Sunday, May 28, 2017

Circumnavigating Long Island Part 9: Bowery Bay, Ditmars Steinway, Astoria

To many, Long Island has a very strong sense of place. In this series, I seek to highlight the distinct regional character of the place by posting photos taken while walking its circumference starting from my home in Port Washington, heading west toward Brooklyn along the shore, around the west end of the island, east to the southern shores to Montauk and Orient, and then back across the north shore to Port Washington. Since I have a day job and do not relish suburban and urban camping, I break these walks into pieces. 

For each segment, I stay on public roads, trails, and/or beaches that get as close to the shore as possible. I don't go on dead ends and I avoid dangerous stretches where walking is problematic due to traffic. Hopefully, the series of photo essays provides insight into the geography of this region at this particular point in time. Previous segments are linked at the bottom of this post.

Today's post focuses on northern Queens starting just west of LaGuardia Airport near Bowery Bay. It follows the East River under the Hell Gate and Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (Triborough Bridge) through the Ditmars Steinway Neighborhood to Astoria . This segment has some beautiful views of Manhattan near Astoria Park. 

The views along the East River  in this segment are quite lovely.
The road to the notorious Rikers Island prison is near LaGuardia Airport.
Part of the walk follows the edge of an old landfill in an industrial area near Bowery Bay.

There is a great deal of food processing in this area. This building is for Water Lilies Food.

More industrial land use near Bowery Bay.

Where there is industrial land use, there is also great graffiti.

One cannot help but notice the smell of the Bowery Bay Wastewater Plant. It is hard to imagine that this area was once an amusement park similar to Coney Island.

The Astoria Energy power plant is right next to the sewage facility. The plant uses natural gas to produce power for Queens and the broader New York City area.

Another view.

Another industrial view past the power plant.

More food processing. This is the site for Rienzi Italian foods.

There are many trucks on the road here. Most that I saw were from the Ferrari truck driving school.

One of the most notable factories is the Steinway piano company which gives this part of Queens its name.

A street view after emerging from the industrial zone.
One of the things that makes New York City different from the rest of region is the presence of excellent bike infrastructure.

A small pocket park with lots of seating near a bus stop.
Some repairs underway to improve underground infrastructure on 20th Avenue.

Approaching Ralph Demarco Park.

A nice view of the Hells Gate Bridge.

Another view.

This section of the East River is called Hells Gate. It is a treacherous area of currents and tides.

Another view.

There are great views of Manhattan along the way.

The Hells Gate Bridge is quite lovely for a train bridge.

A mural under the bridge.
The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, also known as the Triborough Bridge.

The entire section along the East River has pleasant walking trails.

Across the street is Astoria Park.

Another view of the RFK Bridge.

Another view...notice the bike path?

Toward Manhattan.

Entering Astoria proper.

This is one of the few condominium towers on the water here. Most of the waterfront is public access.

Astoria street view...



The diversity of churches in Queens is a clue to the diversity of its inhabitants.

Goodwill Apartments.

Happy Memorial Day. Under the Hells Gate Bridge.
Previous Circumnavigating Long Island Posts

Part 1. Port Washington to Manhasset
Part 2. Manhasset, Kings Point, Great Neck, Little Neck

Friday, May 26, 2017

Appalachian Trail Quiz

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It's time again for an On the Brink Quiz! Today's quiz tests your knowledge about the Appalachian Trail which is considered the longest continuous hiking trail in the world. I have hiked several parts of the trail but never the whole length. Now that summer is here, I know some of my readers will be out there stomping the paths. The answers to the quiz will be in the comments section of the blog. Links to previous On the Brink Quizzes follow the questions.

1. How long is the Appalachian Trail?

2. Which states does the Appalachian Trail traverse?

3. Who developed the original idea of the trail in 1921?

4. The trail is part of a special U.S. designation of trails. Name the designation.

5. What is the name of the site where the trail starts (or ends) in Georgia?

6. The author Bill Bryson wrote a popular book about the Appalachian Trail. Name the book.

7. How long does it typically take to hike the entire trail?

8. Jennifer Pharr holds the record for the fastest time to complete the entire trail with a support crew. How long did it take her?

9. What percent of the through hikers who attempt the entire trail are female?

10. Which state has the longest section of the trail?

Robert Bullard Quiz
James Lovelock Quiz
Gifford Pinchot Quiz

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Proposed Budget Cuts to the EPA

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Yesterday The Atlantic published a must-read article by Robinson Meyer on the proposed budget cuts to the EPA budget. I quote from the article:
  • Trump wants to cut the EPA’s budget by nearly a third, reducing its overall funding level to $5.6 billion. On a percentage basis, that is the largest proposed cut to any federal agency. It would give the EPA its smallest budget in 40 years, adjusting for inflation.
  • This would cut the EPA’s workforce by 20 percent, removing 3,800 jobs.
  • Most significantly, Trump wants to cut by 40 percent the EPA’s federal enforcement office—the people who make sure corporations are complying with federal regulations. Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, has previously said that he believes that states—and not the EPA—should oversee enforcement of rules themselves. But Trump’s budget would also cut by 45 percent the grants that allow states to do that enforcement. These changes would almost certainly ensure far less enforcement of existing environmental rules than happens now, at federal and state levels.
  • The EPA office which determines standards for the amount of acceptable pollution in drinking water will also have its budget cut by half. (Earlier this year, the same office struck the words “science-based” from its mission statement, replacing them with “economically … achievable.”)
  • Superfund, the EPA program that cleans up toxic-chemical spill sites that have become public-health hazards, will have its budget cut by 25 percent. Such a cut will halt many cleanups.
  • Trump also wants to shut down many of the same EPA programs targeted in March. He would terminate the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Puget Sound cleanup programs. He would also close Energy Star, which informs consumers which home appliances are most energy-efficient.
  • Beyond the EPA, the budget also slashes environmental-science programs throughout the government. Many of these target climate change. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, has said that he considers climate science to be a “waste of your money.” So Trump’s budget cuts $59 million in Earth-science research grants from NASA. Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research office would see its budget reduced by one-fifth.
  • But the slashed science programs go far beyond climate change. Trump proposes to end a NOAA program to research and better predict tornadoes in the south, and he also cuts $11 million from a tsunami-warning program for the Pacific coast. He also wants to slash NOAA’s weather-satellite budget by 17 percent.
  • Finally, he proposes to savage Department of Energy programs with environmental ends. While that department’s overall budget is only reduced by five percent, he would cut many of its greenest programs. Trump wants to close ARPA-E, the government’s energy-innovation R&D lab; and many of the loan-guarantee programs that support renewable-energy companies.
There is much more here.

Everyone I have talked to understands that the budget as proposed will not pass congress in its present form. However, anyone who understands the significance of the cuts to the environmental health and safety of the United States of America is lifting their jaw from the floor. In negotiations some of the cuts will remain.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Academic Leadership -- The Complete Six Part Series

Over the last several weeks, I wrote a six-part series on academic leadership. They are all linked here below.

Academic Leadership Part 3--Creating Opportunities for Advancement
Academic Leadership Part 4--Going Mobile vs. Promotion in Place
Academic Leadership Part 5--Building Step Up Skills
Academic Leadership Part 6--Steps for Advancement

Academic Leadership Part 6 -- Steps for Advancement

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Recently I led a workshop with my terrific colleague, Terri Shapiro, on academic leadership. We split the workshop into two parts. I covered introductory topics around academic leadership and how to find a position to fits one's skills and Terri reviewed information on how to avoid pitfalls once in a leadership position.

In this multipart series, I will review some of the highlights from my part of the presentation. Part 1 introduced the series and defined academic leadership. The second post detailed how to find a position that is right for one's skillsIn the third part, I reviewed 4 simple ways that you can create opportunities for advancement. Part 4 reviewed issues around whether to find opportunities at one's current institution or whether to ponder a move.  Part 5 considered the step-up skills to build as one prepares to advance. Finally, I conclude today by reviewing the steps one should take to start to advance within an organization. The complete series is linked here.

Okay, you have made the momentous decision to move into some type of leadership position at your educational institution or professional association. Now what? Here are several suggestions to get you thinking about the next steps to take to start you on the path to advancement.

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1. Find a mentor. If you don't have a mentor yet, you should try to find one. Having a good mentor can be invaluable. They can guide you on career choices, give you honest feedback about your skills and decisions, and give you advice on how to improve. Some suggest that you have an institutional mentor that you can go to on your campus and others suggest that you have an external mentor. I have always had an external mentor because I was not always comfortable seeking advice at my home institution. My external mentor has been with me from the time I received my Ph.D. She provided advice that helped me through the tenure process and through important hinge decisions that changed my career path. If you are just now looking for a mentor, try to find one who is in a position at the level you are seeking or higher. For example, if your goal is to become a dean, find a dean as a mentor. Some find it awkward to ask someone to be a mentor, particularly if they don't know the potential mentor well. My advice is to start slowly by reaching out with some general questions and see how the relationship builds. I never formally asked my external mentor to serve as a mentor and the relationship built over time. To start, ask someone to review your CV or ask them about their opinion about a particular opportunity. The important thing is to find someone who will be honest with you. You don't want a friend who will only say nice things about you. You want a mentor who will tell it like it is.

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2. Develop a personal mission statement and a set of goals. Some people fall into administrative positions and are rudderless in what they want to accomplish or how they want their career to evolve. If you are considering entering administration, ask yourself why you want to move in that direction. I was walking across campus yesterday and I ran into a friend of mine who in general conversation noted that she would never move into administration and couldn't figure out why people make the change from faculty to administration. She wanted to know my motivation. It's a great question. I had an answer ready (I'm not giving it away here) because I thought about this particular question long and hard before I made the move. I have found that the most effective administrators are those that have a clear personal mission and a set of goals that they want to achieve in their position. Let's say that you are trying to become an associate dean for faculty. Why do you want to take on the position? What goals do you want to accomplish in that role? How does the position fit into your long term career goals? Answering questions like these will help guide each decision you make in your career.

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3. Evaluate social media and personal outlook. We all have a friend who posts everything on social media. We know their moods, their favorite foods, their romances, and their day to day dramas. Social media can be fun, but it can also be a pitfall if you post too much or if you post inappropriate content. Just recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article about an associate dean who got in trouble because she posted offensive Yelp reviews. I know some fantastic faculty who would never be hired as an administrator because their Twitter feeds are inappropriate for an administrator. If you are considering moving into administration, now is the time to evaluate your social media presence. I also urge you to consider posting largely mission-driven social media content. What I mean by this is that you consider posting largely items that relate to your research, your institution, and your broader professional interests. Certainly you should continue to post personal things such as family photos, your cat, and your favorite meal out with friends. However, eliminate the rants, the complaints, and the political as much as you can. Search committees check on social media content these days. I heard of a case at another institution about a candidate up for a high level administrative position who was rejected due to some relatively racy Facebook content that many would find offensive.

As you evaluate your social media presence, it is worth evaluating your personal outlook. Are you positive about the institution you wish to serve? Is your glass more than half full? Of course you don't have to think everything is perfect, but you can't publicly disparage a place and expect to get a job as an administrator. A good friend of mine was a professor at a nice institution in the Midwest, but he really didn't like his chair and his dean. He let everyone in the country know about it through long Facebook rants. One day, he called me to tell me he was applying for the dean position at his institution and he wanted a letter of recommendation. I wrote it, but advised him not to apply. I told him he would never get the job because he was so publicly negative about the institution. Deans are representatives of the institution and the faculty. They need to be a positive force to help advance the goals of the institution. It is hard to do the dean job with a glass half empty. Needless to say, my friend did not get the dean job. If you have a negative personal outlook about your institution or the profession in general, it will be difficult to advance.

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4. Consume information about higher education. There are many national sources for information on higher education administration. For example, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed are all great sources for up to date information. They also list national and international jobs in higher education administration. As you focus your interests in areas like research, faculty development, accreditation, etc., you should find more specialized sources. There are publications, associations, and conferences for almost every area of higher education administration.

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5. Communicate your goals to your family and supervisors. Most administrative jobs require one to be on campus for more than 40 hours a week. There are evening receptions, student and faculty meetings, weekend events, and graduations. You should make sure that your family is aware of the changes ahead as you go down the administrative path. I usually have 2-3 evening events I attend during the week and there are occasional weekend events that require my presence. Many of these events, such as receptions and evening lectures, are family friendly and many administrators integrate their families into their professional life.

You should also communicate your goals to appropriate supervisors. Many universities struggle to find good administrative talent. It is important that leaders of your institution know you are interested in advancement so that they can be on the lookout for a good position either at your home institution or elsewhere.


This concludes my series on academic leadership. If you have any thoughts on the topic, please post a comment on the blog. I would love to hear from you if you have ideas. For those of you looking for advancement, I wish you luck and success.


Previous posts to my series on academic leadership:

Academic Leadership Part 3--Creating Opportunities for Advancement
Academic Leadership Part 4--Going Mobile vs. Promotion in Place
Academic Leadership Part 5--Building Step Up Skills

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Corporations Vs. Developing Countries in Climate Negotiations

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The New York Times posted an interesting article by Hiroko Tabuchi today about the state of the Paris climate negotiations.  If you recall from a post I wrote on the Paris agreement here, I have some concerns about its ability to truly be an effective tool for addressing climate change. My main issues were the voluntary nature of the agreement, the funding challenges, and the failure to plan for the impacts of climate change should the agreement fail to reach targets.

Tabuchi's article notes an emerging issue that I didn't fully address in my piece from December of 2015:  the influence of corporations on the agreement. While corporations are largely supporting the United Nations agreement, some are trying to water it down through some intense lobbying. Vulnerable developing nations are crying foul over this behavior and are seeking to limit corporate influence.

There is no doubt that corporations are stakeholders on issues of climate change. Many of them have made incredible advances in the last few decades on a range of sustainability issues. However, there are some bad actors who are seeking to limit the success of the international effort.

While the Paris agreement has many problems, it is the only worldwide agreement on climate change we have. As the Times article points out, some of the corporations have much greater wealth than many of the vulnerable developing nations at the negotiating table. Can the agreement truly be successful if polluting industries have a greater voice than vulnerable nations?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Failing Infrastructure Causing Sinkhole Problems

An urban infrastructure sinkhole in San Francisco. These types of collapses
cost millions of dollars every year. Click for photo credit.
Check out this AP story by Roger Schneider posted here at the Washington Post about the growing problem of failing buried infrastructure and the resultant sinkholes that form as a result of infrastructure collapse. It seems as if I hear of an urban infrastructure sinkhole every week somewhere in the northeast. Some notable ones have formed in Brooklyn and Manhattan that caused considerable problems for the surrounding neighborhoods. While traffic disruption is one of the larger issues that we feel right away, broader issues often emerge such as damage to surrounding infrastructure and building foundations.

Geologists, particularly karst scientists, have largely looked at sinkholes as a geologic phenomena. More and more, we are finding out that there is a need to study this whole new class of sinkholes. The problems are too significant to ignore these anthropogenic features.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is Carrizo Plain National Monument in California. This is one of the monuments that is under review for delisting as per executive order by the president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

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Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument