NYC pulls trigger on mass execution of geese

For the past several weeks, the last thing you’d want to be is a goose in New York City. Hundreds of them have been “euthanized,” in an attempt to keep the skies safe. You may remember the impact that geese can have on a plane from a year and a half ago, when an unlucky bird forced a US Airways plane out of the sky and onto the Hudson River.

According to the Associated Press:

Carol Bannerman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, said Monday the department was asked to remove Canada geese from more than a dozen locations within seven miles of city airports.

In Brooklyn‘s Prospect Park, for example, around 400 geese were rounded up and killed using carbon dioxide – “because they are a risk to planes,” the article continues. Last summer, the body count hit 1,200, which is what it’s expected to reach this year.

[photo by mikebaird via Flickr]

Captain Sully retires – well done, sir

Captain Sully is honoredCaptain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after birds interfered with the engine (actually, the USA Today article says “the plane’s engines were struck by birds,” making the birds out to be terrorists or implying that someone shot the birds at the plane with an air rifle), is retiring today. Sully, age 59, has been flying with US Airways and their “predecessor,” presumably Allegheny, since 1980.

As Sully is not only an aviation hero, but one of the few people to have made the news in the past two years without having an affair with a stripper or releasing an album, allow us to say: well done, sir.

If you want to relive the events of Flight 1549 last January, a potentially catastrophic event which everyone survived, except for the birds, visit these stories below:

Still can’t get enough? Buy his book, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters and help fill those retirement coffers.

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“Miracle on the Hudson” plane up for auction

The plane that Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed safely in the Hudson River just over a year ago is going up for auction. Chartis Aerospace Insurance Services is accepting bids on the plane, which is described as “having severe water damage throughout the airframe and impact damage to its underside” according to USA Today, though March 27.

Unfortunately, as celeb-gossip site TMZ points out, the survivors of the harrowing water landing won’t be able to take home a memento from the plane. The plane is being auctioned off in its entirety so those hoping to snag just a small piece cannot do so. Looks like they’ll have only their memories. The survivors recently got together on the anniversary of the crash landing and toasted with champagne and Grey Goose vodka (a nod to the flock of birds that downed the plane) at the moment of impact.

Cap off your summer in style at the Kimberly Hotel in Manhattan

Manhattan‘s rarely cheap. So, even if you can get a kickass flight, you’re still stuck lamenting the hotel rates and dinner prices – not to mention spending a fortune on cabs. The Kimberly Hotel is about to make this easier. If you’re looking to get your kids to the top of the Empire State Building before school starts, you still have time to squeeze in a trip this summer with a nice discount to make it a bit easier for you.

Until August 31, 2009, the Kimberly Hotel is cutting its rates by up to 40 percent on one- and two-bedroom luxury suites (might as well give the kids a taste of the good life before returning to the daily grind of the school year, right?). One-bedroom suites normally go for $299 a night, but you can book one for $100 less this summer. If you value elbow room, shell out $299 for a two-bedroom suite: they usually cost $449 a night.

Or, you can pick up a package built around the Intrepid Museum (that’s on the aircraft carrier parked in the Hudson River). For $459 a night ($829 for two), the “Welcome Aboard” package includes discount admission coupons for four to the museum, daily breakfast in the hotel and a free in-room movie with your choice of popcorn.

If you want your summer to end with a cymbal crash, this is the way to do it. Fight the oppressive New York heat (it’s part of the experience), and make sure your kids have some great stories to tell on the first day of school.

Along the Hudson: The Hudson River School and top places to see the paintings

Four hundred years ago, when Henry Hudson first saw the river that was named after him, I imagine he felt inspired by its beauty. The river not only captivated Hudson’s attention motivating him to take a look-see far up into its reaches, it has also inspired artists to capture its essence, literally and figuratively.

There are places along the Hudson River’s shores where you can imagine painters who developed The Hudson River School sitting with their canvas creating their masterpieces. Unlike how it sounds, The Hudson River School is not a place at all, but an art movement that occurred during the 19th century, and the first to be deemed American.

With the festivities happening in the towns and cities along the Hudson this year to celebrate it’s discovery, it seems fitting to give a nod to these artists who were inspired by the Hudson’s beauty and used its images as a metaphor to express ideas about what the United States represents. What are the themes? Discovery, exploration and settlement. Head west, and you’ll see these themes over and over again. These guys were onto something.

The scenes you see in the paintings, however, are not exactly as is. The artists took parts of scenery that they had sketched in their travels and put them together in such a way to make their point that nature, and people’s communion with it, are testaments to God’s glory. Communing with nature, therefore, is a way to experience God’s power.

The painting Kindred Spirits by Asher B. Durand is such an example. The two men in the painting are of the artist and Thomas Cole. You can read what the painting represented to Cole in this overview of The Hudson River School by Thomas Hampson.

As Hampson explains, such themes are also expressed in the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau who helped found Transcendentalism. To them, and to these artists, what better place to be a witness to the power of God and the human ability to feel and become empowered by it, than in the natural world found in the the American landscape?

Not only the Hudson River is depicted by Hudson River School artists, most notably Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand, but so are the White Mountains in New Hampshire and other areas of the Catskills.

For a close look at one of the later Hudson River School painters who helped develop the art movement called Luminism that developed from the Hudson River School, visit Olana, Frederic Edwin Church’s home along the Hudson River not far from Hudson, New York.

Here, Church and his wife raised their family and created a home that is a visual masterpiece. When I visited Olana, I was intrigued by Church’s treatment of the landscape. He had certain trees cut down along the river banks near his home to create a certain look to the scenery and better highlight the Hudson River’s beauty.

Olana is merely one place to see Hudson River School artwork. Several museums have pieces in their collections.

If you are walking in the mountains and along the river that were the inspiration for this artwork, see if the muse strikes you. Maybe another art movement is percolating.