Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Local Winter Athletes Competition Update

The second weekend of the New Year (January 6-9) saw some pretty strong results from area athletes competing internationally.

Alpine Skiing

Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tommy Beisemeyer (Keene, N.Y.): Weibrecht spent some time home, in Lake Placid, and returns to the World Cup circuit this weekend. Beisemeyer raced in Saturday’s FIS World Cup giant slalom, held in Adelboden, Switzerland and did not finish.

Biathlon

Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.): The IBU World Cup tour visited Oberhof, Germany over the weekend. In Saturday’s 10 km sprint, Burke was 36th, while Bailey finished the race in 45th position. The two, along with Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) and Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.), helped the U.S. squad to an 11th place showing in Thursday’s, Jan. 5, 4×7.5 km relay. The weekend wrapped up with the 15 km race… Bailey was 11th and Burke did not race. Cook did not race.

Bobsled

John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.): Heavy snow delayed the start of Saturday’s FIBT World Cup two-man bobsled race for two hours and poor visibility forced officials to cancel the race’s second run. Napier finished 17th in the one-heat race. In Sunday’s four-man race, Napier drove his sled to a 16th place result.

Luge

Chris Mazdzer (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), Emily Sweeney (Suffield, Conn.): Mazdzer made his FIL World Cup debut Friday in Koenigssee, Germany. The 2010 Olympian finished 21st in the men’s singles race. He helped USA Luge to a fifth place showing in the team relay. Sweeney did not qualify for the women’s singles race after suffering a spill in Nations Cup qualifying.

Nordic Combined

Bill Demong (Vermontville, N.Y.): Demong competed in Oberstdorf, Germany where he helped anchor Team USA to a fifth place finish in Saturday’s HS137/4×5 km team competition. In Sunday’s FIS Nordic Combined World Cup individual event, the reigning Olympic champion placed 14th.

Ski Jumping

Peter Frenette (Saranac Lake, N.Y.): Frenette did not compete in last weekend’s FIS Continental Cup event in Kranj, Slovenia. That event was canceled.

Photo: John Napier.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adirondack Climate Change: Rainfall Trends

A significant part of climate is precipitation, and fundamental to any discussion on the impact that global warming is having on a region’s climate would have to include possible changes to the rain and snowfall patterns. While unusually prolonged periods of precipitation can turn a backcountry camping trip into a nightmare, discourage golfers, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts, and frustrate anyone trying to put a new roof on his/her home, or a coat of stain on the deck, too much rainfall, especially concentrated over a short span of time, can wreak havoc with the environment. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sandy Hildreth Visits The View’s Photo Exhibit

On my way through the Adirondacks, while traveling for the holidays, I stopped at View, the Arts Center in Old Forge, to see “Adirondack View Finders: Farb, Battaglia, Bowie, Heilman”. As I walked through the galleries of photos I kept waiting for one to jump out at me – to say “hey, this is new and different – look at me” and it wasn’t happening.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an outstanding exhibition of photographs. Nathan Farb’s work can take your breath away with the incredible details. Nancie Battaglia is exhibiting some striking sepia tone images. Mark Bowie has some low light nighttime exposures with amazing results and Carl Heilman’s panoramas pull you into the space so much you feel like you are right there with him on a mountain summit. All good – but all things I had seen before.

In adjoining galleries there are additional photographs: “Emerging Views,” featuring works by Johnathan A Esper – who sometimes climbs up big white pines to get some wonderful panoramic views; Leslie Dixon and Clark Lubbs, both of whom are showing lovely, intimate views of the natural world.

Finally, there are photos from an exhibit called “Teacher’s Turn: Instructors from the Adirondack Photography Institute.” Another batch of terrific images from Eric Dresser, Joe LeFevre, John Radigan and Carl Rubino. Here is where my inner spirit was moved. We’ve all seen cute bear cub photos, or monster buck images that make you wonder if the photographer was shooting animals contained on a game preserve. Eric Dresser’s photos seem to just take you to the place – you feel like you were stepping softly through the forest and chanced upon these animals without disturbing them. Not overly cute, nor dramatic, just a beautifully composed, captured moments in the life of wild creatures.

However the photos that made me stop and walk back to look at them again were some relatively small images perhaps in the 12×18” size, by John Radigan. Not dramatic, nor extreme in detail or view, but subtle, soft painterly moments in time. In fact they looked more like paintings than photographs – printed on lovely paper with torn edges. I thought they were something like polaroid transfer prints, but after contacting the artist, he explained that “the series of images for the View exhibit were made using an Epson archival inkjet printer on watercolor stock. The image edges were made manually using Photoshop to approximate edge effects like an acid burn, etc. The paper edges are hand torn. The images themselves were captured using various in-camera techniques such as multi-exposure, long exposure blur and image overlay. No computer tricks were used.”

This photography exhibit is definitely worth seeing for it’s breadth, depth, and excellence. And if the opportunity to wander through the Adirondacks via the captured images of all these photographers is not enough, then consider the sixty-eight pieces of native stone sculptures tastefully placed throughout the galleries by Keene Valley artist Matt Horner. Soft, organic forms of hard Adirondack rock! A final bonus is a slide show in an adjoining gallery of Nathan Farb’s striking images of the devastation of Hurricane Irene. Worth seeing as a reminder of the awesome power of nature. The overwhelming response to this natural disaster cleaned things up so quickly it’s easy to forget how bad it really was.

These exhibits will be on display until January 29 at View in Old Forge. Correction: “Adirondack Viewfinders” will remain on exhibit until March 3. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 – 4, Friday and Saturday from 10 – 5, and Sunday from noon to 4 pm. Admission is $10/$5 for members. 315-369-6411.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Astronomy: The January Night Sky

Here are some objects for the unaided eye for the month of January. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your unaided eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. If you aren’t in a dark sky location you may still be able to see these objects with a pair of binoculars or telescope. Snow will add more light pollution due to light reflecting off of it.

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at Skymaps.com (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for January 2012). The map shows what is in the sky in January at 8 pm for early January; 7 pm for late January.

If you are not familiar with what you see in the night sky, this is a great opportunity to step outside, look up, and begin learning the constellations. The sky is beautiful and filled with many treasures just waiting for you to discover them. Once you have looked for these objects go through the list again if you have a pair of binoculars handy, the views get better!

New note: Measuring Degrees with your hands, proportionally works for people of all ages. With your arm fully extended out:

Width of your pinky finger is 1°
Width of your ring, middle, and index finger equals 5°
Width of your fist equals 10°
Width from tip to tip of index finger and pinky finger stretched out equals 15°
Width from tip to tip of your thumb and pinky finger stretched out equals 25°

The Moon
January 8th Full Moon

January 10th The Moon is near a cluster of stars in the constellation Cancer known as the Beehive cluster.

January 14th The Moon south of Mars, about 9°.

January 16th Is the Last Quarter Moon below Saturn and the star Spica.

January 23rd Is the New Moon, great night if clear to go out and learn some constellations and do some star gazing.

January 26th The thin crescent Moon will be about 6° from Venus after sunset in the West.

January 30th The Moon will be 6° above the planet Jupiter.

Mercury
Mercury rises 90 minutes before sunrise in the southeast and will be about 9° above the horizon. Don’t confuse Mercury with the ruddy glow of the star Antares. Mercury may be quite tough to spot with the twilight glow, but if you’re up early enough in the morning it worth giving a look to see if you can spot the innermost planet. Every day Mercury will get closer to the horizon, disappearing by the middle of January.

Venus
Venus can be found in the southwest just after sunset all throughout the month of January about 15° above the horizon.

Mars
Mars rises after 10pm in the constellation Leo, and nearly 2 hours earlier by the end of the month.
Mars will move into the constellation Virgo by January 14th as it moves slowly eastward in our sky. By January 24th the eastward motion of Mars will come to a halt as the red planet then switches direction and makes it way back into the constellation Leo by the first week of February.
Throughout the month of January Mars will actually double in brightness going from a magnitude 0.2 to -0.5 as we get ever closer to Mars in our orbit. Do not be fooled by any e-mails you may get about Mars being as big as the Moon in the sky, it is a hoax, Mars will never be that large from Earth.

Jupiter
Jupiter will be some 60° above the southern horizon at nightfall shining at a magnitude of -2.5 and will be setting 4 minutes earlier each day as we go through the month of January.

Saturn
Starting to come up a little earlier, Saturn will be visible in the East around 1:30am within the constellation Virgo at about 6° east-northeast from the constellations brightest star Spica.

Orion
The constellation Orion can be seen rising in the East after sunset. This is one of the most well known constellations and within it is one of astronomers favorite nebula; M42 also called the Great Nebula in Orion. If you are in a dark enough location you may be able to see this nebula with the unaided eye. Look for Orion’s belt and look for the 3 stars that are perpendicular to the belt. The middle star in this group of 3 is actually a small cluster of stars within a nebula of dust and debris. This can be seen as a small hazy glow around this middle star.

Andromeda
To the East of the square of Pegasus, attached to it in most drawings of the constellations, is the constellation Andromeda. If you find the bright star Mirach and follow the chain of 3 stars to the North it will bring you to the Andromeda galaxy in clear dark skies.

Triangulum
The constellation Triangulum is to the South of Andromeda. Made up of only 3 stars forming a triangle shape.

Pleiades
A great grouping of stars in the constellation of Taurus the Bull. Looking at it has always reminded me of a smaller version of the little dipper. In dark locations you can see anywhere from 5-7 and possibly a few more stars in this grouping. It has also been called the seven sisters and is actually a Messier object, number 45. These are very hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. This grouping of stars has quite a bit of history in mythology. It rises about 45 minutes earlier than Orion in the East.

Perseus
The Double Cluster, cataloged as NGC 869 and NGC 884 is a beautiful cluster that shows quite a group of stars with the unaided eye which appear faint and fuzzy.
Look for a grouping of stars around the brightest star in Perseus, Mirphak.

Ursa Major
Rising in the North-Northeast after sunset. Mizar and Alcor is a double star in the handle of the Big Dipper. Was once used as a test of good eyesight before glasses. Mizar resolves into a beautiful blue-white and greenish white binary (double star system). They are labeled on the map I linked to above.

Photo Above: Image of the double cluster in Perseus. Taken by Michael Rector.

Michael Rector is an amateur astronomer with his own blog, Adirondack Astronomy.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Phil Brown: Do Dams Belong in Wilderness Areas?

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has decided against rebuilding the dam at Duck Hole, but the future of Marcy Dam in the High Peaks Wilderness remains up in the air.

The decision won’t be made until after engineers inspect the dam, and it will be based in part on the condition of the dam and how much it would cost to fix it.

Aside from these practical considerations, there is a philosophical question: do dams belong in Wilderness Areas at all?

In the January/February issue of the Adirondack Explorer, I report that there are at least four other dams in Wilderness Areas: at Lake Colden and Henderson Lake in the High Peaks Wilderness, at Cedar Lakes in the West Canada Lake Wilderness, and at Pharaoh Lake in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. That was based on DEC’s inventory of dams in the Forest Preserve, but there may be more. For example, someone e-mailed me recently that there is a dam at Moose Pond in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness.

The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan defines a Wilderness Area as a region “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.” The document forbids the construction of new dams but does permit existing dams to be rebuilt with natural materials.

A DEC policy manual seems to take a stronger position against dams in Wilderness Areas, asserting that in most cases they should be removed when they become unsafe or need to be replaced or reconstructed. Nevertheless, policy provides several loopholes for keeping a dam, such as maintaining a fishery, preserving a view, or providing recreation.

The view of the surrounding mountains from Marcy Dam is one of the iconic vistas in the Adirondacks. Clearly, DEC could justify rebuilding the dam under its policy. But should it?

Christopher Amato, who until recently had been DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources, contends that no dams should be rebuilt in Wilderness Areas.

“Either you be true to the definition of Wilderness and not rebuild the dam or if the dam is that important you reclassify the area as something else,” Amato told the Adirondack Explorer.

But Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, told the Explorer that he thinks Marcy Dam should be repaired. “For many New Yorkers, that classic beauty at Marcy Dam is their Adirondacks,” he said. “It serves so many New Yorkers that I feel it is justified.”

Regardless of whether DEC rebuilds Marcy Dam, it does intend to build a bridge across Marcy Brook, either at the dam or another location.

Tropical Storm Irene damaged the dams at the Duck Hole and Marcy Dam Pond and forced DEC to confront these questions now. But the same questions eventually will arise when other dams in Wilderness Areas fall into disrepair. Indeed, the questions can be raised about dams in Wild Forest Areas as well. After all, the state constitution requires that the entire Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” Altogether, there are about fifty dams on the Forest Preserve, according to DEC’s inventory.

Click here to read the full story on dams in the Preserve. Then let us know what you think: should Marcy Dam be repaired? What should be done with other dams in the Forest Preserve?

Incidentally, the photo above is from the 1930s. It shows what Duck Hole looked like before the dam was built and presumably what it might look like again in a few years.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine and writes its Outtakes blog.


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Local Search and Rescue Makes News Photo History

In modern times, photographs accompanying newspaper stories are sent around the world in digital format, utilizing the latest technology. But for half a century, from 1935 to 1989, the Wirephoto Service of the Associated Press was the industry standard. Prior to that time, the text of stories was sent by wire, but photographs for newsprint were shipped the same way mail and other urgent items were: by train or by plane.

Even by the speediest of methods, it could take more than three days for photographs to arrive. When the dramatic advancement came in 1935 to an instant process, the Adirondacks were linked forever with communications’ history. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Peter Brinkley: The Adirondack Brand

What follows is a guest essay by Peter Brinkley who lives in Jay and is Senior Partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. This essay was prompted in part by new Almanack contributor Kimberly Rielly’s piece “Understanding the Adirondack Brand“.

We hear of the need for businesses in the Adirondacks to develop a universal brand to attract tourists.

This impulse indeed is strange. The Adirondacks has enjoyed a brand since the second half of the 1800s, one which has broadened and deepened its appeal. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

‘Open House’ Weekends at Camp Santanoni

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the Town of Newcomb, and the Adirondack Ecological Center have announced that historic Camp Santanoni in Newcomb will be open for three special long “open house” weekends this winter. Over these weekends, cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to visit the Gatelodge and Main Lodge, get short interpretive tours with AARCH staff, and warm up at the Artist’s Studio before the return trip. These weekends will be January 14-16, February 18-20, and March 17-18.

Camp Santanoni was built beginning in 1892 by Robert and Anna Pruyn and eventually consisted of more than four dozen buildings on 12,900 acres including a working farm, Gatelodge complex, and a huge rustic Main Lodge and other camp buildings situated on Newcomb Lake. Santanoni was in private ownership until 1972 and over the last several decades, in state ownership, it has gradually been restored by a partnership between NYSDEC, AARCH, and the Town of Newcomb. Santanoni is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.

Camp Santanoni is one of the most popular cross-country ski destinations in the Adirondacks, and for good reason. The snow conditions are usually excellent, the trip itself is of only moderate intensity, and the camp on its remote lakeside setting makes for an interesting and most beautiful destination. The round-trip cross-country ski and showshoe trip is 9.8 miles on a gently sloping carriage road. People may visit Santanoni 365 days a year but these weekends are rare opportunities to visit the camp in winter, have a brief tour, and have a place to warm up.

As snow conditions so far in 2012 have been light, it is best to check in advance to make sure the road is suitable for skiing.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lake George Courthouse Gallery Seeks Exhibitors

The Lake George Arts Project is inviting regional, national, emerging and established artists to send exhibition proposals to the Courthouse Gallery. Preference is given to experimental or non-traditional work created in the last two years. All exhibition proposals must include 10 to 12 images of recent work (jpegs on CD,) a hardcopy of resume, statement, image list, and a SASE for notification letter.

Complete guidelines can be found online. The postmark deadline is always January 31. Send proposals to: Lake George Arts Project, Gallery Committee, 1 Amherst Street, Lake George, NY 12845. For more information: mail@lakegeorgearts, or call (518) 668-2616.

Photo: The Courthouse Gallery (Courtesy Lake George Arts Project).


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Home Energy Retrofit Workshop Now Online

ADKCAP, The Wild Center’s Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan, recently hosted a sold-out workshop to contractors, code officials and homeowners about key steps to retrofitting your home. If you missed the workshop or if you just want to refresh your memory, videos of the workshop are now available online.

Martin Holladay, a Green Building Advisor, noted in August 2009, “To achieve the carbon reductions needed to prevent a global ecological catastrophe, almost every house in North America will need a deep energy retrofit.”

So-called ‘deep energy retrofits’ can achieve 70 – 75% reduction in energy use over the more traditional retrofits that typically see a 5 – 15% energy use reduction. Greg Pedrick, Project Manager for NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) in the Building R&D Sector, led the workshop using four residential buildings that underwent deep energy retrofits coupled with the typical homeowner initiated projects such as window, siding and/or roofing replacements to substantially improve the building envelope as examples. The training presented billing data before and after the work was completed, as well as costs of the work involved. Pedrick is an engaging speaker and makes the information understandable to a wide audience.

“This work is inspiring, because everyday people can do it, and it does not require Senate hearings, Judge decisions or EPA rulings, to enable it to happen,” said Pedrick. “Just tenacity and willingness to work hard, and salvage what you have.”

Pedrick hopes this training will:

Provide independent/step function solution to dependence on fuel, which is typically NOT a local commodity

Improve overall air quality, health and well-being of both the building and the inhabitants

Create work force opportunities to improve existing housing stock, while reducing energy use

“In the U.S. homes are the most defective products consumers purchase,” according to Tedd Benson, of BensonWood Timber Framing and keynote speaker at The Wild Center/ADKCAP Build a Greener Adirondacks EXPO in April 2011. “Consumer Reports found a 15% serious defect rate in new homes studied, and an Orlando Sentinel investigation, found a more than 80% serious defect rate in new homes analyzed.”

“This type of training, and the online videos we created for those who missed the workshop, helps and inspires both the homeowner and the contractors in our region with the real hands-on information they can put to work immediately using standard construction skills. The Wild Center and its ADKCAP/CEEM (Community Energy Efficiency Management) project aim to provide practical ideas about sustainability and environment-friendly economic approaches,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “At the end of the day it is the little and big changes that we all make that add up to real change. What I enjoy most about this aspect of our work is that it helps the planet and saves money over time.”

The Wild Center has modeled – through its “green” facilities, educational programming, and conferences – how science museums can help to disseminate environmental solutions. For example, buildings use an estimated 30% of energy in the United States, thus increasing green building design and retrofits has huge potential for economic savings and job development. The Wild Center is Silver LEED certified for its green buildings and educates visitors through a tour of its green design on site and online through its website.

ADKCAP is a partnership of The Wild Center and 30 other institutions in the region. ADKCAP works through existing organizations around the region to implement a proactive strategy to enable the Adirondacks, approximately 20% of the land area of New York State, to improve energy and cost savings within the region. To heat and power itself the region currently uses more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and LPG, and 925 million kWh of electricity annually, draining $263 million a year from struggling economies of the region. Investing in local efficiency helps to keep that money in the region. The Adirondacks are nevertheless a model of conservation for the nation and are positioned to lead in establishing a “green” economy.

ADKCAP’s Community Energy Efficiency Management (CEEM) project, which co-sponsored this event, is working to support the Towns of Moriah, Schroon Lake, and Long Lake to inventory energy use of municipally-owned structures, transportation & residential buildings, make a plan to identify and prioritize energy saving opportunities, explore financing options, implement energy saving projects, and track energy savings. The “deep retrofit” model has been shared widely in the Adirondack region through CEEM.

For more information visit www.adkcap.org.


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