Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Turtle Rock in Warwick

A while ago, I saw a reference somewhere (I don't ever remember where now) to a stone turtle "effigy" in Warwick, Orange County, NY.  A little Googling led me to a Facebook page called Mysterious Hudson Valley Stone Sites with some more information.  The implication is that this was artificially carved or shaped.

Having an interest in both geology and local Native American culture, I decided to check it out a couple of weeks ago.  It was relatively easy to find (see below) but not something a casual stroll would necessarily stumble across.

Behold Turtle Rock.


See it?  The protrusion on the left is the head.  Here's a closer view.


Here's a view from the front.


After looking at the rock, I don't believe this was made by Native Americans but actually by good old Mother Nature.  Let's look closer at the "head".


If it was artificially-shaped, it's not very well done and pretty asymmetrical.  The head is clearly defined by several natural fractures in the rock.  See the crack on the right.  The top and left side of the head also follow fractures running through the rock.  There are no obvious tool marks either.

Looking under the "head".


See how the rock is spalling off?  This is a common form of weathering called exfoliation.  Perfectly natural resulting in rounded edges.

Looking at Turtle Rock from the rear.


It looks like any other flat slab of rock.  There are no markings on the top of the rock to delineate a possible shell (which I would expect if it was a carved turtle effigy).  And, looking around, one sees many similar rocks strewn about this hillside.


Pieces of weathered out bedrock and glacial erratics.  Nothing special and seen throughout the woodlands of the Hudson Valley.

Now I can't rule out that this rock wasn't seen as a naturally-formed turtle effigy by the Lenape people who once roamed these woods, but there's no evidence I've found to support that.  To this geologist, it simply appears to be a rock that coincidentally looks a bit like a turtle.  Kind of cool but nothing overly unusual.

If you'd like to visit yourself, here are the directions:

About a mile east of Warwick, on State Route 17A, is Warwick County Park.  Follow the park road to the back parking lot next to the baseball field.  There are two ways to go from here.  The easiest, but slightly longer way is to walk back down the road, down the hill, to where it splits.  On your right will be a trail that leads up the hill.  Follow it uphill and it will soon make a hairpin switchback.  A short distance later is the top of a hill.  Look to the left off the path for the turtle.  A slightly shorter, but perhaps harder to find way is to start at the same parking lot but walk between the baseball field and the tree line on the left past a couple of fields until you find a path into the woods on your left (in immediately goes down and up across a ditch-like drainage).  Bear left to follow the path to the above-mentioned switchback and then up the hill.


From the Google Maps satellite view of the park, you can see the parking lot (P) at the end of the road by the baseball field.  The blue line is the longer path and the red is the shorter path (approximated, of course).  The green arrow is the approximate location of the feature.  I'd guess barely 1/4 mile each way on the blue path.

The GPS coordinates given on the Facebook page mentioned above worked pretty well for me: 41.239157, -74.328471 (that's 41 degrees, 14 minutes, and 20.9 seconds north, 74 degrees, 19 minutes, 42.5 seconds west). The feature is only about 75 feet off the trail at the top of the knoll and obvious.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Really Chancellor Zimpher?

News out of Albany is that Nancy Zimpher, the Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, may be up for a little raise.  After all, she has to scrape by on a measly base salary of $490,000 a year - her total compensation package, by the way, is $657,953 a year and includes things like a housing allowance (she doesn't even have to pay rent out of that salary!) and a car and driver.
 
According to other news reports, she also collects over $75,000 a year in retirement payments from the Ohio's teachers pension fund (higher than my base salary!).

How much of a raise will she potentially receive?  The Albany Times Union thinks her salary could rise by a few hundred thousand dollars a year!  Holy shit!

As a professor in the SUNY system, I received, over the past four years, salary increases of 0%, 0%, 1.6%, and 1.6%.  This did not keep up with the cost of living meaning I effectively lost money from my modest base salary (which is less than 10% of her compensation package).

In addition, State aid to community colleges is currently 9% below the funding we had in 2009/10 (the State is "mandated" to pay 33.3% of our operating budget - they don't).  Our college struggles on a shoestring budget, students can't afford tuition and fees, our infrastructure is crumbling, we can't hire the new full-time faculty to replace ones we lost, and our chancellor lives on champagne and caviar with the other fat cats in Albany.

Have you no shame Chancellor?  Do you really think you're worth a million bucks a year for what you do for SUNY while State community colleges are struggling to exist?  I don't.

Hiatus

So I haven't posted for quite a while now (since mid-June) and I miss it.  I became totally burned out the last academic year - my last masochistic year as department chair at the college - something from which I'm still recovering.  The beauty of this blog, however, is that it's totally mine - while people sometimes suggest topics for me to write about, I'm free to take it or leave it as I see fit (even though I end up feeling guilty when I don't post anything for a while).

Bottom line, the blog is not dead - not yet.  I'm working on a few posts and will get back to it again (maybe not as prolific as I've been at times in the past, but I still have things to say).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A good article on community colleges...

Many times, pundits and politicians betray a complete lack of understanding of community colleges when writing about educational policy.  Why is this important?  Because there are well over 1,000 two-year accredited colleges in the U.S. and 44% of all undergraduates are in a community college!

Here are a great couple of articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Rob Jenkins at Georgia Perimeter College on "The Good that Community Colleges Do":

   Part I
  
   Part II

Highly recommended reading.