The Pulse

The Therapy Sisters give Dr. Phil a run for his money, tracking lost languages, and gifts galore for everyone on your list

The Pulse

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Airing it out

A pair of local ladies offer advice — and laughs — on a new radio show for women

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Look out, Dr. Phil. Kris Harrington and Allie Friedman are coming after you. “We give better advice than he does,” says Harrington, one half of the Therapy Sisters, whose program on WKNY 1490 AM offers a weekly dose of what they call “uplifting” talk radio for women. “Oprah can stay,” Harrington offers, “but our plan is to unseat Dr. Phil.”

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She’s only kidding a little. The Therapy Sisters have garnered a devoted following of women looking for, if not exactly therapy, at least advice, support, and information — plus more than a few laughs — every Tuesday from 6:10 to 7 p.m. “It’s incredibly fun, but we also have a mission,” Friedman says. “Whether we’re being lighthearted or serious, we want to provide a community for women.”


That community extends to their Web site, There, women can continue the conversation on their chat board, download articles, listen to podcasts of previous shows, and even buy T-shirts and coffee mugs.


Harrington, 51, and Friedman, 49, both have master’s degrees in counseling and practice in the Hudson Valley. They met at a Mid-Hudson Women’s Network meeting last spring and within minutes were convinced their chemistry, humor, and opinionated banter would make for a fun radio show. The execs at WKNY agreed. Since July, the Therapy Sisters have been regaling the Valley with, well, girl talk.


“The topics are freewheeling,” Friedman says. They have interviewed self-help authors, had an Academy Award-nominated songwriter describe how to write a love song, talked to a witch about Halloween, and hosted a birth mother and her daughter who were reunited after 30 years of separation. “We are driven by whatever entertains us as women,” Friedman says.


They also dish. A running theme involves telling “dirty little secrets” about themselves and their guests. “I got a big reaction when I admitted that I used my little brother as a dart board,” Friedman laughs. “And Kris is always telling us about being naked, but you’ll have to ask her about that.”


“Not true,” Harrington protests. “Well, I did have a couple of stories about skinny-dipping.” — David Levine




Unearthing the past

Archaeology students uncover ancient relics
in Ulster’s Mohonk Preserve


Vassar archaeologist Lucy Johnson and her students see Ulster County’s Mohonk ridgeline as far more than a scenic view or a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Their excavations of rock overhangs along the ridge — which has long been known as one of the most efficient ways through the Shawangunks — are telling a migration story that stretches back some 10,000 years.


“Two of the rock shelters that we’ve looked at (Rhododendron Swamp and the Trapps) were pretty well dug out by a former archaeologist who worked at a time when excavation standards were very different than they are today,” says Johnson.


In “archaeology speak,” that means that many old-time archaeologists paid little attention to a site’s strata (the juxtaposition of artifacts in relationship to the layers of soil). They were after the “stuff” — arrowheads (or points), pottery, and anything else they could dig up. Collections were amassed, but little was discovered about the people who created them. The points that had been discovered in the ridge previously were primarily from two ages — Neville points and possibly Clovis. From these, the archaeologists could calculate roughly how long the trail has been in use, but not much more.


Then, a curious thing happened. Just as Johnson had all but decided that the sites were going to yield little in the way of new information about the Native American travelers who sheltered there thousands of years ago, they found a new site. Its location was far off the trail and, to date, undiscovered by pottery hunters. Shallow test pits of the new site unearthed more points, as well as something far more exciting: lithic material (scraps of the actual flint used to tap the points).


“This fall and winter, we’re working with geochemists here at Vassar (Professor Dave Gillikin and his students) to determine where the lithic material originated,” says Johnson, noting that this new bit of information will add to our knowledge of early Native American travel patterns in the Northeast. — Debbie Kwiatoski



By The Numbers


What’s on the minds of Valleyites these days? Plenty, according to “Many Voices One Valley 2007,” a new survey conducted by the Dyson Foundation and the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. The pollsters asked residents for their views on national and local issues, and compared the responses to a similar poll conducted in 2002. Here’s what you (and your neighbors) think:



Number of mid-Hudson Valley residents surveyed. They live in



Counties: Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster



On a list of top priorities, ranking respondents give to making health care more affordable



The importance of reducing taxes (jumping from the number 9 spot on the priority list in 2002)



Number of Valley households in which at least one member does not have health insurance



Percentage of people surveyed who feel the region is unaffordable



Out of every 100 respondents feel predominantly positive about living in their community



Years. Nearly 30 percent of the sample say they intend to move out of the area within this time period



Percentage of residents who have moved in to the region within the last five years; while



Out of every 3 people surveyed have lived in the area for over a decade



The ranking respondents give to the importance of keeping businesses in the area



Out of 4 describe the quality of their jobs as poor



Hours, the average number mid-Hudson Valley residents work per week



Tongues untied

Local filmmakers document soon-to-be extinct languages in faraway places


There are nearly 7,000 spoken languages in the world. Nearly half of them will be extinct in the next hundred years, language scholars predict. One is lost every two weeks. Before they disappear, two linguists are circling the globe to document these threatened tongues. And a Putnam County production company has been on the road with them, filming their race against time.


Daniel A. Miller, president of Garrison-based Ironbound Films, says he saw an article in the New York Times about lost languages, and it struck a chord. “My grandparents spoke Yiddish, but it was never passed down,” he says. “That interested me. What has been lost? It’s more than just statistics. The film is about the people who lose the language and the scientists who research it.”


His own research led him to Dr. K. David Harrison and Dr. Gregory D.S. Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, based in Salem, Oregon. Miller and his crew followed them to Siberia in search of a language called Chulym. On the basis of a 20-minute reel — which focused on the researchers’ efforts to find the speakers, ingratiate themselves into the community, and coax locals to speak words they had held silent for decades — they convinced the National Science Foundation to put up $500,000 to finish the film, which they titled The Linguists.


The team then traveled far and wide. In Bolivia they tracked down Kallawaya, a language spoken by less than 100 people. In India, it was Sora, a tribal tongue confined to a particular region of the country. And in Arizona, they interviewed a Native American named Johnny Hill, Jr., the last known speaker of Chemeheuvi.


The film focuses on the scientists, Miller says. “The story is about these fallible guys. They become impatient and fearful — they don’t know everything and sometimes they didn’t know what they were getting into.” Such as?


“In India they had to crash a wedding and dance with the locals to convince them to speak the language,” he says. “In Siberia, just north of Mongolia, where it’s swampland, they were swarmed by these huge mosquitoes. We were constantly swatting the bugs away, which you can hear buzzing on microphones.”


But that’s nothing compared to Bolivia. The group found a man named Max Churra who spoke Kallawaya, a language dating back to Incan times, which is used mostly by medicine men. Churra performed a healing ceremony in Kallawaya using, among other things, llama fetuses. Then, he sacrificed a live guinea pig. “He tore the animal apart with his bare hands, then lit the whole thing on fire,” Miller says, still shaken by the memory. “I was a vegetarian for a while after that.”


The Linguists is designed for PBS, and will go on the international film festival circuit this winter in search of wider distribution. — David Levine

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