2018 January 19

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Bash Bish Falls
Delmar, NY
NYS Census - Housing
NYS Census - Income
Rensselearville State Forest

January 2018
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Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.


It's those dang second graders who are ruining America.

"A class of second-graders is celebrating victory this Thanksgiving now that the state has agreed its highway signs should recall cooperation between Pilgrims and Indians rather than conflict."

"Bowing to the children's protests, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority said Wednesday it had commissioned a new logo to replace the road's present symbol of a Pilgrim hat with an Indian arrow shot through its middle.The redesign was spurred by teacher Barbara Skolnick Rothenberg's second-grade class who were studying Miles Standish and the other colonists who stepped onto Plymouth Rock in 1620."

Here are several future improvements I’m planning to make with my LED-Lighting Strips

1) Fix the Shutdown Glitch

Towards the end of coding my LED lamp driver, I added a fade in and fade out for the power button. While the effect is pretty, for some reason it doesn’t always properly read the off or on status, which means the lights will sometimes flash off then come back on, and vise versa. I was thinking originally it was a button bounce problem, but I think more likely it has to do with the way I’m recording the on/off mode based on brightness.

2) Add a Purple Light Mode

Right now, I can set the lights to a very red, warm white to a very blue cool white. But I don’t have an artsy purple mode, like is commonly used on buildings these days. I would like to be able to set the lights to purple. This is actually a pretty easy function to code in.

3) Add More Precision Between Warm White and Cold White in Moderate Ranges, around 2500-3200k

This is just a matter of adjusting a few lines of code, but I want more accurate then 100 kelvin change when using the channel up and down buttons when transitioning from a warmish soft-white to a warm white to a yellower light color.

4) Add a Timer Modes

I want to set the LED luminares to automatically start fading out at 10:30 PM each night, and then come back on a 7 AM each weekday morning, following a schedule. I’ve tried counting cycles to make the light come on eight hours later, but I’ve not had much luck at that. Automatically turning the lights on and off at a set time makes more sense.

I might also add a “night light” mode that would either use a photo-diode or just a timer based on the month to glow red a low out put in the evening after dark, so that when I come into my bedroom after dark, it’s not pitch black but still has a small amount of light output. At 5% output with just the red LEDs lit, it would make my bedroom not pitch black, but still only use a few watts or less of power.

These various timer functions would require a DS3221 Real Time Clock board or something similar. Fortunately, I just got four of them in the mail yesterday, so I will be able to move forward on several timer-clock type projects going forward.

5) Store Lighting Setting in the EPROM

Right now if the power goes out, due to be unplugged, the lighting setting automatically reset to default values. If I were to change complier keywords in the source code, I could store those variables in the EPROM, and they would be stored even after I unplugged the fixture. This also would help when the power goes out.

6) Add Warm White LEDs

If I want to improve color rendition and reduce wasted energy, I am going to have to swap out some of the Red-Blue-Green (RGB) LEDs for warm white strings. While it’s true that you can simulate any color you want with RGB LEDs, they have poor color rendition of any color besides red, green, or blue. Yellows, purples, and other colors just appear dull. The light level appears much lower then in reality, because your cones are sensing the color output of anything that is not a pure red blue or green. Eating food under these colored lights just looks bizzare.

To do this, I will have to add a fifth wire to my LED lumineres to provide power for a warm white channel, and then add another MOSFET to drive the LEDs. Then I will have to re-write my code to alter how much white light in comparison to the RGB colors. This would probably greatly increase the apparent light output, really improve the color of everything under the lighting, and just generally improve the usefulness of the project. But it’s a pretty big upgrade, and I don’t know where I would mount the fourth MOSFET on my already crowded circuit board.

When you read about the shortages of natural gas and delayed deliveries of propane and oil during the latest cold snap, ❄ you have to wonder why more New Yorkers 🏠 don’t choose to heat with anthracite or bituminous coal.

Coal has a lot of advantages for home heating. It’s relatively inexpensive and once a coal fire is built it lasts for a long time and puts out an intense heat. 🔥 Many coal stoves don’t require any electricity. Their mechanisms are simple and reliable. It’s like wood heat – only better. Sure it takes a little bit skill to start a coal fire and bank the coals, but once a coal stove is operating it can go for a day or longer with minimal work.

But probably the biggest advantage to coal is it is a secure fuel, like wood is, only with less work. You can have coal delivered to your house for the whole winter, and placed in a large pile. But if you have a pickup truck, you don’t have to have coal delivered. You can get a pickup truck load of coal from one of many coal retailers including many hardware stores and garden supply stores.🚚 You aren’t reliant on a single coal supplier to get your coal from if you haul your own coal.

Farming and rural areas more commonly use coal for heat, especially in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.🐮 You see lots of places selling coal there, ready to be purchased and hauled to your home or farm. Sure you can get coal delivered but the fact that you have the ability to shop around and haul your own coal home is a major advantage that people often overlook when choosing a heating fuel for their home.

If wood heat isn’t practical, I know that I would definitely look towards coal for heating a home.🌲 Coal is not renewable and its also a fossil fuel that emits carbon but so is oil, gas and propane. But unlike those other fossil fuels, coal can be stored on-site to provide a homeowner with heat throughout the winter, no matter how cold. Reliability and having a fuel supply you can haul with your own vehicle is a good thing to have in the bank. 🏦

A new theory for why Americans can’t get a raise.

"The paper—written by José Azar of IESE Business School at the University of Navarra, Ioana Marinescu of the University of Pennsylvania, and Marshall Steinbaum of the Roosevelt Institute—argues that, across different cities and different fields, hiring is concentrated among a relatively small number of businesses, which may have given managers the ability to keep wages lower than if there were more companies vying for talent. This is not the same as saying there are simply too many job hunters chasing too few openings—the paper, which is still in an early draft form, is designed to rule out that possibility. Instead, its authors argue that the labor market may be plagued by what economists call a monopsony problem, where a lack of competition among employers gives businesses outsize power over workers, including the ability to tamp down on pay. If the researchers are right, it could have important implications for how we think about antitrust, unions, and the minimum wage."

Why Do We Think Outhouses All Had Crescent Moons in Their Doors?

"The most commonly held theory, and the one you are most likely to find via a cursory Google search, posits that it was once the sign for a woman’s toilet. As the story goes, in the 1800s and earlier, literacy wasn’t widespread, so the common symbol used to differentiate between a men’s privy and a women’s was that the men’s door carried a sun or star symbol, while the women’s stalls were marked with a moon. According to the book Outhouses by Holly Bollinger, this cosmic dichotomy was devised based on ancient imagery. “With the crescent moon signifying Luna or Goddess Diana it became known as a feminine symbol, therefore welcoming womenfolk,” Bollinger writes. This might seem like a lofty reading of bathroom symbolism, but the moon has long been associated with a female aspect, and it’s not unreasonable to think that this would have been general knowledge."

"So how did the women’s room symbol come to represent all outhouses? Bollinger’s book goes on to suggest that men’s outhouses were not as well kept up, so eventually, to conserve resources and labor, male stalls were taken down, and the remaining moon-doored stalls became a symbol of unisex bathrooms, and outhouses in general. One version of this theory, shared in the 1989 book The Vanishing American Outhouse (as quoted by The Straight Dope) says that it was during the mid-1800s that the general public forgot the original meaning behind the moons, and just began seeing them as the symbol for an outhouse."


As long as they don't turn off the Census Bureau website it doesn't really effect me. Last time they shut down the government, I camped in the Finger Lakes National Forest in October 2013, and nobody cared -- a NY state game warden drove by and didn't even stop.