Friday, August 24, 2007

Soles To Heaven

The Nonconformist

Call this a self-portrait by self-projection: the spot making a break for it from the rigid straight line.

Rainbow Spiderweb

(Click on image for larger view.)

The Chamber

I couldn’t breath. They had shifted me around, causing the neck brace to press against my Adam’s apple.

Here I was, stuck on a stretcher in the hallway; no room was available. Pain, a live wire radiating down my right side. They told me the emergency room wasn’t that busy. Nurses walked by. My breathing became rapid, hard. I asked a nurse if the neck brace could be loosened. He said that only a doctor could do that.

I told him that I was suffocating. Finally he undid the neck brace. “Stop hyperventilating,” he ordered me.

“I’m hyperventilating,” I replied, “because I couldn’t breath!”

Then I was left alone. No painkillers. A bruise on my leg where the pickup truck hit me kept swelling up; a big goose egg. And my back – I tried to hold on, resist the intense, throbbing pain.

In the background a doctor was annoyed. She had ordered some painkiller for another patient. She kept asking where the order was.

I waited forever. I finally asked if I could get something for the pain. Acting upset as if my request was unreasonable, a nurse jabbed a needle in my arm. The pain was alleviated but as I lay there helpless on my back, I watched the square ceiling tiles above me wiggle around.

I had never done any hallucinogenic drugs – until now. Apparently if I did such a drug outside the ER, it was illegal. But within the belly of this beast it was licit.

Eventually I was given some attention. I glanced at the growing dark purple bruise on my leg; it was getting ready to burst. I asked if an ice pack could be placed on it. Today I have a splotch scar where the goose egg almost messily hatched out.

That was over a year ago. A memorable visit to the ER at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, CVPH for short.

Recently I noticed a detail in the CVPH logo: the “V” has been reshaped into a person throwing up their arms as if celebrating good health.

For some reason that “V” figure represents to me a victim being stretched out on a torture rack.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Examiner

This image was taken during the reception for artist John Cullen at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts on Brinkerhoff Street. I know the woman peering at the painting. She’s also painter. I would guess that she’s trying to figure out the technique used by the artist, how he achieved the texture in his work.

That’s a key characteristic of visual artists: we’re always trying to figure out something from a different angle.

7:14 PM - Through A Mirror Darkly

Thanks to the window tinting provided with many newer cars and vans, there are more reflections out there, eye-catching visuals waiting for me to record them.

(Images taken 8/21/07. Click on images for larger views.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Free Dust Bunnies

Fluffy. Cuddly. Looking for a good home. As you can see, this is a lively litter, just hopping all over, looking for attention.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yummy Items On Clinton Street

Friday afternoon, just after 5 PM. Dinner time. What’s to eat?

How about a free meal just lying around on Clinton Street?

First, we’ll start with this open half-can of soup. Cream of Mushroom. Left out on someone’s front step. Slow-cooking to perfection in the fresh air and hot sun.

And to top it off, how about a slightly used beefstick?

Clinton Street. The Pride of Downtown Plattsburgh. The finest in alfresco dining.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Journalistic Excellence: 8 = 6?

Newspaper readership is shrinking. Arguments could be made for what is causing the problem: free information on the Net, competition from TV, young people don’t read anymore, etc.

But let me add another factor: quality of service. A newspaper should provide needed information on a consistent basis. The daily Plattsburgh newspaper runs an entertainment and arts listing every Thursday called 8 Days A Week. Yesterday a familiar gray box appeared at the end of the listing:

This notice is familiar because it seems to run on a bi-weekly basis. What is the purpose of calling a service 8 Days A Week when you only run six days worth of listings? After all, how often have you seen or heard a five-day weather forecast that only provided information for three days?

The 8 Days listing is included in Out & About, the weekly entertainment and arts magazine of the Press-Republican. This section usually runs to eight pages; there should be enough room to run 8 Days in its entirety. It would mean making some photos a bit smaller, rearranging the layout, but it could be done. It involves a process called editing.

Also, space could be freed up by eliminating outdated or invalid information. 8 Days kept listing an arts organization at a particular location after it had moved. And it kept listing the same organization after it had ceased to exist. The dead listing was included for over a year. Once again, the process called editing could have avoided the promulgation of misinformation and the waste of space.

Most journalism schools will attest that there’s a connection between editing and the quality of service.

How about some editing, Press-Republican?

Hedgewhacker Dan

A while back I ran a photo of a hedge blocking the sidewalk on Miller Street. The post mentioned how a previous Plattsburgh mayor had pledged to have all hedges trimmed back to allow unimpeded passage on city sidewalks.

As you can see from the above image, the hedge has been trimmed back so at least half of the sidewalk is open. Apparently former mayor Dan Stewart was visiting Plattsburgh recently and spurred on by my post, he personally took care of the offending obstruction.

This assumption is being made because Dan is a conscientious person, even though he has moved on to a cushy job in Albany. Also, as mayor, Dan liked to have trees cut down. He expressed disapproval of the trees across the street from City Hall because they blocked his view of Lake Champlain.

And then there was the tree in the park near the Federal Building that he wanted axed. But some citizens raised a stink and put Xmas lights on it one winter, thus saving the innocent tree from certain destruction.

So if Dan wants to make good on his promise to free Plattsburgh sidewalks from untrimmed hedges – and also to indulge in his proclivity for preying on plants – here’s another spot needing his personal attention on Cornelia Street:

Start whacking away, Dan!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Plattsburgh WEXPO A Growing Success

The Plattsburgh Weed Exposition has become an international attraction. Located in Plattsburgh’s resplendent downtown, WEXPO allows visitors to visually experience such rare and exotic weed varieties as Queen’s Anne Lace. With astute acumen the city has taken a semi-vacant lot and transformed it into a profitable garden of delights. Admission is only $10 per person. (Those allergic to ragweed are advised to bring the proper anti-histamines.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Déjà Vu All Over Again

When the Press-Republican was bought by new owners, it ran an editorial announcing that nothing would change, that the newspaper would maintain its standards of journalistic excellence.

Let’s look at some recent clippings from the PR that evince its lofty standards.

Here’s an article published on page A2 of the Friday, August 10, 2007 edition. (Click on images for larger views.) Notice that the article was reported by Sudhin Thanawala for the Associated Press.

Now note this article on page A7 of the same edition. It seems to be a follow-up article by reporter Thanawala; there’s a different headline. But take a good look at the article…

OK, mistakes happen. But how about the same mistake two days in a row? Here’s a clipping of an article from the front page of the Saturday, August 11, 2007 edition.

And here’s a clipping from the same edition, page A11. A somewhat different headline but…

This proves my point that the Press-Republican maintains such standards of journalistic excellence that even its editors don’t read it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stitch In Nine (Minus One)

UPDATE: OK, this blog doesn't want to cooperate when long images are posted. On some computers all one sees is a box with a red X inside it. I'm posting a shorter, smaller version, but if it doesn't work or if you want to see the panorama in a larger size, use this link.

Another experiment with the stitch assist/panorama mode with my Canon PowerShot A540. When you click on the image for the larger view, it might not fit on your screen. In that case you will have to use your mouse to slide the box on the bottom of your computer’s monitor to see the rest of the image.

I had difficulty placing an image file wider than the screen with this blog. If you click on this link, it will take you to my website where an even larger image can be seen.

The composite images were taken on Oak Street, downtown Plattsburgh, NY. Once again the overlap between each image is rough. I shot handheld, no tripod, and didn’t keep the camera exactly level between each one.

I do have a photo-stitch program but I haven’t gotten around to learning how to use it yet. I put this panorama view together in Photoshop, resizing each shot and then layering them together in a new file. The seams are obvious.

Another problem was the difference in light levels between the shadowy and sunlit areas. Even with one shot, getting a good exposure with such conditions is tricky. I was asking for lots of trouble when I did this panorama, the evening sun casting long deep shadows.

When using the stitch assist mode, the camera locks its exposure automatically to the first scene that it registers. One attempt didn’t work because the sunlit buildings were washed out. I had set the camera with the deeply shaded bricked building on the left. While that part was exposed OK, everything else in direct light was burned out. So I set the exposure with a brightly lit building and then started over with the shadowed building. This time all the shots came out somewhat too dark. The brightness level was adjusted in Photoshop so that every frame was more or less at the same level. But as you can see, the variance in brightness from frame to frame isn’t exact, adding to the rough look.

I’m still learning this technique. At some point I’ll end up discovering how to make such a panorama look more seamless. But the rough quality doesn’t bother me that much because I used to make panoramas the old-fashioned way, overlapping prints into one long scene.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Short Tale About A Long Contrail

I always look around, down, up, sideways, seeking any potential images. I noticed a contrail in the evening sky, stretching from east to west, fading into the setting sun. I tried a few shots with my widest angle of view, but I still couldn’t capture enough of the contrail’s impressive length.

So I used the panorama stitch mode on my camera, trying to create a series of shots that together would show how the white streak dominated the sky. I haven’t used the stitch mode that often and so my final image is rough around the edges. But at least it gives an indication of the east to west formation as it was slowly dissipating.

The composite shots were taken on Clinton Street in downtown Plattsburgh, in case you’re wondering what buildings are being glimpsed on the edges of the panorama’s frame. Left to right is east to west. Click on the image for a larger view.

Soiled Diaper, Margaret Street

Image taken 8/8/07 at 8:45 PM. Auto-exposure with flash. 1/60, f2.6 . Location: near the Oak Street School entrance.

Unidentified Food Item, Clinton Street

Image taken 8/8/07 at 4:41 PM. Aperture priority; 1/160 F8; ISO 100; Spotmeter mode.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Night Artist

Lately Clayton Smalley has been carrying a sketchpad. He likes to draw buildings that catch his eye in downtown Plattsburgh. Sometimes the mood to create strikes him after the sun has set. He finds a good spot with the proper view, sits down with a cup of coffee and needed tools, and scratches away. Deft strokes with black ink create a drawing with intricate detail.

Dig It!

I was talking with a couple of friends at Trinity Park today when one of them noticed what appeared to be small puffs of smoke at our feet. Looking closer it turned out to be a wasp burrowing in the dirt. I tried a couple of macro shots and did get the wasp, but not the clouds it was creating. Either the puffs were too faint for my camera to record or I just missed capturing them before they drifted apart. (Time lag is indeed a problem with a compact digital camera.) Also, I was shooting at around 1/60th of a second so maybe my shutter wasn’t closing fast enough to catch the flying dust. (And for any tech geeks who need additional details: aperture F4, ISO 100; Canon PowerShot A540 at wide angle, macro mode.)

So Ends Another Hot One

(Images taken Friday, Aug. 3rd, 2007. Click on each one for larger view.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Windowsill Diaper – Missing!

(Photo taken 8/3/07 @ 6:14 PM.)

It’s gone! That soiled diaper on Miller Street that has been baking for four days in the hot summer sun. Where did it go?

I suspect that terrorists let it culture until it was ready to be used as a weapon of mass destruction.

Pedestrian Or Human Roadkill?

(Read it here first: my latest letter to the editor.)

Dear Editor:

Pedestrians, beware. What has been an improvement for motor vehicle drivers has made key crosswalks in downtown Plattsburgh more dangerous.

The old traffic light system at the intersection of Margaret and Cornelia streets was pedestrian friendly. When someone pressed the crosswalk button, stoplights were activated in all four directions. Also, you were given enough time to cross.

With the new system, the light remains green in the direction of the pedestrian’s travel; cars don’t have to stop. Drivers in a hurry might not see that the walk signal is white, telling you to cross. Even though you have the right of way, a lead-footed driver can cut you off on the crosswalk –- or run you over. And the new signal has a shorter timer, meaning that if you’re physically disabled, you better learn how to hustle.

Of course, Plattsburgh’s daily newspaper praised the new traffic light in a recent editorial. After all, why should car owners worry about those stuck on foot? Cars rule the street. The editorial went on about the mental stress caused by the old traffic light to drivers who had to get somewhere one minute earlier. Isn’t an elderly or disabled pedestrian worth a minute?

The city of Plattsburgh continues to treat pedestrians as second-class citizens. Maybe it will change its tune when someone gets hurt or killed. Like I say, it’s usually safer to jaywalk in the middle of the street than to use a downtown crosswalk at an intersection.

Luke T. Bush

Plattsburgh, NY

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Windowsill Diaper – Day 4

Photo taken August 2, 2007 @ 3:28 PM.

As you can see it’s still there. Doesn’t bacteria grow and mutate a lot faster during hot weather?

Also notice that across the street is the side entrance to City Hall. I wonder how long this diaper would stay on one of its windowsills?

You Can’t Beat The Heat…

…by putting off the inevitable. A viable community entity – especially a city – has to maintain its infrastructure before running off and building new stuff, like a parking lot for a non-existent hotel. Apparently the library central air system is around twenty years old. Instead of saving money in the long run, the city has been patching up the aging system, just like it kept patching up the library front steps.

It’s like having an old used car that keeps breaking down. Good money goes in after bad money. At some point you have to cut your losses and get another car. By the time your wreck finally dies, it turns out you spent enough money to buy another vehicle in much better condition.

Today the library was closed. The air conditioning is still broken. I don’t blame the library staff for not wanting to work in such conditions on a day like this, high humidity, temps into the 90s.

Yesterday, a relatively cooler day, I checked conditions inside the library. It was 45 percent humidity, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The temp indoors this afternoon would easily rise above the mid 90s with the heat index. Fans moving around hot air don’t help.

I’ve been forced to cut my library visits short because the conditions were so bad that I start to get nauseated. Imagine working an eight-hour shift there.

From what I’ve gathered a condenser unit to the old central air system was sent up into Canada to be repaired. The refurbished unit is scheduled for installation this Monday. We’ll see. One wonders how long it would take if the AC failed at City Hall. Repairs would probably be done in days, not weeks.

And if the repaired unit fails when it’s back online at the library? The city of Plattsburgh has to realize that the system has to be replaced.

Or good money will go down the rathole after bad money.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Windowsill Diaper – Day 3

August 1, 2007 at 4:19 PM.

More evidence of Plattsburgh Pride.

Keep in mind this eldritch package of unwholesome antiquity* is near City Hall, right across the street.

The horror… the horror…

*(To paraphrase H.P. Lovecraft.)

Downtown Plattsburgh: Rot Around The Clock