2017 March 21

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Albany Pine Bush
Balsam Swamp State Forest
Dutch Settlement State Forest
Guilderland, New York
Holt Preserve

March 2017
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Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.

How Donald Trump Tried to Cash In by Dumping Sewage Into the Hudson River

"Donald Trump is loud and boastful on camera, but sometimes he operates more quietly off screen, like when he needed to solve a sewage problem beneath the streets of Manhattan—a problem that mysteriously evaporated one day in 1994, allowing a flood of cash that saved Trump from drowning in debt.
This is a little-known aspect of how Trump bungled the chance to make billions of dollars building on the largest developable tract of land in America’s largest city, a story the late actor Christopher Reeve called “the American dream gone berserk.”
Way back in 1974, when Trump was not yet 30 years old, he acquired control of the old Penn Central rail yards on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. For a song, he had 57 acres of land along the Hudson River that ran 13 blocks from 59th Street to 72nd Street."

How it Works: Water for Coal

"Coal-fired power plants, which produce almost half of the country’s electricity, have significant impacts on water quantity and quality in the United States. Water is used to extract, wash, and sometimes transport the coal; to cool the steam used to make electricity in the power plant; and to control pollution from the plant. The acts of mining and burning coal, as well as dealing with the waste, also can have major effects on water quality."

Good evening! Partly cloudy and 47 degrees in City of Albany. There is a west breeze at 15 mph. Not a terrible evening but that breeze does make it a bit chilly feeling. Warm enough though that the snow is rapidly melting. 

Had to stay at work until 6 pm, now heading home on the bus, listening to a podcast. Going to have a quick dinner then go down to the library for a bit. Nice having the daylight in the evening. It will be nice once it warmer up enough to get to the park. Won’t long before they flip the switch and it really warms up. We usually have temperatures around 30 degrees before it warms up to around 80. Indeed the monthly climate outlook suggests a warm spring. We will see. 

The sun will set at 7:09 pm with dusk around 7:37 pm, which is one minute and 10 seconds later than yesterday. At sunset, look for partly clear conditions and 43 degrees. There will be a west-northwest breeze at 15 mph.

Tonight will be partly cloudy, with a low of 27 degrees at 6am. Five degrees below normal. West wind 8 to 16 mph. In 2016, it got down to 27 degrees with periods of snow. The record low of 2 occurred back in 1875.

Waning Crescent Moon tonight with 39% illuminated. The moon will rise around 1:19 am. The New Moon is next Tuesday. The Full “Pink” Moon is in 3 weeks. The sun will rise at 6:54 am with the first light at 6:26 am, which is one minute and 45 seconds earlier than yesterday. Tonight will have 11 hours and 43 minutes of darkness, a decrease of 2 minutes and 55 seconds over last night.

Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, with a high of 27 degrees at 6am. 19 degrees below normal. Temperatures dropping through the day.  Blustery, with a northwest wind 16 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph. Pretty cold. A year ago, we had snow and a high of 53 degrees. The record high of 81 was set in 2012. 7 inches of snow fell back in 1887.

Not a particularly nice weekend on tap. Saturday, a chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 50. Thsts at least 50% warmer than tomorrow. Assuming temperature math works that way which it does not. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Sunday, a chance of snow showers before 8am, then a chance of rain and snow showers between 8am and noon, then a chance of rain showers after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Typical average high for the weekend is 48 degrees.

In four weeks on April 18 the sun will be setting at 7:41 pm, which is 32 minutes later then today. In 2016 on that day, we had partly cloudy skies and temperatures between 78 and 40 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 60 and 38 degrees. The record high of 90 degrees was set back in 1976.

Looking ahead, Average High is 50 is Next Tuesday, Tax Day is in 4 weeks, Average High is 70 is in 8 weeks, Summer is in 3 months, Independence Day is in 15 weeks, Election Day 2018 is in 85 weeks and Election Day 2020 is in 189 weeks.

Map: Balsam Swamp State Forest

Map: Balsam Swamp State Forest

Balsam Swamp is a sprawling state forest that stretches almost 5.5 miles east-west across 4 towns. The area is very rural, and the landscape surrounding the State Forest is predominantly forested. Balsam Swamp State Forest is comprised of a mix of native hardwood forests, hemlock swamps, and conifer plantations. There are no designated recreational trails on the forest, but there is ample opportunity for self-guided day hikes to explore the diversity of habitats represented on this State Forest. Additionally, the western section of Balsam Swamp State Forest is adjacent to Five Streams State Forest to the south.

The main attraction of this forest is Balsam Pond. The impoundment is approximately 152 acres and is a popular destination for fishing and paddle boat sports. Balsam Pond is a warm water fishery that contains a mix of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, brown bullhead and sunfish. Tiger muskellunge have been stocked in the past with the last stocking occurring in 1995. However, there have been very few reports of anglers catching any of the adult tiger muskies. A shallow gravel boat launch is suitable for launching small fishing boats.

A small rustic camp ground is also located at Balsam Pond. Camping spaces are available at no cost on a first-come, first-serve basis and there is no running water or electricity. A fire ring, outhouse, and picnic table are provided for each camping space. A sign on Balsam-Tyler Road in Pharsalia designates the entrance to the boat launch and camping facility. This is a carry-in carry-out facility. Please do not litter.


An alarm clock or cellphone charger might consume 10 watts on average plugged into the outlet. If that 10 watt device is left in the outlet 24 hours a day for 365 days a year, it will consume approximately 87.5 kWh year.

For the sake of this analysis, let’s assume that we use 100% coal fired electricity, sold a residential home for 15 cents per kWh:

  • $0.15 per kWh (Hudson Valley price)
  • 1.04 lb of coal consumed per kWh (modern coal plant with NOx and SOx controls)
  • 0.35 lb of coal ash produced per kWh (modern coal plant with NOx and SOx controls)
  • 0.7 gallons of water consumed per kWh (modern recirculating water coal plant, water discarded as vapor in cooling tower)

In one year that 10 watt device will use:

  • $13.13 in electricity
  • 91 lb of coal burned
  • 30.6 lb of coal ash landfilled
  • 61.25 gallons of water

NY’s Power Plant Fleet – How Long It Takes to Go from a Cold Start to Full Output

In 2015, New York State's power plants had 40,248.7 MW of output capacity during the summer months. However, power plants aren't like automobiles, they are large industrial machines that can take hours to go from a cold stop to full output.

30% of the state's power plants take more then 12 hours to reach full output after a cold start (base load power), while 37% take 1-12 hours (intermediate load). This reduces the flexibility utilities have to meet demand, but unfortunately many efficient fossil generating technologies are slow to change their output to meet the demands of the grid.

Data Source: 2015 Energy Information Agency, Form 860. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860/

It’s Time to Dismantle Trump’s Murder Budget and Defund Militarism

"The predictable passage of blank checks for war was an expression of the acceptability of the status quo. The status quo was murder, but within the halls of Congress and, of course, the White House, there was a level of comfort with that. From the US's early days, the military evolved largely as a vehicle for colonialism and genocide. As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in An Indigenous People's History of the United States, "the Iraq War was just another Indian war in the US military tradition." This country's military has long been more of an offensive force -- charging ahead with the winds of white supremacy and capitalism at its back -- than one of "defense." The Iraq War is one moment in its long legacy of actively disrupting, upending and devastating the lives and communities of millions of people of color, both at home and abroad."

"Much of the government seems to view perpetual war as an inevitability, the way most of us, in the words of Angela Davis, "take for granted" the existence of prisons. Davis has written that, although prisons as we know them are a fairly recent addition to the world, they have become so embedded in our society that "it is difficult to imagine life without them." The US's brand of imperialist militarism, too, is seen as natural. In the mid-2000s, many liberal Democrats were arguing for a strategy of amelioration: a small-scale withdrawal of troops, the cutting of some "waste" from the Pentagon budget, a halt to the production of a couple of bizarrely expensive fighter jets. These measures were aimed at mitigating the damage, instead of disrupting the overall project of war, militarism and the destruction of communities, most of them in Muslim-majority countries."