The sound of everything

A 15-second look at Chittenango Falls

I began reading The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi on Thursday.

It's a semi-autobiographical novel about an Afghan woman whose husband is killed by the Taliban. She moves to Denmark, where she must learn a new language – a language that, to her, sounds like bees buzzing.

That I began reading it on Thursday is significant. It was Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement, a day when we connect with God to apologize for our sins over the past year. It is tradition to fast (food and liquid) from sundown to sundown. My take: food deprivation is an altered state that brings you closer to God.

Chittenango FallsIf you've never done such a fast, here is a brief timeline of some physical consequences of a 24-hour fast (I can only speak from my experiences; some of you might have others you'd like to share in comments).

• Dehydration headaches
• General fatigue
• General difficulty focusing
• A sharp hunger pang about 16 hours in, that subsides quickly
• Euphoria
• A return of all senses to normal

Take that last one with a grain of salt because, while it feels like you're running on normal, you are dehydrated and without nutrients, which means your body doesn't work quite the way you expect it to.

It's really the euphoria part that makes Yom Kippur my favorite holiday.

Everything sounds really loud – a bird flushed from the bushes sounds like a motorcycle. A fly buzzing around your table sounds like you have your head in a beehive.

Everything seems bigger and brighter. Visual depth doesn't matter. The autumn colors are vivid, and in very sharp contrast to the sky, be it blue or gray.

After services, I went to Chittenango Falls for the first time. I took five rolls of film; the four rolls of color are brilliant, and it will be a while before the black and whites come back.

I spent about five hours out there. It was a beautiful day, and the colors were at peak, so there were a lot of people viewing the falls.

I also went out on the Chips trail, which is an easy 0.85-mile hike, and didn't see another human for three hours.

It was amazing, from the miles of colors, to the sound of leaves underfoot, to the power of the water. I'm also looking forward to getting back out there sometime in winter, to see the ice buildup at the bottom.

Crunch open the 2008-09 season against Amerks

The Syracuse Crunch paid tribute to the late Paul Newman before their home opener against Rochester Saturday night.

Paul Newman played an aging brawler in the 1977 film Slapshot. Part of the film was shot at the Onondaga County War Memorial, where the Syracuse Crunch beat the Rochester Americans 6-1 Saturday in their home opener, a night after opening the 2008-09 season with a 4-3 win in Rochester's building.

There was a really good crowd on hand, both large and loud.

This year's Crunch team needs more time together on the ice – they looked pretty sloppy, despite having netted 10 goals in their first two games &dnash; but I think it's going to be a good year.

The goaltending is looking pretty good, and they're going to rack up plenty of penalty minutes, I'm sure. Jon Mirasty took down Rochester's Neil Clark, who's at least a head taller than the Crunch enforcer, and both Mirasty and Tom Sestito (who scored a goal and added two assists) were sent to the locker room early for their parts in a bench fight.

See you at the War Memorial.

CNY Speaks: Third forum

I've written about the first two CNY Speaks forums, but wanted to add a few thoughts about the third, and (for now) final forum, which took place Tuesday.

Post-Standard Civic Engagement Editor Greg Munno gives a quick overview of what was discussed during the forums in today's paper, but there are some more notes that you should know about.

• Mayor Matt Driscoll and members of the Syracuse Common Council and Onondaga County Legislator were invited to participate as citizens (as opposed to elected officials – they would be asked to listen and comment and stick to the forum format, rather than speak to the audience or campaign, for those who are running in 2009). Not one of them showed up to any of the three forums.

• I spoke with Munno before the forum, and one of the things we talked about was getting people involved who wouldn't come downtown to participate in the forums, because they were downtown. After all, it's their input we need most – everybody who came was at least already somewhat invested in downtown. There's a possibility we could see future forums in DeWitt, Camillus and Liverpool.

• The next step is to have the student moderators code responses and run some statistics on feedback to present to candidates for mayor, common council and county legislature next spring.

While I do think some congratulations are in order for getting the discussion started, I believe the more important step is getting some action items taken care of.

I also think it's important to note that some journalists – who too often take the viewpoint that their job is to tell people about what change is going on, not to help drive change – attended as citizens. For fear of leaving out people I didn't meet or recognize, I won't name anyone, but you know who you are. Thanks for showing up.