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Friday, February 28, 2014

Time to Order Trees!

Fire Tower Rd., Grafton
The Rensselaer County Soil & Water Conservation District's 43rd Annual Arbor Green and Shrub Sale order period has begun.  This is a low-cost way to invest in trees for your property's future.  I just ordered 10 Austrian Pine seedlings ($16.00), 5 Colorado Blue Spruce transplants ($15.00) and 5 Norway Spruce transplants ($15.00).  I intend to live long enough to enjoy them, and those after me will thank me for this small investment.

Diversity in trees is important.  Keep in mind the effect of diseases on chestnut and elm trees.  It could happen with hemlock trees, which are so prevalent on the Plateau.

Click here for order form.

Fire Tower Rd., Grafton

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kudos RPA!

Last Saturday, I attended a dinner at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts celebrating the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance's Conservation Plan and contract to buy a 350-acre forest tract on the Plateau in the Town of Poestenkill.  Congressman Chris Gibson, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, and RPA President Jim Bonesteel were among the speakers.

There are a lot of non-profits that "meet, discuss and solicit donations."  The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, on the other hand, is a doer.  They meet, they plan, they solicit and then... they really do something.  And it's only the start.  I encourage you to donate/join (click here).

Congratulations RPA on this land acquisition and thank you for your hard work in the service of our community!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Giving Back: The Print Book Way

(Route 2, Hoosick)

I'm a bibliophile.  I like print books, especially hardcover print books.  I'm not anti-electronic books but so far I've not acquired a Kindle or Nook e-book reader.  I do own an iPad and used it to read one electronic book in the past year.  This was a book I wanted instantly. Not in one day or two days.  I wanted it instantly and that's what you can do by downloading an e-book online.  E-books make all the sense in the world for reference, technical, how-to and academic books.  At the RPI library, where I am the Director, we have a policy of buying e-books whenever available over print books.  Bear in mind though, that most technical books aren't read from cover to cover so the e-book format works better in this kind of library. There are, of course, other advantages to e-books: the ability to increase fonts; the ability (subscription/contract permitting) for more than one reader to access concurrently; the ability to tap on a word to see its dictionary entry; audio transcription for the blind, etc.  Yet, for me, for novels, biographies, history, etc. the print book is still my format of choice.

When I retire, I'll buy one so I can travel light but I doubt I'll ever be a real convert to electronic books.  I like the permanency, feel and "experience" of a print book.  I like that an author can add an inscription to the title page.  I like that you can pass print books on to a fellow reader.  According to a recent Pew report, I'm not alone.  Seventy percent of Americans reported reading a print book in the past year.  Only only 4 percent read e-books exclusively.

And so we come to the "giving back" part.  Most people take books out of their local public library.  For those of you with the means, I'm suggesting a "180" for occasional future library transactions.  For several years, I've been cleaning out my book collection -- all but those three or four authors who I collect first/signed editions of -- and giving them to my local public library, the Grafton Community Library.  I've read them and don't feel the need for them to just hang around and take up space.  I suspect that most of these have found their way to the basement used book sales.  That's fine by me.  However, I'm trying out a twist on that going forward.  When there's a recent book I want to read, that probably hasn't been acquired by the library yet, I'm going to buy it (preferably hardcover edition) from  Once I've read it, it will go to my local public library.  If it is a newly published book, I suspect it will make it to the shelves for circulation.  If it's recent, but they have a copy already, they still might add it to the shelves given adequate demand.  Otherwise, it'll no doubt make it to the basement for the next used book sale.  That's a librarian's prerogative.  Either way, I know it will make it to at least one more reader and its my way of giving back for the many books I've borrowed from libraries.

I just finished a hardcover print version of John Grisham's latest novel, Sycamore Row (terrific read!).  It's headed to the Grafton Community Library, along with David McCullough's Pulitzer prize winning John Adams that I read over the Holidays and that a friend had been kind of enough to pass along as a one-way ride to me.

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