Category: Activities (page 1 of 12)

Activities are gatherings that occur on a regular schedule, usually weekly, to enjoy a specific pastime.

Happy Wanderers: Central Park, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taylor Strubinger reports that the Happy Wanderers will explore Central Park on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

We will be taking the 8:36 a.m. train from Darien and the same train from Noroton Heights at 8:39 a.m. We usually board at the front end of the train.

Everyone will gather briefly at the Information Booth underneath the clock in Grand Central Station before starting off.

The wandering will begin at West 72nd Street and Central Park West. Entering the park, we will pass the Strawberry Fields and the Sheep Meadow.

We also will see the Bethesda Fountain and the Bow Bridge. Other stops will include the puppet theater, the Shakespeare garden and the Great Lawn.

Lunch will be at a chosen location on Amsterdam Avenue or Columbus Avenue.

For questions, text, phone or email Taylor Strubinger (203) 952-6423, tstrubinger@snet.net.

Hiking Devil’s Den Preserve Friday, Oct 13, 2017 10:00am

Devil’s Den Hike Postponed to Friday, October 13, at 10 a.m.
Rain is expected tonight.
Even though tomorrow may be a clear day, the trails at Devil’s Den will still be wet and slippery.
Therefore, the hike is postponed to Friday, October 13, which will be beautiful and sunny. A perfect fall day for hiking.
For questions, contact Sunil Saksena (293) 561-8601, ssaksena44@gmail.com

We will be hiking the trails at Devil’s Den Preserve in Weston on Thursday, October 12, with a 10 am start. This is the largest nature preserve in SW Connecticut and extremely popular with hikers. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, its has 1700 acres of woodlands, wetlands, ponds and streams, and 20 miles of picturesque trails. It is home to 145 species of birds, 20 species of mammals, and over 400 varieties of trees and wildflowers.

We will be hiking a loop of about 3.5 miles.This trail has a moderate level of difficulty in that there are places of gradual uphill, but these are usually followed by long stretches of flat trail.  You do need sturdy shoes as the trail is rocky in places.

The hike will last about 2-2 ½ hours and will give us ample opportunity to bathe in the forest air.  I mention this because the Japanese believe hiking is good for one’s health, not just because of the exercise involved, but also because it gives one the opportunity to breathe the forest air which is swirling with healthful compounds released by the trees.

After the hike, at about 12.30pm,we will have lunch at a nearby restaurant, Wiremill Saloon and Barbeque, which is a local favorite and a short drive away.  It is located at 12 Old Mill Road,
Redding.

A usual, we welcome spouses and significant others on our hikes.

Directions
Take Exit 42 off the Merritt Parkway and at the bottom of exit ramp make a right turn onto Route 57 North towards Weston. After 3.8 miles, at the flashing light bear right to follow CT-53 for 1.7 miles. Turn left on Godfrey Road West and drive half a mile. Make right on to Pent Road which ends in the parking lot for Devil’s Den.

On Google Maps use this destination address : 33 Pent Road, Weston

Contact : Sunil Saksena 203-561-8601 (cell) ssaksena44@gmail.com

December 21, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion
Drug Prices

Leader: Sunil Saksena

November 16, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion
Corporate Tax Reform Policy

Leader: Harvey Mogenson

Happy Wanderers — Walkway Over the Hudson River – 21 September, 2017

Happy Wanderers — Walkway Over the Hudson River – 21 September, 2017

This will be the first Wandering of our fall semester.

The Walkway, now a New York State Park, was opened by the New Haven Railroad in 1889 as a rail bridge from Poughkeepsie to Highland, NY, where it connected New England with other rail lines to the West and South. In 1974 a fire made the bridge unusable; and, until it was reconfigured in 2009 as the world’s longest pedestrian walkway, it went unused.

 

As you can see from the pictures, the views are spectacular.

We will carpool from the DCA to the Walkway parking area in Poughkeepsie, on Tuesday, September 19, departing at 8:45 a.m. Please gather in the back parking area, near the Greenhouse. We will set up the car pooling there, and the remaining cars will be parked there.

Driving directions will be provided for each car. For GPS users, the address of the parking area for the Walkway is 61 Parker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12601.

We expect that the driving time to the Parking Area in Poughkeepsie will be about an hour and a half. Our walk itself, including pit stops and a pause for a libation should take about two to three hours.

We then plan to go to lunch at the nearby Culinary Institute, at one of the dining places on its campus that does not require reservations. After lunch, we shall go directly home, and expect to be back at the DCA at about 4:30.

The weather is expected to be sunny, so bring a hat and some sun-block.

For questions, please call Joe Spain – 203-655-1264 or jhspain@sbcglobal.net.

Group picture of the Wandering:

Hiking in New Canaan
Friday, September 15, 2017
10:00 am  

We will be hiking two properties in New Canaan on Septembr 15. Both are easily accessible and are a short drive from Darien. Both are rated C+ on the level of difficulty scale used to grade hikes (for a fuller description of this rating click on the Hiking tab   on the DMA website). This means that the terrain is relatively flat, but the trails may occasionally be strewn with rocks and roots. So one  has to exercise some care in traversing these trails, but other than that, they are relatively easy and should appeal even to the novice hiker.

The first property we will be hiking is the Hicks Kelley Audubon property owned by the New Canaan Land Trust. This T-shaped property is approximately 40 acres with just under two miles of interesting trails.

Following this hike we will take a short drive to the second property,the 80 acre Waveney Park, which is owned by the Town of New Canaan. Here the trail loop is about 1.5 miles and serenely beautiful.

 

 

 

 
After completing both trails we will head downtown for lunch at Restaurant  Chef Luis (129 Elm St., New Canaan)

We meet at 10 am on Friday, Septemeber 15 at the Hicks Kelley property, the entrance to which is adjacent to mailbox of house no. 161 on  Cedar Lane.

Driving instructions: Off the north-bound Merritt Parkway take exit 38. At bottom of the exit ramp make a right turn and after 0.3 miles( that is, at the second light) turn right onto Carter Road. Proceed 1.3 miles on Carter, then make a right turn on to Dabney Road ( this turn is at 409 Carter Rd).  Bear left at the fork and Dabney becomes Cedar Lane . Park along the road near 161 Cedar. It shouldnt take more than 5-6 minutes once you get off the Merritt.

Direction from Hicks Kelley to Waveney Park (which is off Exit 37) will be handed out on site.

These two hikes are relatively easy and have have been selected to encourage maximum particpation and to provide a warm up to the more challenging hikes to come. In addition to our regulars, we are hoping to entice some newcomers to give hiking a try.

Contact: Sunil Saksena, 203-561-8601, ssaksena44@gmail.com

Golf Outing: Sterling Farms, Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 10 a.m.

The last outing this year is at Sterling Farms Golf Course in Stamford, Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 10 a.m.

To sign up, email Peter Carnes atpicarnes@gmail.com.

Provide your handicap to facilitate pairings.

Fee is $46. Includes cart.

Confirmation and coordination will be via email during the week prior to play.

For directions to Sterling Farms, go here.

Book Discussion: Jan 10, 2018
A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles

A New York Times bestseller “The same gorgeous, layered richness that marked Towles’ debut, Rules of Civility, shapes [A Gentleman in Moscow]” – Entertainment Weekly   “Elegant… as lavishly filigreed as a Fabergé egg” – O, the Oprah Magazine   He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.   From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel  In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose. “And the intrigue! … [A Gentleman in Moscow] is laced with sparkling threads (they will tie up) and tokens (they will matter): special keys, secret compartments, gold coins, vials of coveted liquid, old-fashioned pistols, duels and scars, hidden assignations (discreet and smoky), stolen passports, a ruby necklace, mysterious letters on elegant hotel stationery… a luscious stage set, backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama.” – The San Francisco Chronicle From the Hardcover edition

Book Discussion: December 13, 2017
Dereliction of Duty
by H.R. McMaster

From respected Lieutenant General and Trump Administration National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, an authoritative, highly critical analysis of the arrogance, deception, and controversial decisions at the highest level of government that led to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C.” —H. R. McMaster (from the Conclusion) Dereliction Of Duty is a stunning analysis of how and why the United States became involved in an all-out and disastrous war in Southeast Asia. Fully and convincingly researched, based on transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations and decisions, it is the only book that fully re-creates what happened and why. McMaster pinpoints the policies and decisions that got the United States into the morass and reveals who made these decisions and the motives behind them, disproving the published theories of other historians and excuses of the participants. A page-turning narrative, Dereliction Of Duty focuses on a fascinating cast of characters: President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and other top aides who deliberately deceived the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Congress and the American public. McMaster’s only book, Dereliction of Duty is an explosive and authoritative new look at the controversy concerning the United States involvement in Vietnam

Book Discussion: Nov 8, 2017
Midnight in Broad Daylight
A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds

Pamela Rotner Sakamoto

midnightMeticulously researched and beautifully written, the true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during World War II—an epic tale of family, separation, divided loyalties, love, reconciliation, loss, and redemption—this is a riveting chronicle of U.S.–Japan relations and the Japanese experience in America.

After their father’s death, Harry, Frank, and Pierce Fukuhara—all born and raised in the Pacific Northwest—moved to Hiroshima, their mother’s ancestral home. Eager to go back to America, Harry returned in the late 1930s. Then came Pearl Harbor. Harry was sent to an internment camp until a call came for Japanese translators and he dutifully volunteered to serve his country. Back in Hiroshima, his brothers Frank and Pierce became soldiers in the Japanese Imperial Army.

As the war raged on, Harry, one of the finest bilingual interpreters in the United States Army, island-hopped across the Pacific, moving ever closer to the enemy—and to his younger brothers. But before the Fukuharas would have to face each other in battle, the U.S. detonated the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, gravely injuring tens of thousands of civilians, including members of their family.

Alternating between the American and Japanese perspectives, Midnight in Broad Daylightcaptures the uncertainty and intensity of those charged with the fighting as well as the deteriorating home front of Hiroshima—as never told before in English—and provides a fresh look at the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Intimate and evocative, it is an indelible portrait of a resilient family, a scathing examination of racism and xenophobia, an homage to the tremendous Japanese American contribution to the American war effort, and an invaluable addition to the historical record of this extraordinary time.

Side read: Hiroshima by John Hersey

October 19, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Clean Disruption

In our first article Tony Seba makes the case that multiple technologies are converging that will massively disrupt the auto industry, use of space, transportation, energy, climate, … – all a big part of how we now live and work.   He calls it “Clean Disruption”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0&feature=youtu.be

Our  discussion will review his model.  Are the assumptions valid?  Is the logic consistent and complete?  What other scenarios are possible?  Timing?  US vs ROW?  Politics and regulation? Business threats and opportunities?

 

McKinsey Studies:

An-integrated-perspective-on-the-future-of-mobility

Battery-storage-The-next-disruptive-technology-in-the-power-sector

The-new-economics-of-energy-storage

SRP_2014_Disruptive_Solar

WEF_Game_Changers_in_the_Energy_System

 

UK and France will ban ICE (internal combustion engine) autos by 2040:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/26/world/europe/uk-diesel-petrol-emissions.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

Forbes: Volvo will stop designing ICE only cars by 2019. (They are not going all electric as some reported.)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2017/07/05/volvo-says-it-will-stop-designing-combustion-engine-only-cars-by-2019/

Forbes: What if everyone installed solar?
https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/01/16/what-would-the-economic-impact-be-if-everyone-installed-solar-panels/#7d8b38e734cc

When you reduce the number of moving parts in an engine from 2000 to 20, increase the efficiency and useful life of each auto, and eliminate truck drivers, then that is going to result in unemployment on a massive scale in the socio-economic classes that have already suffered from the widening income gap experienced over the past 30 years, and contributed to the election of Trump. Are our politicians capable of recognizing the consequences and bold enough to take action to offset the disappearing jobs? Given our current ineptitude in gaining consensus in Congress and the absence of forward vision from the White House I do not feel confident of the corrective means being devised and applied. Add to that the possible turmoil created by falling demand for oil from the Middle East, and we begin to approach the conditions for a perfect storm. Bryan Hooper.

What should the price be to sell electrons back price to the utility? It can’t be the retail cost of electricity because all the fixed costs remain. Fixed costs include the power station and transmission lines. The variable cost is just the cost of fuel. But for nuclear that variable fuel cost is zero.

So with residential roof top solar, a battery and a maybe back up generator – do you need to be on the power grid at all? If you are off the grid you can’t sell excess power, but do you owe the utility anything? (Note that you pay for sewers whether you are hooked up to them or not.) Do people dropping off lead to a death spiral as fixed costs of a universal power grid are spread over a shrinking customer base?
https://www.brookings.edu/research/rooftop-solar-net-metering-is-a-net-benefit/

Will electric cars break the grid?
https://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/11/will-electric-cars-break-grid/

From Bloomberg Businessweek:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-21/how-electric-cars-can-create-the-biggest-disruption-since-iphone

https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2017/09/18/the-future-of-electric-vehicles-in-the-u-s-part-2-ev-price-oil-cost-fuel-economy-drive-adoption/#56379bd4345c

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/are-electric-cars-cheaper-to-run.htm

Solar shingles: https://www.consumerreports.org/solar-panels/doing-the-math-on-teslas-solar-roof/

Dyson plans to build an electric car (or at least a street legal riding vacuum):

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilwinton/2017/09/26/dyson-british-vacuum-cleaner-plans-electric-car-assault-with-2-7-billion-plan/#7bd2e0c456a5

From Paul Williams: http://brook.gs/2fAZBmc

On the rapidly emerging technologies to improve electric storage: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2015/09/15/five-emerging-battery-technologies-for-electric-vehicles/

Good Read: Richard Nixon: The Life By John A. Farrell

Thoroughly Researched Biography Tapping Recently Available Sources

Until Donald Trump, no one in American presidential politics had come so far, so fast, and so alone in exploiting the politics of grievance as Richard Nixon.

John Farrell’s biography is very thoroughly researched and has gained notoriety because at the Nixon library Farrell discovered notes from Nixon aide Bob Haldeman, contemporaneous to the 1968 election. Haldeman’s notes substantiated the rumor that, through an intermediary, Nixon reached out to South Vietnamese President Thieu to scuttle South Vietnamese participation in President Johnson’s peace initiative. The message: South Vietnam could get a better deal once he, Nixon, was President. Nixon’s goal was to eliminate any chance that his opponent, Hubert Humphrey, would benefit from the prospect of US withdrawal from Vietnam. More than 20,000 American soldiers died as US combat participation in the war extended from 1968 until Nixon left office in 1974.

Farrell is at his best in describing the events leading to the Checkers speech which dissuaded Eisenhower from dropping Nixon as his running mate in 1952. In his first term of office, according to the author, Ike did not feel that Nixon was growing in terms of perspective (“He lacked the grandness of vision and spirit to unite a great country”) but at the same time Ike cynically used Nixon for tactical offense so that as president he could stay above the fray.

The author reminds us of all the disgusting characters that formed the political culture of the 1950s and 1960s. These included Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohen, George Wallace and the southern power brokers such as Strom Thurmond and Richard Russell. America was roiled by the assassinations of JFK, Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the race riots of the inner cities, and the polarization of opinion regarding the Vietnam War. The dirty tricks of Nixon’s House and Senate campaigns were by no means the exclusive purview of Richard Nixon. Indeed the author notes the vote counts in Chicago and Texas which may have illegally tipped victory to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election and which likely persuaded Nixon that no one would ever again outdo him in employing dirty tricks to win.

Farrell highlights one difference between the postwar period of Richard Nixon and our current political environment: Victory over Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II showed Nixon’s generation what government could do. With the end of the war, the US population doubled with the baby boom and there was great demand for the expansion of government services. Farrell makes the point that Nixon believed in government, and that he was more progressive than Kennedy on Civil Rights in 1955. The government social safety net was expanded under Nixon’s presidency, including tax reform for low income individuals, increased aid for education, and a 20% hike in Social Security payments. The problem with right-wingers, Nixon said, was that, “they have a totally hard-hearted attitude where human problems and any compassion is concerned.”

Nixon was an excellent student of the mood of the electorate and in 1968 was able to reach out to the conformist middle and working class which had become disillusioned with Democrats who took their traditional supporters for granted. Farrell says that Nixon won the “gut vote” — a precursor of what Trump did in 2016.

Nixon was an introvert in an extroverted profession. As president, he used Bob Haldeman and John Erlichman to wall himself off not only from confrontation, which he hated, but even from one-on-one interactions which made him uncomfortable.

The President was given to angry outbursts and ill-advised orders, which his top advisors (Kissinger, Laird, Haldeman) learned to ignore. “Bomb Damascus” didn’t mean that he intended the order to be carried out.

Unfortunately, as Farrell lays out in a particularly good chapter, “The Road to Watergate”, lower level aides were all too eager to please the President and the Watergate burglary and other dirty tricks went forward with implicit rather than explicit approval. “The way to Presidential favor was to bring a dead mouse to his door,” notes the author.

Will the hubris (or insecurity) that brought down Richard Nixon serve to bring down Donald Trump? Farrell seems to suggest that the answer is no. As the Watergate scandal grew, with damaging testimony from John Dean and others, the public was becoming bored with the “he said, she said” allegations. But then the discovery of the White House tapes changed everything and forced Nixon’s resignation. Whatever emerges from the Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the election, it seems unlikely that the special prosecutor will uncover evidence that is so specific, irrefutable, and damning as the Watergate tapes.

This is an excellent biography of the most controversial of presidents, and readers will benefit from John Farrell’s study of primary sources that have only recently become available to Nixon biographers.


Charles G. Salmans

Also, from the NYT’s Book Review: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/books/richard-nixon-biography-john-a-farrell.html?_r=0

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