Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Advisor died Monday, Oct. 18. He had served the United States for more than four decades. He was 84. He truly was an American hero. He died of complications of COVID-19. He had been fully vaccinated and was scheduled to be given a booster last week when he became acutely ill. He was susceptible to COVID even though vaccinated because he was immunosuppressed.
At one time Gen. Powell was the most admired person in the United States. Both political parties wanted to draft him to run for president. He had followed the best traditions of our military such that no one actually knew what his political positions and party identification was or if he even was enrolled in a party. He turned both parties down saying he felt that campaigning wasn’t for him.
A few modest proposals to get off my chest, fully aware of their never seeing the light of day.
I seem to start off every morning, usually in response to something I hear on the radio, with a remedy for whatever comment or issue has incited my pique.
My wife Sandy, the unfortunate recipient of these early morning rants, has suggested on a number of occasions that I air these suggestions in one of my essays. I suspect she feels such a public airing might do the trick, the trick being that once aired I might just keep quiet for a while, at least until bumping into new material that prompts my pique anew.
So, here goes.
I am a sports fan. Truth be told, I spend more time watching sports than I should. Among my favorite sports to watch are tennis, basketball, soccer and tennis. Having stumbled on volleyball during the Olympics and consequently become thoroughly mesmerized by the athleticism and skills displayed, it is now on the list.
However, I have two proposals to make that I feel would improve both basketball and tennis. At least from this spectator’s point of view.
The grunts and primal screams are irritating enough. They should be prohibited, but never will be. However, the game would be far more interesting — and entertaining — to watch if there were a speed limit placed on the first serve. Having watched too many matches where all the players do is ace one another, there is very little actual tennis played. Few players ever bother to come to the net, where a lot of the best skills are called upon. Most are content to straddle the base line and hammer the ball back and forth. Gets to be downright boring. If there were a first serve limit perhaps the ball would be in play far more and then ardent fans like me would watch more. As it stands now, I tape most matches that interest me. If after a fair spell it appears that service aces will dominate, I fast forward just to see who might have won. Not much fun in that. The antidote to this for me has been to watch more doubles — more interesting, more varied play, lots of nifty net play, and few doubles players offer up unreturnable serves by virtue of their mph.
Now for basketball: I suspect I am one of a slim minority who abhors the dunk, as well as the chest pounding that often accompanies it. Frankly, there are far more self-congratulatory antics displayed in many sports than should be allowed. Seems as if humility is a lost moral art form. I like the three-point shot as well as the traditional two-pointer. Why should a dunk be worth more than one point?
It would be a fair spread of value attributed to a physical act.
A friend suggests that some thought be given to raising the basket. I doubt if that will ever happen, as there is too much hoopla associated with dunking. For me, it remains an opportunity for a heartfelt yawn.
Now for politics, which used to be characterized, at least by some, as the art of getting things done together for the common good. Scrap that notion! I never used to be in favor of term limits; I am now. Aside from the embarrassing shenanigans both parties have displayed of late, both houses of Congress resemble gladiatorial contests rather than the mutually respectful houses of honest and open-minded deliberation on all of our behalves that they should be. I suggest that House terms be limited to two consecutive four-year terms. Senate terms should be limited to two consecutive six-year terms. That is it. Plenty of time to acclimate to rules, procedures, etc. Then, go home and get your haircut at the local barber, work out at the local gym, send your mail at the local post office, bowl at the local alley and, just maybe, relearn what it is like to live among the “working people” whose virtues you extoll at a comfy, abstracted distance.
Next thing I would suggest is that they sit together, mix it up a bit. Battle lines are drawn by virtue of how members of both parties are seated, both during deliberations and committee hearings. It is a designated standoff right from the start. Therefore, nothing at all resembling actual discussion or an honest sharing of views ever takes place. A country is not served well at all by a system that fosters enmity and sees the other as the enemy.
I doubt any of these modest proposals will ever come about. Thought I would throw them out and see how they might be caught. Were she here right now, Gabby would agree that some things are worth taking a shot at, no matter the consequences.
First published in The Freeman’s Journal January 4, 1984
“Just a minute!” I said, pushing my chair away from the table, “Just a minute, I have the answer right here” and leaving the room precipitously I also left the seated couple blinking and bemused. One of them had asked me why I used the name Badger, assuming, not illogically, that it was a pseudonym. If it’s anything, it is a mesonym.
Badger is my middle name. Really!
I returned to the room and plopped a glossy reprint of an 1865 catalogue onto the table in front of them. The title was clear, “Badger’s Illustrated Catalogue of Cast-iron Architecture by Daniel D. Badger (The Architectural Iron Works of the City of New York)”.
I know it sounds cliché but I don’t often like to talk about my personal life. That might seem strange for someone who has a job that is in the public eye, but it has just always felt odd to me to talk about myself. I would much rather write a story about someone else and give them time in the spotlight.
Nevertheless, occasionally I’m involved in something that enough people want to know more about, they twist my arm, and I end up telling the story. In this case, my story is running two marathons in seven days.
Now I know some of you are thinking, “So how far is a marathon?” A marathon is 26.2 miles and is one of the longest distances for road races. It is a distance that can humble you and tear you down to your lowest level. It is also a distance that, if conquered, can give you one heck of a “runners high,” and that is why I keep going back for more.
It appears the summer surge of COVID-19 in the United States is abating.
Numbers are going down except in the hardest hit states. The average number of deaths last week was approximately 1,800 per day and the number of daily infections is about 100,000. These seem to be trending down but if they flare up again and represent averages over the long-term we are talking about 675,000 deaths per year. By comparison, in the United States, the flu kills somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 people a year. If the flu pandemic of 1918 is any guideline, we should expect further surges with the number and severity of the surges dying out eventually.
Bassett Healthcare Network wants to help tidy up your house — or at least your medicine cabinet.
For several years, Bassett has encouraged its patients to bring unneeded, unwanted or expired
medications to medication return kiosks at three locations: the outpatient clinic pharmacy in Cooperstown; the FoxCare Pharmacy at FoxCare Center in Oneonta; and the outpatient pharmacy at O’Connor Hospital in Delhi.
Here are some things to keep in mind when using this service:
Many people are unaware of a unique feature of commercial regulation in New York State. Our state — alone in the country — requires that licenses for liquor stores, retail outlets selling wine and spirits for consumption off-premises, be limited to one location in the state owned by a single individual.
No one can own more than one liquor store in the state. The 1934 Alcoholic Beverage Control Law ensures that each of the state’s more than 1,300 liquor stores are independently owned by sole proprietors.
Why does this matter? The effect of this unusual law has been to keep an important sector of retail commerce decentralized by ensuring the wide distribution of store ownership. By limiting ownership to one store per person, the law effectively bars chain stores from selling liquor in the state.
In doing so, it provides opportunities not normally available for local entrepreneurs to succeed as independent business owners.
Years ago, when I began covering high school sports here, I coined a truism about New York State Public High School Athletic Association seasons.
If you are playing in the spring season, you need to be playing in June to have a successful season.
If you are playing in the winter season, you need to be playing in March to have a successful season.
If you are playing in the fall season, you need to be playing in November to have a successful season.
I mention this because I have been trailing around the Cooperstown’s boys soccer team this fall. My son is a reserve on the team and I had a small hand in training these boys — specifically for this season — and perhaps a larger hand as their cheerleader.
Back around 1960, I religiously watched the television show “Route 66.” A fine formula: two guys traveling across the country, meeting all kinds of people, trying to leave things in better shape than they found them before moving on. Martin Milner was the collegiate type; George Maharis was streetwise and a little crusty. Their Corvette, not the most practical car to go cross-country in, was a symbol of freedom and mobility with little room for emotional-type baggage or for that matter Samsonite-type either.
These days, such heroes would travel down the road in a Jeep or a four-wheel-drive pickup. That way they’d be able to take on hitchhikers or lost dogs or whatever any particular episode’s script threw at them. But not Milner and Maharis. During one show, they found themselves in an Oklahoma oil field.
For lack of an alternative, they used their Corvette to power a drilling rig. They removed a rear tire from its rim and then used the mounted rim to drive a belt that was attached to the oilrig. Simple, here was the Corvette, justifying itself, serving mankind as well as an imaginative story line.
Years later, I lived out my own “Route 66” fantasy when I got my ’63 roadster. Friends and relatives criticized the car for being so impractical, which pressured me to prove the car could be as useful as a four-door sedan. One time I drove home from the lumberyard with a couple of bags of cement on the front fenders. Another time I put the top down and loaded three ten-foot Lombardy poplars onto the jack storage cover behind the seats. Each burlap ball around the trees’ roots weighed over forty pounds.
This evidence notwithstanding, my cousin Charlie said when I got married, “Well, I guess you’ll get rid of the Corvette.”
That was more than five decades ago. One time, when my elderly but high-spirited Aunt Ruta came to Brooklyn from Richfield Springs for one of her week-long visits, I took her for a ride in the roadster.
“It’s a snazzy car,” she said, “but this seat is like sitting in a hole. My aunt liked to read Star magazine and always had her eyes peeled for Burt Reynolds. She had read an article in Star telling how Doris Day managed to look so young.
“She put Vaseline all over her face before she went to sleep,” my aunt explained.
Aunt Ruta tried the Vaseline treatment for several months. The pores of her skin eventually clogged, leaving unsightly, oily blemishes her old eyes couldn’t see. Alice and I told Aunt Ruta what she was doing to her complexion and urged her to discontinue Doris Day’s magic formula.
“Maybe I’ll switch to Jergen’s lotion,” she replied.
“Let’s give you a facial first,” Alice suggested.
Aunt Ruta’s pride kicked in, “I don’t need …”
“Would you want Burt Reynolds to see you now?” That won her over.
My aunt sat on a stool as my wife began steaming and scrubbing her face. “We need some sort of suction,” Alice said, discouraged. She was about to give up when I thought of the t-junction on the vacuum advance line feeding the distributor on the Corvette. It would surely do the job.
“Let’s go out to the garage,” I said with my aunt in tow.
“What for?” she said holding back. “Is this going to hurt?”
“Trust me,” I said as I seated her in a chair next to my car. I cleaned a long piece of rubber vacuum hose with alcohol and throttled the Corvette’s engine up to a fast idle. At about 800-rpm the manifold produced about 22 inches of vacuum which created a suction that could be regulated.
“Are you crazy?” Alice whispered when she came out to the garage and saw my set-up.
“I know what I’m doing,” I said pressing the hose into her hand.
Alice, in a huff, grabbed it and reluctantly went to work on Aunt Ruta who seemed to shrink in the chair. The contraption worked like a charm.
I took in the scene: Garage doors wide open. My frail aunt leaning far back in the chair as the Corvette’s engine cooked. My wife busily vacuuming Aunt Ruta’s deeply wrinkled face. A dream come true. Just like “Route 66.” My car had become one of life’s essential daily tools. Now, Milner and Maharis weren’t the only guys to have used a Corvette in an oil field.
“What do you think Charlie would say about the Corvette now?” I asked my wife.
Aunt Ruta’s leg kicked as though she were having a tooth pulled.
Then Alice declared, “He’d say you can get just as much suction from a station wagon!”
This year’s apple harvest on the hill was one of the best, despite several trees having taken a year off. In past years we have dried, canned, frozen and made delicious varieties of apple breads, muffins, etc. Actually, my contribution is working the apple peeler and doing a fair amount of the drying.
Sandy is the master baker, freezer, and canner. This year we picked together. I have an extendable apple picker I used with some degree of success. Pretty hard on aging shoulders. Sandy suggested shaking the trees, a system that worked well at canopy level. Etched in memory is Sandy’s comment, on the heels
of our activating her suggestion: “Now, that’s apple pickin’” Finally, 10 sheetrock buckets were filled to the brim. Since we have barely consumed the freezing, canning and baking efforts of the past several years, cider seemed a reasonable approach.
125 Years Ago
Home & Vicinity – The surroundings at the railroad shops have been given a cheerful appearance this summer by neat grass lawns, laid out under the direction of master-mechanic Howard. Until cold weather made their removal necessary, the lawns were studded with blooming plants, contributions in good part of the employees who took a lively interest in the effort to give a cheery look to the naturally somber appearance of the shops. Next year still more lawns are to be laid out.
Health officer O.W. Peck makes the following report for the month of September: Births 12, deaths 14, marriages 6. Five cases of diphtheria and 16 of typhoid fever have been reported as against 3 of diphtheria and 4 of typhoid fever in August. Four cases of diphtheria have proven fatal.
210 YEARS AGO
Artimesia Norton, daughter of Mr. George Norton of Hartwick, 13 years and 4 months old, did, on the 27th of September, 1811, spin five runs of good woolen yarn, on a single-geer’d wheel in 11 hours and 26 minutes. The reel measured, in circumference, two yards, two inches, and ¾ of an inch. Industry rather than silver and gold, constitutes the riches of a country.
October 5, 1811
Last weekend my film commission office, Film COOP, hosted a bunch of female filmmakers for a destination weekend location tour and networking event.
As with our too long and klutzy legal name, the Cooperstown, Oneonta, Otsego County Film Partnership, Inc., the name Film COOP presents the Women in Film Peak Leaf Weekend Location Tour and Networking Event soon fell by the wayside. The shorthand Women in Film Weekend, or even shorterhand WIF, became the usual references.
We had five official customers who signed up for the four-day event, plus three industry-connected board members who went on parts of the tour, a Delaware County union location scout who did one day of touring with us and our college intern, Ellie Pink, who is studying film at Boston University.
Last week, Merck and Company announced that an experimental pill they are working on to treat COVID-19 early in the course of the disease to keep patients from becoming seriously ill or dying is proving safe and effective. After discussion with the FDA, it and Merck felt the results were so good they decided to close additional enrollment to the trial. They will finish out the study in approximately November and then present the results and ask for approval for emergency authorization. Production of the pills has already started so as to be ready for rapid distribution when approved.
This is the first easy-to-use treatment specifically for COVID. It is a pill that when taken as prescribed early in the course of symptoms will decrease the risk of hospitalization and death by about 50%.
The drug is called malnupiravir. It is in oral form and easily taken at home. It must be started within five days of the onset of symptoms. This makes it important for people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to get tested immediately (there is now a national backlog of testing, slowing down availability of results) and see their doctor at the onset. Treatment is eight pills daily for five days. This is very much like oral medication people use at early onset of influenza.