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Thoughts on rental inspections heard by Common Council – Olean Times Herald

July 26th, 2017 by admin

OLEAN A handful of area residents spoke to the Common Council Tuesday on a proposed bill to require periodic rental dwelling inspections.

The topic has been up for debate in the councils public safety committee since June, with aldermen discussing several proposals on the frequency of inspections, the cost and how the city will enforce the inspections.

Since the discussions began, little to no feedback has been received by the council in open sessions, but aldermen report hearing from those in support and against throughout their normal interactions with their constituents.

Chris Stanley, an Allegany resident who owns rental property in the city and is an organizer of the Citizens Action Network of Southwestern New York, said the council should work on making a bill that will strike at the heart of the city’s blight problem.

Ive become increasingly concerned that the council is backing down from the original intent, he said, adding that it seems landlords have been having their complaints heard by the council. Landlords do have valid concerns I am a landlord. But who hasnt been heard from are the people who live in these homes.

I think you need to stop drafting bills and listen to the people, and then draft a good bill.

Three members from the group spoke at the meeting, including Marcia Kelly, who shared results of canvassing efforts of rental properties by the group. Some tenants in some of the worst properties, she said, report issues from bedbugs, cockroaches and pigeons inside houses to black mold, lead paint and no smoke detectors.

Why are landlords like this still allowed to buy properties? she said, advocating for inspections. I hope something can be done to stop this (blight).

Kevin Bartholomew, a Bishop Street resident who has run three campaigns for the Ward 2 Common Council seat, said he lives near a property owned by a slumlord or landlord, whatever you want to call him, and it has been the tenants who have been the cause of problems.

The places are trashed, he said, adding that a landlord will get the property in serviceable condition, but after a few months the properties suffer serious damage at the hands of unruly tenants.

Social Services should be somewhat responsible for this, he said, adding the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services sometimes coordinates government benefits to cover rents in the many problem properties in the city.

Kelly Sweet, a tenant in the city, said she feels that rental inspections treat renters like second-class citizens just because I rent.



I completely think this is an invasion of my privacy, she said. I hope you rethink the law.

Cheryl Anderson, who is a landlord in both Olean and Buffalo, said standards are far higher in Buffalo a major Rust Belt city that has been trying to recover from blight.

My feet are held to the fire in Buffalo, she said, adding peeling paint above a doorway can be grounds for inspection failure there.

My reputation is really being hurt by these poor landlords, she said, adding Oleans efforts to revitalize the downtown area have not reached far back into the neighborhoods. Right now its a facade its a pretty exterior, but there has to be support for the neighborhoods.

(Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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Thoughts on rental inspections heard by Common Council – Olean Times Herald

Horseshoe casino cincinnati has bed bugs – San juan hotel and casino spa – Sports Rediscovered

July 25th, 2017 by admin

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Horseshoe casino cincinnati has bed bugs – San juan hotel and casino spa – Sports Rediscovered

A squirrel with a taste for human blood is running wild in Prospect Park – Time Out New York (blog)

July 24th, 2017 by admin

New Yorkers have a lot of things to worry about: rent hikes, treacherous subway commutes and the constant paranoia of a bed bug infestation, to name a few. After a series of strange attackslast week,locals have another thing to fear: squirrels.

The adorable rodents roam freely through the city’s parks and green spaces, living in a respectful symbiosis with human passersby. But last week, one rogue squirrel in Prospect Park broke the long-held truce between its kind and the people of New York when it went on a rampage, wounding five unsuspecting park goers in the process.

Between July 18 and July 20, five people were attacked and bitten by a “potentially rabid squirrel” close tothe Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance to the park, according to a statement from the Health Department. The incidents ledofficials to hang up a set of flyers near the affected access point, urging anyone that may have been bitten by a squirrel in the area to immediately seek treatment for rabies.

While reports of squirrel bites are nothing new for the Health Department (there are roughly70 reported bites from our bushy-tailed brethren in the city each year), the aggressive nature of the Prospect Park squirrel is unusual. The department notes that New York State has not found a rabid squirrel since it began surveilling for rabies in 1992, but, given how nuts (get it?) the rodent in question is behaving, it’s acting under the assumption that the creature is rabid.

The attack of the squirrel ought to be a reminder for everyone in the city to keep their distance from wild animals. Health commissioner Dr. Mary Basset said in a statement that most squirrel bites occur when someone tries to feed an animal. So, like, don’t do that.

The merciless squirrel is still at large, but if it is in fact infected with rabies, it’s probably already dead, the Health Department says. If it isn’t infected with rabies, then that means that a squirrel is out there, roaming Brooklyn’s most beautiful area with a thirst for human blood.

Clayton is a digital editor forTime Out New York. He has an overwhelming love for south-facing windows and bicycles. Follow him on Twitter @ClaytonGuse.

A squirrel with a taste for human blood is running wild in Prospect Park – Time Out New York (blog)

Nashville criminal judge to retire – Nashville Post (subscription)

July 21st, 2017 by admin

Legal Jul 21, 2017 Share

Also: Lawsuit alleges bed bugs at Renaissance

authors Stephen Elliott

Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Randall Wyatt Jr. (pictured) will retire in September after more than four decades on the bench, The Tennessean reports.

Wyatt was a general sessions judge, assistant district attorney, FBI agent and police officer before being first elected to his current position in 1982.

Gov. Bill Haslam will appoint a successor to serve the remainder of Wyatts term, which was set to expire in 2022, according to the newspaper. Wyatt is a Father Ryan High School graduate and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

“I will greatly miss being in our court and being with the people there, the judge said in a release. I do believe the time is right for me to spend more time with my wife, children and grandchildren.”

Lawsuit alleges bed bugs at Renaissance

A lawsuit removed to Nashville federal court this week alleges that the Renaissance Nashville Hotel failed to properly treat the downtown hotel for bed bugs, resulting in medical problems for a New York guest.

The plaintiff, represented by the local office of Morgan & Morgan, claims a multi-night stay at the hotel last summer resulted in a number of bed bug bites requiring medical attention. Hotel management moved the guest to a different room after she informed them of the issue, but the plaintiff claims the hotel should have properly treated the facility beforehand.

The plaintiff seeks damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages.

A Renaissance spokesperson declined to comment.

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Nashville criminal judge to retire – Nashville Post (subscription)

LH reporter wins first-place for story – Gloversville Leader-Herald

July 20th, 2017 by admin

Jason Subik displays the 2016 Distinguished Beat Reporting Award of Excellence from the New York News Publishers Association Wednesday at the State Room banquet hall in Albany. (Photo by Spencer Tulis for the Leader-Herald)

ALBANY The New York News Publishers Association on Wednesday awarded Leader-Herald reporter Jason Subik first place in the Distinguished Beat Reporting category, as part of its 2016 Awards for Excellence competition.

The annual contest recognizes journalistic excellence among the associations member newspapers.

Newspapers competed against one another in five circulation classes: under 10,000; 10,000-24,999; 25,000-49,999; 50,000-75,000 and over 75,000.

Subik won his award for his three-part Bedbugs: A community problem series. He won for newspapers in the under 10,000 circulation class.

The series ran Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 and examined the proliferation of bedbugs in Gloversville.

According to a NYNPA release, winning entries in the category Distinguished Beat Reporting must demonstrate sustained and knowledgeable coverage of a particular subject or activity of local interest.

Subik received his award at the at the Continuing Excellence Banquet and Reception Wednesday night at The State Room in Albany.

We had known about the bed bug problem for awhile, Subik said. People kept sending us information about the really horrific situation some of them were trapped in as residents of the Gloversville Housing Authority, being forced to go through multiple treatments of their apartments, having to repeatedly launder all of their belongings, throw out furniture and also the pain and irritation of being bit by the bugs themselves. [The editor] decided the paper needed to devote some resources to telling the story of these people and to explaining the big picture of why bedbugs have returned and spread through rental units in Gloversville, so they gave me the time to do the best job we could possibly do and ultimately this award was the result.

Contest judges selected winners from 436 entries submitted by 23 New York state daily newspapers. Judges were: Heather Henline, publisher of The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H.; Deb Hoffman, former awards coordinator for The Wall Street Journal; Carolyn Levin, journalism program director at Long Island University; Stuart Shinske, former executive editor for the Poughkeepsie Journal; and Jim Ware, public safety editor for StarNews Media in Wilmington, N.C.

Award winners were named in these 23 categories: distinguished breaking news coverage, distinguished live sports coverage, distinguished investigative reporting, distinguished business reporting, distinguished beat reporting, distinguished editorial writing, distinguished feature writing, distinguished sports writing, distinguished column writing, distinguished sports column writing, distinguished headline writing, distinguished community service, distinguished state government coverage, distinguished page design/presentation, distinguished news photography, distinguished feature photography, distinguished sports photography, distinguished online photo gallery, distinguished online blog, distinguished multi-media presentation, distinguished news supplement, distinguished sports supplement, distinguished feature supplement.

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LH reporter wins first-place for story – Gloversville Leader-Herald

New York singer-songwriter to spend week writing songs in Houston – The Caledonia Argus (subscription)

July 19th, 2017 by admin

Submitted Singer/songwriter Harry Graff Kimball.

The thought certainly crossed my mind: Why should I go to rural Minnesota for a week to write songs? Harry Graff Kimball, a New York singer-songwriter, is the first artist of three Citizen-Artists-in-Residence (CAIR) to spend a week in Houston County, exploring the area, and writing songs based on the stories he finds.

The residency program, Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency, based just outside of Houston, Minn., received applications from creatives hailing from all over North America for its inaugural year. Specifically designed for individuals willing to fully immerse themselves in the cultural landscape of Minnesotas driftless region for one intensive week, each CAIR will ultimately produce work based on their time in the area.

What makes Crystal Creeks program particularly unique is the keyword: citizen-artist. A citizen-artist is one who engages in the daily life of the residencys community; not working in solitude, but in conversation with the region around them. Unlike many artist residencies that simply offer a quiet place in which to work, the CAIR program encourages their artists to be curious, ask questions, stop and have conversations. For Kimball, this was a draw, explaining, I think a lot of artists would love to be alone with their thoughts for a week with no interruptions or expectations but this is different. It forces a duality: look inward and outward at the same time.

The program works in partnership with the Houston Arts Resource Council (HARC), a non-profit organization devoted to promoting arts in the region. HARC jumped at the chance to work with the Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency, understanding that the interactive component can foster new ideas for creativity, growth and sustainability for the area. When the opportunity to establish the Citizen-Artist Residency was presented to us, we eagerly pursued it, believing this level of community collaboration can benefit all of our target audiences: arts and cultural organizations, local artists, young people and everyday residents from family members to educators, noted HARCs treasurer, Diane Crane.

Kimball, who is also the bassist and co-founder of Los Chinches (Spanish for The Bedbugs), a New York City band that falls within indie/punk/Americana categories, hopes to create an album from the experience. The songs that he expects to write in Houston County will likely be folk-oriented. Some of the times Im like a singer-songwriter, some of the times Im in a rock band, and for this Im trying to focus on people and place, so Im calling the art product place-based story-songs, Kimball told Inspire(d) magazine earlier this year. But yeah, folk songs.

This being his first time to the area, Kimball is looking forward to spending time driving area back roads, fishing, and getting to know its people. Ultimately, it was the areas vibrancy and beauty of the region, and the enthusiasm of its people that live there [that] made it easy, even necessary, to apply to the program. After initially questioning it, he realized, Of course I should! There are a lot of songs there, and I bet people there are already writing them!

Kimball will be in Houston County from July 16 until July 22. He is hosting a Meet & Greet on Tuesday, July 18, at 6 p.m., at the KARST Driftless Guidepost (111 Cedar St., Houston, Minn.), and a Community Workshop on Thursday, July 20, at 6 p.m., at Cross of Christ (210 S. Chase St., Houston, Minn.). At the workshop, Kimball invites locals to share their stories and help turn them into song. Attendees are welcome to bring an instrument, although no musical experience is required. Both events are free and open to the public; pre-registration is required for the workshop. To register, contact Residency Coordinator Erin Dorbin at [emailprotected], or visit

About Crystal CreekCitizen-Artist Residency:

The Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency invites three creative individuals from different disciplines to discover Minnesotas Driftless region and to connect with the people and places of Houston County. The selected Citizen-Artists-in-Residence (CAIRS) will respectively spend seven days producing new works inspired by, and in conversation with the region. CAIRS will also share their skills with the community in a series of hands-on workshops.

Residency 1: July 16-22 (Harry Graff Kimball); Meet & Greet: 7/18; Workshop: 7/20

Harry Graff Kimball (NY) is a songwriter, producer, and builder-storyteller who strives to capture places and spaces in lyrical story-songs.

Residency 2: Aug 11-18 (Melissa Wray/Todd Melby); Meet & Greet: 8/13; Workshop: 8/15

Melissa Wray (MN) says community and stories are at the heart of her creative work. She grew up in Houston County and often feels an internal tension between her rural roots and her present urban life. This tension informs much of her writing and community work.

Todd Melby (MN) is a reporter, interactive producer and filmmaker. His radio stories have aired on MPR, Marketplace and The World.

Residency 3: Sept 10-16 (Cimarron Corp); Meet & Greet: 9/19; Workshop: 9/22

Cimarron Corp (Victoria, BC) is a geographer whose interests focus on landscapes and the role sound and images play in our construction of place.



About Houston ArtsResource Council:

HARC is a 507 (c)(3) non-profit organization, established to promote the arts, artists, and artisans of the Houston, Minn., area.

Continued here:
New York singer-songwriter to spend week writing songs in Houston – The Caledonia Argus (subscription)

Casino 1995 altyaz – Casino catering technologiepark – The Village Reporter and the Hometown Huddle

July 17th, 2017 by admin

The Village Reporter and the Hometown Huddle
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Casino 1995 altyaz – Casino catering technologiepark – The Village Reporter and the Hometown Huddle

Bed bugs make an unwelcome comeback: ‘An epidemic’ in Long … – Long Beach Press Telegram

July 16th, 2017 by admin

Gary Shelton tossed clothes, a wooden bed frame, a directors chair and cardboard boxes stuffed with papers from his community-activist campaigns.

Other clothes the 68-year-old Long Beach man washed, dried and bagged.

Then he waited. And waited. And waited.

An exterminator sprayed his ninth-floor Plymouth West apartment three times for bed bugs: December, January and February.

If there is any evidence of bed bugs they treat again, he said.

Finally, in March, Shelton was given the all clear.

Its like living out of an overnight case for three months, he said of the lengthy process.

Shelton still is pulling clothes out of bags stored on his balcony that he hasnt worn for a while.

Im finding that Im forgetting I had so many socks, he said.

Turns out bed bugs, those not-so-cuddly insects our parents mentioned when they tucked us in at night and that we didnt give a second thought to are very real these days.

And, yes, they bite.

Indeed, experts say the reddish-brown bed bug that is about the size of a grain of rice has made an extraordinary comeback after a roller coaster of a century.

In the early decades of the 1900s, the bug was widespread across the U.S. But the advent of DDT during World War II changed that, killing off huge numbers in the 1940s and 50s.

We thought it was gone forever, said Dini Miller, professor of entomology at Virginia Tech University. When you think about it now, that was kind of stupid.

After lying low for decades, the dreaded insect that was mentioned in medieval European literature is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Since 2000, its numbers have multiplied.

Its just exploded, Miller said.

Today theyre everywhere.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, theyre in apartments, houses, shelters, college dormitories, cruise ships, buses and trains. They typically live within an 8-foot crawl of where people sleep.

And if you thought your car was a refuge from the blood-sucking pests, guess again. Miller said bed bugs are fond of automobiles for good reason.

The food comes and sits down on a regular basis, she said. And everybody gets something to eat.


The crazy thing is, you dont know when your blood is being slurped through the bed bugs version of a straw an elongated beak for a meal. The CDC says the bug injects an anesthetic and anticoagulant that renders its bite painless.

Itchy, bite marks do appear in a few days. They are similar to marks from a mosquito or flea bite, a slightly swollen and red area, the CDC said.

Scratching sometimes causes infection. But many people have no reaction at all.

In any event, bed bugs arent considered dangerous.

They do not transmit any diseases, said Dong-Hwan Choe, an urban entomologist and assistant professor of entomology at UC Riverside.

Choe is working to develop a device that can detect bed bugs for hotel chains and other businesses.

It has to be simple. It has to be cheap, Choe said. It has to be small so that it can be placed without being noticed by the people staying in the hotel.

Disease bearing or not, the thought of being dined on is enough to make ones skin crawl.

Choe said the bugs feed mostly at nighttime, which creeps people out.

And dont think you can fool them if you work a graveyard shift and sleep during the day.

In a 2015 article titled, Your Guide to Bed Bugs, University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter said the pest will adjust its schedule to yours.

Sleeping with the lights on is also not likely to deter hungry bed bugs, Potter wrote.

Potter said a feeding takes three to 10 minutes. Then the bug crawls back into its hiding place to digest the meal. Its flat body enables it to hide in tiny crevices in mattresses, box springs and bed frames.

When it comes to the creep-out factor, there is at least one thing in our favor: unlike other insects, bed bugs cant fly, Choe said.

But theyre speedy. The CDC says the bugs can crawl more than 100 feet in a night.

The nations big bad bed bug blow-up can be traced to a number of factors, experts say.

For one, DDT is long gone. The EPA banned it in 1972.

Even so, the bugs were building up resistance to DDT, Miller said. And, gradually, they are building up a defense against insecticides being used today.

She said some have developed thick, protective skins.

Others produce enzymes that break down toxic ingredients and render insecticides harmless.

We like to call those the hard drinking bugs, she said.

Still other bed bugs have mutated.

They meet, fall in love and make other genetically immune babies, Miller said.

Perhaps we have ourselves to blame, too.

With the bugs out of sight and out of mind for decades, we have been slow to rally against them.

Plus, we travel a lot these days to faraway places, experts say. And the bugs are good at hitchhiking a ride home on our luggage.

However they got here, the guy who manages the 11-story tower where Shelton lives said the Plymouth West infestation began around 2010. LOMCO President Kent Davis said bed bugs appear to be a bigger problem in Long Beach than in other places.

LOMCO owns and manages a dozen properties with a combined 2,000 apartments in Los Angeles and Orange counties. In most of the firms senior communities, Davis said, problems are minimal.

In Long Beach, its an epidemic, he said.

Whether Long Beach is worse than other cities is unclear.

Katie Martel, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said that during the year ending June 30 the county received 1,494 bed-bug complaints.

However, she said, her department doesnt track Long Beach because the city has its own health agency.

Kevin Lee, a Long Beach Development Services spokesman, said the city doesnt break out bed-bug complaints from insect calls.

Choe, the expert from UC Riverside, said he doubts Long Beach is worse than everyone else. But he said densely populated cities such as Long Beach are more prone to infestations than sparsely populated ones.

They tend to have more frequent problems with bed bugs because they have more units and more people living close together, Choe said.

Richard Mitsuda, an Orkin branch manager in Long Beach, termed the pest control operators area calls steady.

While we havent seen a spike in the number of requests for bed bug treatment, we have been responding to reports of bed bugs in senior care facilities, Mitsuda said.

As for the region overall, Los Angeles is the nations sixth worst metro area for bed bugs, according to Atlanta-based Orkin. In the firms 2017 ranking, L.A. followed Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and Columbus, Ohio.

For the Orkin survey, the L.A. area was defined as Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

Miller noted Terminix puts out an annual ranking, too. In its most recent report, Detroit was No. 1 on the list. L.A. was No. 4.

You have to take all of this with a grain of salt, Miller said. But, its one of the few indicators that we have.

Theres no denying, however, that Sheltons home is in one of the hardest-hit properties.

Davis said 84 of Plymouth Wests 196 units have been treated in the past 12 months.

Some units, like Sheltons, have been treated repeatedly.

That may seem over the top. But its in line with the industry experience.

According to a national survey, two to three treatments is typical when insecticide is sprayed.

Survey results were detailed in Bed Bugs Across America, a 2015 report by University of Kentucky entomology professors Potter and Kenneth Haynes, and Jim Fredericks, vice president of technical services for the National Pest Management Association.

More expensive heat treatments are more likely to knock out an infestation in one visit, the report stated.

Because heat treatment can take most of the day, said Glen Ramsey, Orkin technical services manager, conventional treatment is more common.

Heat treatment takes longer than conventional treatment, as the affected areas need to be warmed up to 125 degrees, held for one hour and then cooled back down, Ramsey said.

The report said treatment costs averaged $1,225 for single-family homes and $3,128 for multifamily buildings in 2015, though some apartment managers spent as much as $50,000.

That places Plymouth West at the high end of the range. Davis said LOMCO spent $400,000 for treatments there from 2013 to 2016.

Before an exterminator ever steps foot in the door, extensive preparations are made.

Residents strip beds of sheets and blankets, empty dressers and closets, and wash and bag clothes.

The key is to put them through the dryer for an hour at high temperature, Shelton said.

Shelton then had to leave his apartment for several hours. He returned the same day. Other renters spent a night in a motel.

Underscoring the difficulty involved in eradicating bed bugs, Sheltons unit was sprayed three times. Even then exterminators didnt get everything.

They said they couldnt get the bed bugs out of the bed frame, Shelton said.

So he threw it out and bought a new one.

Life is getting back to normal now. Its been anything but since that fateful day in late November.

A friend was over and noticed a live bug in the middle of the bed spread, Shelton said.

He was stunned. I wasnt getting bites that I was aware of, he said. But he promptly called the apartment manager.

After seeing one, he started seeing a lot more bugs.

Once you see them, youll see them in your mind, Shelton said. Youll see them everywhere.


Size: 1mm to 7mm, roughly the size of Lincolns head on a penny

Color: Reddish brown, similar in coloration to apple seed

Food: Human blood

Home: Within 8 feet of sleeping quarters. Known to live in apartments, houses, hotels, shelters, cruise ships, buses, trains, dormitories

Travel: Cant fly or jump, but can crawl fast up to 100 feet per day

Bite: Similar to mosquito, flea bites; does not carry disease

Evidence of presence: Bed bugs in folds of mattresses and sheets, rusty-colored blood spots; a sweet, musty odor

Treatment: insecticide, heat; significant preparation required of home occupants in advance; professional treatment recommended

No-nos: Do not spray bed sheets, blankets or clothes; do not apply bleach or alcohol. Applications of rubbing alcohol have sparked fires.

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Your Guide to Bed Bugs, by Michael Potter; news reports

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Bed bugs make an unwelcome comeback: ‘An epidemic’ in Long … – Long Beach Press Telegram

A Woman, Her Bedroom, and 35000 Hidden Bees – Atlas Obscura

July 15th, 2017 by admin

A honey bee. Maciej A. Czyzewski/CC BY-SA 2.0

There are a lot of pests in New York City to worry about, like roaches (which I had once, before I bought this roach gel, which killed them in such a way that when you woke up and went into the kitchen you would see them crawling ever so slowly to their deaths, which was immensely satisfying) and mice (which I also had once, though I think it was just one, which I killed with a mousetrap and it was pretty gross) and bedbugs (which Ive never had and dont even want to think about and dont have a story for.)

But you dont usually count honeybees among possible infestations. Cherisse Mulzac certainly didnt. She had seen a few dead bees around her Brooklyn home over the last year, but that didnt prepare her for what was developing above her bedroom ceiling.

As she started to notice more and more bees in the house this spring, she called Mickey Hegedus, a beekeeper, who tore open her ceiling on Wednesday. Inside he found a massive hivearound 35,000 strong, according to FOX5.

Its a beekeepers dream, really, to find a hive so healthy and functional inside the walls that I can then cut out and take home, Hegedus told FOX5.

The beekeeper sucked them out with a low-pressure vacuum and took them to a hive in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mulzac wasnt left empty-handed though, as Hegedus gave her the hives honey, about 70 pounds of it. Its literally 100 percent all natural, probably better than the stuff you can get in the store, Mulzacs son Stuart told The New York Post.

Should you worry about bees if you live in New York? Probably not, though it has been an excellent spring for them. But if you see a few dead bees lying around the house, dont wait too long to pick up the phone.

Originally posted here:
A Woman, Her Bedroom, and 35000 Hidden Bees – Atlas Obscura

The National Marbles Tournament Has One Prize Nobody Wants – Deadspin

July 14th, 2017 by admin

WILDWOOD, N.J. The beach at Wildwood is so wide, from boardwalk to surf, that we could barely see the water from where we sat on one of three empty metal bleachers in the sand surrounding the 94th (mostly) annual National Marbles Tournament. A transient parade of spectators watched from the boardwalk above the event, but everyone else there was either a relative or a marbles diehard who had brought their own beach chairs, or else they just sat in the sand. While we unloaded our gear, I asked my camera guy what he would think if he learned that a friend or a coworker had been a marbles champion as a child.

When I was that agecompetitors here range from 7 to 14I rocked a Beatles-esque bowl cut and thick, metal-rimmed glasses to things things like aquarium camp and a week-long summer class about lasers. I was deeply nerdy and lacked whatever discriminating social sense keeps cool kids away from objectively innocuous activities like marbles or mathletics. So I certainly wasnt intending to lampoon the empirically superlative talents of these kids, all of whom are better at marbles than Ill ever be at anything. But I asked this because, after driving down from New York City the night before, sleeping in a motel that might have had bed bugs, and seeking out scrapple before sunrise, I was suddenly concerned that what we were doing was setting up a bunch of children for potential mockery by publicizing their childhood pursuits on a website that, to be honest, often trades in mockery.

This was what I thought the problem was going to be with this story, before I found out about the traditional kissing.

The National Marbles Tournament, which, except for a few years during World War II, has been been held annually since the 1920s, is now three days long. We got there on the final day, when the top two boys and top two girls faced off for the titles of king and queen. I dont know why the sexes need to be kept separate in a sport that physically strains only the muscles in your pointer finger, and neither did anyone I asked.

The boys championship was underway by the time we found the right stretch of sand. An early morning fog obscured the view towards the ocean and made it feel like the tournament was taking place in the middle of a Mad Max desert. A commentator occasionally shushed the crowd in between relaying the status of the game at hand. Three, total of five, and shooting, he might say. Or, as the individual gameseach round goes until one player wins eight gamesneared completion: This one is for all the marbles.

The boys title round went down like any great sports championship. Josh jumped out to a commanding seven games to one lead, inspiring murmurs amongst the several dozen spectators that he could be the first-ever champion from Michigan. Marbles can be something of a regional sport, you see. The winners are usually from Pennsylvania, explained a woman who had been coming to the tournament every year since she won in 1973. Or sometimes theyre from Maryland.

But Eli, 14, from Allegheny County, Pa., staged an enormous comeback, winning seven straight games to take the title. I held my breath as the deciding game came down to the final marble. Fellow mibsters in the ubiquitous white t-shirts with red block lettering spelling out their hometowns flooded the concrete slabs that served as the court. A guy with a bucket hat and a handlebar mustache asked Eli to sign one of the wooden Xs used to rack up the marbles. Hed gotten the signature of every winner for several decades. Eli, shy and serious, signed the back.

All the while the final two girls had been practicing just beyond the spare courts that had held concurrent games in earlier rounds. Coaches, who themselves looked barely out of high school if that, preached focus and fun. When it was their turn to compete, Sierra, 12 years old and also from Allegheny County, cruised to an easy victory. As the final marble left the yellow playing field, her competitor burst into tears that wouldnt be quelled through the entire trophy presentation.

At that ceremony, a tiny redhead stood out as the only seven-year-old competitor. (Later, her mother would try to convince her to talk to us on camera, but by then she was singularly focused on the amusement park that had been promised her in exchange for good behavior.) After awards were handed out to runners-up and players of certain singular achievements, Eli and Sierra were brought up on stage for their coronation. They both received trophies, watches, winners shirts, ill-fitting plush crowns, and $2000 scholarships. Sierra also received a kiss on the cheek from a man old enough to be her grandfather. She scrunched up her face, the crowd aww-ed, and someone shouted at Eli, youre next!

Theres a tradition, so it seems, amongst mibsters, that the winning young man should kiss the winning young woman in front of friends and family and unaffiliated adults and strange New Yorkers with camera gear, while their feet dangle over the edges of their comically oversized thrones. I dont know how past champions have felt about this practice but in 2017, the king and queen were notably unenthusiastic. Their mortified resistance stretched on for excruciating minutes while the crowd yelled at them to get on with it. A quick air peck in Sierras general direction elicited boos as did the emcees suggestion that Eli merely kiss her handlike royalty. Eli feigned contagion, Sierra claimed the chairs were too far apart, but the excuses were laughed off or literally overcomethe assembled adults on stage helpfully pushed the thrones closer together.

I hated this. The crowd wasnt really laughing anymore. It was hot and muggy and everyone just wanted to go enjoy the afternoon at the beach. But even to the extent that it was good-natured, the whole thing felt like a textbook example of how not to teach your children that they have autonomy over their own bodies. I imagined writing that sentence and immediately felt guilty for my smug, Brooklyn brand of liberalism.

The ultimate appeal to any of thisany sport or hobbyis as a shortcut to a community and a culture. Like it was Red Sox fandom or Sundays spent tailgating, the kids we spoke to said they got into marbles because someone in their family had played, had taught them to associate these tournaments with the beach and saltwater taffy and fudge. The 1973 champ told us how her mother had crocheted a marble bag for her then-infant daughter before passing away. Wildwood is Cooperstown; theres even a museum a few blocks inland. Marbles legacy is long enough to predate anything resembling modern social norms, and while the continuity is a selling point, there are traditions that strike the uninitiated as archaic where the indoctrinated cant see a problem.

Before we left, I asked Sierra how shed felt about the kiss. She said it was especially awkward because she and Eli are friends back home in Pennsylvania. I still felt uncomfortable about the tradition, but her comments rang truecringing more over the fear that your friends might infer a crush than at any invasion of personal space. Twelve-year-old me would have understood that.

Video creative producers: Jorge Corona and Anders Kapur

Here is the original post:
The National Marbles Tournament Has One Prize Nobody Wants – Deadspin

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