New York State Museum

The New York State Museum is a research-backed institution in Albany, New York, United States. It is located on Madison Avenue, attached to the south side of the Empire State Plaza, facing onto the plaza and towards the New York State Capitol.

The museum houses art, artifacts (prehistoric and historic), and ecofacts that reflect New York’s cultural, natural, and geological development. Operated by the New York State Education Department's Office of Cultural Education, it is the nation's oldest and largest state museum.

Formerly located in the State Education Building, the museum now occupies the first four floors of the Cultural Education Center, a ten story, 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m) building that also houses the New York State Archives and New York State Library.

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New York State
Albany County
Albany, NY
Empire State Plaza
Legislative Office Building
New York State Museum

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Lately there have been a lot of discussion on why New York State is such a high tax state compared to others, and why our state gets relatively little back in funding compared to other states.

The common refrains are that New York is a liberal state, so we invest a lot more in human services, healthcare, welfare and education. That is true to a certain extent. But it’s also not totally true either. Red states actually have a lot better public services then many blue staters want to believe. Another common refrain is that New York is a wealthy state, so we aren’t eligible for nearly the same amount of transfer payments are poorer states. That is also true, although New York also has plenty of pockets of poverty — but we are also the financial capital of the world and home to our nation’s biggest city. Some say corruption is worse in New York then other states. I’m a bit skeptical on that point, I think there are more watch dogs on government then other states — being a such a big state with well funded newspapers. Are Albany politicians really going to pull a fast one over on the New York Times and New York Post at the same time?

But there is another truth that is often ignored. New York often rejects a lot of federal funding. While contemporary reasons for rejecting federal funding may be ideological in nature, the original reason our state rejected federal funding was we chose to be out in front of the federal government — on canals, on highways, on parks, on forests, etc. New York chose to build a lot of it’s infrastructure without federal funding, because we built before the funding was avaliable. Being out front is good, but sometimes it’s really costly to taxpayers.

The New York State Thruway is a prime example of this. Why do people pay tolls to drive on the Thruway, while most other highways are free in New York? Because in early 1950s, the legislature decided our state needed a superhighway. Rather then wait to see if federal funding would become avaliable to build the highway, we decided to do it on our own. A cost bourne 100% by New York taxpayers. While the Adirondack Northway recieved 90% of it’s funding from the federal gas tax, the Thruway recieved 0% of it’s funding from the federal gas tax.

Now could the state have removed the toll booths and recieved federal funding for the highway for maintaince? Possiblity but not likely. The federal interstate act did not allow for grandfathering in existing routes, although some free routes did get upgrades to interstate standards under the act. Rather then eliminate the tolls and seek federal funding for the Thruway, our state has chosen to pay fror it upkeep 100% from state funding, namely tolls but also general fund revenue. If we made it eligable for federal funding, New York would also have to pick up the difference between federal funding and state funding, and it’s not always easy to find extra funding in the gas tax.

We are in the same boat with many of our state’s bridges and tunnels. Could the state have waited a few years and got funding for free crossing over the Hudson River and the New York City metropolitian crossings? Probably yes, as most of the Western States have no tolls, even on their biggest Interstate Bridges. Our state certainly could have gotten 50% of the cost of building and maintaining back on the Hudson River crossings, and 90% in some cases. But we chose to build them before federal funding was avaliable. Now we are stuck with the clunky Bridge Authorities and Triborough Authority, which pays 100% of the bridge expenses through local tolls. Even if we eliminated the tolls, it”s not clear we cold get federal funding at this point. Nor is it clear if we would want to — by refusing federal funding — our state has the “freedom” to set whatever standards it wants on the bridges, including advertising and geometery. Federal highway standards don’t apply to non-federally funded roads.

The federal government maintains locks and canals on most rivers. Our state doesn’t get to take advantage of federal maintaince to our canals. We have the Erie Canal, which is entirely paid again by state taxpayers and those who traverse the canal. We talk about Clinton’s Ditch as being a great advance for our state. It certainly was at it’s time. But we could have had the federal government build it for us had we waited a few years — and put up with the federal government’s dicates. Certainly the Army Corp or Engineers maintains a lot of the nation’s canals. But not in New York. We chose once again to go it alone on our canal system.

One could have imagined that New York City could have gotten the federal government to finance their drinking water reserviors, had that waited a little while longer, and been willing to put up with creation of a federal public authority like the Tennessee Valley Authority. Maybe New York City’s drinking water reserviors would have not only produced clean water, but also greater recreational opporunities and more hydropower had the federal government, not the city built them. But no, our state had go out in front of the federal government — a cost picked up federal government in other states.

No state in America has as big of a state operated wild forest or wilderness as New York does. That’s not saying other states don’t have great public lands that are a mixature of managed forest and wilderness, operated by the federal government. The Adirondack Park is tiny compared to some of the National Forests and Bureau of Public Lands out west. Other states also have developed parks and recreation areas, but many of them are funded and directly operated by the federal government. But not New York, bar a few small historic battle sites, and the relatively small Finger Lakes National Forest. Why not? Our state got out ahead of federal funding and furthermore rejected federal operation of our Adirondack and Catskill Parks.

New York State certainly could have been home to the Adirondack National Forest or the Adirondack National Park. But no, our state rejected that idea off-hand. Vermont decided to protect it’s wild upcountry and mountains with the Green Mountain National Forest, but not New York. Our state once again got out ahead of the federal government, and rather then create a managed forest, we were stuck in the mid-1800s line of thought that all logging was bad and we could only preserve the land by banning all timber cutting for any purposes.

By rejecting creation of a Adirondack National Forest or National Park, our state once again passed up on billions of federal funding. Rather then have the federal government pay for maintaining roads, parking areas, campsites and trails in Adirondack, New York taxpayers are 100% on the hook. The Green Mountain National Forest in contrast has federally funded forest rangers, federally funded maps and recreational facilities, federally funded campgrounds and much more. Instead, our state has chosen to take up this cost because we wanted ideological control over the land — rather let distant Washington politicians decide how to maintain the lands.

There is somewhat a myth that red states have awful public services, while blue states have a much better government. While blue states like New York are often on the cutting edge, getting out on cutting edge before the federal government means New York residents pay dearly. Forgoing federal funds by getting a decade out ahead of other states might have some short term advantages, but it often means our state residents ends up paying for a lot of other things that federal government would have otherwise paid for in coming years.

Good morning! 15 days until New Years Eve! Three weeks to Epiphany. Mostly sunny and six degrees in Albany. See we are warming up. There is a west breeze at 6 mph. The windchill isn’t that significant now and with the sun feels quite nice. 

The ravioli is baked and ready to go, sitting on my lap nice and warm. It was a lot of cooking this morning but it took the chill off my apartment. Four cheeses on meat ravioli with breadcrumbs, meatballs, corn, mushrooms, jalapeños and sauce. Should be good. I accidentally made up too much ravioli but I refroze that. 

Today will be mostly sunny, with a high of 18 degrees at 4pm. 18 degrees below normal. Wind chill values as low as -4. West wind around 6 mph becoming south in the afternoon. A year ago, we had mostly cloudy skies and a high of 46 degrees. The record high of 55 was set in 1971. 9.5 inches of snow fell back in 1981.

The sun will set at 4:22 pm with dusk around 4:55 pm, which is 19 seconds later than yesterday. Today will have 9 hours and 3 minutes of daylight, a decrease of 20 seconds over yesterday. Next week we throw that in reverse! 

Tonight will snow after 10pm. Low of 17 degrees at 6pm. Not as cold. Five degrees rbelow normal. South wind 6 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible. Warming through Sunday, turning to rain in the afternoon. Rain on Sunday. 

Last year tonight in 2015, it got down to 44 degrees with periods of fog and rain. The record low of -8 occurred back in 1942.
As previously noted, there are 3 weeks until Epiphany when the sun will be setting at 4:37 pm with dusk at 5:09 pm. On that day in 2016, we had mostly sunny skies and temperatures between 34 and 5 degrees. Typically, the high temperature is 31 degrees. We hit a record high of 71 back in 2007.

Good morning! Talk about a cold late autumn morning with temperatures around three above but quite clear. There is a northwest breeze at 8 mph. Math wizards would tell you that the current wind chill is -11.

Next Wednesday is the first day of Winter. 

Today will be mostly sunny, with a high of 18 degrees at 4pm. 18 degrees below normal. Wind chill values as low as -11. Northwest wind 6 to 8 mph becoming south in the afternoon. 

Good evening! Light snow and 17 degrees in Albany. There is a west breeze at 11 mph. The current wind chill is 4. The roads are mostly just wet but watch for a glaze on bridges and the secondaries. 

Not having a winter coat yet, I am totally undressed for the weather. But between my smartphone giving me real time bus info and running out just im time for the bus, I’ve been fine. Of course if the bus slides off the road and I’m stuck in the cold, I’ll be screwed. But the hot seat on the bus is fine tonight. I like stretching out on it because the 5 pm is less popular than earlier busses. 

Tonight will have on and off snow showers. Cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low of 4 degrees at 5am. 17 degrees below normal. In other words, cold arctic blast like.  Wind chill values as low as -13. Windy, with a northwest wind 24 to 29 mph decreasing to 11 to 16 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 48 mph. Fast enough that they can give it a speeding ticket on the Delaware Turnpike. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. 

In 2015, it got down to 35 degrees under mostly cloudy skies. More than thirty degrees warmer. But nowhere near record breaking cold. The record low of -11 occurred back in 1917. The sun will rise at 7:19 am with the first light at 6:47 am, which is 42 seconds later then yesterday.

Traffic is all backed up going northbound but is moving well southbound on the old 787. Assuming that the roads aren’t bad in the suburbs, I should get home relatively quickly. 

Tonight I got to get to the store and buy pasta to make the dish for tomorrow holiday potluck at work. I’m not that worried about the roads because I live in the store a few miles from the grocery. After rush hour, there shouldn’t be much traffic. Cleaned off the truck earlier in the week.  

Looking ahead, Obama’s Last Day is in 5 weeks, Ground Hog Day is in 7 weeks, Ides of March is in 3 months and Start of June is in 24 weeks. I think I’m most states in America you can get pregnant tonight and still get a legal abortion before the start of June. In other words, June is a long ways off. 

Good evening! Happy Friday. Currently 28 degrees but with that breeze it feels more like 17 degrees. Definitely a cool evening. I grabbed the hot seat on the bus intentionally. 

Tonight we have a Waxing Gibbous Moon to the east in between the clouds. Partly to Mostly Cloudy tonight with a low around 20. Or maybe a bit less, we will see. 

Tomorrow will be cold. Looking only at high of 32 degrees with plenty of sun. The wind chill with that wind whipping around will make it feel much colder. Sunrise tomorrow is at 7:14 pm. 

The express bus was running about five minutes late but traffic is light so we are making up time. I was worried that the bus was late because it wasn’t in the GPS system. 

Staying in town this weekend. Probably just stay mostly indoors in the cold. I do need to get a battery for the remote control for the DTV adapter box. Well I’ll see. 

Good evening! Mostly cloudy and 46 degrees in Albany. There is a west breeze at 10 mph. A bit chilly with that breeze this evening. The skies will clear Saturday around 11 pm.

Lately I’ve gotten into listening to the Guess Who, that early 70s Canadian soft rock  band most famous for American Women. I hadn’t heard She’s Come Undun in almost a decade but then I heard it ON XM Radio’s free preview and I got hooked on it.

Tonight will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 36 degrees at 6am. Nine degrees above normal. West wind 6 to 10 mph. In 2015, it got down to 41 degrees with periods of rain. The record low of -2 occurred back in 1875.

Look towards the west for beautiful  the Waxing Crescent Moon tonight with 17% illuminated. At times it will be hidden by clouds. The moon will set around 8:30 pm. The First Quarter Moon is on Tuesday night with a chance of rain orsnow expected. The Full “Cold” Moon is on Wednesday, December 14th.

Another evening in soon to be Donald Trump’s America. All I can say is that the bus is running on time, and traffic wasn’t that bad. I really should go to Sears tonight but I really don’t feel like going anywhere tonight.

“Too many mountains and not enough stairs to climb / Too many churches and not enough truth / Too many people and not enough eyes to see / Too many lives to lead and not enough time” – She’s Come Undun, The Guess Who

Tomorrow will have a slight chance of showers after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high of 47 degrees at 1pm. Six degrees above normal. West wind 6 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. A year ago, we had rain and a high of 50 degrees. The record high of 66 was set in 1998. 6.2 inches of snow fell back in 1949.

Looking colder and generally nastier for Saturday but Sunday still looks nice if I don’t get stuck in the office. Much like most of America.  Saturday, a slight chance of rain and snow showers before 10am, then a slight chance of rain showers between 10am and 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. Northwest wind 10 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Sunday, mostly sunny, with a high near 40.Typical average high for the weekend is 41 degrees. I’m increasingly looking at staying in town this weekend because I think Saturday could be cold in the wilderness, even if it is snow free. I’ll make a decision tomorrow. I might have to go into the office on Sunday. On the other hand, it might be nice to get away before it gets super frigid outside with the blast of cold air certainly on its way.

In four weeks on December 29 the sun will be setting at 4:30 pm, which is 8 minutes later then tonight. In 2015 on that day, we had rain, snow and temperatures between 35 and 24 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 32 and 17 degrees. The record high of 71 degrees was set back in 1984. It must have been nice on that late December day to get up to 71. I’ll have to check the record book to see see if it was sunny on that warm day a few days before 1985 rolled around.

After doing extensive research I found that the problem I was having with my PyQGIS script is that the SIP module that ships with Python 2.7 is broken and not properly allowing methods to be called through their parents. Nothing I can do to easily fix it unless I want to re-compile Python 2.5 and QGIS. For now, I’m just going to disable the problematic code.