Sunday, February 8, 2009

Juxtaposition At The Plaza

In some ways ESP is as much of an architectural mess as it appears in my busy little photo. Actually it is more of a mess, and when I go back and shoot the final version of this shot, you'll get the point!

Why a final version? Well on a day when winds were gusting to 40+ miles per hour in the valleys, the Plaza certainly saw 50+. The prominence of the Plaza over the surrounding city makes it seem like a wind tunnel! Let’s just say, wind, long lenses and small apertures don’t mix in the late afternoon light! This shot is actually pretty good, but it could be just a bit sharper through the range. I think I had to settle for F/8 on the 200mm

On the other hand, considering our state capitol building took decades to build, and is molded from the architectural styles of 3 different architects the Plaza fits right in when you really think about it.

People either love or hate the New York State capitol building. I look at it as being unique, and have always loved it. There is absolutely no other state house in the US nearly as unique.

The Empire State Plaza on the other hand is an acquired taste. Built by Nelson Rockefeller after he was thoroughly embarrassed when Princess Beatrix from the Netherlands visited our state capital, this was a no expense spared public works project of the 1970s. Everything in the Plaza is built with marble, and the towers themselves are covered in marble. The Plaza and capitol building form the largest state capitol complex in the US. Corning Tower is the tallest building in New York outside of New York City.

The total cost of the Empire State Plaza was $1.7 billion, and it required 9,000 families and businesses to be removed from the land using eminent domain. The Plaza was paid off around 2006.

If nothing else, the Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza makes for an interesting place to skulk around with a camera and see just how bizarre an image you can put together. With that being the case, I’ve got to say, I haven’t even scratched the surface of the capitol complex over the years.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Too Big, Too Much...Is Big Tupper Unstoppable?

When you look at a state like Vermont, one of the things that makes it Vermont is the size of things. Its not necessarily easy to explain but you know Vermont when you are in Vermont.

The Adirondacks are similar. One of the few places in this part of the country that doesn't look the same as everywhere else. To a large degree this alone is something that makes the Adirondacks have some appeal. The fact that in many ways the Adirondacks are more wild today than they were 120 years ago is also somewhat special. Many biologist have noted that the Adirondacks are one of the largest intact biomes in the US.

Tupper Lake is one of the more developed and densely populated areas in the Adirondacks, but it's surrounded by some of the more wild wilderness areas.

As we've been taught through experience, nothing done at the hand of man is inconsequential on the natural world. We certainly have come a long way to understanding ways to lessen the impact but this is still largely a game of chance. Nature is resilient, and if left alone it almost always makes a comeback. Occasionally nature slaps us right back for tampering with it, but all too often it seems we refuse to heed the warnings, and push it to the breaking point.

Would this be good for the local economy? Maybe. Why only maybe? Because the Catskills have long had these grand plans of a big boom, and short term success has always been followed by a period of bust. Unlike, the Catskills the Adirondacks have been much better planned thanks to the APA. And while I've noted time and again that the the APA is either loved or hated with a passion by the people who care about the Adirondacks, there is no doubt APA oversight has been a model for master planning, and the sole reason the Adirondacks don't look like the Catskills.

Short term the economy will benefit through construction jobs and service jobs, but what will be the long term guarantee that this development will be good for the Adirondack Park in general 20,30,40 years down the road.

Recently we've all been forced to come to realize that big business and it's investors are greedy. Think about the mortgage industry, everyone was making money, and no one cared that this giant smoke and mirrors scheme could not go on forever. Certainly the government didn't either; rising home prices were good for taxes, increased home ownership was good for taxes, everyone was a winner!

If we've learned nothing else it's that business needs to regulated because business has one priority, making money! There is nothing wrong with that priority, after all if you wanted me to invest in your business I'd expect a return. The issue is when profit comes at the expense of common sense, decency and ethics. All too often the quest to turn a profit comes with the sacrifice of basic principles which unfortunately have resultant collateral damage.

So, I sincerely hope that whatever compromise is eventually reached is done with some forward thought to what this will do to one of the last remaining great wilderness areas in this part of the country, not just short term but a generation or two down the road.

Controversial project in Adirondacks still alive

Parks agency says firm wants to push ahead with Big Tupper plan

By LEIGH HORNBECK, Staff writer
Last updated: 6:42 p.m., Thursday, February 5, 2009
RAY BROOK — Talks have stalled, but the biggest housing proposal ever made in the Adirondack Park is still on the table, a spokesman for the Adirondack Park Agency said today.

Closed-door efforts to resolve objections to the 700-unit project planned for 4,600 acres around the Big Tupper Ski Area have been on hold since last fall.

The proposal by Pennsylvania-based Preserve Associates surfaced in 2006. Plans called for hotels, estate homes, hundreds of condos, a golf course, marina and a shooting range. The centerpiece would be reopening Big Tupper, which closed in 1999.

Reaction was mixed. Some thought it would revitalize Tupper Lake, a community of 3,600 people in Franklin County. Others said it would destroy the rural beauty of the area.

The APA began holding hearings in front of an administrative law judge in the spring of 2007, but they were delayed twice at the request of Preserve Associates, which then asked to move into private mediation with 32 groups that had a say in the proceedings.

Mediation was "suspended indefinitely" in October at the request of Preserve Associates, according to APA spokesman Keith McKeever.

Despite the delay, McKeever said the company has not withdrawn its application.

"It is the agency's understanding that the project sponsor wants to continue in mediation and continues to prepare revised drawings and analyses to address the 10 issues raised in the (hearings)," McKeever said.

Preserve Associates spokesman Michael Foxman could not be reached for comment.

Source: Albany Times Union
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ice Climbing On The Hudson

Headed out to a not yet (fully) discovered crag today for my 3rd visit. This was the first time I attempted to climb anything at it, the second time out I did a bit of ice bouldering but the ice was fairly thin and brittle.

It turned out I miscalculated the gear I needed, and ended up on a lead without any screws, or rock gear. Considering my plan wasn't to actually lead anything but to top rope I was fully prepared, just not for the change of plans.

This was sort of an endeavor of lazy stupidity. Since we didn't bring snowshoes moving around the 4 feet of unbroken snow at the base of the climb was a bit slow, and I thought the left side of the climb looked like a 4th class scramble. The problem of course was to get to the ramp, I needed to climb a fairly vertical wall on the left, or up the ice on the right and traverse to the left. Third option was a broken 5th class (5.1-5.2) crack system with some small trees for protection.

Going up the ice and then moving slightly left to the crack system seemed doable since I had slings but no hard protection. I ended up bailing on a tree after piddling around and frustrating my belayer even though the holds and protection was solid. Something about not having the gear to properly do the climb, getting to the top and not having any slings left to set up a rappel, and a few other things like falling and having to explain to a rescue party how I was so thoroughly and stupidly unprepared to lead a climb, yet I continued to lead the climb


I anchored into the tree, called for slack and passed the rope through (around) the tree, tied in a second time, untied my original figure of 8, and down climbed. Then a did a little climbing on the right side which I'd rate as an NEI3. The ice was a little hollow, but the wall to the right looked solid.

The icicle to the right was dead vertical, and a short (60ft) NEI 4 if you went right. Further right were were a few chutes at NEI 2+ to NEI 3, plus some multi tiered short climbs that reached about 120ft up the cliff side.

While the ice was good, I was a little disappointed in the growth of it over the last month. Definitely not nearly as fat or diverse as I'd have expected after the extended cold, plus decent snowfall, and a little warm spell for melt runoff, followed by cold nights.

Next week I'll bring some screws, a few stoppers and some alpine draws. Perhaps a first ascent of the climb?

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

08 for 08 - Heating Things Up

It's always hard to determine what the global climate is like from our little spot in the world. Then again, it's hard to know what data is correct and what isn't. One group says the world is returning to it's normal temps, the other says we are burning up, and there is a third claiming we are cooling!

This summer was fairly warm here in the northeast, but what I noticed most wasn't warm daytime highs but above average nighttime lows with relative high humidity. One thing I've always loved about this part of the country is the cool dry nights. So when those cool dry nights were absent it didn't go unnoticed.

Then we had a fairly cold November and December, starting with the second half of November bringing January temps and no typical warm-up. This winter has not only been seasonal, but we are ahead on snowfall over the 40 year average, and while I don't have the data, it would seem that at sea level we are above the median days of snow cover over the last decade!

Yet globally 2008 was the 8th warmest since 1880. Yes, a relatively small sliver of world history, but oddly the recent surge in warming has coincided with industrialization and emergence of 3rd world economies.

All this only goes to show that on any given day it's hard to tell what direction the worlds climate is headed, but I can say that cannibal polar bears, drowning polar bears, and the extinction of the lemmings isn't a phenomenon that can easily be swept under the rug by those who claim a different set a data.

Now if we only knew what the cause was?

NOAA: 2008 Global Temperature Ties as Eighth Warmest on Record

January 14, 2009

The year 2008 tied with 2001 as the eighth warmest year on record for the Earth, based on the combined average of worldwide land and ocean surface temperatures through December, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. For December alone, the month also ranked as the eighth warmest globally, for the combined land and ocean surface temperature. The assessment is based on records dating back to 1880.

The analyses in NCDC’s global reports are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when late reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC’s processing algorithms.

NCDC’s ranking of 2008 as the eighth warmest year compares to a ranking of ninth warmest based on an analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The NOAA and NASA analyses differ slightly in methodology, but both use data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center the federal government's official source for climate data.

Global Temperature Highlights – 2008

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature from January-December was 0.88 degree F (0.49 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 57.0 degrees F (13.9 degrees C). Since 1880, the annual combined global land and ocean surface temperature has increased at a rate of 0.09 degree F (0.05 degree C) per decade. This rate has increased to 0.29 degree F (0.16 degree C) per decade over the past 30 years.
Separately, the global land surface temperature for 2008, through December, was sixth warmest, with an average temperature 1.46 degrees F (0.81 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 47.3 degrees F (8.5 degrees C).
Also separately, the global ocean surface temperature for 2008, through December, was 0.67 degree F (0.37 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 60.9 degrees F (16.1 degrees C) and ranked tenth warmest.

Global Temperature Highlights – December 2008

The December combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.86 degree F (0.48 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 54.0 degrees F (12.2 degrees C).
Separately, the December 2008 global land surface temperature was 1.22 degrees F (0.68 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 38.7 degrees F (3.7 degrees C) and ranked 14th warmest.
For December, the global ocean surface temperature was 0.74 degree F (0.41 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.7 degrees C) and tied with December 2001 and December 2005 as sixth warmest.

Other Global Highlights for 2008

The United States recorded a preliminary total of 1,690 tornadoes during 2008, which is well above the 10-year average of 1,270 and ranks as the second highest annual total since reliable records began in 1953. The high number of tornado-related fatalities during the first half of the year made 2008 the 10th deadliest with a 2008 total of 125 deaths.
Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in December was 16.95 million square miles (43.91 million square kilometers). This was 0.17 million square miles (0.43 million square kilometers) above the 1966-2008 December average. Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was below average for most of 2008.
Arctic sea ice extent in 2008 reached its second lowest melt season extent on record in September. The minimum of 1.80 million square miles (4.67 million square kilometers) was 0.80 million square miles (2.09 million square kilometers) below the 1979-2000 average minimum extent.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

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