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  • Fairbanks Museum's Eclipse Advice to the WSJ: Expect Clouds

    A half century's data suggests that April 8 could see 75-80% historic cloud cover. Millions of Americans will be traveling to some place on the viewing path of the solar eclipse this April, given an opportunity like this won't return until 2044. Cities and towns around Vermont who are fortunate enough to be located within the path are busy making plans for the event. Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a planning guide for the eclipse, and wisely contacted Mark Breen, senior meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium. Here is what the Journal reported. Even after all that planning, it’s unlikely everyone will score clear skies. Mark Breen, senior meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vt., will be live-presenting the event from his workplace. Ominously, Breen said, a half-century’s data suggests that April 8 could see 75-80% historic cloud cover in that location. “Starting in Mexico there’s around 20% cloud cover, and it basically increases as you go northeast.” Our suggestion: enjoy the day and the darkness, knowing you may or may not need those special glasses for viewing.

  • It's Time to Let the Groundhog Go

    According to Havahart, groundhogs "are skilled climbers and swimmers, which helps them to escape less-skilled predators." Their :"burrows are so complex that each has its own "bathroom" chamber," and are known to have been responsible for uncovering a historic village in central Ohio - now a famous archeological site. Meanwhile, the vacuous media filmed, posted, and laughed about the 10th anniversary of a former New York City mayor dropping the innocent creature, who later died from injuries. They thought it was funny. Before next year, we vote to drop Groundhog Day tradition on its head, top-hats and all, and let the little guy go.

  • Kids Lost on Family Hike in Stowe: "Don't Trust the Parents"

    We always enjoy following Stowe Mountain Rescue. Their latest tale is of a Canadian family hiking on the Trapp Family trails who got a little turned around, but were able to summon the rescue team before their cell phones died. We earned our keep tonight rescuing a lovely Canadian family who were lost in the Trapps trail network. Realizing they were in trouble, they put out a call for help just as their cell phone died and darkness fell. We ran our ATV along the trail they had been on but found no sign of them so were launching into a wider search plan when a call came in that they had made it to the cabin and were sheltering in place (saved by the last dying gasp of their thawing cell phone). With our subjects safe and warm, in a known location, the mission suddenly became easy. Once we had them bundled up in our rescue boggan and headed downhill, we proceeded to fall in love with the kids (aged 12 and 7 and hopelessly charming). It had been a long day for them but they were in excellent spirits. We talked about backcountry safety on the way down (the importance of carrying a cell phone battery bank taking center stage) and when we later asked them what they had learned, they exclaimed gleefully “Don’t trust the parents!!”. They were excited to tell us that they were visiting the Trapp Family Lodge as a surprise Christmas treat in honor of the daughter’s recent role as Gretl (the youngest character, based on Martina Von Trapp) in a Sound Of Music production! She was every bit as cute as the original Gretl. What with this connection and sheltering in the cabin lit by a single candle and then riding downhill in a rescue boggan - talk about a memorable vacation! Hopefully some of the backcountry safety lesson will be remembered too. We wish them well and hope they’ll be back.

  • Gov. Scott: If we don’t truly address Act 250, we won’t solve our housing crisis

    Governor Phil Scott today delivered his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly, opening his eighth legislative session as Governor. Many of the lawmakers in that Assembly oppose any changes to Act 250, a restrictive regulatory policy that has held back housing development for over 50 years. Vermont's legislators are not required to disclose where they live, or whether they own their homes, but many of the most staunch defenders of antiquated regulations live in homes, often with large acreage, and remain warm and comfortable when they go home each night while the rest of the state struggles to house thousands of its residents. Should home owning Vermont lawmakers who object to helping others do the same recuse themselves on the issue of Act 250? Below are the key points Governor Scott made about this issue in his address. Last year I said, “we won’t be able to make the most of this opportunity if we don’t address the decades-old regulations holding us back.” While we took some steps, I know many of you would agree, we need to do a lot more. The fact is, Act 250 did exactly what it was intended to do. It slowed down growth, and in some cases, stopped it altogether. But it was enacted at a time when we were growing way too fast. Today we face a different reality – one where families desperately need homes, and communities need reinvestment. There’s an expression: “If nothing changes, then nothing will really change.” In our case, that means if nothing changes, things will continue to get worse. We’ve committed the funds, and laid the groundwork, but if we don’t truly address Act 250, we won’t solve our housing crisis. Every single one of you, and the people you represent, need a voice in this debate. This issue is too important and too consequential for two committees, and a couple of special interest groups, to control the outcome. If we make commonsense improvements, we can give young families the decent, affordable homes they need. We can offer seniors a chance to enjoy retirement, without the burden of a large home they can’t afford. And we can put homeless Vermonters in real homes, not over-priced hotel rooms we can’t afford. By jumpstarting housing for working families, we can revitalize communities, refill our schools, and make our neighborhoods more inviting in all 14 counties. We can help solve the challenges we face – funding healthcare and education, climate change mitigation, I.T. infrastructure, and so much more. Housing is key, and it’s something we can do right now. So let’s work together and get more families in homes faster, and at a cost they can afford.

  • Most Meteorologists Love to "Fear Cast." This Vermonter Prefers Accurate Forecasts

    Hype Machine Says Vermont Snowstorm Sunday; Reality Could Still Be Very Different - is the headline of meteorologist Matt Sutkoski's recent post. "You might have already heard the hype that we're supposedly finally getting a decent Vermont snowstorm this coming Sunday.   "The short answer is: It's possible, but don't bet on it," his blog, Matt's Weather Rapport continues. From there, Sutkoski's story explains the numerous factors that will impact the actual accumulation of snow Vermont may see, and how most of them are difficult, if not impossible, to predict. This doesn't stop most TV and other media weather reporters from speculating and amplifying the worst possible outcome. Meanwhile, on Sutkoski's X post, there is a breath of fresh, trustworthy air. "Hype machine is touting Sunday #snow in #Vermont . Before you get too excited, we actually have no idea yet whether we'll see a storm." Back at the blog, it says "Right now, the big question for us in Vermont is how far north the storm comes, and thus, how much snow will be available." "The high pressure in Quebec could squash the storm southward, or the lack of any big weather systems in the Atlantic could allow the storm to scoot out to sea well to our south. On the other hand. If the storm is deeper than forecast, or if a weak storm near the Great Lakes is able to tug the main storm westward, then we get a decent snow.  The computer models can't yet tell us how this will play out.  Bottom line: Wait until at least Thursday to make your Vermont weather and snow plans for this weekend." Our Bottom Line: It might be a good idea to take a look at the "Rapport" before wasting money over-buying bread and milk and skin cream for all that hand wringing.

  • VT State Parks is Hosting Guided Hikes On New Year's Day

    Eleven locations will provide guided tours for hikers of all skill levels. Vermont State Parks is hosting a several guided First Day Hikes on January 1st around the state. If you've been curious about winter recreation, or you're practically a polar bear. The list of the locations is below and you can learn more at their blog site. - Bartlett Mountain Loop, Willoughby State Forest - Big Deer Mountain, Groton State Forest - Bomoseen State Park - Button Bay State Park - Butler Lodge, Mount Mansfield State Forest - Colchester Causeway - Happy Hill Shelter on the Appalachian Trail - Millstone Trails, Barre Town Forest - Owl’s Head Mountain, Groton State Forest - Round Pond State Park - Spruce Mountain, LR Jones State Forest

  • Soon Even The Glass Part of Your Windows Could Be Made of Wood

    Not only is "see-through wood" more energy efficient, it could be Vermont's next big industry. "Stronger than plastic and tougher than glass, the resin-filled material is being exploited for smartphone screens, insulated windows and more." That's according to a new story in the Smithsonian. See-through wood, also known as transparent wood, is a type of wood that has been chemically modified to remove lignin, allowing light to pass through it. Here are some key details about see-through wood: It is created by removing the light-blocking lignin component in natural wood, usually through a delignification process using chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or sodium hydroxide. This leaves the light-transmitting cellulose framework intact. The process typically removes over 90% of the lignin, allowing the wood to transmit about 75% as much light as glass while retaining strengths similar to natural wood. It can be made out of many species, including birch, pine, poplar and basswood. The wood can be laminated and molded after processing as well. Applications are widening rapidly and include uses in windows, doors, skylights, walls, lenses and more - applications where light transmission, strength and low weight are beneficial. It provides an energy-efficient alternative to glass at lower cost, while avoiding some of glass's fragility. It can aid with lighting and solar cell efficiency. With so many trees requiring proper forest management in Vermont, the Green Mountain State may be a great candidate for this new technology.

  • Vermont's King Arthur Flour Gets Thumb's Up from NFL Superstar

    Brock Purdy was the last pick i2022 NFL draft (262nd overall), earning him the title of "Mr. Irrelevant." But, after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy became the San Francisco 49ers starting QB late in his rookie season. This season, he is leading one of the best teams in the NFL who has a very good chance of becoming Super Bowl Champions. Superstar athletes command millions for endorsements, so it must have been a pleasant surprise to see Purdy making a pizza on Facebook with his bag of King Arthur Flour on the table. Now th

  • Is Your BTV Pilot Packing?

    Program deputizes flight crews and allows them to carry a gun onboard, According to an indictment issued in Salt Lake City, a first officer on a Delta flight last August threatened to shoot the captain if they diverted the flight due to an onboard medical emergency. The Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program is a U.S. federal program that was created in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as a part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. The primary purpose of the program is to enhance the security of commercial aviation by allowing eligible airline pilots to carry firearms and act as federal law enforcement officers in the event of a threat or attack on their aircraft. Even in Vermont, passengers generally do not have the right to know if a pilot is carrying a weapon. The FFDO program was established to address concerns about the vulnerability of commercial airliners to terrorist hijackings and attacks. It aimed to provide an additional layer of security on board by training and authorizing volunteer pilots to carry concealed firearms and use them to defend the cockpit and passengers in the event of an attempted hijacking or other security threat. However, opinions about the effectiveness and continued relevance of the FFDO program vary. You can listen to further discussion at AVTalk.

  • Do You Love to Haggle - Keep Your Skills Honed With AI Garage Sale

    Is there anything better than putting a $300 suitcase that was never used on a garage sale table only to have someone offer you five dollars for it? If haggling is your jam, you can keep your skills honed and maybe even pick up a couple of things you don't need at the same time. Try it here.

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