Waking up at 5am on a Saturday isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but it was worth it
What a great morning. Love events like this.
I was headed over to a friend’s house the other night, so looking them up on google maps to make sure I knew the way. In the process I stumbled upon something that totally threw me.
This is a map of Poughkeepsie, NY, what I typically get when I bring up Google Maps.
Notice anything odd near the Golf Club? No? I didn’t either, for years.
How about now? Kind of looks interesting huh?
Oh, look it’s a plane in flight. Well isn’t that the damnest thing. I even know that flight path, as it’s the one where they turn over our neighborhood before heading in for a landing at Stewart air port. The flight is typically 4 in the afternoon IIRC.
This looks a lot like what you see with asteroids going through star fields because astro photographs are taken with a single CCD and color filters, which provide much better resolution per silicon chip.
There should be enough detail on that plane to tell the model. Any takers? I’d love to know the answer, just because.
The flood waters here in the Hudson Valley have largely subsided. That 12.8′ prediction for the Wappingers turned out to be way off. It crested north of 15′ (second highest recorded value, above the 2007 spring flood). As that’s the only river with a sensor in Dutchess county, it is an indicator of how swollen every little creek was. One of those, the Fallkill, which runs through the City of Poughkeepsie, breached it’s banks putting a bunch of city blocks under water.
Our town, LaGrange, fared very well. I give a lot of credit to our municipal government and public servants for that. They were putting rapid updates with critical information on their website as the storm progressed. They preemptively declared a state of emergency to keep people off the roads. They had dry ice and water stations running before the storm even arrived, and they were constantly monitoring and closing off road sections once they became dangerous.
For our particular neighborhood the most important thing the town did was 5 years ago. They replaced the culvert that lets a little stream cross under the main road into the neighborhood with one that was just gigantic. When they did it I was really puzzled, because it seemed like a ridiculous over kill. On Sunday we walked down there, and found the culvert was 3/4 full. So extra kudos to whoever decided that needed to be upgraded, because they were right, and if that hadn’t been done, we’d be stranded in our neighborhood. I sent a email of thanks to our officials over this response, because they deserved it.
Another party that did a lot to minimize the effect in our area was Central Hudson. We had a double blizzard here a couple of years ago that completely taxed their emergency response. NY state government called them to task on it, and they started focusing hard on disaster recovery. For the last two years they’ve been doing an incredible amount of preventative maintenance, new taller poles, backup pole structures, cutting back trees that could be dangerous to main lines. They brought in additional crews from Kansas ahead of the storm, knowing they were going to need more manpower. They also started communicating a lot more during disasters. I’ve gotten a daily email from them every day since the storm hit with an update of what’s going on. Their storm watch website tracks every single outage report, and in 30 seconds you can report an outage via their mobile site.
There is a lot of damage here, mostly caused by the water. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that bad. And a reason for that is that we’ve actually got a lot of organizations, our local governments, and our local utilities, investing in advance in resilient infrastructure.
So to all that were a part of that, I just want to say: THANK YOU.
I didn’t get home last night until 10:30, and sleep didn’t find me until after 1am. All of this was because of a talk I gave at the Poughkeepsie ACM on my experience with Android Development with the Where is Io application.
Why the ACM, and not the LUG? That question got asked at dinner, as the ACM regulars are well aware that I run MHVLUG. There were a few reasons. The first of which is that we did an Android talk in May, and while my talk was substantially different, the concept would feel stale to me. We’ve got a 2 year no repeat policy on topics, which I think works out quite well. But I had this quite good talk that I really did want to do locally and not just for the folks in Harrisburg.
But something else happened over the course of the fall, which got me more excited about this talk. It occurred to me that mixing things up a little is always a good thing. MHVLUG is my familiar turf, and at this point I know the audience really well, so it’s less of a lecture and more of a hangout with friends for me. I am definitely in my comfort zone there. ACM is new faces, new audience. I had spoken there previously, and while I knew a couple folks that come to LUG meetings are ACM regulars, it promised to be a mostly fresh crowd. Growth for me, and a chance to generate a bit of crossover between the groups. I advertised the talk to the LUG on the off chance that we’d get a few folks to come out.
The ACM does dinner first, meeting second (reverse of MHVLUG). I happened to show up at the Palace just as Ben and Tim (2 of the other MHVLUG officers) did. As we walked in we found the ACM table which was 7 folks, with an open spot for me. At +3 we kind of broke that assumption so wedged another table over. It turned out that wasn’t the last table addition we’d need. By the time food was being ordered there were about 16 people at dinner. Bob Cotton, ACM president, turned to me at one point saying this was the most people they’d had in a while.
Gulp. At that point I realized an expectation was set, if no where else than in my head. This was going to be more of a draw than the ACM meetings typically got, which meant I felt an extra burden to not be wasting anyone’s time. I knew the talk didn’t suck, I’d given it before, and I’d refined it again, but live performance is what it is, and until you get swinging you never know.
Dinner ran late, which means we got to Marist late, and while I was expecting a few other faces than at dinner, people who said they’d be there, I wasn’t entirely expecting 20 more faces. Neither were they. There was a chair scramble while I set up.
The talk went very well, one of my better performances. It clocked in at about 50 minutes, which seems to be my new norm, open questions for 30 minutes following, with stragglers there for another 40 to ask more questions. It had been one of the biggest draws in a while, and when people want to keep discussing the topic for a full hour after you ceded the floor, you know you stuck the landing. I still get quite an adrenaline rush after a solid presentation like that, which led to the whole issue in falling asleep.
Bill Collier told me at the end of the evening I’d be welcomed back to speak any time, and I’ll definitely take him up on that.
From the Poughkeepsie Journal:
Meteorologist Tom Wasula said the Weather Service in Albany has not been able to confirm if the storm can officially be called a “blizzard” in Dutchess County. He said the wind sensor at Dutchess County Airport broke last night in the storm.
The parameters for a blizzard include heavy or blowing snow, visibility reduced to less than a quarter-mile and wind or consistent wind gusts over 35 mph for a period of three consecutive hours, he said.
I think that if the storm breaks your wind sensor, it’s safe to call it a blizzard. Based on what we saw at 11pm last night while shoveling, this would definitely qualify.
I read about this in the local paper this week, and it’s pretty inspiring. Irvin Miller is a local retired IBMer that has decided to throw his efforts in a big way into getting more children interested in science. He’s created the Math and Physics Exploritorium which will open in February here in LaGrange. I can’t wait to go check it out.