Sunday, July 31, 2016

And so it went ... Cleveland and Roger Ailes. Have mercy on us.

By Bob Gaydos
Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.
Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.
Ridicule, lie, insult, lie, mock, lie, bully, lie. Hate.
Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.
White, white, white, white, white, white, white. Hate.
God bless America. God bless Donald Trump.
She said/she said. She said she said/she said.
Ego, ego, ego. Lies, lies, lies. Fear, fear, fear. fear.
For those fortunate enough to miss it, the preceding is my synopsis of the Republican National Convention, which dominated the news last week. This is by way of resuming my contribution to the Internet dialogue with a regular Sunday collection of events that piqued my interest, tickled my fancy or struck me as almost too dumb for words (see above).
For this first installment, I’m going back more than a week because the major media apparently had no time to report on anything but the white supremacist rally in Cleveland. So …
  • Mick Jagger is going to be a father,
    Mick Jagger ... proud papa to be, again
    Mick Jagger
                 ... proud papa to be, again
    for the eighth time. Gathering no moss (sorry), Jagger, who is a great-grandfather, will be 73 when the baby is born next year. Mom-to-be is a 29-year-old former ballerina, who is said to be quite content with her relationship with the Rolling Stones frontman, which includes everything but marriage, living together and Mick changing diapers. Mine not to judge. I was 50 when my first son was born, 52 for the second. But I changed a s***load of diapers. Also, vasectomies are safe.         
  • Interesting footnote that occurred to me as I researched Jagger: He has four children, aged 18 to 32, with his former partner, Jerry Hall, 60. She and Jagger split 17 years ago. Earlier this year, Hall, a former model, married media mogul and billionaire Rupert Murdoch, 85. There’s no talk of additions to their extensive families, but Hall chose a favorite site of her old Rolling Stones days for her honeymoon with Murdoch, who just seemed happy to complete the climb to get there. Draw your own conclusions.
  • The Russian track and field team was disqualified from the 2016 Olympics because of what was described as a state-sponsored comprehensive doping program involving the 2012 Olympics and other competition. (The International Olympic Committee, never known for bold action, decided not to ban the entire Russian team, leaving that decision to the ruling federation of each sport.) The sports world was not shocked at the news, but, responding on social media, Russian fans criticized the author of the report that fingered the Russian testing lab and government officials by saying he was a typically biased American. He was, in fact, a typically neutral Canadian academic. Denial knows no nationality.
  • Pokemon Go. Why didn’t I buy Nintendo stock two weeks ago? I have no idea how the virtual reality game works, but these people should be working for the CIA. Maybe they are. (By the way, there’s a Charmander hidden in this copy, which you can find if you buy the app. Only $1.99. See the e-mail below.)
  • The National Basketball Association moved its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans. The principled move was a response to North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law, which is a classic example of the fear-based legislation proposed in the Republican platform at that hate-fest in Cleveland. Well-played, NBA.
  • Terry Collins, manager of the New York Mets, had the honor of managing the National League team in this year’s baseball All Star Game. He had two Mets on his roster for this exhibition of the sport’s best. Players consider it an honor to be chosen. They consider it even more of an honor to actually play and when your manager is the All-Star manager, you figure on having a good chance of getting in the game. Go figure. Bartolo Colon, at 43, the oldest all-star and a fan favorite, never got to pitch. Neither did Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ star relief pitcher. They were not happy, but politely kept it to themselves. Collins managed to get players from the 14 other teams in his league in the game, but said his guys were only going to be used in “special” situations that didn’t arise. Terry, Terry, Terry, the whole game was “special” and it didn’t mean anything in the standings. These were your guys. Special treatment would have been letting each pitch to a couple of batters.
  • Roger Ailes was fired as the boss of Fox News, by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News. Ailes was shown the door
    Roger Ailes ... Fox boss no more
    Roger Ailes
                         ... Fox boss no more
    (with a hefty severance check) when Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox anchor, filed a lawsuit  against him claiming sexual harassment. Other females then joined in to say Ailes had behaved the same with them. The move by Murdoch was swift. (It’s good to be the king and a billionaire.*) It was also without much controversy, probably because Ailes is well-known as a thoroughly despicable person. He is, in fact, in large part responsible for creating the orgy of anger and paranoia reported at the top of this   column by molding Fox News into an organ of fear, bigotry, misinformation, disinformation, and hateful, negative, bordering-on-compulsive propaganda directed at Democrats, in particular Barack Obama, the first black American president, and Hillary Clinton, who, if there really is some method to all this madness will soon become the first female American president.
R.I.P. GOP. Lincoln rolled over in his grave last week. So did Eisenhower and Reagan. John Boehner cried. Paul Ryan lied. And so it went.
* With a nod to Mel Brooks.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A new breed of farmers ... and their hens

By Bob Gaydos
Becky Fullam and her hens
Photo by Bob Gaydos

Becky and Joe Fullam are among a new breed of farmers. She learned about sustainability in college. He decided he could use what he learned about mechanical engineering to operate a small-scale farm with her. Today, the young man from New Paltz and the young woman from Warwick, with an assist from the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, operate Old Ford Farm in Gardiner.
They use farming methods designed to promote the long-term health of the land and animals and the environment in general. The Fullams grow a variety of vegetables (the farm is not certified organic, but they say they follow organic methods strictly). They also raise pigs, cows and chickens.
Unlike the vast majority of chickens that are cooped up in this country, their 400 egg-laying hens (no roosters) have virtually free rein of a large pasture.
Becky gives two reasons: (1) “Hens enjoy the outdoors.” (2) “It makes sense ecologically.”
The hens’ manure revitalizes the pasture for the Fullams’ 10 cows, who, in turn, convert the grass into raw milk, which the farm is licensed by the state to sell.
The hens roam freely in a section of the pasture that is closed in by a portable netting fence that is electrified to protect them from predators, such as foxes. The hens are moved to a different portion of the pasture every week. A large trailer, which the hens can go in and out of freely, serves as a movable chicken house. It contains water, certified non-GMO grain, which is used to supplement the bugs and grasses on which the hens forage, and the nests in which they lay their eggs.
In return, the hens lay an average of one egg apiece each day, a little more during seasons with more daylight, a little less when light decreases. The eggs sell at the farm store year-round for $6 a dozen, which is a bit pricey compared to industry-produced eggs. Becky says, “Enough people know the difference in nutrition of the eggs (more omega 3s, Vitamins D and E), as well as the environmental impact and care about the welfare of the chickens” to make the price competitive.
What color eggs do the hens lay?
“Brown,” Becky says.
“Because that’s what people like.”
-- Bob Gaydos

About Old Ford Farm
  • Mailing Address: 1359 Old Ford Rd. New Paltz, NY 12561.
  • Visitors are welcome. To set up a visit:
-- 845-220-7819
  • Farm store: Self-serve and open 24/7 every day. Available: Raw milk (licensed by New York state), vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, all from the farm. Plus other products from other local producers.
  • CSA (community supported agriculture): Sold out this year. Sign up for next year starts in fall. Not a one-size-fits-all plan. See website for details.
  • Website:

An eggsplanation of those carton labels

The Savvy Shopper

By Bob Gaydos
The selection of eggs in the supermarket today
 can be challenging.
Photo by Bob Gaydos
“Hon, pick up a dozen eggs while you’re at the grocery store, OK?”
“OK. Farm-fresh, cage-free, organic, all-natural, pasture-raised, vegetarian-fed, free-range, omega-3, or Certified Humane/Animal Welfare Approved?”
“Ummmm … just, y’know, eggs.”
Actually, there’s a lot more to know about eggs these days. As Americans have become more health-conscious, they have grown increasingly interested in how and where their food was produced. More consumers are also concerned today with how humanely the animals that produce the food -- the chickens that lay the eggs in this case -- are treated. This heightened interest has resulted in a proliferation of information on food labels, including egg cartons. Some of this information is useful, some is meaningless and it all can be a bit confusing, unless you know what’s important to you about the eggs you eat.
This list is an effort to ease the confusion.
  • Cage-Free: The vast majority of chickens at commercial egg hatcheries live their lives in a small cage that prevents their even being able to turn around. Cage-free chickens, as the name suggests, are raised without such restriction, but the name suggests more than is often the reality. Cage-free chickens aren't running around free as the wind with plenty of elbow room. They remain indoors, with unlimited access to food and water. There are no federal regulations stating how much space cage-free chickens must get, but United Egg Producers, an industry group, offers voluntary certification requiring that each bird has at least one square foot of space. It’s not much, but it’s more than double the size of standard cages in which billions of chickens lay their eggs. Cage-free chickens also have access to perches and nests for laying eggs.
  • Free-Range: This is a little closer to what is suggested. Free-range  chickens live in a shelter with no cages and have access to the outdoors. But the birds don't actually have to go outdoors, just be able to if they want to. There are also no regulations on how long the birds must stay outside, but free-range hens with eggs that are “Certified Humane” must have access to at least two square feet of outdoor space for up to six hours a day … whether they use it or not. Free-range eggs were shown in a study to have slightly higher Omega-3 fatty acids, linked to heart, brain and eye health levels. This is because of worms and insects the hens forage outside. The added health benefits to humans is disputed by major egg producers.
  • Pasture-Raised: There is no federal regulation for this term, but farmers who use it say their chickens have access to plenty of open space where they can forage on green plants and insects, which is their nature. Happy hens. Some farmers rotate their birds to different pastures so they can have variety in their diet. Pasture-raised hens may have more than 100 square feet each in which to hunt and peck to their heart’s content. Nutritionally, this increases the amount of beta-carotene, vitamins D and E, and omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs. The hens may be given feed to supplement their foraging. Traditional egg producers also say there is no significant nutritional difference between these eggs and industry-produced eggs. Pasture farmers strongly disagree.
  • Organic: There are actually regulations for this claim. Organic eggs must come from uncaged hens that have access to the outdoors and are fed a diet grown without synthetic pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers and free of GMOs. USDA certification for organic eggs is mandatory for producers with more than $5,000 in annual sales. Farms are inspected regularly. Free-range or pasture-raised eggs cannot be labeled organic unless the chickens are allowed to roam only on land certified organic. That means no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were used.
  • Vegetarian or all-natural: Voluntary labels. It means that the hens have a diet consisting mostly of corn and soybeans and are not fed any animal protein. Free-range or pasture-raised chickens are unlikely to be vegetarian because they will scavenge for worms, bugs and larvae outdoors. Thus, vegetarian-fed chickens are likely to spend no time outdoors.
  • Omega-3: This label claim means these fatty acids, beneficial to human health, are fed to hens, usually in the form of flaxseed, algae or fish oil. Again, while it certainly can’t hurt, there is a difference of opinion as to how much “healthier” this supplement to their feed makes the hens’ eggs. These claims are not routinely checked by the FDA.
  • Certified Humane Raised and Handled: These eggs meet the standards of the Humane Farm Animal Care program, which is an independent nonprofit. The standards include being cage-free and having sufficient space for such chicken behaviors as dust bathing and perching.
  • Hormone-free, antibiotic-free. No hormones are used in producing eggs. Antibiotics are rarely used and usually for only a brief period. Flocks producing conventional eggs may use FDA-approved antibiotics in feed or water and must comply with FDA levels of use designed to prevent antibiotic residues in the eggs.
  • United Egg Producers Certified: The eggs were produced in compliance with industry-codified standard practices. (More than 80 percent of commercial eggs carry this seal.)
  • Etcetera: It should be noted that the nutrients in eggs are found in the yolks, while the egg whites are primarily protein. Also, some pasture-raised hens’ eggs may vary in flavor and appearance depending on the vegetation available in different seasons.
“OK, one more question, hon. What color eggs do you want?”

“Doesn’t matter. The eggs are the same. Different hens lay different colors. But I prefer brown.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dealing with the stigma of alcoholism

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos
C.C. Sabathia

“Stigma” and “disease”: Two crucial words in any discussion of alcoholism. One defines the alcoholic as a sick person who needs help getting healthy. The other sees him as a weakling whose bad behavior needs fixing.
The irony is that, even today, when the disease is given at least lip-service recognition by society, those who try to get healthy still have to deal with the stigma. He’s in recovery. Shhh, don’t talk about it.
This may not be so obvious when it’s your next-door neighbor. After all, no one’s publicizing his or her recovery from the disease. Plus, it’s nobody else’s business. But when it’s someone in the public eye, it’s amazing how people still avoid saying the obvious.
Last October, C.C. Sabathia walked into the office of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi and said, “I need help.” The pitcher, a one-time all-star, said he had a drinking problem. He needed to go to rehab.
Sabathia said, “It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.”
Eight months later, on a baseball team that features young pitchers who throw the ball well over 90 miles an hour, Sabathia, 35, is the “surprise” story of the year. Even with a shaky performance in a recent game, he has been one of the team’s most reliable pitchers.
What brought about the return to form? The experts on talk radio had the answers: He’s older and smarter. He learned how to pitch. He finally realized he couldn’t throw the ball by every batter. That knee brace is helping him.
Girardi said C.C. has “inner strength.”
C.C. said, “Health is important.”
No one stated the obvious: C.C. is in recovery from the disease of alcoholism. He is focused on being “a better man, father and player,” not where his next drink is coming from. Those theories about getting “smarter” about pitching may be true, but to an active alcoholic they are irrelevant. That’s the nature of addiction.
Enter Johnny Manziel.
He had everything coming out of Texas A&M in 2014 to be a quarterback in the National Football League -- lots of awards, even the perfect nickname: “Johnny Football.”
Today, Manziel, 23, can’t find a job in the NFL. His life before, during and after college has been a series of drinking and trouble: disorderly conduct charges, college rules violations, confrontations with fans, car wrecks, bar fights, an abuse claim by an ex-girlfriend. His agent dropped him. The team that drafted him, the Cleveland Browns, cut him.
He did have one trip to a rehab. When he came back to Cleveland, one story said, his teammates said he looked and acted healthier, more focused. He paid attention to the playbook. But that story also said his teammates noticed he “didn’t drink as much.”
As much as who? A non-alcoholic? There is no “close enough” for alcoholics. The nature of addiction is that one is too many and ten are never enough. Manziel, was surely told this at the rehab and by friends who also surely pointed out all he had to lose if he did not acknowledge his disease. He had all the information. Still does. Manziel reported his car was involved in a hit-and-run accident a few days ago.
He’s stuck in the stigma. The stigma says you’re weak if you can’t handle your booze.
Sabathia acknowledged his disease last October. Today, he is the feel-good story for the Yankees. His on-field and off-field behavior suggest that he is putting the lie to the stigma. But he lives and works in a world full of alcohol. If he’s as smart as people say -- and honest about his intentions -- he also knows he could be just one drink away from Manziel territory.