2017 April 13

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Albany County Rail Trail
Criminal Justice
Delmar, NY
Hannacroix Preserve
Northern Escarpment Trail
Rogers Environmental Education Center
Role of Government
Sundown Wild Forest
Wilcox Lake

April 2017
« Mar   May »

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

Good evening! I was sitting out back for a while looking at the stars but it started to get cold. Now I’m back inside, in my bedroom next to my American flag lit by camp lamp. That flag is enormous in my apartment. It looks nice but will be even nicer in the woods next week. I’m a Proud American. Partly clear and 49 degrees in Delmar, NY. There is a west-northwest breeze at 8 mph.

Tonight will be mostly clear, with a low of 35 degrees at 5am. Two degrees below normal. Northwest wind 3 to 8 mph. In 2016, it got down to 31 degrees under clear skies. The record low of 19 occurred back in 1973.

Waning Gibbous Moon tonight with 82% illuminated. The Last Quarter Moon is on Wednesday night with chance of showers expected. The Full “Flower” Moon is in 4 weeks. The sun will rise at 6:15 am with the first light at 5:46 am, which is one minute and 38 seconds earlier than yesterday. Tonight will have 10 hours and 37 minutes of darkness, a decrease of 2 minutes and 46 seconds over last night.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, will be sunny, with a high of 64 degrees at 4pm. Six degrees above normal. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph in the afternoon. Sounds like it’s going to be a pretty nice day. A year ago, we had sunny skies and a high of 58 degrees. The record high of 83 was set in 1968. 1.4 inches of snow fell back in 1950.

For Saturday, a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 2pm and 5pm, then a chance of showers after 5pm. Increasing clouds, with a high near 63. Light south wind increasing to 11 to 16 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Maximum dew point of 44 at 9pm. 

On Easter, a slight chance of showers, then scattered showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 81. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Maximum dew point of 55 at 8pm.

Typical average high for the weekend is 58 degrees.

It wasn’t a terrible day but it was rather chaotic at times. I think I made it through the day okay but there was a few brushes against disaster but I think I’ll be fine. I need to push back politely with people when they become too demanding on things. I don’t always have to take calls too or answer emails right away. 

I have Good Friday off which is good because I’m tired after this week. I want to work on wiring up the truck cap and the rest of the things set up and tested for camping this week. I will probably go grocery shopping on Monday and maybe leave Tuesday after work or maybe hold off for Wednesday. I’m undecided. 

I was noticing how green the grass has gotten in both Delmar and in the city. Some trees are starting to blossom, but no leaves except on some of that awful, invasive honeysuckle that tends to take over in all scrubby places in the woods along the roadsides. Spring will come to the Albany-area eventually. We had some sun for a while, then it clouded up and cleared for dusk. 

While models of the Southern Adirondack snow pack show significant snow in parts of the Southern Adirondacks, with the weekends rains and warmer temperatures, it’s expected to be almost entirely gone. That said, already the North Country is free of snow, and most of the Adirondacks should be melted by the time I get up there. But I don’t want to get far off blacktop this time of year, especially with the rain, as everything is probably mud and muck. April camping kind of sucks this time of year, with all of the mud. Plus I expect it to be fairly cold and wet at least from Thursday into Friday. Well, I know to proceed slowly, and get out and walk the road before I drive it if there is any question. I’m not getting stuck in the mud. Buck no!

I’m thinking on Wednesday or Thursday, hitting up Horseshoe Lake for a night, and maybe hiking back to Lows Ledge. The rough but asphalt NY 421 is plowed all the way back to Horseshoe Lake, although the road to Hitchens Pond is closed for the spring mud season. The snow is gone up there from the map but you never know with drifts. It’s been a number of years since I’ve been up that way, and it would be fun to explore. Off-season I probably have my choice of sites on Hitchens Pond, and if I paddle from Horseshoe Outlet to Hitchens Pond, it could be quite nice. But it might also have things blocking the way, so I might avoid it due to water that is still pretty cold.

Later in the week into the weekend I’m thinking about the Deer River area in Malone if the road is passable. I don’t remember it being soft but if it looks risky I’m not going to try it. There are other places to explore and fish. Fishing the Deer River though kind of excites me. Such a beautiful part of the state, mostly unknown around here.  As I noted yesterday, might camp at the Walter Pratt area. I think I would prefer that as I have better cell reception there and those campsites have outhouses and picnic tables. There are some state forests like Wolf Lake State Forest, I’d love to see in St. Lawrence County. The power project and paddling part of the St. Lawrence River might be fun too. Then maybe come back through the Black River Valley and camp in the Otter Creek area, assuming the road is open this time of year.  I should call the DEC in Lowville on Monday to find out. I’m thinking that Eatonville Road is probably still very soft this time of year if it’s open at all. Maybe I should plan to come back through the Adirondacks and camp somewhere there like Jones Pond. 

In four weeks on May 11 the sun will be setting at 8:07 pm, which is 31 minutes and 26 seconds later then tonight. In 2016 on that day, we had mostly sunny skies and temperatures between 75 and 40 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 68 and 46 degrees. The record high of 90 degrees was set back in 1911.

Looking ahead, the Start of June is in 7 weeks. Lots of weeks of Black Fly Season ahead. 

Phil Ochs – Ballad of the Carpenter

Jesus was a working man
And a hero you will hear
Born in the town of Bethlehem
At the turning of the year

When Jesus was a little lad
Streets rang with his name
For he argued with the older men
And put them all to shame

He became a wandering journeyman
And he traveled far and wide
And he noticed how wealth and poverty
Live always side by side

So he said, "Come all you working men
Farmers and weavers too
If you would only stand as one
This world belongs to you

When the rich men heard what the carpenter had done
To the Roman troops they ran
Saying put this rebel Jesus down
He's a menace to God and man

The commander of the occupying troops
Just laughed and then he said
"There's a cross to spare on Calvaries hill
By the weekend he'll be dead

Now Jesus walked among the poor
For the poor were his own kind
And they'd never let them get near enough
To take him from behind

So they hired one of the traders trade
And an informer was he
And he sold his brother to the butchers men
For a fistful of silver money

And Jesus sat in the prison cell
And they beat him and offered him bribes
To desert the cause of his fellow man
And work for the rich men's tribe

And the sweat stood out on Jesus' brow
And the blood was in his eye
When they nailed his body to the Roman cross
They laughed as they watched him die

Two thousand years have passed and gone
Many a hero too
But the dream of this poor carpenter
Remains in the hands of you

The challenge of maintaining a “normal” rate of crime

"Emile Durkheim upset a lot of people, back in the late 19th century, by claiming that there was a “normal” rate of crime, which society seeks to maintain. He argued that the apprehension and punishment of criminals served a social function, by reaffirming everyone else’s commitment to the social order. In the same way that public rituals serve as a reaffirmation of faith for members of certain religion communities, the punishment of criminals plays the same role for members of society more generally. We find it easier to do our part in maintaining the social order when we have visible evidence that those who fail to do so are being appropriately sanctioned."

"This is why the general public takes such a keen interest in the punishment of criminals, and much less in, say, road maintenance, even though with the division of labour, there are agents of the state whose job it is to make sure that each is done expeditiously. But in order for this reaffirmation of the social order to take place, there must first be a sufficient number of criminals. This is where the “normal” rate of crime comes in – this is the level that is functionally required to maintain social solidarity. Durkheim argued that the crime rate cannot really drop much below this normal level, because if it does, society will respond by criminalizing new forms of behaviour, in order to bring the rate back up."

I was reading about the Massive Ordinance Bombs with it’s $16 million dollar cost, and was thinking, “more wasteful government spending”. It comes after dropping about $50 million in Tomahawk bombs on Syria.

I though President Donald Trump was against government waste. $16 millions could replace a highway bridge in America, and $50 million could build a new school. With our country facing such large deficits, we should seriously be looking at every penny we spend, and looking how we can ramp down government spending, while becoming a fairer, more just and sustainable society.

I’m starting to think Donald Trump is the king of government waste. He by no means lives frugally, instead preferring to take a jet trip down to Florida every week, and maintaining secret service protection both in the White House  and at his Condo in New York. Yet, he should be setting the model for cutting waste out of government. He has not proposed to cut wasteful military programs, or take commonsense measures that could save billions but only marginally increase the risk for the vast majority of Americans.

One of the most difficult to cost but costly services in society is our military, and their paramilitary equivalent at local, state and federal level — our first responders. Yes, we all want to have police to come when we are victimized by crime, when we get into an accident, we want the ambulance to come and when our house is on fire, the firefighters to come. We don’t want terrorists and foreign nations invading our country. That’s a given. But they all need to economize too.

For too long, our country has not asked the military to economize. As the world’s superpower, do we really need more bombs? We had plenty of killing technology during World War II. Why do we need more? We’ve not asked our police forces to work with fewer officers and older cars. Firearms that are well maintained rarely need replacement. We’ve not asked fire departments to hold onto their trucks longer, and for ambulance drivers to use older, less effective rescue equipment. Engines can be rebuild and rust can be patched to get more years out of equipment. But maybe it’s time to ask all of government to economize — especially when government spending is so out of control.

It’s great that we save so many lives — but if we could save somewhat fewer lives — we could save taxpayers lot of money. Less military, less police, less firefighters and less emergency medical professionals means lower taxes. Getting more use of existing but somewhat worn-out equipment means lower taxes. We could live with slightly more terrorism and crime and slightly more fire destruction, without making life much different for most people. We could have a slightly more people die in car crashes due to delayed emergency responses — and save society billions. Safety is important, as is having a strong military, but it’s also important government economizes. 

Capitalism Is Violence

"United Airlines violently removed a passenger from an airplane earlier this week. The company had overbooked the flight, which is standard practice in the airline industry, and then failed to entice enough people to give up their seats by offering as much as $800 to anyone who would volunteer. The final solution to the conundrum of too many passengers and not enough seats was to demand certain passengers give up their seats. When one man refused, he was forced out."

"The video of the event, which showed the man being beaten and bloodied by the police, went viral and attracted nearly universal condemnation. But the condemnation that I’ve seen so far is very unclear about what the problem is. The video is violent and repulsive, but only insofar as all property and contract enforcement is. The forceful removal of the passenger is not an extraordinary aberration from our civilized capitalist order. Rather, it is an example of the everyday violence (and threatened violence) that keeps that capitalist order running."

Map: Denman Mountain in Claryville

Map: Denman Mountain in Claryville

The 30,100-acre Sundown Wild Forest in the Sullivan County Town of Neversink and the Ulster County Towns of Denning, Rochester, Wawarsing and Olive, covers a large swath of the southeast Catskills, including several ridges and 10 mountains over 2,000 feet. The area has a varied topography and an impressive mix of natural features - mountains, waterfalls, valleys and rivers - rich with fishable trout streams, hiking destinations, hunting opportunities and snowmobile trails. Sundown is accessible from many county and town roads. Key places to visit in the Wild Forest are the Kanape Valley and Ashokan High Point, Vernooy Kill Falls, Denman Mountain, Red Hill Fire Tower and the Peekamoose Valley.