2017 December 17

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Delmar, NY
Fire-Fall State Forest
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Hewitt Eddy Trail
Mount Greylock
Santanoni Preserve
Slingerlands, New York

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

Good evening! Mostly cloudy and 21 degrees in Delmar, NY. Calm wind.The skies will clear Tuesday around 10 pm. Looks like the next week will be quite mild with possible rain next Saturday. Should melt away the snow and ice we have locally. Up north it will probably last fine. 

Tonight will have a chance of light snow, mainly after 2am. Cloudy, with a low of 20 degrees at 10pm. Typical for tonight. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. In 2016, we had light freezing drizzle in the evening, which became light rain and mist by the early hours of the morning. It got down to 20 degrees. The record low of -9 occurred back in 1919.

Tonight is the new moon but still too cloudy to really see the stars well. The sun will rise at 7:20 am with the first light at 6:48 am, which is 38 seconds later than yesterday. Tonight will have 14 hours and 57 minutes of darkness, an increase of 13 seconds over last night. Nights are getting longer but not by much. 

Tomorrow will have a chance of snow showers before noon, then a slight chance of rain and snow showers between noon and 1pm, then a slight chance of rain showers after 1pm. Cloudy, with a high of 37 degrees at 2pm. Two degrees above normal. Light south wind increasing to 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. A year ago, we had light snow and mist in the morning, remaining cloudy in the afternoon. The high last year was 45 degrees. The record high of 60 was set in 1921. 17 inches of snow fell back in 1887.

This evening I went out grocery shopping at Shoprite then for my evening walk. I should be set for groceries for the week. I thought Shoprite would be a bigger savings over Walmart but I’m not convinced that is true. It just seems like groceries have gotten more expensive in recent years, although some of that may have to do with the fact I tend to like to mix things up more now and no longer just have boring cheese and ham sandwiches five days a week for lunch. I haven’t done my evening walk in a long time but tonight turned out to be quite pleasant. Also got milk at Stewarts so I should be good for the week. I thought about grocery store milk but Stewart’s is actually quite a bit cheaper especially for their one percent milk. It has 25% less fat than 2% but more taste then skim. I love living two doors down from Stewart’s because I’m such a big milk drinker. 

I took another stab at using that lead free solder but it’s still not working well for me. Hopefully the 60-40 solder will arrive soon, so I can get my components mounted on perfboard. I want to free up my breadboard to build other projects. I was reading about using addressable LED strips to make a banner sign, something like 1 foot by 5 foot that I could print out colorful messages. I could think of many ways to put that to use. They are natively driven at 12 volt, although I have heard they are fairly power hungry, easily taking 5 or more amps at 12 VDC. Might not be perfect for flashing messages while camping. But could be used around the house or maybe even as a work project. I still haven’t bought the bar I will permanently mount the LEDs onto or a hot glue gun to put everything together but I’ll do that eventually. 

Never got out hiking today but that’s fine. I was kind of lazy but I got the first big update to my blog done on a while. Still have some bugs to fix and I want to add Facebook Live posts to my blog automatically, especially when I am out camping or about.  I didn’t want to drive too much this week because I’m trying to save money for a possible camping trip next weekend. 

The long range doesn’t look that great for next weekend. Mild but wet! Next Saturday, rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Next Sunday, mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. Typical average high for the weekend is 33 degrees. At least I’ll be saving on my heating bills. I have Christmas Day and the day after off the following week, so that may be when I go camping but I’ll have to watch the forecast first. It would be nice to spend some time up north during the Christmas break. 

In four weeks on January 14 the sun will be setting at 4:46 pm, which is 23 minutes and 13 seconds later then tonight. Longer days! In 2017 on that day, we had mostly cloudy skies and temperatures between 26 and 14 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 30 and 14 degrees. The record high of 66 degrees was set back in 1932.

Looking ahead, Christmas Eve is in 1 week, New Years Eve is in 2 weeks, National Hug Day is in 5 weeks, Winnie the Pooh Day is in 9 weeks and April Fools Day and Easter is in 15 weeks.

I hope the GOP tax cuts prove as successful as their proponents claim they will be. I don’t want them to fail, I don’t want our country to slip into recession or suffer from inflation. Three percent growth could produce a lot of good jobs, a lot of tax revenue needed to make the kind of investments in clean energy and education for our youth to move our country forward. I want to see life get better for all Americans, and I want to see enough growth so we can help get people in the inner cities and Appalachia back to work, utilizing their unique talents to move our country forward.

Like many people who read the news and are knowledgeable about economics, I am skeptical how much the tax cuts will grow our economy. Certainly the corporate tax cuts are helping business, they’ve been helping the market run on a tear over the past year. But it’s a Christmas gift that businesses and stockholders (like myself) have been expecting for a long time, once the present is unwrapped and enjoyed for an hour or so, much of the joy of tax cuts are certain to wear off. That marvelous toy, beloved by child for a few hours eventually just ends up smelling like burnt plastic in the burn barrel. But maybe with fewer taxes, businesses will invest more in their businesses, and shareholders will continue to gain going forward. But I’m not that hopeful. The excitement of tax cuts quickly wear off and are forgotten.

As an investor and as one who is putting away a good chunk of every paycheck towards my eventual retirement in 20-30 years, I certainly want the economy to grow. The money saved today, is money that will eventually buy me land, an off-grid cabin, more guns, a four wheeler and sled, livestock and anything else needed for a good life out in country. A good economy is good for all Americans, even if some places are left behind. An affluent society can invest in those who have been left behind, help them find meaning in life, put people who otherwise would be left behind back to work.

But I am concerned. I see the dark storm clouds in the distance. Our government leaders can put their heads into the sand and deny climate change, or ignore fundamental economics that say you can’t go beyond full employment without elevating inflation. Climate change is a real threat, and society has done the bare minimum to prepare for the natural forces we are unleashing on the globe, to say nothing of doing the bare minimum to control emissions. Most economists will tell you we are at full employment, and stimulating the economy is not what is needed to help those left behind. Education, job training, and relocation assistance is needed to help those without work, not an economy that can’t grow even faster without inflation.

I don’t buy the fact that only the rich will benefit from the GOP tax cut. I am not rich, but any way I look at the numbers, I will benefit from the tax cut. For one, the 25% and 15% brackets which I currently are taxed at will go down by 3% each, which puts more money in my pocket every pay check. The larger standard deduction, even with the loss of personal deduction, means my adjusted income is less, so more of my income falls in the new 12% rate and less at the new 22% rate. Not to mention, the 22% rate starts at a higher portion of my income, as it’s been inflation adjusted upwards. Less directly, it’s promoting growth across the economy, which is causing my stocks and bonds to grow. It’s pushing up interest rates, which are making my cash savings grow. At least for now. But the question is a tax cut that is going to balloon the deficit, and how will it stimulate an economy already at full employment? Will flooding the debt markets with government debt devalue the dollar even further?

Sure, the changes to the personal income tax rate sunset in eight years, after the 2024 presidential election, but do you think that the next president and congress is going to allow a massive hike on working families? You be the politician who says people should pay more in taxes, even if it reduces the deficit. I suspect if Democrats are elected, they’ll increase the top rates and preserve the lower rates for middle-class families. If Republicans are elected, they’ll preserve the rates as is and seek new ways to fund the government and cut spending for certain government programs. Or most likely just ignore the deficit, because interest rates remain low, and government borrowing is cheap and mostly paid through ordinary inflation in the economy over time.

Liberals and most economists are right to say that the increase of federal debt will cause problems (some point) down the road. But the tax cuts equal $100-$150 billion a year or $1.5 trillion over ten years, which isn’t all that much when you consider how truly massive the federal budget is at $4,049 billion. To make up for the loss revenue, I suggest a fairly stiff carbon tax ($100 a ton or higher), that disincentivizes carbon intensive activities and encourages the efficient use of energy. Sure working families including myself will pay the brunt of this tax, but hopefully people will choose to consume less, especially of carbon intensive activities and invest more under such a tax system. Lower businesses taxes will help the economy grow, and help mitigate the impacts of such a large and expensive carbon tax. We can also cut defense spending, as our country has not had a major war in many years, and cut police forces, as crime rates continue to decline. There is no need wasting money for government programs that don’t make sense in peace-time with crime rates being as low as they are today. Repealing outdated and unnecessary laws, can further help save on need for law enforcement, as there are fewer laws to enforce.

I am not freaking out about the GOP tax cut like some of the Democrats. I don’t buy the president’s rhetoric that the tax cut will be “rocket fuel” for the economy, but I think it will be mildly stimulative, give me a little more money in each paycheck and provide modest gains to my investments. The increased deficit can be offset by a future carbon tax, and future congresses can and will end up renewing most of the personal income tax cuts, especially in the lower brackets.

Map: Fire Fall State Forest

Map: Fire Fall State Forest

Fire-Fall State Forest covers 1,570 acres located in the town of Hermon in southwestern St. Lawrence County.

The Big Maple hiking trail is located in the northern portion of the forest which leads south from St. Lawrence County Route 19. The property also provides large undeveloped areas well suited for hunting, hiking, and nature viewing.

Camping - There are no designated camp sites on this property. Backcountry camping is allowed. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited at any location within 150 feet from water, roads or trails.

Hunting and trapping are permitted on the property in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted. Traps may not be set on public road right of ways. Body gripping traps set on land must be at least 100 feet from public trails.

Geo-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations. See the February 2005 article in Conservationist Magazine for more information on geo-caching.


Good morning! Happy Sunday. Next Sunday is Christmas Eve. Mostly sunny and 16 degrees in Delmar, NY. Calm wind. Looks like a beautiful morning, sitting inside looking through the window as I sip a cup of coffee but it sure is cold. I guess without the wind and with the sun, it’s not that cold.

Today will have increasing clouds, with a high of 27 degrees at 2pm. Eight degrees below normal. Light and variable wind becoming northwest around 5 mph. I guess that’s reasonable for the second half of December. A year ago, we had light snow and mist in the morning, remaining cloudy in the afternoon. The high last year was 35 degrees. The record high of 59 was set in 1984. 11.1 inches of snow fell back in 1970.

The sun will set at 4:23 pm with dusk around 4:55 pm, which is 22 seconds later than yesterday. At sunset, look for mostly cloudy conditions and 25 degrees. There will be a calm wind. Today will have 9 hours and 3 minutes of daytime, a decrease of 16 seconds over yesterday. By next week, the sun will be setting four minutes later. Summer is coming st some point.

Tonight will have a chance of snow showers, mainly after 11pm. Cloudy, with a low of 20 degrees at 7pm. Typical for tonight. Maximum wind chill around 21 at 6pm; Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. In 2016, we had light freezing drizzle in the evening, which became light rain and mist by the early hours of the morning. It got down to 20 degrees. The record low of -9 occurred back in 1919.

A bit of a cold Sunday on tap. I got to head to the store later today and I want to remove and update some code to the blog that I’ve been working on.

I might also go for a hike somewhere but I don’t want to go too far this weekend if I’m thinking of heading out of town next week. Maybe a walk along the rail trail? I could hike that section out to Voorheesville through Font Grove, although that sounds flat and boring. I could also do the Normans Kill Gorge, but I’ve done that a lot lately. I don’t know, this morning I’m feeling lazy after staying up late last night after smelling that delicious hazelnut coffee and deciding I need a cup. I’ve gotten back into flavored coffee again. But I got a lot of new code written for better Facebook integration with the blog.

Yesterday’s Save the Pine Bush hike was fun, not too cold but a little more sun would be nice. The Pine Bush isn’t my favorite place to hike but it is good that it remains somewhat wild even if sprawl runs through it. The Pine Bush exhibits such natural beauty and the ugliness of suburban life that abbuts it. Motoring is nice but it’s so noisy. While the displays made out of polyvinyl chloride and painted  aluminum are tacky its still nice to have such a nice place close to home. Too bad they bus service is so piss poor that only the adventurous can get to the Pine Bush without a car but I guess that helps limit use and abuse of the land.

Looking forward to going up north next weekend to the real wilderness, assuming that the weather isn’t too cold and I can dig myself out a parking space and a campsite. Alternatively, I could backcountry camp at Cole Hill or Rensselaervile State Forest.

I do need to get some data so I can make up some more graphs and maps. Maybe when I go down to the library to upload and test the other code.

Been studying soldering techniques for YouTube more, and I’m going to try to work with the silver solder some more today, as the leaded 60/40 solder got delayed in the mail. It only was coming from New Jersey but it got delayed in the mail. Leaded solder is actually safer from a fumes perspective then silver solder as it melts quicker so your breathing in less of the toxic flux fumes.

Still chewing over going grocery shopping at Shoprite and using Walmart online  to order other supplies and dry goods. Shoprite has good prices for food as does Walmart online for supplies. I like the idea two day free delivery, although I worry about excess non recyclable packaging. I think about waste a lot because I am anti-landfill and anti-municipal incinerator and plus I haul my own trash bags to the transfer station at $2 a bag.  At least the plastic grocery bags can taken back to the store for recycling.

As previously noted, next Sunday is Christmas Eve when the sun will be setting at 4:27 pm with dusk at 4:59 pm. On that day in 2016, we had rain, drizzle, snow, sleet, mist, mostly cloudy skies and temperatures between 42 and 35 degrees. Typically, the high temperature is 33 degrees. We hit a record high of 72 back in 2015. I remember that rainy day at the bus stop after work. For Christmas in 2015, I went to Glimmerglass State Park and camped in Brookfield. That was a very nice way to spend Christmas but this year there will be a fair amount of snow in both of those places.