Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Trip to Warwick Castle

What could be more painful to a kid than hearing that the weekend will be spent at an upstate Renaissance Fair - especially when you can get all you need to know from our friends at On the other hand, recreating the middle ages becomes a lot more interesting when a trip to England can provide ample infrastructure of the era and the living history to go with it. Sort of reporting from England, I recently traveled overseas to visit my English Girlfriend, and Warwick Castle in Warwick, England was a Saturday destination.
About 10 miles from Stratford, which is the birthplace of Shakespeare, the 10th Century rose in grey against the blue sky. We gained passage over a now waterless moat to the castle grounds, as I tentatively eyed the spiked iron gate. Intrigued by a thousand years of sturdiness that guarded the interior, I was ready to see the past from the inside, but I remembered that "Me Lady" had said something earlier about jousting at 1 O'clock.
Having seen the "Cable Guy" and with a good draw and quartering probably out, I wasn't too excited. I did think it interesting that the show was done with proper British accents but then I remembered I was in England. Otherwise, the kids (and the maiden), liked the humorous horseplay and the jousting jesting of the players.
The child's play over, we traveled forward in time, as the interior turned out to be more William Pitt than William Wallace, but it was the 1066 Conqueror that awaited us in wax in the main state room. Having commissioned part of the build in 1087, I've always found it confusing that some Frenchman made himself king of England. Additionally, it seems, England also had a civil war, which to my surprise the Brits also call, "The Civil War." Seemingly significant, Oliver Cromwell earned an actual death mask right next to William for his part.
Strolling past a series of hollowed out knights on guard, numerous royal portraits and setting for high tea, Henry VIII had a few trophies of his own on display, where we could pose for a picture with him and all six of his (intact) wives. Kinder than we commonly remember him, only two of his wives fell under his sharpened sense of succession problems.
History lessons aside, emerging from the interior, I felt deeply for the Dads who got caught in the long line for the "Princess Tower." Duty to daughters done, the day's real prize lay in the falconry exhibition.
Sydney the American Eagle swooped in on us with a majesty that the colonies supposedly gave up upon independence. "Don't duck, she'll just fly lower," said the falconer, as an 8 foot wing span gave her easy access to the castle walls above and the sightlines just above our hairlines.
"I'm off again, see you in a half hour," the birdman made segueway of Sydney's exit for the less regal English Vulture. Happy enough to prance around the ground for chicken slices, his enticement upwards turned at least one stomach. "I can't believe he's doing that at a family show, the falconer critiqued his own performance, as the bird lightened his load by throwing up before taking flight.
Not to be out done, Warwick's 15 pound Stellar Eagle made his own mark on the audience with an equally unconventional aerodynamic form. The heaviest eagle in the world, his laborious flight to castle top and cartoon like air break landing earned him a wit that Oscar Wilde would have taken in earnest. "If he looks like he's going to fly into you, he probably will," joked the host.
All told, the authenticity of the day inspired me to fill my glaring gaps in English Culture and History. It could certainly do the same for your children.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kristina Koller of Yorktown Makes Jazz her Own

Kristina Koller started doing musical theatre at eight years old and would take part in about 30 productions throughout Westchester County by the time she reached high school. The Yorktown, New York native went on to dabble in Opera, Classical, Rock ‘n Roll and Indie Music before discovering jazz and the genre eventually took full ownership of her musical heart.

“I love how you can make a song your own,” she says.

As such, Jazz vocalist and music student at City College is situated in the lead and that is fine with her band mates . “They’re always like it’s up to you boss – whatever you want,” she clarifies, while “family” is how she sums up the synergy.

The group of five, which includes  Mark McIntyre on guitar, Orice Jenkins on keys, Greg Schettino on bass & John Venezia on drums, stays  in synch by keeping their connection close to home. “We practice in my parent’s basement,” says Koller.

To date, their efforts have yielded a single album – Live at the Shrine. “My dad mastered the tracks,” she says of the compilation recorded at the landmark venue in Harlem.

Her favorite is their cover of Crying me a River. “It really goes with my perspective on love. I’ve been hurt before, and every time I sing that song I put my full heart into it,” she says.

That said, making a living as a musician can make anyone miss more than a few beats. “A lot of venues don’t want to pay musicians or pay a really low price, and it’s hard to find places that appreciate us,” she says.

Leaving her living at home, Koller anticipates the end of the school year to pick up some side work as the band struggles to pull in the pennies. “I’ve got to get some money in my pocket,” she jokes.

Looking forward, Koller plans to make New York City her home and see where it leads. “Hopefully, I could get in a good situation and start playing in different clubs,” says Koller.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the whole scene forces a backup plan on the talented artist. “If it doesn’t work out, I’m going to go to grad school for music therapy,” she reveals.

Either way, Koller won’t go without as music provides a healing of its own. “I feel like music is my drug. Some people go out and have a drink to relax their mind. That’s what music is for me,” she says.

The only side effect is for the rest of us to enjoy.

Stern Wellness in Cross River

We recently received a seminar at the Mt. Kisco Childcare Center from Stern Chiropractic & Integrative Wellness in Cross River on the Three Causes of Illness.  I was struck to learn that fat storage can be the body's defense mechanism to protect cells against the abundant toxicity in our environment.  But I'm skinny.  Offering each of us a free one hour screening, I thought it best that I find out exactly how toxic I am and what I could do about it.

Fortunately, Dr. Stern eased my anxiety that despite our environment, my active lifestyle assists in cleansing the unwanted chemicals away and my cells aren't any more toxic than those that have an excess of fat surrounding theirs. Nonetheless, there are approximately 82,000 harmful chemicals in which cells see fat as a means to offer insulation. That's an awful lot of work for the liver no matter how active you are.

In response, Dr. Stern provides an Isagenixc cleansing program ( Not the same sort of bathroom intensive situation created the day before a colonoscopy, he says, it releases toxicity of the cells through the skin and the healthy byproduct is weight loss.

And it's not accompanied by the typical up and down of other weight loss programs. Cutting back on food causes the body to sense starvation and a rebound effect occurs once you go back to your normal intake, he says.

As part of the 9 and 30-Day Cleanse, the Isagenix Shake is designed to fill in any protein gaps. Women, on average, lose 5-7 pounds a week and men seven to nine, but achieving wellness requires attention to physical and emotional traumas of the past and present as well.  At Stern Chiropractic & Integrative Wellness, they focus on the three causes of sickness and dis-ease.  The chemical toxicity that pollutes our bodies, the mental/emotional stress that exhausts our adrenal glands and the physical traumas that  interfere with our nervous system's ability to function properly.

Physically, traumas over time morph into subluxations.  Meaning the connection between the effected part of the spinal cord has a diminished capacity to communicate with the body (nervous system interference).

Equipped to handle the adjustments as a chiropractor, he classifies himself as a wellness practitioner because the emotiona/mental and chemical traumas that cause our bodies to become toxic and sick are also addressed.  This also got my attention.

I have insomnia but by virtue of two anti depressants and the right dose of psychoanalytical brain drain, I sleep fine.  On the other hand, I’d like to leave the drugs behind in case my HMO decides someday that my brain is not part of my body – like my teeth, my feet and my eyes.

“It’s a classic adrenal problem,” he says, and emotional stress is its genesis. As a result, he informed me, that my nervous system is not regulating properly and I cannot reset at the end of the day.

Of course, he concedes the important role behavioral therapy plays, but malfunction of the mind isn’t the only area in which a painful past is trapped. Emotional traumas are also stored in the body and working out subluxations is where chiropractic can play a key role in restoring health and vitality.  “I help release the pain on a physical level,” he says.

At this point, Dr. Stern went Star Trek on me and took out his tricorder. Running a sensor across my spine, he identified several significant subluxations and the areas of my spine that are operating asymmetrically.

If I choose to move forward, a $200 fee will cover a full body analysis and two Chiropractic Adjustments.  From the results and the ensuing information gathered, he’ll map out a recommended action plan to transform my nervous system.   As for the total cost, he wants those considerations to be put aside by planning a schedule that meets each person’s ability to pay.

In the end, he says for me, “You’ll experience a quiet in your mind and body like you’ve never experienced before.”  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Any Rand's Atlas Shrugged - Like any Blind Ideology - Based on Irrationality

Ayn Rand believes government is inefficient. She wrote book called Atlas Shrugged to let us know. Of course, if you feel the need to confirm the sentiment, just take a trip to the DMV. As horrid as that might be, it would save you the bother of suffering through 1,200 pages in pursuit of a parallel state of utopia that is as unrealistic as the one she’s against. I offer here an explanation of the irrationality that brought her to us.
I had long been intrigued by the cover of this book and the unusual name that went with it. As blindsided market economics grew in popularity, the unusual name really began to resonate and my curiosity peaked.
I picked up her first novel, “We, the Living.” Loosely based on her escape from the newly formed Soviet Union, I was doubly hooked. Meaning, I’ve always had a fascination for Russian History – being well versed in the atrocity that was the Bolshevik State.
Less attuned to the sheer violence, this was a study in how the pursuit of the communist ideal led the country into crippling backwardness. Incrementally detailing the descent, the tragic ending of the main character served as a victory to the human spirit nonetheless.
And if I don’t say, one of the most amazing finishes I’ve ever read. Atlas Shrugged was clearly in my future.
In real life, Ayn Rand’s escape was far less dramatic, but the experience obviously drove her life’s work. Unfortunately, it influenced her to the point of irrationality. I know the feeling.
Not nearly of the magnitude of Rand’s experience, an incident in my life can sometimes suspend the equal consideration that all should be addressed with. Prejudice. I was wronged by a group – an occupation – and I find myself lumping the entire field to the individual who crossed me. Nonetheless, I am aware of this and keep it in check but it is valuable to see how people succumb to this emotion.
Hello Ayn Rand.
The Soviet Union was its brother’s keeper. On an individual basis, the results – at best – are mixed. Playing them out across an entire society is looking for trouble. The catastrophic incidences are too numerous to list.
Thus ensconced in the opposite extreme, Rand’s irrationality remained nowhere near in check but that doesn’t mean “objectivism” doesn’t contain rational purpose. “Great men” took risks and made super human efforts to cross the oceans, build the railroads and link the world together by transatlantic and coaxial cables. And she’s correct in saying that societies often unfairly criticize the virtue of those efforts – especially in consideration of the riches it brings them.
Dagny Taggert and Hank Rearden are the primary victims of the stagnant economic ideology that over took the world. The two characters and those of their literary ilk want to produce and earn based solely on their ability to meet demand. I say, God Bless ‘em
Unfortunately, this does not sound like the present day “destroyers” who brought down the world economy. In practice, too many seek unfair advantage over competitors, and often in at the expense of the public, through the purchase of politicians.
Or they’ll just break the law. HSBC is under investigation for laundering drug money for Mexican cartels and they’re not the first. The government will settle and the fine will be insignificant in comparison to the profits.
Why? Because the banks are armed with lawyers that will drag out the process and make the government look bad. I doubt Hank Rearden would approve.
Rand then turns to an industrial class that has gone on strike. They feel the world does not appreciate enough the wealth and opportunity provided through the ages. But can the same be said of the Apple subsidiary Foxconn. It was forced to place netting around the housing of its semi-enslaved Chinese workers to cut into the suicide rate bore of horrendous conditions.
In turn, sweatshops and dire working conditions go unreported around the world in compliance with a media that protects the overlords. Right here, a Florida Super Market Chain called Publix, among others, employed Human Labor Trafficking practices to increase its bottom line.
On the other hand, the unfettered system of capitalism that companies enjoy outside American borders does lead to the general uplift of those host societies, as Alan Greenspan would tell you.
This sounds awfully like the speak of other Utopian visions. But, at the same time, adding up the pluses and minuses may just justify the pain. Given the unfortunate state of the human condition, across the landscape of history and its horror, all possibly go under the heading of the price of doing business.
Why then can she not extend a similar analogy to the operation of government and the check against excess?
Did I mention irrationality, which I estimate is the reason Atlas succumbed nonviolently to the said dystopia. In this, she’s warning of the most likely manner in which our democratic system would fall to communism. The Bush tax cuts in serious consideration of repeal, we can only resign to our sealed fate.
Aside from the inefficiency and waste that goes with government programs, increasing taxes helps the government dole out political power – thus amounting to poor use of capital and distorting values in the market place. (Of course, I don’t see Exxon/Mobil or the nuclear industry deferring on the Corporate Welfare that Ayn Rand thinks they would.)
Given the human condition across the landscape of history, this amounts to the price of doing business. In case that doesn’t sound familiar, let’s just say, business needs government to save itself from itself and government needs business to save itself from itself.

Despite the straight forward concept, it’s understandable how Ayn Rand’s irrational experience tainted her work. But the Tea Party and all those who think Atlas Shrugged should be viewed as a biblical blue print for all economic consideration – God help us

Tarrytown Broadway

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hate the Red Sox, This Yankee Fan doesn’t Understand

I began watching baseball in 1973 and simply followed my lineage in adopting the Yankees as my team. Flirting with first place briefly that year, three Bobby Murcer homeruns deposited not far from where I was seated as an 9 year old was the extent of it, and I didn’t take kindly to the Baltimore Orioles’ Eastern Division Crown. 1974 officially introduced me to the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, and I was on the hate train with everyone else.  But down the road, I have never been able to understand the disdain Yankee fans have for their rival to the north.
No matter, the Yankees found themselves seven games out to the sox in August, and I would become accustomed to another tradition – a Red Sox collapse. Switching Bobby Murcer to right, the Yankees charged back with the steady play of Elliot Maddox in center and the starting pitching of Doc Medich and Pat Dobson, while the Sparky Lyle, Dick Tidrow and Tippy Martinez closed the door in the bullpen.
The Yankees managed to take a two game lead during September, but ultimately succumbed to the Orioles again. Even so, I knew where to level my hate, and when the Red Sox put off the emerging Yankee Dynasty in 1975, it only festered.
Still, Bernie Carbo and Carlton Fisk in game six – I took note. This was baseball history on full display.
I forgot that soon enough, though.  Under an epic photo of Lou Pinella going shoulder first into Carlton Fisk, the cover of Sports Illustrated read, “The Speeding Yanks run into the Sputtering Red Sox,” and a new Yankee dynasty was ignited. I was locked in now.
The Yankees would run away with the division and fall just the same to the Reds in the World Series. At this point, aware of 1918, the rivalry to me was a dead heat nonetheless. Another August collapse by the Red Sox in 1977, and the Yankees would go one up in my historical context. But a 14 game July lead in 1978, drew the Red Sox even – if not ahead - and my hatred reached its apex.
The next three months proved to be the most exciting I’ve ever had as a fan of any sport and will never be duplicated. I’m also not ashamed to say that Oct 2, 1978 was the greatest day of my life, and what a lesson in never giving up.
This is where my transformation began and my bewilderment at Yankee fans who hate the Red Sox. The day after Craig Nettles squeezed the life out of Yaz’s towering pop fly, I saw a picture of the Red Sox patron saint in the paper.
He was looking up under the black glare below his eyes and trying desperately to fight back the tears. All I could think was how could any fan of baseball hate Carl Yastrzemski.
Then you go down the lineup.  Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans. Don Zimmer. Don Zimmer, Yankee fans. They are all baseball history incarnate.
Then I rethought the game and how it mirrored the season. The Red Sox jump out to a lead, the Yankees storm back, and like the 8 game winning streak the Red Sox put together to force the playoff, destiny awaited.
Man on second and third, two out, Goose Gossage on the mound, Yaz at the plate and a single winning the pennant, could baseball history ask for anything more.  
How do you hate? The same goes for the storied park and the fans who have filled it since 1918 - no matter the heartbreak.  At the same time, prior to 2004, when exactly did the Red Sox break our hearts?
So this left me a Red Sox fan – provided that the Yankees weren’t in it, and I was all in when the ball rolled between Buckner’s legs.
1918 now actually burdened me. But not more than the Yankees’ own 18 year drought from preeminence. 4 World Series wins in 5 years at the end of the century, and I felt good enough to openly dream of ending lifetimes of misery for the Red Sox.
Grady Little’s failure to remove Pedro in game 7 infuriated me, and I felt deeply for Red Sox fans.  So much so that when the Red Sox completed their 4 game sweep the next year, I jumped in the air with joy.

Now, no one has to go as far as me, but after three World Series wins since 2004, Yankee fans actually have a reason to hate the Red Sox. On the other hand, for everyone before that, I have no idea what you’re thinking. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Hudson Valley Barter Exchange

It’s probably not uncommon in these difficult economic times to be driving around in a ten year old car that looks fine on the outside but is sure to succumb to the annual trip to the local mechanic and then drop you a thousand dollars. But what if you could be ahead of the break and use your professional services as a writer, plumber of chiropractor to pay for this particular inevitability. Welcome to the Hudson Valley Barter Exchange.

“Every body has an account so they do work at their prevailing price, and they get paid in barter dollars,” says co-founder Kevin Brown.

In other words, while chimney sweep may accrue an exchange member a thousand barter dollars for a job, the masonry work he needs done around the house can be paid for by that sum and whatever total happens to be in his account.

He can certainly window shop for a mason with his grand through the exchange database, but he does so with a lot less insight. “We have become more of a concierge service,” he says. “We ask everybody to call us and let us know what they need so we can smooth the way.”

Part of that is making sure services rendered have been delivered properly. “We ask people to let us know right away if they are happy with the work,” he says.

Nonetheless, when the mason’s cement mixer runs into its inevitable breakdown, barter exchange obviously works on the business end also. “We pretty much have everything you need for your business that you can trade for in terms of services,” he says.

It amounts to over 400 hundred companies that trade within the network. Of course, if Hudson Valley doesn’t have it covered there are over 600 such operations across the country and cross trades make for an easy transaction. “I just arranged for somebody to go to Vermont for a weekend,” he says. “I got the time share through an exchange up there.”

Still, since things like supermarket food, gas and general supplies don’t really work in a barter system, due to a slim profit margin, cash won’t become obsolete no matter how involved you get. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean the cash and barter economies are separate for Hudson Valley’s members.  “If you ask small business owners what their single best source of marketing is, they say word of mouth and referral,” he says.

Meaning, you’re on a barter job you might not have necessarily landed in the cash economy and the neighbor realizes his walkway needs fixing. “That’s a cash referral job,” he says, and contributes to the good word you already have as a mason.

At this point, you might be wondering where all this stands – if at all – with the IRS. “The reason we can do this is that all of the income is accountable for a 1099B,” he says.

Darn, but the $275 entry fee still sounds like a pretty good bargain given all the positives. The same goes for the modest monthly fee and the 6% charge per trade.

The alternative, though, is far from uncommon. “You won’t meet a business owner that doesn’t barter,” he says, and in the end, what is common is a feeling on both sides that the agreement has come up short, he adds.

In turn, satisfaction is built into the infrastructure the exchange has created and is then left to the database to proceed along the lines of good business practices. “A lot of it has to with trading with integrity. We just ask people to trade the way they want to be treated,” he concludes.

Red Molly Trio Plays Bluegrass Mix of American Music throughout Connecticut

The all female trio Red Molly can be found throughout Connecticut playing a mix of Appalachian ballads, bluegrass, gospel and Jazz that guitarist Carolann Solebello says is high in fiber and rich in diversity. "We do a nice big salad of different songs," she says.
Scheduled for release soon is their forthcoming CD entitled, "Love and Other Tragedies." The same music mix as the previous CD but with more original material. Abbie Gardner, who plays a stringed instrument called a Dobro or resophonic guitar, is credited with most of the original material on "Never Been to Vegas," while Ms. Solebello admits that she and banjo and guitar player Laurie MacAllister have gotten away from songwriting in the last few years.
So what changed their tune? "There was something missing - both of us felt the need to have something to say," said Ms. Solebello. Starting slowly with one song on the new CD, she's proud of her bluegrass piece, "Summertime."
From a personal experience, she thinks the bluegrass roots of it make it twice as nice. "I'm pretty psyched," she says, "because it's a genre that I was introduced to not too long ago and I've been able to write something in it."
The three musicians got away from their song writing roots in order to introduce thoughtful fans to music they regularly un-cover from an abyss that contains an awful lot of good music. "There's so many beautiful, beautiful songs that people need to hear," she says.
Sounds good on paper (and even better between the plastic CD case) but they didn't know how the idea would be greeted at first on the music scene. "We were making the kind of music that we wanted to hear. That was exciting for us and we were so pleasantly surprised when other people enjoyed that," she says. In turn, the positive response provided even more incentive to perfect what they loved doing on stage.
As a result, now 9 to 5 adds up to nothing. Leaving their day jobs, as it turns out, in succession, she says, "We're grateful to be working consistently. It really is very nice."
Looking online at their tour schedule, they certainly do get around, so to speak, for a threesome of nice girls but fidelity matters to them and for more than the hopes of just a good sound system. "Being in a band is kind of like being married," says Ms. Sobell - with familiarity and compromise being just as holy in this type of arrangement.
And absent a private jet, the road beneath their wheels keeps them grounded and close. Talking all night for hours on end, she says, "We're like a little family." And it shows on stage with a banter that amuses and delights the audience.
In addition, the three thirtysomethings please the eyes as well as the ears but Ms. Solebello makes no distinction as to who qualifies as their "Paul." "We're all kind of cute in our own way," she jokes."
It translates into an audience that is as diverse as their music. "We don't go to a lot of bars, we play venues that you can bring your whole family," she says.
Among the Red Molly minions, she proudly claims a large contingent of teen and pre-teen girls. "That makes us very happy because we kind of fancy ourselves role models," she says in doing something that not a lot of women do.
Additionally, they love playing small coffee shops and libraries because they engender a keen attention span by nature. "People listen, it's awesome, and we like reading," she says, "reading is good."

Life is good too. "My life is ridiculously cool. I have a wonderful husband, I have a wonderful young son who is delightful and I have the best job in the world. I get to travel around with my friends and make music. How could I ask for more than that," she concludes.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Charity Water and Getting a Billion People access to Life

1.1 Billion people around the world don't have access to clean water.  That would look something like dipping your thirst into the East River for your daily water needs - but not exactly.  It more often has the reality of a child lugging a five gallon jerry can several miles to a parasite laden swamp or ground oozing mud puddle - which even a pig wouldn't wallow in.  This was made soberly clear in a slide presentation by Scott Harrison of Charity Water, but while a daunting worldwide problem, a sustainable solution is not out of reach.

Having built almost 1,300 wells in two years, his Charity Water Model has clearly demonstrated workability - even if its efforts have only knocked off one tenth of 1% of those effected. Financially, it amounts to $9.5 million raised - which certainly pales in comparison to the $200 to $300 Billion he estimates it would take to cover the other 99.9%. On the other hand, he puts that sum in its proper perspective. "We spend $450 Billion every year on Christmas," he says.

But he would know as well as any of how one can get caught up in the sometimes superficial nature of our own lives. Growing up in a very conservative Christian home, where he was among the caregivers for his disabled mother, he says he got out and rebelled against everything that he was.

Living large on the New York City fashion scene, he described his self-serving life as "decadent.”  After 10 years, he says, "I hit a wall at 28, realizing what I had become."

Looking to turn course, he volunteered as a photojournalist for an organization of doctors called Mercy Ship.  This floating hospital would sail into Africa and perform life altering surgeries for people with cleft lips, facial tumors and flesh eating diseases, he says.   Showing slides of young people that literally carried football sized tumors and horribly deformed clefts, it’s easy to understand why the continuing inclination to have an impact on developing nations persisted beyond a two year commitment.

Wanting to do something, though, that could have a larger sustainable impact, he considered the problems of famine, poverty, education and disease.  Out of that approach, he realized that clean water was undeniably tied in on so many levels.

80% of all disease emanates from a lack of clean water, he says, while children lose the opportunity for education as they lug dirty water hours and hours every single day.  In addition, as fathers focus on the farming, women's potential as a productive work force is sacrificed to the long daily march taken along side of their children.

All that begins to change as a $5,000 to $10,000 investment and the technical know how and assistance becomes part of a village's workload. Still, even with a healthy and affluent network of former acquaintances, the initial appeal of his charity ran into a wall that most organizations probably hear.  "What happens to the money," he says would commonly come in deference to their support.

As a result, he modeled Charity Water after those like the Robin Hood foundation, where large donors cover all the administrative costs and 100% of the small donations go directly to projects. Of course, taking any charity's word for it is always a leap of faith but all efforts made at the specifics of your donations can be easily audited from above with Google Earth.

As is, The Financial Times, Sachs Fifth Avenue and a 50,000 donation from Hugh Jackman are among the high profile who've been caught in his wave, but Mr. Harrison's appearance at the Power of One Day puts the future where it truly needs to be.  "We need kids to embrace this problem to solve it," he concluded.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Drive on the Saw Mill to Remember

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Coworking at the W@tercooler in Tarrytown gives Freelancers an Office to Engage and Connect

                                                          Photo : Margaret Fox Photography

For those who are still bound to an office and an overseer, coworkers can either be a distraction to your work or not, may add something to your day or not. On the other hand, if you freelance the office space you occupy at home means a share of nothing but distractions - the fridge, TV, the doorbell and the accumulating laundry. You don't even get the chance to regather your thirst (or sensibilities) among the animate - unless you own a dog. But Tarrytown does actually have a water cooler of its own that brings independent workers the best of both worlds.
“Coworking is something that is happening globally, and it doubles every year,” says Jenifer Ross, owner of the W@tercooler on North Broadway.
So if you show up with $35 in the morning, you’ll have access to one of the five temporary desks. This includes a computer and all the connective tech tools of any work day. “It’s sort of a Brooklyn open style loft,” says Ross.  
Freelancers can also dispense themselves on a more permanent basis if they choose at a cost of either $475 or $525 a month - depending on the size of the desk.  “There are five permanent desks,” she says, and this all also comes with master key, giving 24/7 access. 

In between, part time membership at $35 month returns a daily fee of $20. "We have about 40 members who come in and use the space anywhere from once a month to every day," says Ross, who is also a freelance marketing professional.
Of course, if the printer blinks at 11PM, it’s Do it Yourself standard time but as far as 9-5 goes, it’s not your problem. Making sure the toner is prime, the paper bin is full and the wi-fi is functioning, she says, "it's all done for you and the coffee is made."

Still, caffeine isn't always enough to kick your Monday morning into gear. Since W@tercooler coworkers have more than the lonely walls at home imploring inspiration, it's a lot easier for them to find their personal clutch and shift into high. "People tend to get more done when they are surrounded by others doing inspiring things," says Ross.

Of course, the variety of occupations that are enclosed can't help but intersect into some nice synergy. "Lawyers incorporating other members, graphic designers lending their talents for website design, writers connecting to publishers," says Ross, "There's a constant natural networking."

The same goes for the whole concept of coworking when it comes to the surrounding community. "Coworking is not just about the environment that happens inside your own space but it's also about the community you serve," says Ross. 

In turn, this has the W@tercooler offering discount cards and various collaborative initiatives with at least three dozen downtown businesses.  "This way we can keep business here and drive business locally," says Ross. 

But the W@tercooler doesn't just limit its business sense to the present and provides intern opportunities for students. "It gives that student exposure to a lot of different businesses and experiences," says Ross. 

At the same time, the W@tercooler allows its members by nature to be part of an even bigger social consciousness. "If twenty people are under one roof, it's one coffee maker, one heating source, one printer so you really know that you're lessening the collective carbon footprint," she says. 

And the radius from which most of her members stream in from is usually within ten or 15 miles so the sustainability adds up, while she's not shy about exalting in her business's point of origin. "Tarrytown is summer camp for adults. It has such a lively, energetic cradling group of people who are diverse and engaged" she says.

The view of the Hudson and all the 19th century architecture isn't so bad either on a lunch break. But if members get tied to their temporary desk for a day, she's more than happy to suffice for a breather when needed. "I'm often people's rest stop, but I don't mind, it's part of my job. I love to connect to people and I can get my work done when I get home," says Ross

No problem, the coffee should still be hot and somebody at home probably already walked the dog and returned all the incoming calls. 

Tarrytown - North Broadway

Click for a Stroll through Tarrytown

Sunday, March 15, 2015

.Brian Carney has made a Name for himself and Fondly Remembers his Father Art Carney

Like other kids’ fathers, Brian Carney’s dad left for work everyday from their Yonkers’ home in the 50s. On the other hand, the then elementary schooler soon noticed that his father’s profession had the attention of almost everyone. “It seemed everybody talked about what he did,” says Carney of his father Art of Honeymooner’s fame. But if the picture above looks familiar, it should – the son attaining a measure of celebrity of his own.
“I played opposite the Geiko Gecko as the CEO from 2008-2011,” says the Purdy’s resident.
While enjoying the very lucrative run, the creative interplay between him and lizard also appealed. The chance to be an actual celebrity wasn’t so bad either. “I really enjoyed being recognized by people,” says the 69 year old.
The experience also gave him a sense of what his father went through and shed light on why he rejected the spotlight. “It could become wearing on you,” Carney revealed.
Still, that doesn’t mean the long time voice over and commercial actor had any reservations about doing the spots. “I was hoping they’d go for 15 or 20 years,” he says.
But despite the success of the ads, he knew ultimately they would end. “You get a letter saying your services are no longer needed,” he says.
The impetus turned out to be a change in ad agencies, but it certainly hasn’t left him a lack of work. “I’ve gotten into elderly medications. My latest was for Advair,” he says.
Acting, though, was not something his father pushed him toward. “I wanted to be a vet, but I found out I had to become a doctor first and then go to more school. I didn’t want to do that,” he remembers.
His other interest was music, singing in the Glee Club and the church choir. He eventually learned guitar, and after high school, took to playing a college circuit of coffee shops for almost ten years. “It was very rewarding, I learned a lot about life and saw much of the country,” he says.
The time also had Carney serving in the National Guard and the hair pictured actually survived much of his stint.  Stuffing my locks under a short hair wig, he says, “I got away with it for three years.”
The grind did finally catch up with him, and he landed his first commercial almost 40 years ago for Chase Bank. “You don’t make nearly as much money in TV commercials as people think,” he says.
Still, he’s not complaining and prefers this to the occasional TV roles because of all the free time it leaves to do things like fishing and riding his Harley. “No crashes but I have dropped the bike a couple of times in gas stations moving from one pump to another,” he says.
Ed Norton couldn’t have scripted it better himself, but the son admits any attempts to imitate his father usually fell short. “One thing he did have was impeccable timing. I would hear things he would do and try to recreate them, and in that split second, it wasn’t as funny,” says Carney.
As for instances in which fatherly discipline had to be handed down, the younger never experienced any confusion in the wake of the goofy character the rest of us knew. “When he got mad, he’d scare the hell out of you. He didn’t have to lay a hand on you. He’d walk in my room, bang the door with the flat of his hand, and I’d just about go in my pants,” he remembers.
Even so, he affectionately remembers him as a good father and is proud of the seven Emmys and Oscar received for Harry and Tonto in 1974.
An honor nearly equaled by his co-star in The Hustler but their relationship was mostly a professional one. “They didn’t socialize much,” says Carney.
Brian’s own interaction was also limited. In the few times they met, his Dad would usually say, “do you remember my son” and the larger than life star typically greeted him in passing. “Hi-yaah pal, how’s school going,” Gleason would bellow, according to Carney.
At the same time, Carney is mum on any untold stories, which have passed down to him from some of the old timers. “My father took the 5th on them so if he didn’t admit to them, I’m not going to start talking about them but nothing that would have been any real trouble,” he says.
These days, Carney still loves to tee up the Honeymooner marathons when they run. “Hello Ball,” he revels, but any revenue generated never gets near his bank account. “My father took $100,000 buyout in 1955 because he needed the money,” says Carney.

No problem, this Carney is going to keep doing what he’s doing and playing parts that maybe don’t get as many laughs as his father but keeps him rolling nonetheless.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One American’s Immigration History Coincides with many of the Issues that Cause such an Uproar Today

Immigration is in the news, and from the outcry, you’d think God himself welcomed each of our grandparents at Ellis Island. Lacking such arrogance, my story cuts right across many of the same issues, and I doubt I am alone.
It should be noted that the larger details are mostly on the mark. Conversely, the smaller elements are probably suspect to the childhood memories degradation that occurs in us all. Such is history, and it makes for a better story anyway.
My great grandfather Alfonso Monetti came through Ellis Island just before 1900. He married here and had five children – including my grandfather, Charlie.  
Still, all that procreation didn’t stop Alfonso from making himself available to the ladies. In fact, if I can trust my recollections, the husband of one of his lovers actually shot him.
He recovered but when his wife died several years later, he returned to Italy with his mistress and left five children to fend for themselves.  
Theirs became a struggle to remain out of foster care, which created an unbreakable bond between them. Nonetheless, Alfonso’s action was probably welcomed by America’s betters and probably qualify him as a visionary in doing Mitt Romney proud by “self-deporting.”
I don’t know my paternal grandmother’s story, but my mother’s ancestral account certainly makes up for it.  Vito Ancora, my grandmother’s father, was a successful musician in the early 20th century. 
But that didn’t stop him from dreaming bigger. Leaving behind the cobblestones of Southern Italy, he gambled that America’s gold paved streets would make an apt entrance for his family, once achieving enough prosperity to send for them.
It didn’t quite work out, and by the time his wife and three children arrived, Vito was subsisting like most new immigrants. This is reminiscent of parents who left Central America in hopes of establishing a better life here before sending for their kids.
Of course, a major difference is that his was not a choice of necessity. Not a judgment on my part, he simply risked and failed.
Unfortunately, some here are less kind to families in much more dire circumstances today.  “Any American parent who hands his kid off to a coyote to be taken 1,700 miles would be thrown in jail in this country for child abuse,” Jeanine Pirro of Fox News recently spouted.

I wonder what the charge is if you passively subject your kids to Central American gangs.

Interestingly, that’s not the entire story, and it holds another contemporary parallel. Quotas did not allow Vito’s entire family to enter America.  Thus, it was suggested at Ellis Island that the older brother and sister emigrate to Argentina and return when the numbers were more favorable.
Faced with returning to Italy, they were forced to make this unimaginable choice.  I wonder if that qualifies as child abuse.  I guess even the sharp legal skills of Jeanine Pirro would say no since both were young adults.
As it turned out, my future great aunt and uncle made a life for themselves there, and now I have a boatload of relatives in Buenos Aires.
That leaves my maternal grandfather, Angelo Cafueri.  He was a member of the King’s Guard at the time Mussolini seized power and actually landed in jail for a short period.  That didn’t sit well, and he resolved to come to America by any means.
He got a job on an Italian supply ship with every intention of using it as his vehicle. When the boat docked in New York, any means arrived. The catch was that asking for any substantial amount of back pay to see New York suggested your intentions and quartered you to the ship.
My recollection is this. “I got off the boat with a few dollars in my pocket and waived goodbye to the captain,” my grandfather used to tell me.
A classic without papers Italian, he successfully stayed a step ahead of immigration.  He eventually achieved legal standing when he married Anna Ancora. 
It took me until adulthood ask him why he married “Nonni.” He coyly said, “because I loved her,” as if an element of convenience was attached.
But for me, weighing the true balance between both considerations revealed itself in where the tears were situated when family disagreements arose. They all belonged to him.
Even so, he was an illegal for several years, and the debt has never been paid.  You know what, I’ve never been to Italy. If I’m not mistaken, ICE pays for your ticket.  I could really use a break from this break neck American pace.
But once completing the sentence, I probably wouldn’t be so eagerly welcomed back.  The average Italian works only 16.5 hours a week, and my new work ethic would only add to the unfounded perceptions held against today’s immigrants.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dental Co-op in Somers and Mahopac

Dental Co-op in Purdy’s cuts Costs for the Uninsured

Every six months as you sit uninsured in the dentist's chair and calculate the sting of a $200 cleaning, you can only hope that the pain deadening gel seeps into your cerebral and alleviates the uncertainty of having the examination reveal something that sets you back even more. But if living in the moment is unavoidable, Dr. Michelle Verhave of Purdy’s offers a competitive alternative that can take quite a bite out of both the actual cost and the anxiety without the high price of purchasing individual dental insurance.

“It’s not insurance, it’s more like a club,” she says from her office at 5 Main Street.

So, an individual can start the year paying their annual fee up front and receive a 50% discount on all services throughout the year. “It actually pays for itself with the first cleaning,” says Dr. Verhave.

Hoping members come in and drop $105 at the half price savings for their second cleaning, bringing the rest of the family into the club doesn’t progress at the exponential pace that the rest of healthcare costs typically do. “It’s $110 for the family membership,” she says.

No way to lose, she had long noticed that her older clients would often lose their benefits upon retirement, and as a result, go on to ignore their oral health by foregoing care. “It’s a very reasonable alternative to losing your teeth,” she points out.

A younger demographic in a similar spot had also gotten her attention over the years. “I started having children that were approaching that age where they were losing benefits under their parent’s insurance,” she says.

Just starting three months ago, she says the dotted lines are being filled as semiannual cleanings come due. “They’re signing up as we go along,” she says.

Claiming 5% of her non-insured patients have joined, the shortfall received on fees will hopefully make up for itself in increased volume. At the same time, she’s spreading the dental health wealth by bringing more professionals into the fold. “Dr. (Anthony) Cuomo in Carmel is part of the group, and I’m looking for a few other doctors and specialists to join,” she says.

In turn, the possibilities for an even greater expansion is a direct function of all those who are left with a gap when it comes to dental insurance. “I’m hoping it grows astronomically,” she says, and keeps the drilling down to the bare minimum – giving every insured person in the area a chance to join, she adds in conclusion.

For more info 914 277-4656