Category: Activities (page 1 of 13)

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

Current Affairs Discussion: The Roots of Inequality, March 15, 2018

Discussion leader: Bryan Hooper

IQ2 Debate:Income Inequality Impairs The American Dream Of Upward Mobility
If the American dream is dying, is it the result of income inequality? Or is disparity in income a red herring where more complex issues are at play?
https://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/iq2-search?t=inequality

Current Affairs Discussion – GMO’s – February 15, 2018

Discussion Leader: Gary Banks

IQ2 Debate between Robert Nye (science guy) and Rob Fraley (Monsanto – I used to work with him)

https://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/genetically-modify-food

 
Below is an article from the NYT’s 1/2/18. A Danish company Novozymes, has discovered enzymes that clean clothes in cold water, in less water, using less chemicals and removes stains better. All good.

To make commercial quantities of the enzyme economically researchers started with an enzyme from soil bacteria in Turkey, and modified it through genetic engineering to make it more closely resemble a substance found in cool seawater.

Next, they found a way to mass produce the enzyme. Novozymes implanted the newly developed product’s DNA into a batch of microbial hosts used to cultivate large volumes of enzymes quickly and at low cost. The enzymes were then “brewed” in large, closely monitored tanks before being sold.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/business/energy-environment/climate-change-enzymes-laundry.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fbusiness&action=click&contentCollection=business&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0 

 

Current Affairs Discussion – Affordable Housing – January 18, 2018

Discussion Leader: Bob Baker

Factors in developing initiatives for affordable housing- DMA discussion Thursday are:

1. Economics
2. Politics
3. Welfare
4. Efficiency
5. Legal Issues
6. Fairness

Darien

Application to the Heights in Darien:
http://theheightsdarien.com/apply/

National

HUD Rental Assistance:
https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance

National Affordable Housing:
https://nationalaffordablehousing.com/apply-section-8-housing-state/?utm_source=EE-1&utm_campaign=NationalAffordableHousing

https://nationalaffordablehousing.com/?utm_source=BB-Desktop&utm_campaign=NationalAffordableHousing&utm_medium=All&utm_content=Ad-4&utm_term=Text-12

Typical Percentages for Household Budgets – Budgeting Money
https://budgeting.thenest.com/typical-percentages-household-budgets-3299.html

Connecticut
Our own Evonne Klein is CT Commissioner of Housing:
http://www.ct.gov/doh/site/default.asp

Section 8-30g has been used in town to override local zoning rules to add affordable housing.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/rpt/pdf/2017-R-0013.pdf

https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance/phprog

Section 8 Housing In Connecticut And HUD Low Income House Rentals
https://section-8-apartments.org/states/connecticut-state.html?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search_CT_Geo_Section%208%20Apartments&utm_term=%2Bsection%20%2B8%20%2Bincome%20%2Blimits&utm_content=Income%20Limits%20-%20BM

NY Times Magazine, Jan 27, page 53
“New York is facing an affordable-housing crisis.”
“Of the roughly 2300 apartments in…the project, about 700 will be reserved for lower-income tenants. The first 105 affordable units were recently made available at monthly rents ranging from$590 to $964: 87,000 people entered the lottery for them.

NY Times Jan. 8. Business section. “Homeowners want a Say Past Their Lot Lines” [ zoning regulations raise home prices]
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/upshot/zoning-housing-property-rights-nimby-us.html?_r=0

Denver Has a Plan for Its Many Luxury Apartments: Housing Subsidies – WSJ

https://www.wsj.com/articles/denver-has-a-plan-for-its-many-luxury-apartments-housing-subsidies-1515412800

Affordable Housing Resources | Texas Health and Human Services
https://hhs.texas.gov/doing-business-hhs/provider-portals/resources/promoting-independence/affordable-housing-resources

This posting on “food stamps” in CT. is in contrast to how assistance for housing is administered.
http://portal.ct.gov/DSS/SNAP/Supplemental-Nutrition-Assistance-Program—SNAP/Eligibility

National Affordable Housing – Section 8 Help and Resources
https://nationalaffordablehousing.com/?utm_source=BB-Desktop-Spy&utm_campaign=NationalAffordableHousing&utm_medium=All&utm_content=Ad-1&utm_term=Text-1

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Connecticut
https://nationalaffordablehousing.com/apply-section-8-housing-state/how-to-apply-for-section-8-housing-in-connecticut/

Connecticut Section 8 Housing | Section-8-Housing.org
https://section-8-housing.org/Connecticut?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search_CT_Kwd_Section%208&utm_term=section%208%20housing%20connecticut&utm_content=Housing%20-%20EX

Learn about Homeownership Vouchers (Section 8 Homeownership Vouchers)
https://nationalaffordablehousing.com/homeownership/

Web Notes – HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
https://www.hud.gov/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8

Moscow Nights : the Van Cliburn Story : How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War by Nigel Cliff

Gripping narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic story of a remarkable young Texan pianist, Van Cliburn, who played his way through the wall of fear built by the Cold War, won the hearts of the American and Russian people, and eased tensions between two superpowers on the brink of nuclear war.

In 1958, an unheralded twenty-three-year-old piano prodigy from Texas named Van Cliburn traveled to Moscow to compete in the First International Tchaikovsky Competition. The Soviets had no intention of bestowing their coveted prize on an unknown American; a Russian pianist had already been chosen to win. Yet when the gangly Texan with the shy grin took the stage and began to play, he instantly captivated an entire nation.

The Soviet people were charmed by Van Cliburn’s extraordinary talent, passion, and fresh-faced innocence, but it was his palpable love for the music that earned their devotion; for many, he played more like a Russian than their own musicians. As enraptured crowds mobbed Cliburn’s performances, pressure mounted to award him the competition prize. “Is he the best?” Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded of the judges. “In that case . . . give him the prize!”

Adored by millions in the USSR, Cliburn returned to a thunderous hero’s welcome in the USA and became, for a time, an ambassador of hope for two dangerously hostile superpowers. In this thrilling, impeccably researched account, Nigel Cliff recreates the drama and tension of the Cold War era, and brings into focus the gifted musician and deeply compelling figure whose music would temporarily bridge the divide between two dangerously hostile powers.

 

Recommended by Gary Banks

NYC Christmas Light Walking Tour, Dec 12, 2017

Christmas Lights Walking Tour New York City
Taylor Strubinger will lead a walking tour of New York City’s world-famous Christmas trees and department store windows,  Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

“We will take the 8:36 a.m. train from Darien and the 8:39 a.m.train from Noroton Heights,” said Taylor. “We usually try to sit in the forward railroad cars.

“At Grand Central Station, we will gather at the information desk underneath the clock before starting out,” he said. “No reservations are necessary. If the weather is inclement, we will not go.”

Contact: Taylor Strubinger at tstrubinger@snet.net or phone (203) 952-6423.
The Christmas trees include Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park.

Elephant Company : the Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke, May 9, 2018

J.H. “Billy” Williams always had an affinity for animals. So, when he responded to job offer with the East India Company to work with logging elephants his family wasn’t surprised, though worried that he had already come back from World War I in one piece, would he be so lucky with India? Not only did he find his calling with the elephants in India, Billy and his elephants became war heroes. At the onset of World War II, Williams formed Elephant Company and was instrumental in defeating the Japanese in Burma and saving refugees, including on his own “Hannibal Trek.” Billy Williams became a media sensation during the war, telling reporters that the elephants did more for him than he was ever able to do for them, but his story has since been forgotten. Part biography, part war story, and part wildlife adventure, Croke delivers an utterly charming narrative and an important, little-known piece of the legacy of World War II.

 

NYT’s Book Review: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/books/review/elephant-company-by-vicki-constantine-croke.html?_r=0 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, April 11, 2018

The mysterious Jay Gatsby uses his fabulous wealth to create an enchanted world fit for his former love, Daisy Buchanan, now married to Tom. Daisy, though, is a romanticised figment of his own imagination, and the extraordinary world that he creates is equally illusory. He gives lavish, legendary parties where the guests and gate-crashers enjoy free-flowing champagne and cocktails and carefree hospitality. But a more sinister reality begins to break through, as idealized romantic figures prove to have human frailties and selfish motivations, and the grandiose world of Gatsby’s creation crumbles and disillusion turns to tragedy.

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, March 14, 2018

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Wishaw, and Brendan Gleeson, and directed by Ron Howard.The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents-including a long-lost account written by the ship’s cabin boy-and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing listen, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.

The Library has a copy of the movie.

Side read: Moby Dick

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest American novels finds its perfect contemporary champion in Why Read Moby-Dick?, Nathaniel Philbrick’s enlightening and entertaining tour through Melville’s classic. As he did in his National Book Award–winning bestseller In the Heart of the Sea, Philbrick brings a sailor’s eye and an adventurer’s passion to unfolding the story behind an epic American journey. He skillfully navigates Melville’s world and illuminates the book’s humor and unforgettable characters—finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. An ideal match between author and subject, Why Read Moby-Dick? will start conversations, inspire arguments, and make a powerful case that this classic tale waits to be discovered anew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the most perilous adventure tales ever. Unbelievable – but true. I understand that business schools use it to teach crisis management. Gary

 

Cattle Kingdom: The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher Knowlton, February 14, 2018

A revolutionary new appraisal of the Old West and the America it made

The open range cattle era lasted barely a quarter-century, but it left America irrevocably changed. These few decades following the Civil War brought America its greatest boom-and-bust cycle until the Depression, the invention of the assembly line, and the dawn of the conservation movement. It inspired legends, such as that icon of rugged individualism, the cowboy. Yet this extraordinary time and its import have remained unexamined for decades.

Cattle Kingdom reveals the truth of how the West rose and fell, and how its legacy defines us today. The tale takes us from dust-choked cattle drives to the unlikely splendors of boomtowns like Abilene, Kansas, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. We venture from the Texas Panhandle to the Dakota Badlands to the Chicago stockyards. We meet a diverse array of players—from the expert cowboy Teddy Blue to the failed rancher and future president Teddy Roosevelt. Knowlton shows us how they and others like them could achieve so many outsized feats: killing millions of bison in a decade, building the first opera house on the open range, driving cattle by the thousand, and much more. Cattle Kingdom is a revelatory new view of the Old West.

 

From Delancy Place:

THE BIRTH OF THE AMERICAN COWBOY — 1/08/18

Today’s selection — from Cattle Kingdom by Christopher Knowlton. In the mid-to-late 1800s, some 10 million cattle would be driven north out of Texas, the largest forced migration of animals in human history. It was the birth of the American cowboy:

“Cattle had been trailed from Texas to Missouri as early as 1842 and to California as early as 1854. … Although the maps depicting these routes suggest an orderly branch network of roads, on the ground the paths taken were often circuitous, as the drovers needed to provide water and grass for the cattle along the way. This meant following rivers and creeks and tracing the routes of old Indian and buffalo trails. The earliest endpoints were the railheads of the Union Pacific and the Missouri Pacific railroads, which were gradually extending their tentacles of track westward, now that the Civil War was over and capital was available for their expansion.

“But nothing about this trail-driving scheme turned out to be quite as easy as it looked on paper. The first challenge: a cattle drive required horses, but the freely roaming mustangs needed to be roped, corralled, and broken by a skilled broncobuster. It typically took five to six days to properly break a wild mustang. And to trail cattle north, a journey that could take three to six months, drovers needed four or five horses per cowboy.

“The second challenge: the behavior and temperament of the wild Texas Longhorn itself. … It was a challenge for cowboys to round up these wild cattle. Texas Longhorns hid in the brush during the day and did most of their foraging at night. Only briefly in the summer, when the tor­menting mosquitoes were out in force, did they spend the daylight hours in open areas, where they hoped to find a breeze. Most of the time the cowboys were compelled to ride into the thorny brush to flush the cattle out. But a cow with a young calf was prepared to gore a horse to defend her offspring, and the longhorn bull was no­toriously ornery: ‘sullen, morose, solitary, and pugnacious;’ as one cattleman put it. ‘The longer he lived, the meaner he became.’ …

“Once a herd was assembled, the profit-seeking Texan faced his most grueling challenge: the trail drive itself, since railroads throughout the South had been badly damaged during the Civil War and had never ventured far into Texas. … It required a minimum of eight men to drive a thousand head of cattle. The trail boss usually rode a few miles ahead, scouting out water holes and good places to graze the herd. The cook followed on the mess, or chuck, wagon. …

“Two cowboys were positioned at the point of the herd and two along each swing, or flank. The two most junior cowboys brought up the rear and were known as drag riders. Their job was to keep the slow and lame cattle moving along. They were constantly sub­jected to dust and spatterings of the herd’s manure; they took the full brunt of its noxious odors. … [One] staple of the diet was ‘son-of-a­-bitch stew,’ concocted from leftover cattle parts such as the heart, testicles, and tongue.

“On a good day, a trail drive could cover fourteen or fifteen miles, usually with a break at midday for lunch. The greatest threat facing the drovers was a stampede. It didn’t take much to spook the jumpy longhorns: lightning, the appearance of a wolf, the snap of a towel. …

“In the spring of 1867, some 35,000 head of cattle headed up the trails; the next year, 75,000; the year after that 350,000; and in 1871, some 600,000. The great migration of Texas Longhorns, the largest forced migration of animals in human history, had begun in earnest. In all, some ten million cattle would be driven north out of Texas, accompanied by half a million horses and some 50,000 cowboys.”

“Hiking” Greenwich Point Park, Friday, December 8, 2017 at 10.30am

We will be walking Greenwich Point Park on Friday December 8 at 10.30 am. Note that this is half an hour later than our usual start time of 10.00 am.

Greenwich Point is a beautiful peninsula surrounded on three sides by Long Island Sound. The walking trail is completely flat and does not require any special skills other than a desire to walk amid some pretty spectacular scenery. We will be doing the full circuit of about 3 miles in about 1 1⁄2 hours.

Following the walk we will have lunch at the Italian Restaurant Applausi Osteria Toscana( 199
Sound Beach Road). Last year this restaurant was a hit with our group.

Directions: Google Greenwich Point for the best directions.
Take Exit 5 off the South bound I-95. At the end of the exit ramp make a sharp right onto Rt 1 and then at the first traffic light make another right onto Sound Beach Road. Continue on Sound Beach for 1.8 miles, then at the T junction make a right on Shore Road which becomes Tods Driftway after 1.3 miles. You enter Greenwich Point Park through a somewhat obscure stone gateway and park in the first parking lot on the right where we will meet.

This park is open only for Greenwich Residents during the season, but this being off-season anyone can enter. Leashed dogs are allowed after Dec 1.

Clothing: It is usually quite windy at Greenwich Point and will probably be chilly
as well. Be appropriately clad. Walking will warm you up and it should be
invigorating and fun. All are welcome. ( Last year our group numbered 18 ).

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

An American Family by Khizer Khan

Khan’s aspirational memoir reminds us all why Americans should welcome newcomers from all lands.”₇–was In this urgent and timeless immigrant story, we learn that Khizr Khan has been many things. He was the oldest of ten children born to farmers in Pakistan, and a curious and thoughtful boy who listened rapt as his grandfather recited Rumi beneath the moonlight. He was a university student who read the Declaration of Independence and was awestruck by what might be possible in life. He was a hopeful suitor, awkwardly but earnestly trying to win the heart of a woman far out of his league. He was a brilliant and diligent young family man who worked two jobs to save enough money to put himself through Harvard Law School. He was a loving father who, having instilled in his children the ideals that brought him and his wife to America₇the sense of shared dignity and mutual responsibility₇tragically lost his son, an Army captain killed while protecting his base camp in Iraq. He was and is a patriot, and a fierce advocate for the rights, dignities, and values enshrined in the American system.–₇Senator John McCain

 

Recommended by Gary Banks

Saxon Woods Hike Friday, Nov 17, 2017 10.00am

We will be hiking at Saxon Woods Park in Scarsdale, NY on Friday Nov 17 at 10 am. This is a 700 acre county park and contains an 18 hole golf course, tennis courts, a huge swimming pool, soccer fields and several miles of hiking trails in the woods. We will be hiking the part of the
park that is south of the Hutchinson Parkway off exit 22. The trails here are wide, well maintained and well marked and largely devoid of treacherous roots and rocks. We will hike a loop of about 3.5 miles which will take us 2-2.5 hours. This promises to be a most enjoyable
hike and we welcome our regular hikers as well as newcomers. Spouses and significant others will find this hike fun.

After the hike, at around 12.30pm we will have lunch(optional) at the nearby Red Plum Restaurant, a highly regarded and popular place serving mouth-watering Asian dishes at reasonable luncheon prices. ( Located at 251 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck).

Directions
Head South on the Merritt Parkway into Westchester. Take Exit 22 off the Hutch and make a left turn at the top of exit ramp onto Mamaroneck Road. Proceed about 200 yards and then make a left into the parking lot of the Weinberg Nature Center, marked by an easy to miss sign.

Address: 455 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale.
Meeting Time at parking lot: 10.00am
Contact: Sunil Saksena, 203-561- 8601, ssaksena44@gmail.com

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