2017 December 31

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

Good evening! New Years Eve, final update of 2017. Mostly clear and 2 degrees in Delmar, NY. Breezy, 16 mph breeze from the northwest. The current wind chill is -16. I can hear that wind whipping around at times this evening. 

I’m glad I decided to stay home. New Years Eve being a Sunday this year meant there is no buses running, so I would have to drive and I’m not going to do that especially after going out for a drink on New Years Eve. Much too cold for a midnight hike this year or camping out. 

Tonight will be mostly clear, with a low of -5 degrees at 6am. 23 degrees below normal. Maximum wind chill around -22 at 6am; Northwest wind 9 to 16 mph. That’s cold. In 2016, we had cloudy skies, clearing in the early hours of the next day. It got down to 20 degrees. The record low of -18 occurred back in 1970. Okay, maybe not that cold. But the heck with going out. The electric supplemental heat makes my bedroom comfortable. 

Tonight will have a Waxing Gibbous Moon with 99% illuminated.The moon will set tomorrow at 6:37 am. The Wolf Moon will be tomorrow with mostly cloudy skies. The sun will rise at 7:25 am with the first light at 6:53 am, which is 6 seconds later than yesterday. Tonight will have 14 hours and 52 minutes of darkness, a decrease of 47 seconds over last night.

New Year’s Day will be sunny, with a high of 11 degrees at 3pm. 20 degrees below normal. Maximum wind chill around -22 at 6am; Northwest wind 8 to 13 mph. A year ago, we had light snow. The high last year was 38 degrees. The record high of 57 was set in 1966. 9.2 inches of snow fell back in 1961.

Bitterly cold for next weekend too. Saturday, mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 6. Sunday, mostly sunny, with a high near 18. Typical average high for the weekend is 31 degrees.

Despite the cold, I plan to head out skiing tomorrow. I will put on the face mask and long john’s and maybe those insulated overalls that I own that are widely used by cowboys in the Midwest. I will stay warm I guess. It’s winter. 

I was so happy that I found that I could get a 12 volt addressable LED strip. I want to build an LED sign next but I kind of wanted to avoid buying yet another power supply and I prefer working with 12 VDC as it’s more efficient and requires thinner wire than 5 VDC. The later strings are simpler to design but the 12 VDC ones are superior in all other ways. I’m leaning towards building a sign that will be 10 rows by 30 columns or 150 x 500 mm or 6 inches by 20 inches. Not enormous but still still quite colorful as they are full color LEDs. I could go longer and narrower but the next number that divides into 30 is six which is too few columns. I am going to mount them on foam board which I will paint black. 

I ended up spending a lot of time at the library studying various electronics projects, and thinking about what I should build next.  So many options but I want to do things that are affordable and not too difficult to solder. I want to buy one of those LED cube kits next but I’m undecided on what to get. It’s kind of fun to order directly from China as it’s so cheap that way but you never know for sure if you are going to get it undamaged and you have to wait up to a month. 

It was so cold going down to the library, that I decided to spend the rest of the day inside. With enough layers I should be fine but so be it. 

Got a DVD out of the library, about the 1971 burglary of the FBI files, which talked about the activist which broke into an FBI office in Meads, PA releasing previously undisclosed documents about federal spying on a wide variety of peace and progressive groups.

My previous post, shares some of my thoughts about the year that was and my hopes for next year. Besides making cookies and watching that movie that was my New Years Eve. 

In four weeks on January 28 the sun will be setting at 5:04 pm, which is 32 minutes later then tonight. In 2017 on that day, we had snow, cloudy skies and temperatures between 37 and 30 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 31 and 15 degrees. The record high of 56 degrees was set back in 1916.

Looking ahead, tommorow is New Years Day, National Hug Day is in 3 weeks, the Blue Moon is a month away, Winnie the Pooh Day is in 7 weeks and April Fools Day and Easter is in 13 weeks.

The End of 2017 is upon us. In a few more hours we will flip the year forward to 2018 and the calendars onwards of January. It’s been a frigid end to a year that in many ways has been disdainful for millions of Americans but at the same time, was one of a prosperous, growing economy while ominous clouds grow in the background.

Like the heavy smoker who insists that cough they have is nothing, at some point our excessive consumption of fossil fuels and energy more general is going to catch up with us. We can continue to ignore poverty, and hope it won’t come back to bite us. We can’t ignore fundamental economic laws,, turn our backs on the world, try to stimulate an already red hot economy. One year, of the mostly dreadful Trump administration is done. Maybe the President has put some balance in our government, reined in the worse excesses of the previous administration, but it’s hard to say much positive about a year where our President has acted far from presidential and deminished our nation’s stature.

Tonight is definately a bright moon lit evening, as the mercury drops well below zero and the occassional wind whips around. With the fresh snow, things are quite beautiful. If it hadn’t been so cold and snowy, I would have loved to ring the New Year in the wilderness, but with tonight’s weather that was not to be. I keep telling myself one of these years I’ll spend a New Years Eve under the stars, but so far this time of year has been much too cold and snowy. There will be a day, some day in the future, when I will have a cabin up in the woods, and I can be sitting next to the woodstove, enjoying a cold New Years Eve like tonight.

While not every adventure went perfectly, I definately got out and saw a lot of nice places. Much of the summer into the autumn was quite wet, and while precipation has slackened as autumn turned to winter, we still have a couple of inches of snow from Christmas Day that continues to linger in the cold. Maybe before we get too far into 2018, the weather will moderate to the point where I can have an adventure in the Adirondacks or even just local state forest. Maybe not the for next few days, but eventually I am sure this cold pattern will break.

At work and in life, I’ve been thinking so much about 2018 lately that it seems like it is already here. Plans are written for next year, and I’ve always started to think about April and summer vacation trips. Not to mention November 2018 trip to Western NY, or maybe even West Virigina? There are many more places to see in 2018, and I would like to see some new places, as in many ways I’m bored with the ordinary. Piseco-Powley Road and Moose Plains are great, but I’ve been going there forever. In many ways I’m bored with camping, I need new ways to spend my time and get new enjoyment out of the wilderness. Maybe I got to start trying to get some of my colleagues to go along, or join an outdoor club, or do something to shake things up. 

This past autumn I’ve become increasingly interested in the hobby of electronics and microcontrollers, and what one can build at home to make life better, creating carefully colored lighting for rest and relaxation, and hopefully early next year, a large LED-based display sign that can display pictures and messages. Electronics are a fascinating field, there are many inexpensive compnentss you can get from China to make all kinds of things. Having a better fundamental understanding of electricity will benefit me in the long run — it will help me reduce my energy bills for now — and eventually help me when I decide to transition to an off-grid life-style.

This past year, I’ve been following more Facebook groups on homesteading, farming, and the off-grid life. One thing I’ve come to a greater impression and knowledge of on these topics is how much learning, skill, practice and capital is needed to transform natural resources efficently into useful products. Most natural resources, like the sun are dispersed, raw, and unprocessed, it’s left up to us the human, to use science and carefully gained knowledge to turn nature into something useful. And just like an electronics project, without careful studying and planning, your bound for failure. You have to start small and simple, and even then realize you may run into complications, and what appears as a simple project at first can become quite capital intensive. Successful hunters spend months planning their hunt, they scope out wildlife with trail cameras and other natural signs. They invest in the right gear. The same is true with renewable energy, with off-grid living, with agriculture. Living in a fossil fuel society, where we can turn our lights on instantly by burning old dinasour bones, we’ve forgotten what really makes up the basis of society.

2017 was the year I really came to realize that old age isn’t guaranteed and that retirement isn’t all fun and games. Both of my parents in 2017 saw increasing health scares, both are having increased trouble with their hearts and eye sight. It seemed like months, even if it just was weeks, visting Mom in ICU after heart surgery this autumn. Disability creeps in, and there is no guarantee that the years after 65 or 70 will be years of wonderful leisure as put forward by many in the media. Maybe the rich who didn’t work hard enjoy a life of leisure well into their 80s or 90s, but that certainly isn’t guaranteed. I will miss Mom and Dad when that year comes, which hopefully won’t be 2018 but instead will have many years left to come of decent health. I tell you, I think I will take early retirement, as soon as that’s an option for me in the late 50s or early 60s, because those later years of leisure are certianly not guaranteed.

The West Virigina trip was definately the highlight of the year, although it definately was not as special as the trip two years ago, in part because the leaves weren’t nearly as a good, the weather was inferior, and I didn’t visit Shenandoah National Park or Spruce Mountain. I had that rattle in my truck that worried me throughout the trip (which turned out to be a $100 repair after the trip, that wasn’t a big deal). The Moose River Plains trip in late September with the mercury pushing 90 degrees was pretty nice, although the hot weather still couldn’t make the days any longer.

Summer vacation certainly was wet. Besides the rain and the big flood the first day camping, it was a fine trip despite the cool weather, clouds, and rain. The trip I took out to Erie, Penna to view the esclipe in bask in the sun one last time before summer was done was pretty great though. All the major holidays were either very wet or just quite wet. But I survived in the wilderness and drank some good beer and had some nice fires. I look forward to the days when I live somewhere I can have a fire every day I want.

All and all, I have to say 2017 came and went quicker then I ever anticipated. I got a lot done that I wanted to get done, but there is still more to learn, more to experience, more to develop to become. Lately I”ve gotten away from walking and hiking as much, and maybe eating less healthy foods, so that’s something I do need to change in New Year. But over all, I think it was a pretty good year.

As the wind howls around, on this very cold last evening of 2017, I have some peanut butter cookies in the oven baking away, to enjoy with a cold glass of milk. Probably soon I will retire to bed, and when I open my eyes tomorrow, it will be twenty-eighteen.

Google Maps: PA State Forests

This map shows the current lands that are part of the Pennsylvania State Forest system, operated by the Penna. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Each forest region is colored a different color. It is one of several types of public lands in Pennsylvania, including DCNR's State Park System, the Penna. Game Commission's State Game Lands, and the Allegheny National Forest. The state forest system is concentrated in the Pennsylvania Wilds Region of the state -- the north-central region of Pennsylvania.

BTF-LIGHTING WS2811 5m 16.4ft 60leds/pixels/m 300leds Flexible Addressable Led Strip Dream Color Non-waterproof DC12V

I had no idea that they made addressable LEDs that run on a 12 volt power supply. That is good, because I won't have to buy a 5 volt supply (at least right away), and it will be more energy efficient, as less loss to resistance.

Those LED strings can easily sop up 72 watts at full brightness, which is 14.5 amp at 5 VDC vs 6 amp at 12 VDC, the later allowing thinner wire with energy wasted.