Trester’s Travels – Syracuse in the Wintertime

We have been in Syracuse (that’s Syracuse, New York, not Italy) for the last couple of days.  Being on the board of Doctors for Global Health (, I felt obligated to come to the winter meeting, and indeed it is winter.  Some of you were at a fund raiser a couple of years ago when we had the winter gathering in Austin, where Jon Dee Graham was gracious enough to play and provide incredible entertainment.  The weather deities were also kind, and we even had some of our February meeting outside.

I don’t think we will be doing anything outside this weekend.  Here’s a picture of the outside temperature.  Today, as I walked to the library, I thought it was rather warm compared to yesterday, and it is.  Almost 20° and although the wind is blowing a bit more than yesterday, it felt almost balmy.  I am not dressed any differently than I was yesterday.

But it seems more pleasant.  Am I getting used to it?

I haven’t been in weather like this for years.  When I was a medical student at the Medical College of Ohio at Toledo, I don’t remember it ever being 0°, and it wasn’t often even that it was 10°.  There was some snow, and I fairly quickly went from riding a motorcycle to buying a clunker of a car (it was a Rambler Rebel, which made it through those three years somewhat miraculously, since it was already old when I bought it for a few hundred dollars), but this seems more serious here.

Seeing the snow has been quite beautiful.  Even walking down town in the moderately slushy snow hasn’t been bad.  Since it is so cold, it hasn’t gotten too messy yet, and Syracuse, while it used to be a very industrial town, I think, has lost lots of jobs and so there is a lot less soot than there used to be (at least that’s the feeling I get.  I also get the feeling that this is not a very prosperous place anymore), and the snow is pristine.

This is a canal boat outside of the Erie Canal Museum with some incredibly white snow.

This is on top of a barge.  Low bridge, everybody down……

The Erie Canal runs through Syracuse, and this element of transportation caused Syracuse to grow exponentially during the 19th century.  The construction of this over 350 mile long canal, lined with stone, with 70 or so locks, and several weight stations occurred in the early 1800’s.  It was quite an engineering feat as well as a political tour de force (how do you weigh a canal boat)?  There is always a way for the state to figure out how to make sure it gets its cut of profits, and the canal was extremely profitable, besides helping fuel movement to the West as well as cultural and industrial development of Syracuse.  Syracuse China was quite famous for a while.  Elizabeth Cotton, who wrote Freight Train, was a home grown celebrity.  The Underground Railroad had a major “stop” here, and was often the last point on the way to Canada for escaped slaves.  And Syracuse continues with its liberal past with many organizations dedicated to a better world.).  And the last weighlock building is in downtown Syracuse, and is quite an interesting place.  Definitely worth the visit if you ever are here.  It is the last such building in New York State.  The impact of the canal was incredible, and although the railroads replaced the canal due to speed, more carrying power, and more destinations, New York State would have taken a lot longer to develop a few centuries ago than it did.

So I am looking forward to being with the other board members of DGH.  People in this organization are quite dedicated, forward thinking, and interesting.  There are only a few places in the world where we partner with strong communities that know what they want from us.  I am proud to be part of this organization that is helping to make the world a better place.

Siga la lucha.

The thermometer above is the outside temperature and the one on the left (which is hard to read in this photo) shows an inside temperature of 62°, which feels absolutely toasty!  Barbara and I are quite thankful for the wonderful hospitality of Shirley and Larry Novak, the hosts of this weekend’s events, and for being so gracious.

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