2018 January 22

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Albany County
Bethlehem, New York
Delmar, NY
Delmar, New York
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
John Boyd Thacher State Park
Mary Smith Hill
Rural Freedom

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

Bethlehem Energy Center, Monthly Output

The Bethlehem Energy Center is operating closer to name plate capacity in recent years. Data prior to March 2005 reflects the output of the Albany Steam Station, which was the power plant previously located on this site.

Location: Bethlehem, NY
MW: 757
Fuel: Natural Gas (Low Sulfur Distillate Oil As Secondary)
Technology: Combined-Cycle
Commercial Operation: 2005
Market: Load following

Data Source: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/#/topic/1?agg=2,0,1&fuel=vvg&geo=0002&sec=g&freq=M&datecode=201611&rtype=s&pin=&rse=0&maptype=0&ltype=pin&ctype=linechart&end=201611&start=200101

My idea of off-grid homeownership would be closer to camping then modern suburbanite living. My home of the future would be like camping, but with more insulation and better protection from the elements during the winter months and severe weather like heavy rain storms and snow. Having a reliable, relatively clean and non-smelly source of heat (e.g. not a smoky campfire that makes your clothes stink)  like a wood stove or coal stove would be important for the cold winter months, a hot shower to get clean, and a refrigerator/freezer to keep cold meat and beer is important too. Running water, at least stored water that is electrically pumped, probably is a good thing too. If I have to purify it before drinking, it’s a not a big deal.

But other then that, I can hardly imagine having much more modern technology then what I already use for camping. I don’t have a problem with composting toilets, building a fire, burning my trash, conserving electricity by using LEDs and low voltage USB powered devices, cooking on a camp stove and Coleman oven. I don’t mind having to purify water or doing some of the dirty work of life like stirring humanure. Having a microwave and waffle iron is somewhat handy in my apartment, but it’s hardly a show stopper to live without. I don’t own a television and I don’t have Internet at home. I do like the idea of building my own small, energy efficient electronics and low-voltage lighting, to automate my house, and provided carefully controlled light output, as efficiently as possible. Just because you have to conserve energy, doesn’t mean you can’t use energy-efficient LEDs controlled by a microprocessor and build displays to tell you about battery voltage and other details, like with my Max7219 projects I’m currently working on.

Trump imposes 30 percent tariff on solar panel imports

Trade wars and tariffs are stupid. Lyndon Johnson's Chicken Tax did not help either US Farmers or Detroit Automakers. Detroit's lack of competition in the truck and SUV market hurt it in the long run.

If the US decides to tax Chinese solar panels, China will probably tax American cars (Chinese love to drive Buicks) or American coal (China is a big importer) or maybe American beef or grain. That's how tit for tat works.

In 2017, in a global economy we should be knocking down economic barriers and tearing down walls not building them up. Trade, not protectionism creates jobs. Capitalism means the destruction of uncompetitive firms with those with better ideas.

Albany County Municipalities – Percent Population Change, 1970-2015

This graph shows the percent population change by decade in each decade, from 1970s to 2010s. As you can see in the past five years the population changes have been fairly minimal in our county, but in the 1970s there were big changes -- especially in the Village of Green Island, which literally saw 1/5th of the village demolished to build the Collar City Bridge into Troy. Albany was still losing population in 1970s from the South Mall Construction, along with rising crime rates downtown. State government is not growing, so it's unlikely to see much of a population boom in our county in the foreseeable future, and indeed as more people move to warmer climates and larger metropolitan areas, Albany County may eventually start losing population in future decades.

Data Source: Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 11.0 [Database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. 2016. http://doi.org/10.18128/D050.V11.0.

Good evening! Light rain☔ and 35 degrees in Delmar, NY. Calm wind. It’s my final Monday evening commute as somebody who is 34. Feeling better this evening but still a bit achy and tired. Maybe it’s Monday sickness. I fell on ice while taking down camp on Sunday, I’m hoping I’m just recovering from the fall and I’m not getting sick again. 

I got out of work at 5:30 and are taking home the bus, listening to Simon and Garfunkel, as the evening commute grinds along. It’s raining, a light rain, but not that hard on the window panes looking out the window at the streetscape. 💧

Tonight will rain, mainly after 4am. Areas of fog after 7pm. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low of 35 degrees at 6pm. ☔21 degrees above normal. East wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. In 2017, we had cloudy skies. It got down to 32 degrees. The record low of -20 occurred back in 1970.

Tonight will have a Waxing Crescent Moon with 32% illuminated with the moon setting at 10:35 pm. The moon will rise tomorrow at 10:48 am. The First Quarter Moon will be tomorrow with partly cloudy skies. The Wolf Moon is on Tuesday, January 30th.🌕 The sun will rise at 7:17 am with the first light at 6:47 am, which is 45 seconds earlier than yesterday. Tonight will have 14 hours and 20 minutes of darkness, a decrease of 2 minutes and 2 seconds over last night.

Tomorrow will rain before noon, then showers,☔💧☔ mainly after noon. The rain could be heavy at times. High of 50 degrees at 2pm. 19 degrees above normal. South wind 6 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible. A year ago, we had mist in the morning, remaining cloudy in the afternoon. The high last year was 39 degrees. The record high of 64 was set in 1906. 10.6 inches of snow fell back in 1963.

Right now, a split verdict on the weekend. Saturday, partly sunny, with a high near 44. 🌞Sunday, rain and snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. ☁Chance of precipitation is 60%. Typical average high for the weekend is 31 degrees.

Saturday is the Save the Pine Bush hike which I am leading. Lynne Jackson was supposed to lead it but she is sick. So I’ll be the leader. Toying about tent or truck cap camping in Schoharie County next weekend as the snow will be gone and it will be mild and sunny next weekend but I don’t know. I kind of want to stay home and work on my electronics projects.

I am really interested to see if I can build decent looking acrylic boxes for my LED matrix sign because if I can it will be the basis for many future projects. I’ll use the Arduino, a date module the LED Matrix plus a few colors LEDs to make a beautiful display with all kinds of timers and countdowns. I’m holding off buying future components until I figure out how to build the clear or colored acrylic boxes to hold them. 

Next week on Monday I’ll be 35. 🎂Really not a big deal but only 20 more until I turn 55. If I stay with the state that long, I may retire then. I’m not convinced a late retirement is worth the extra money. I’m trying to save whatever I can afford for retirement. It’s tough. 💰But who knows, that’s a long time away. Although honestly after app these years, time goes by quickly. When you do basically the same thing day after day, it’s all starts to become a blur. 

At some point the future became the present. It’s remarkable how fast the seasons come and go, 🌆and I could definitely use the warm and long days of summer. Camping this past weekend at Cole Hill State Forest was nice⛺ but nothing like those wonderful summer nights to come. I did love listening to the howls of the coyotes, the bellowing of the cows, 🐄and barred owl. But I still prefer those long summer nights. I like truck cap camping with the lights and being able to stay up late and not feel cold. Those days will be here before you know it. Even four weeks out from tonight the weather will have started to moderate, especially with climate change making winters ❄less harsh than they used to be. I really want summer to be back so that I can go truck cap camping along Piseco Powley Road. 

Discovered after washing that another of my Sears shirts was damaged by bleach.😯 I don’t know where the bleach is coming from, maybe it’s actually the rags with floor cleaner or bleach for the counters although I usually try to rinse them before washing. Unfortunately Sears locally is no more, I’ll have to research what I can get online or at JC Penny. I do really like those Sears shirt. 👕Also my dress shoes are getting beat up from the salt and some of the facing material has pealed off. The soles are worn, making them slippery on ice and water. I was thinking of replacing them but first I think I will buy some shoe polish to see if I can stretch a few more months out of them.👞 I hate to waste them, and money is always a problem. While I donate my worn clothing and shoes to the local recycling bin, you have to wonder how much is actually recycled. ♻

When I get home this evening, I’m going to reheat some food in the freezer🍛 then start to play with with the date boards that were delivered last week.:D I don’t know if I will build a clock display tonight⏰📙 but I may very well get the time set up on one and play with the various library features. 

In four weeks on February 19 the sun will be setting at 5:33 pm,🕤 which is 36 minutes and 29 seconds later then tonight. In 2017 on that day, we had mostly sunny skies and temperatures between 52 and 31 degrees.☀ Typically, you have temperatures between 36 and 18 degrees. The record high of 66 degrees was set back in 1981.

Looking ahead, My 35th Birthday is in 1 week, Presidents Day is in 4 weeks, Memorial Day is in 18 weeks, Labor Day is in 32 weeks and Columbus Day is in 37 weeks.

🍻Only 122 days remain until the start of Memorial Day Weekend!🍣

As an electronics hobbyist, Amazon and eBay are a great source of low-cost electronics components.⚡ While they aren’t instantly delivered to your mailbox or door, especially not having AmazonPrime, there is a lot of selection and they are low-cost.📬

But what does bother me about these services is how much non-recyclable packaging ♻they contain. Electronic components are particularly bad, they often come packed a tyveck envelope, wrapped in bubble wrap, then in an anti-static bag – all of which is pretty much garbage.🗑I get the need to protect sensitive components in the mail, but sometimes the amount of packaging you get is unbelievable.📦

About three weeks ago, I ordered some LED aluminum channel from Amazon. It was a good price, but it came in an enormous box, which inside was another box, and then the product packed in shrink wrap and foam paper.🎁 I understand the need for the foam paper, and maybe inner box, but the big outer box seemed like such a waste. At least that can be recycled.🚮

Both major online retailers rarely package things in Styrofoam peanuts these days, preferring to use air-filled plastic bags instead. They are easy to pop and reduce down to little waste. But there are still too much that comes in tyveck envelopes, too much that comes in bubble wrap.😡 I don’t have trash pickup, so I have haul all that crap to transfer station and pay to get rid of it, and know it will sit in a landfill forever. It’s annoying.💩