survived the Normandy night drop, the ill-fated attack on the "Bridge Too Far" in Nijmegen, Holland and the frozen inferno of the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardenne Forest of Belgium. My dad is the one smiling with the sunglasses his left front is Neal Beaver and to his right front is Herb Beattie. When I learn the identity of the other men in the photo I will post them. They should never be forgotten!

RLS 40 and 8s II

Saturday, December 04, 2004


The first Thursday in December is designated as the "Victorian Walk" in Saratoga Springs. The main street is blocked off for cars and the crowds gather. The Downtown merchants have their shops open and provide free cider and snacks of holiday goodies to the public. The street is decked out in lights and Christmas greens.

white lights city hall windows


Many folks don Victorian garb for a nostalgic stroll downtown.

victorian strollers

An assortment of Hats and Gowns can be seen amonst the crowds.

strolling hats strolling gowns

Carollers and Musicians add their merry tunes to the festive night.

City Hall Carollers Skidmore Carollers

brass II rockin carollers

Peace is always somehow represented!

victorians for peace

And of course their are Santas in various forms and Kids.

santa saxman II on santas knee

dancin with santa saxman father christmas

asian family Looking for Prancer

And what is Kringle time without a little Kettle Korn?

Kringles Kettle korn kettle korn kooker

The opening of Saratoga Art Center's "Winter Solstice" exhibition anchored the southern end of the Broadway walk. There was an amazing piece of art work..."Trees"

braille tree II

It is touchable art and should be "viewed" that way since the artist, Jenny Kowantz, created it by touch rather than by sight.

Jenny Kowantz and Trees


Awesome panoramic views of the Ukrainian Democracy movement(revolution) thanks to Tubbydev.

And VERONICA KHOKHLOVA provides a good way to get the feel of people literally manning the barricades through her Backlog.

Friday, November 26, 2004

News From Ukraine


T. in Kiev emailed the following on Friday Nov. 26:

"today I was on our main square, where all people now. It was so exciting! People are extremely polite, helpful to each other. Many people bring food, warm clothes; ask what they can bring more.
I have never seen anything like this in my life before.
I do hope they will come to peaceful conclusion. "


From Neeka's BackLog comes a great account that I must label as "Truth is Deafening":

"On Channel 1 (UT-1), the main state channel, 237 journalists are on strike now. Today, during the 11 am newscast with live translation into the Sign Language, the translator, Natalya Dmytruk, did not translate what the host was saying about the election results, but said (in Sign Language) the following (quote via Ukrainska Pravda):

"The results from the Central Election Commission have been falsified. Do not believe them. Our President is Yushchenko. I am very disgusted that I was forced to translate the lies until now. I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm not sure if I'll see you again."

The program Dmytruk was translating into Sign Language for is the only news program in Ukraine adapted for people with hearing impairments. The audience is about 100,000 people. Dmytruk has now joined her 237 striking colleagues."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


At the stroke of midnight on the third Thursday of November -- that's tomorrow, November 18th, the new batch, err vintage, of Beaujolais Nouveau will be served to oenophiles all over the world. I like wine a lot and have developed a nice appreciation of a good wine. But some cognoscenti seem to take it a bit too far. A couple of things sort of make me uncomfortable about all the hoopla.

First, there is "winespeak". Now I know people like to describe the complexities of their palate, but often this is taken just too far.

Here.... for example, is a write up which isn't too outrageous:

" The wines are supple and very pleasant, characterized by a good balance between degree and acidity. The attack is good. The tannins are rounded. Besides its lovely sparkling ruby robe, Beaujolais Nouveau this year is fruity, redolent of fresh red fruit like strawberry, blackcurrant and raspberry, to which there is sometimes the addition of violet and peony fragrances. A lip-smacking, pleasure provoking wine."

But please can anyone explain to me what an attack is? Isn't tannin used to make shoe leather? What house of fashion designs robes for wines? When I was a kid we drank a sugary swill that was "fruity, redolent of fresh red fruit like strawberry, blackcurrant and raspberry" we called it red bug juice, but the grocery sold it as Kool-aid.

Nowhere....Not A Drop To Drink

Secondly, I have a problem with pricing. I can see paying a modest amount for a fine wine for a special occasion. But there is a point where I begin to feel edgy and thoughts of the millions of kids who do not have decent clean water to drink encroach on my enjoyment of the wine. And of course there are the infamous urban legends around "Two Buck Chuck".

Hey, deception in advertising and global trade can let us sip, imbibe, quaff or guzzle and without pangs of guilt. So stop by Trader Joes, stock up and put a few drops of your saving into an organization such as WaterAid or Global Water or UNESCO-IHE .

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Every Once in a while you stumble onto a scene that strikes you as one of those moments which delineate a season change. Today's lunchtime walk at the Empire State Plaza was one of those moments. Just ten days ago I was spending a balmy Halloween evening on a sidewalk cafe in South Beach. For sure, the latitude change contributed to the stark change, but the moment caught my attention nonetheless!

The wind was brisk and had a cold bite to it. I had my winter hat and gloves on since the pets' water vessels were all iced over this morning. The wind rattled the few brown and brittle leaves left in the plaza maple trees. The same wind that bit and rattled, formed into little dancing, swirling dervishes of fallen leaves on the cobble stone drives.

Beyond the empty reflecting pools and not yet open ice rink, the season of winter was proclaimed as I glanced up at the Offical New York State Christmas tree. It was naked of its ornaments and I thought rather regal in its natural state. A bit shorter than I remember from past years, perhaps another marker of acid rain or just being an adult child? Also, not sure how I feel about this...but the erecting workers were a prison work release crew. Wonder if it makes them feel good to be putting up a Christmas tree...or does it remind them of family at home for the holidays. Maybe it brings back bad memories of Christmas' past.

I know it is not official winter yet...but now it feels like it....and the ground is now frozen each morning.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

South Beach All Hallow's Eve

While in Florida as an Election Protection volunteer, I was fortunate enough to spend Halloween night on Lincoln Road in South Beach, Miami. This is definitely THE place to be for trick or treating as a spectator sport. Watched the parading costumes from a sidewalk cafe with some great new friends. Only disappointment was all the photo-ops I missed.

Transylanian Waiter, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

Indio Princess, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

Witches of the East, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

Feathered Ghoul, originally uploaded by iceemaster.