By Roger Chambers | Utica Phoenix Columnist
Life is nearly “back to normal” as the surge of Thanksgiving to New Year’s travel to pre-Covid levels continues. Public theater, musical concerts, and sporting extravaganzas have returned.
The activities listed here are just a few of many varied events held in winter months in sports, the arts and other public events.
Alternative films are shown nearly weekly at the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute and Utica University. There are jazz concerts at the Other Side, and small scale classical and folk music concerts in Barneveld, Clinton, and Remsen. Monthly events focused on local history at the Oneida County History Center. The Players’ Theater in Utica, Rome Community Theater, and Remington Stables in Ilion all provide live theater.. The Stanley Theater is host to several Broadway style and other musical / theatrical entertainment. High school and Syracuse Orange basketball are popular. And as a long time hockey town, Utica University Pioneers and the AHL Utica Comets bring out large crowds.
For those who embrace the snow and cold, there are many outdoor seasonal activities. Snowmobiling and Alpine and cross-country skiing, as well as snow shoeing and ice fishing are popular, and major players in the tourist economy of the North Country and Adirondacks. But weather is often fickle in providing good conditions for winter excursions.
Despite snowfall by the foot in the Tug Hill Plateau and parts of the western Adirondacks, unpredictable warm weather with more rain than snow can limit the chances, perceived or real, of having good conditions for winter sports. In recent years, December and the holidays have been a near bust. Hopefully, January and February remain reasonably cold to assure good conditions for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and other winter activities.
Holidays and Observational Days in January
January 1 New Year’s Day
January 6 Epiphany, Twelfth Night; Three Kings Day, Puerto Rico; Coptic Christmas
January 7 Orthodox Christmas
January 13 Stephen Foster Memorial Day
January 16 Religious Freedom Day
January 16 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, observed third Monday
January 22 National Sanctity of Human Life Day
January 22 Chinese Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbi
Respiratory Diseases and Influenza Season
There were higher than usual numbers of respiratory diseases early in the annual flu season. While RSV has no vaccination, rates of vaccination for influenza and Covid should be greater to provide wider community protection. With high vaccination rates, a rapid spread of these respiratory diseases is less likely. People tend to forget that the common flu season typically kills perhaps 30,000 to 60,000 people. This compares to the well over one million fatalities from Covid over about two years.
It is very unfortunate that this public health issue of Covid and vaccinations was made political in the early stages of the pandemic. The rapid spread of misleading information on Covid and vaccines through social media and the populist resistance to science and public health officials led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary Covid related deaths in the United States.
Covid is one of several major factors in declining life expectancy rates in the United States. Other major factors include overdose of opioids and gun violence, neither of which are being realistically addressed Life expectancy in the United States has fallen two years in a row to 76.1 years from 78.8 years in 2019, pre-Covid.
The annual per capita spending on Health care in the U.S. is $12,318 vs. $6,003 in ten comparable countries, (an average of such costs in the U.K., Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and Japan). Life expectancy average in these ten countries is 82.4. These numbers alone reveal that spending the most money on health care does not yield the best results. All ten have some form of universal health care system where one’s insurance does not depend upon the benevolence of one’s employer.
For various reasons, both ethnically and income related, life expectancy rates, and other indices like infant mortality rates and pregnancy related deaths vary considerably from one ethnic group to another. Indigenous Native Americans and Black Americans generally have the worst outcomes.
Encouraging an increase in vaccination rates should be a high priority of public health care. In addition to vaccinations, there should be increased public health education on hand washing, optional (or in some cases, required) mask usage without harassment, and simply staying home if one is ill with a cold or respiratory infection.
Happy New Year. Despite the snow and cold get out and enjoy winter life in the Mohawk Valley. Some of the activities note above might help the cold snowy winter pass a bit more pleasantly.
In the Night Skies
In January, Mars is at the brightest it will be for year, while Venus is at its dimmest. Venus gets brighter and higher in the early evening sky as the month progresses. Saturn is well above Mars, and the two planets appear closer together, with a conjunction on the 22nd. Late in the month, the Moon, tree planets, and the bright constellation all appear in the southern sky.
Rising and Setting Times of the Sun, Moon and Visible Planets on January 21, 2023
Sunrise: 7:24 A.M.; Sunset: 5:00 P.M.
Moonrise: 7:43 A.M., SE; Moonset: 4:37 P.M., SW
Mercury: Rises 5:55 A.M., SE
Venus: Sets 6:47 P.M., W
Mars: Sets 4:09 A.M., SW
Jupiter: Sets 10:19 P.M., W
Saturn: Sets 6:54 P.M., W
Phases of the Moon for January 2023
January 6 Full Moon Rises 5:10 P.M., NE Sets 8:28 A.M., NW
January 14 Last Quarter Rises (Yesterday) Sets 11:17 A.M., W
January 21 New Moon Rises 7:43 A.M., SE Sets 4;37 P.M., SW
January 28 First Quarter Rises 11:01 A.M., E Sets 12:22 A.M., W