10.28.2010

Swine, beer, and elections

It's election season in Vermont. It would be a gross libel on swine, to compare these creatures (Swift, in Gulliver's Travels, referred to pigs as the "sweeter quadruped", contrasting them with the depravity of the yahoos) either to politicians or to the feckless, unhappy and inconstant electorate.

It has been a new style campaign in Vermont, with outside interests from both the left and right pouring millions of dollars into media efforts disparaging their opponents.

Lowlights (and there were many) included an ad showing the Republican candidate as Pinocchio, and fear-mongering spots asserting that the Democratic candidate, if elected, would empty Vermont's prisons of pedophiles and child pornographers.

And, despite participating in ten-plus face to face debates, both candidates managed to resolutely dance around the fiscal problems facing the state.

The Democratic candidate (Peter "fiscal conservative" Schumlin) in particular has run a campaign based on broad promises (expanding pre-K programs, implementing the public option for health insurance, etc.) without specifying how these programs are going to be paid for.

"A chicken in every pot" (ironically, Herbert Hoover used this slogan) kinds of promises are dangerous to make, especially considering that Vermont is already hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole, and the economic recovery -- probably too strong a word -- remains tepid at best.

I suppose it comes down to: Is the glass half empty or half full? Vermont's fiscal position is precarious, and jobs are hard to come by, and generally ill-paying, but at least I don't live in New York, Nevada, California, Illinois, etc. where the problems are even more overwhelming.

And -- trying to be positive -- there's plenty of excellent local beer on hand to dull the stress of living in these anxious times. (More beery photos here.)

10.24.2010

Not Lance Armstrong

So, the recent brief visit to Waterbury by cycling and cancer-fighting superstar (in some people's eyes, anyway -- my own view is a bit more nuanced) Lance Armstrong was big news in this small Vermont town.

The presence of a major celebrity drew the local media like moths to a candle. Print and television reporters turned out in force to cover the event -- would that they showed the same level of interest in events such as the Green Mountain Stage Race or the Vermont Mountain Bike Festival... but I digress.

So, the "Armstrong ride" was the lead, above the fold story in the Waterbury Record this week:

And the Record's written story is a straight-up, non-ironic description of the ride (unlike this bit of reportage from the all-ironic-all-the-time, too-cool-for-mere-plebs -- and hence, ceaselessly annoying, Seven Days).

Lance Armstrong on a Cannondale? I don't think so.

The photo the Record used to illustrate their story, however, is most emphatically not Lance Armstrong, caption non-withstanding. The photo is just some skinny guy in a mostly black kit riding a Cannondale: I could have told them that.

I know I shouldn't complain about cycling getting some relatively positive press because pieces like this ("Arrogant, naive bicyclists dangerous on roads") appear with some regularity, and the comments left by 'readers' make one wonder about the pathologies loose in society these days.

10.20.2010

Southbound

Geese heading south for the winter.

... roots!
the funny limbs that grow underground
that keep you from falling down
don't you think that you'll need them now?

just find a place where no one knows of
your redneck past
yeah, you can easily dispose of your redneck past
you'll show them all back home
Ben Folds, Your redneck past

It's stick season in Vermont: The leaves have fallen off the trees, leaf-peeping tourists no longer crowd the roads, and it is a generally bleak and subdued time of year. It is also a bad time to hike or mountain bike because it is hunting season which means that there are lots of heavily armed and sometimes inebriated people roaming the woods.

So we are going to Florida for a week. Not the Florida of gated communities, theme parks, manicured golf courses and broken real estate dreams, but interior Florida: a remote, flat, languid, humid place populated largely with alligators and water moccasins.

And, I suppose, there's a slight chance that this trip could lay the groundwork for relocating out of Vermont altogether - though this would be a be a long term project, and several things would have to break just right for it to happen.

10.13.2010

Lance Armstrong in Waterbury

Lance Armstrong stopped in Waterbury, Vermont today. I could try and come up with something ironic, snarky or sarcastic... but I don't have the impetus. For my rather mixed take on Mr. Armstrong, see here.

This is about as close as I got: The celebrity is somewhere under that scrum of cameras.

Hundreds of cyclists heading out of town on Route 100 under brilliant blue autumn skies. It was quite dangerous with lots of erratic riding.

Later the field was pared down a bit by a couple of miles of steady climbing.

I did this on my battered Redline mountain bike, with 1 x 9 gearing, so I was not well equipped for a group ride at a brisk pace on a paved road. The story of why I don't have a functioning road bike at this time is too lengthy and discouraging to go into here.

The road less traveled: I bailed at Stevens Brook Road and enjoyed a very quiet ride back to town on Class IV Cobb Hill Road. The foliage is past peak and there is a thick layer of fallen leaves on the ground.

10.02.2010

Keep on truckin'

A battered old truck sits in the woods off of Route 14, Craftsbury, Vermont.

When I first caught a glimpse of this in the woods, I thought it was a derelict, abandoned vehicle.
On closer inspection, it was still being used by some thrifty -- or (more likely) down on its luck logging operation as a crude skidder.

Apparently, no need for a radiator -- or registration tags.


These images have been heavily post-processed...reality was more prosaic.