Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clarkson University Researching Luge Sled Design

Two engineers from Clarkson University will work to design a faster, more aerodynamic sled for the United States Luge Team, which it hopes to use at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Mechanical engineering professors Douglas G. Bohl and Brian Helenbrook will use computer models and wind tunnels to speed up the sled and reduce drag.

Bohl got involved after his now 13-year-old son tried out for the USA Luge development team last year. While traveling to the luge track in Lake Placid with his son each weekend, Bohl met sports programs director and two-time Olympic medalist Mark Grimmette, at which point he proposed the idea for a research project to reduce aerodynamic drag on the sled.

“We’ve wanted to do this for years, but did not have the resources,” says Gordy Sheer, director of marketing and sponsorship for USA Luge. “We also needed someone who understood the sport and its nuances.”

“As athletes become better, equipment plays a bigger part in winning,” says Bohl. “I don’t know if there’s a ‘silver bullet,’ but I think we can make a difference.”

Luge is the only Winter Olympics gravity sport measured to 1/1000th of a second, so very small changes in drag can greatly affect times.

“We’ll build a computer model of a sled with a slider on it, compute the drag, examine the flow going past and finally put an actual sled in Clarkson’s wind tunnel to make drag measurements,” says Bohl.

Eventually, a sled will be built based on the Clarkson team’s research and taken to the low speed (sub-sonic) wind tunnel at the San Diego Air and Space Technology Center where USA Luge sleds are tested.

“We’re looking for evolution, not revolution,” says Sheer. “The Clarkson team will be looking at the aerodynamic shell and aerodynamic shape of the sled as a whole.”

Placid Boatworks, a custom canoe shop in Lake Placid, N.Y., builds the pods or shells, which act as a seat for the athletes. The kufens, which are the bridge between the steel runners and the pod, are hand carved from ash and wrapped in fiberglass.

“There is lots of artistry in luge sled design,” says Bohl. “Art will direct you to good solution through natural selection, but basic sled designs haven’t changed in 10 to 15 years. Scientists and engineers might be able to bring some new ideas into play.”

Bohl, Helenbrook and their team of students will receive no monetary compensation for their research.

“We won’t get technical papers or money out of this, but we’re helping the U.S. team,” says Bohl. “That’s a cool benefit of being at a University. It’s a lot of fun to do projects like this and Clarkson’s location near the Adirondacks and Lake Placid gives us the opportunity. We’re really excited.”

Photo: Douglas G. Bohl (right), a Clarkson University engineering professor, discusses luge design with Gordy Sheer, a 1998 Olympic silver medalist in luge and director of marketing and sponsorship for USA Luge.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dave Gibson: Common Road Salt is Toxic

Outside my house, and in the forest back beyond the land is carpeted with crystalline beauty, affording quietude, serenity, thermal shelter for critters, and some nice ski runs. Out on the county road, just two hours after the recent storm the pavement is bare – right on schedule with transportation departments’ standard for road maintenance and safety. To accomplish it, a corrosive pollutant will be laid down in quantity – 900,000 tons of road salt will be used across the state this winter according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) website. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DEC Seeks Comments on Temporary Revocable Permit Policy

The DEC is taking comments through January 14, 2011 on a proposed revision of the Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) Policy, which sets forth the procedure for issuing permits for the temporary use of DEC’s State lands, including, but not limited to DEC’s: Wildlife Management Areas, State Reforestation Areas, Forest Preserves, campgrounds, boat launches/waterway access sites, tidal wetlands, and conservation easements).

DEC issues TRPs for activities that are in compliance with all constitutional, statutory and regulatory requirements; the Adirondack and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans; adopted Unit Management Plans and Recreation Management Plans; and that have negligible or no permanent impact on the environment.

You can review the draft policy online [pdf]. You can find additional policy details and information on submitting comments here.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: Long Lake E-lumination

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

Long Lake native and artist Matt Burnett is bringing one element of his art back to his hometown with fellow artist Scott Fuller. Each has enjoy their own personal artistic successes within their favored medium but continue to stretch personal boundaries with the use of nature’s elements to mold snow and ice with light to create a temporary outdoor art exhibit.

“We like to find a way to represent the flow of nature. I like to do something that will stir up the pot and make people think about what is natural and what is artificial,” say Burnett. “The exhibit will be in two to three locations around Long Lake. It is nice to be able to bring something back to my hometown. They are supportive of new ideas in this small community.”

Burnett and Fuller have collaborated in the past with using winter elements as with the Community Spiral in Saranac Lake in 2008, a large-scale public ice sculpture. This outdoor ice sculpture involved ice bricks and hundreds of lighted tea candles.

According to Burnett the Long Lake project has been over a year in the planning. Already many hours have gone into the concept of E-lumination from the molded geometric snow forms to testing equipment for the projected images. Now the two artists, with the help of volunteers will take the next three days on site to install the outdoor exhibit to create glowing multicolored orbs that will surprise and delight travelers and locals alike.

“I like to create something that appeals to anyone,” says Burnett. “Not everyone is going to ever see the same thing when looking at art. Art can sometimes be viewed as exclusive. I want to work on different levels and the challenge is to be able to relate to as many people as possible.”

Matt Burnett has garnered accolades for his paintings, multimedia studies and environmental events. He is also the co-director of the Graphic and Multimedia Design program at SUNY Canton where he teaches studio art, photography and design.

Scott Fuller continues to work in public installations and new media. Along with other awards, Fuller’s piece with Asherah Cinnamon, Reaching for Courage: Gateway to China was a finalist for the 2008 Bejjing Olympic Sculpture contest. Fuller is an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

“There will be a game involved. We are tying in elements of history to the region of Long Lake,” says Burnett. “ We are projecting images, some between 70-100 years old, that we hope will be special to the people of the Long Lake and to people that are just passing through. There will be a puzzle for people to try to name all the people and places that are to be projected for the week the project is up.”

Burnett and Fuller will be doing a similar outdoor installation at St. Lawrence University in Canton in February. The sculpture will be seen at the center quad and focus more on the environmental issues of St. Lawrence Univerisity instead of the regional history. Burdett will also conduct a lecture on public and environmental art.

For more information regarding Matt Burdett and Scott Fuller’s art, check out their respective websites. E-lumination is slated to be working this weekend, weather permitting, in time for Long Lake Winter Carnival.

Thie E lumination project is made possible in part from support from the following organizations: The Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks, New York State Foundation for the Arts, The Adirondack Museum, The Town of Long Lake, and Gillis Reality.

Photo: The Saranac Lake Community Spiral, used with the permission of Matt Burnett.


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11th Northeast Natural History Conference

The 11th Northeast Natural History Conference (NENHC), including the founding meeting of the Association of Northeastern Biologists (ANB) will be held April 6-9, 2011, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

The conference promises to be the largest regional forum for researchers, natural resource managers, students, and naturalists to present current information on the varied aspects of applied field biology (freshwater, marine, and terrestrial) and natural history for the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada.

It is expected to serve as a premier venue to identify research and management needs, foster friendships and collegial relationships, and encourage a greater region-wide interest in natural history by bringing people with diverse backgrounds together.

For more information visit: http://www.eaglehill.us/NENHC_2011/NENHC2011


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Newcomb Interpretive Center Transition

newcombtrails2It is easy during a transition to focus on the work ahead to the exclusion of the past. As the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry assumes control of the Adirondack Park Agency’s Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center the college does not want that to happen.

The Newcomb center and her sibling center at Paul Smiths are both fabulous year-round facilities with beautiful trails through diverse and wonderful habitats. But they are beloved by visitors and park residents alike not just because of what they are, but because of “who” they are. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Almanack Welcomes Naturalist, Educator Paul B. Hai

It’s been a busy week couple weeks for new contributors and today I’ve got some more good news for our readers who enjoy the Almanack‘s natural history side.

Please join me in welcoming Paul B. Hai as our newest contributor. Paul is the Program Coordinator for the Northern Forest Institute for Conservation Education and Leadership Training of the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and the leads the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb, the former Newcomb VIC, and now the educational outreach venue of the NFI. He is co-founder of Children in Nature, New York and serves on the Grassroots Leadership Team of the Children & Nature Network.

Paul is passionate about creating interdisciplinary programs using natural history, inquiry-based activities and outdoor experiences as the foundations for teaching the process of science, exploring the Adirondack experience, and for getting children outside. He says that his commitment to using informal science education as a vehicle for reconnecting children to nature will form one of the key programmatic themes of the Adirondack Interpretive Center.

Paul first “visited” the Adirondacks at three-months old, returning with his family to camp on the islands of Lake George two weeks each summer for the next 14 years. He also spent eight summers attending Adirondack Swim and Trip Camp on Jones Pond, an experience that took him by foot and paddle all over the region.

Paul and his wife, ecologist Stacy McNulty, Associate Director of the Adirondack Ecological Center, live in Newcomb with their two daughters. Prior to moving to Newcomb, Paul spent four years living in Bolton Landing and working in Chestertown and Warrensburg before moving to Syracuse to attend graduate school at ESF.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Phil Brown: The Gooley Club’s Last Stand

I was skiing in the Whitney Wilderness on the day the Nature Conservancy announced that the state had purchased conservation easements on eighty-nine thousand acres once owned by Finch, Pruyn & Co.

My ski trip to Bum Pond, with my daughter Martha, was made possible by the state’s purchase of nearly fifteen thousand acres from the Whitney family in 1997.

Thanks to this latest land deal, the public will have the opportunity to enjoy new ski trails in coming winters.

The Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres owned by Finch, Pruyn in 2007. Last year, it sold eighty-nine thousand acres to ATP Timberland Invest. On December 30, the state announced that it would pay $30 million for easements on the ATP lands. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Whitehall Movie: The Girl on the Barge

As a follow-up to last week’s piece on the late Mary Barber (Aunt Mary), below is the story of the movie that was filmed long ago on the barge canal in Whitehall. It was researched and written by my partner, Jill McKee, and is now part of an exhibit in Whitehall’s Skenesborough Museum.

In 1929, Universal Pictures released a film called The Girl on the Barge. The movie was about Erie McCadden, the illiterate daughter of a crusty, alcoholic barge captain. Erie falls in love with Fogarty, the pilot of the tugboat that is towing her father’s barge from New York to Buffalo on the Erie Canal. Captain McCadden is not at all pleased when he discovers the romance, and his anger is escalated further by the fact that Fogarty is teaching Erie to read.

Happily, in the end the captain comes to his senses, likely due in no small part to Fogarty’s rescuing of McCadden’s barge when it is accidently set adrift. Erie marries her love and the two present McCadden with a grandson.

The Erie Canal proved too difficult a setting for the Universal production department to create on or near the studio’s lot. However, the Erie Canal itself was not deemed suitable either. At least that was the opinion of the movie’s director, Edward Sloman, who came to New York State with two veteran cameramen, Jack Voshell and Jackson Rose, to find the right filming location.

Such location trips were rare at that time in the movie industry, but Universal was willing to invest the added time and money necessary to film the movie in the correct setting. After scouting the entire modern, commercialized Erie Barge Canal from Albany to Buffalo, Sloman felt it would not be believable to audiences. “They would swear we faked it in California,” he said.

Enter a contractor from Waterford, NY, named John E. Matton. He believed the Champlain Canal was just what Universal was looking for. After seeing it, Sloman agreed and chose Whitehall as the filming location.

In May, 1928, Sloman and rest of the film’s cast and crew set up their headquarters at Glens Falls and took up temporary residence at the Queensbury Hotel in order to begin making the movie. The silent era was giving way to “talkies,” and The Girl on the Barge was a hybrid between the two—a silent film with talking sequences.

The film’s cast was made up of some notable stars. The title role of Erie was played by Sally O’Neil, who had found stardom in 1925 when she appeared along with Constance Bennett and Joan Crawford in Sally, Irene, and Mary. Erie’s father, the barge captain, was played by Jean Hersholt, who appeared in 140 films from 1906–1955, and served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1945–1949.

Malcolm MacGregor (or McGregor), who appeared in over 50 films during his career, played Erie’s love interest, Fogarty. Erie’s sister, Superior McCadden, was played by Nancy Kelly, whose career spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s, during which time she received nominations for an Emmy and an Oscar, and also won a Tony Award. Both Ms. Kelly and Mr. Hersholt have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The movie’s director, Edward Sloman, was no slouch either. He directed nearly 100 films and acted in over 30, with some producing and writing thrown in for good measure. The story on which the movie was based was originally written by Rupert Hughes for Cosmopolitan magazine. Mr. Hughes was a prolific writer who saw more than 50 of his stories and plays made into movies.

The entire episode apparently caused quite a stir in the Whitehall/Glens Falls area. Several Whitehall residents took part in various scenes in the movie, and a humorous incident at the Queensbury Hotel was reported in the Syracuse Herald on June 11, 1928.

It seems that Mr. Hersholt arrived at the hotel after a day of filming. He was still dressed as his drunken barge captain character and asked for his room number without giving his name. The desk clerk not so politely informed Mr. Hersholt that the hotel was filled with “those motion picture people,” and there were no rooms available. In order to gain access to his room, Mr. Hersholt had to call upon director Edward Sloman to vouch for him.

Universal had a three-tiered rating system for its motion picture productions at the time Girl on the Barge was filmed. Low-budget flicks were dubbed Red Feather, and mainstream productions were labeled as Bluebird. Girl on the Barge was categorized as one of Universal’s most prestigious films, called Jewel. Jewel productions were expected to draw the highest ticket sales.

The movie was released on February 3, 1929. Various newspaper ads and articles have been found showing the movie still playing in theatres around the country into the following fall. The movie also received many favorable reviews. The Chronicle Telegram of Elyria, Ohio, complimented the “realistic and picturesque scenes” of “the barge canals of Upper New York State” (May 20, 1929).

The New York Times reviewer, Mordaunt Hall, raved about Mr. Hersholt’s make-up and costume, and stated, “The scenes are admirably pictured.” The Sheboygan Press of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, called the film “an exceptional picture,” and went on to report, “The picture actually was photographed along the picturesque Champlain Ship Canal in Upper New York State.”

Photo Top: Movie Poster now on exhibit in the Whitehall Museum.

Photo Middle: Sally O’Neil and Malcolm MacGregor in a scene near the canal.

Photo Bottom: Movie advertisement in the Ticonderoga Sentinel, 1929.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, January 10, 2011

APA Critic Indicted on Felony Environmental Charges

A long-time critic of state environmental policies and enforcement has been indicted by a Clinton County grand jury on charges of violating several environmental conservation laws.

A Department of Environmental Conservation press release said Leroy Douglas of Ausable Forks, was charged for a 2008 incident with “Endangering Public Health, Safety, or the Environment in the third degree, a felony with a maximum fine of $150,000 and up to 4 years in prison” after allegedly improperly “disposing numerous 55-gallon drums containing a hazardous substance” onto property owned by his Douglas Corporation of Silver Lake.

Douglas was also charged with misdemeanors of Unlawful Disposal of Solid Waste, Disturbing the Bed/Banks of a Classified Trout Stream and Failure to Register a Petroleum Bulk Storage Facility, each of which could come with significant fines and up to a year in jail.

North Country Public Radio added that “a state investigator found a wide range of contamination on Douglas’s land, including a pile of lead acid batteries, dead animals and medical waste.”

Douglas told The Press-Republican that he believes the indictment is politically motivated. He claims the state wanted to buy his land but he refused to sell.

“DEC has had warrants to search my property twice since I wouldn’t sell,” Douglas said to the Plattsburgh daily. “If I’m such an environmental villain, what would they wait two and a half years for?”

The Press-Republican added that Douglas has filed suit in federal court against the Adirondack Park Agency in relation to a 2007 enforcement action against him.

“Douglas says the charges originated with his son, Michael, with whom he had a falling out a few years ago, and whose girlfriend, Elizabeth Vann, works for the DEC,” according to a report written by Post-Star Projects Editor Will Doolittle.

The Glens Falls daily, which has called for the APA’s abolition, has featured Douglas in several pieces (most notably here) written by Doolittle on alleged malfeasance by the Agency.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that Douglas pleaded not guilty to this week’s charges.


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