“In every well-ordered society…the rights of the individual may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.” Justice John Harlan 1905
Yesterday when shopping at the Herkimer New York Walmart, I had to call for assistance 4 times at the self-checkout, as the software failed to recognize some scanned items, including fresh produce and cat food. My daughter had a worse experience that same day, trying to use her EBT card. After 30 minutes of shopping, her purchase was canceled and all items returned to the shelves due to a single item recognition failure.
The cashier guessed that it was because she used her EBT card to purchase organic carrots. It is normal for humans to attribute cause to action, but the untrained Walmart clerk’s analysis was wrong: In New York, organic food products can be purchased with SNAP benefits. My daughter noticed that many carts ladened with food were being returned to the shelves by employees.
It’s apparent that Walmart’s point of sale software is using image capture to verify checkout items. When the barcode or customer-identified item does not agree with the image, the item is rejected by the checkout system. For an EBT purchase, the entire purchase is terminated. This is demoralizing and disrespectful to customers. The Walmart staff is obviously not trained to handle this situation, easily triggering a conflict between the staff member and the frustrated customer. That my order, purchased with a debit card, wasn’t canceled but my daughter’s SNAP-based purchase was, indicates a value judgment by Walmart staff that SNAP benefit recipients are inherently suspicious.
(When my daughter objected to the cancellation of her order and the rudeness of the customer service rep, the checkout employee called security and store management.)
A better approach would be to publicly identify certain Point of Sale self-checkout machines and let the customer decide to use them as a part of an announced beta test of the software. Customer time should not be wasted because Walmart software doesn’t work. Employees should not speculate about invalid items and should be trained to treat all customers with respect.
Walmart is generally the least expensive and best-stocked place to buy food. Walmart is a leader in Business Intelligence and is planning to fully automate stores, as is Amazon. Change can be challenging–those considering a career in retail should look to other occupations that aren’t so easily automated.
Welcome Herkimer newcomers! It’s obvious you’re here–there are but a paltry handful of houses for sale in our pinch-its-cute-little-cheeks village. (Locals are over their shock and quickly fixing up properties.) The good stuff quickly vanishes even as realtors scramble for listings. Same throughout the Mohawk Valley. And Utica! Talk about a renaissance. That grimy old rustbelt city looks like someone swung wide its top and is pouring in the hidden horde of Bernie Madoff. After years here in the trenches and predicting this, it’s exciting and gratifying.
But as many of you came bearing license plates from as far away as California, Texas, Alaska and Washington (“The Evergreen State” their plate read hopefully), you may not know of the false promises of our New York weather. Today, for example, holds the promise of an early spring. As with many things Herkimer, appearances can be deceiving. Fulfilling our civic duty to warn, below’s a pictorial guide to New York weather. (Tip: Now’s a great time to buy a snowblower.)
Again, welcome aboard. The world and Herkimer are changing around us. Don’t know how it’ll all shake out, but just by moving here, you’ve infused new life and possibilities into our cynical old village. Going to be good days ahead. Stay safe.
PERI, a German technology company, has been the first to create a 3D printed multistory building that is fully German certified. The BOD2 3D printer can construct a 3 story building of 10,000 square feet.
With construction supplies in short demand, it’s a relief to see the debut of a new construction methodology that can decrease construction prices by 50% or more. 3D printing robots have become more functional than ever, and now can be used to create buildings of up to 3 stories. This multi-story functionality is especially important, as it can reduce urban sprawl. We need never again create another San Fernando Valley of congestion, unbreathable air, and unaffordable homes.
Upstate New York has experienced a massive shortage of housing in the last year. Few homes are available for sale. Housing unavailability is also driven by many who see central and northern NY as an ideal location for remote work and home offices at a more reasonable price than their current homes in more urban areas. Statistics published by the New York State Association of Realtors for the 12 month period ending January 2021 indicate that sales increased by 16.7% and inventory dropped by 26.7%.
Constructiondive.com reports significant increases in basic building material costs over the past year, much of it the result of Covid-19 disruption:
% change Jan. 2020
to Jan. 2021
Iron and steel
Steel mill products
SOURCE: Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of BLS data
3D Printing to the Rescue!
3D printed homes are constructed from concrete paste, typically mixed from local materials. Floors and walls, both interior and exterior, are extrusion printed by giant robots which are programmed to manufacture predesigned and tested structures on site. This construction can often be completed in a matter of days and includes whimsical curves that are far more enchanting than right angles and parallel planes. Home construction robots can cost $250,000 and up, but careful research and selection of a manufacturer will help to quickly build cost-efficient, high-quality housing. We certainly hope to see some local 3D printed housing soon spring up here in Upstate New York.
As I went doom scrolling recently, I was amazed to discover that Herkimer County has a much lower death rate among Covid-19 infected. In comparison to world stats of 1 death in 44.6, Herkimer has reported 1 death in 81.7. New York State reports 1 death in 21.7 infected. It appears that up till now individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 in our county were 4 times less likely to die from this virus than in New York State as a whole.
This data came from Worldometer today, December 12, 2020. We can conjecture why. Is our health data erroneous? Are Herkimer County residents super isolative in nature? Did I do my math wrong? Or do we possess some type of immunity? This last hypothesis is my favorite. Last year family members here became quite ill with the flu lasting 3 months. (August-November 2019). The symptoms were very similar to those of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. A near epidemic flu was reported in the US at that time.
Often statistics are given as occurrences per 100,000–homeowners, high school graduates, teachers per 100,000. I find the 1 in a number statistic more compelling because it’s personal and easily visualized. We can clearly imagine sitting in a classroom with 80 people. One gets up and walks away.
Driving less than 10 miles from home we were stranded!
When we drove out to Herkimer Home Historic State Park, less than 10 miles away, we gave no thought to problems returning. We soon found out just how difficult getting home would be!
At 8:30 AM we parked in the lot in front of the museum. Just as I turned off the motor, a huge plume of white billowy smoke rose from the hood of my car. After about 10 minutes it dissipated. I was not overly concerned as I have AAA road service and was not too far from home. AAA alerted me to the fact that the tow truck driver would not give me a ride due to Covid-19 restrictions. The tow truck arrived about an hour later. As soon as it departed, I tried to get a taxi. Neither Little Falls nor Herkimer offered any hope of getting one. I did not have Uber on my phone. No one we called was willing to give us a ride.
We decided to walk 3 miles to the center of Little Falls
Fortune smiled on us. It was a beautiful day and a splendid walk with wetlands on both sides of Route 169. Hats, drinking water, comfortable shoes and a backpack would have made the trek far more comfortable. Our portable battery ensured our cellphones would have power throughout the day. As we walked it occurred to us that there might be a bus from Little Falls to Herkimer.
Public transportation saved the day
It took a little over an hour to reach McDonald’s where we sat outside under the trees, snacking on coke and fries. Much refreshed, we identified the location of the Bernie Bus westbound stop. When the bus arrived exactly on time and almost entirely empty, it was a great relief! Things could have been far more catastrophic.
Before you drive anywhere ask yourself “how can I get home if my car breaks down?” Covid-19 disrupts transportation both public and private.
By Linda Kaidan
The above cabin exclusive of interior finishes was constructed by one person in 6 months for $8,000. As the nation faces a housing and food crisis of major proportion, simple solutions can make a huge difference. We have been governed by customs and rules that work against us in this pandemic. We need to use the resources we have intelligently to hold off the chaos that starvation and homelessness bring.
We can economically provide food, housing and self-sufficiency
Using the labor of those in need, inexpensive materials, and existing education programs to ramp up quickly we can achieve multiple goals at the same time. In New York state our budget can come from ending the absurd practice of using welfare hotels as housing. Key to our success would be the suspension of building regulations to enable crisis housing and the use of trending off-grid methods of heating, power, housing construction, water collection-purification and waste incinerating toilets.
What has been one year’s budget for New York state’s homeless would fund construction of semi-permanent residences, workplaces and food growing facilities serving thousands of people for years to come. A single modified shipping container can house 8 people, 2 per room, with a private entrance. In the following example, housing for 8 people is created, with potential expansion from 80 ft to 480 feet per unit. A budget of $9,000 per person would pay for a multi-unit structure at a cost of $72,000. The structure would utilize green energy, water collected from rain, black water reduction and home gardens.
Before Covid-19 things were already spectacularly bad for those in New York State seeking housing. Now they are even worse as employers close their doors and shed jobs. Just last year, the budget for New York City’s homeless was $3.2 billion for 133,000 people, 1/3 of whom were children. Will this be another Great Depression? It need not be, when we to do things differently.
$3.2 billion can build .35 million people affordable homes that will last for many years
Using my onetime $9,000 per person figure for 15+ years of housing and the 2019 NYC homeless housing budget, we can solve our housing crisis by helping individuals and families build their own sustainable homes and gardens for a total of (3.2*(10**9)/9000 = .35 million people). And we can do that for many years, not just one year.
Corona Virus is out of control in FL because Floridians are not taking measures to keep safe. The Worldometer graphs below show the results of risky behavior vs behavior that can maximize your likelihood of surviving Covid-19.
FL carefree behavior leads to accelerated increase in infection.
NY results of outstanding governance lead to reduction of infection and stabilization.
You don’t have to be the governor to improve your chances of surviving Covid19: Here are some things you can do to improve your survival odds:
L-Arginine helps circulation and may reduce blood clotting. Blood clots have been found in most organs of autopsied Coronavirus bodies. Since I have been taking this amino acid supplement, my varicose veins have decreased significantly, and I no longer have trouble stumbling around when I get up in the morning.
2 Avoid sleeping in hotels
When you choose to travel overnight, camping might be your safest choice of accommodation. Covid-19 may be airborne within a hotel or guest room for as many as 3 days. Tent camping can help you avoid this risk.
3 Social distancing is worth the effort
Take social distancing seriously or you will end up with the same fate as those in Florida. It may not be fun to wear a mask or to be careful avoiding contagion. But if you do, you are more likely to live another year when there will likely be a vaccine for this horrible virus!
While no tissues have been examined to determine cause of death, it is clear that foul play is unlikely. Poachers are not among the suspects as no one removed the elephant tusks. Poison is also not indicated, because predators did not become ill after feeding on the dead elephants.
Cyanobacteria are commonly occurring fresh and salt-water bacteria which can produce cyanotoxins and cause sudden death by asphyxiation. Under all too common conditions ponds and water supplies can become dangerously contaminated.
US multi agency project currently working on remote detection of toxic blooms
US Environmental Protection Agency’s Cyan Project uses satellite based remote sensing to identify toxic algae blooms from space. The EPA has joined forces with NASA, NOAA and USGS to tackle this widespread water quality problem with a comprehensive automated solution. This project has been ongoing in the US since 2015.
Remote images capture water color which can be used to identify phytoplankton blooms and the presence of cyanobacteria. The Cyan Project is currently validating data collected via remote sensing and analysis against field collected data to determine the accuracy of the remote sensing acquisition process. US federal and state participants including government, educational institutions and private research groups together with published peer reviewed papers will provide a basis of comparison. Required data includes cyanobacteria counts, location and date.
If water quality analysis can be automated around the globe, IOT devices at ponds and lakes can generate audible water quality warnings immediately to deter humans and wildlife from drinking contaminated water. In the meantime, we must do our best to monitor water sources to protect all animals across the globe.
View available data with android app CyAN
You can view currently available toxic bloom data in US water bodies on your android device . Just download CyAN from GooglePlay and try it:)
As New York’s population decline continues Marcy’s Cree nanotechnology manufacturer draws real-estate buyers to our neighborhoods. Data from realtor.com shows that on 6/17/20 only 3 homes of any kind were available for sale in Marcy.
Proximity to Marcy is a strong indicator of reduced number of homes for sale.
Using realtor.com’s filter of all housing types including mobile, multi-family and single-family homes while excluding homes under contract, I collected statistics of homes for sale in 10 nearby communities. US census data provides population data. The distance of each location to Marcy is derived from Google maps. I also created an availability statistic which is a function of population and available homes for sale.
Distance to Marcy in miles
Mohawk, Frankfort, Whitesboro, Rome, Utica, New Hartford
Little Falls, German Flats
The highest availability of homes for sale was found in Little Falls with one home for every 95 people.
In contrast, the lowest availability was found in Utica with one home available for every 905 people.
Lower availability of homes for sale suggests that we construct new affordable housing.
As internet purchasing outstrips brick and mortar retail establishments, outdated and defunct structures become available for re-purposing as residential communities. An example of an outstanding makeover target is the abandoned Kmart located at 200 Washington St, Herkimer. This property has over 6.7 acres of sub-dividable land and is assessed at $2 million. In convenient walking distance to numerous amenities, it also offers relaxing views of the beautiful Mohawk Valley hills.
A close example of such an affordable housing construction project currently underway is the Snohomish County Washington site, formerly a Kmart. Four hundred much needed residential units will replace the unused commercial area. Building energy efficient smaller homes with multi use and shared community spaces will positively impact our quality of life.
Affordable owner-occupied homes and improved public transportation will create a stronger community and a healthy local economy.
It’s clear that Marcy’s new nanotechnology industry drives Central NY housing shortage. But we can use this to our advantage by creatively creating affordable and accessible housing alternatives.