Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where's The Photo Editor?

I heard about this on Facebook. (Hat Tip: Anna.)

I'm afraid it lends itself to all sorts of bad jokes.

"Hey, is that guy's last name Genitalia?"

Press-Republican, Saturday, 7/31/10, Page B3.

I heard on the street that what we are really seeing is a growth. If so:

1. I hope this man is seeing a doctor.

2. Another photo should've been published or in this case -- a rare one -- a photo-editing program should’ve been used to fix it (the image, not the man).

I'm not surprised that the Press-Republican would let something like this hit the page. One time it misparaphrased what I had told a reporter.

Even a paid ad can be screwed up by the PR. Many years ago a local writer purchased a display ad to advertise a book signing. She had written a romance book that took place in Scotland. The original blurb for her book read:

"Sara Logan has lived around the world and has a fascination for things Scottish."

So how did the blurb appear in the PR?

"Sara Logan has loved around the world and has a fascination for things Scottish."

My advice: Stay out of the PR in any shape or form.

(Note: I'm a staff of one. Fortunately my eagle-eyed readers spot mistakes and I go back and correct them. I do proofread but it's easy to let your own mistakes slide by. How many on the PR staff check materials before publication?)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tower

"Hey, Pat, you're sure you don't want to check this out?"

Once again he expressed disinterest. He couldn't handle heights. The relocated fire tower adjacent to the Adirondack Museum in Elizabethtown would be too much for him.

I understood. I had phobias when I was a kid, afraid of the dark and also suffered from claustrophobia. I grew out of those fears but would never criticize or joke about someone who suffered from a condition like vertigo.

But me and a fire tower? No problem. Years ago when I was younger I scaled Poke-O-Moonshine mountain and while the view was great, I wanted more than the 2180-feet-above-sea-level view provided by the mountain. So I climbed the Poke-O fire tower and took it all in.

This fire tower at the museum wasn't that high. It stood on a low flat area surrounded by mountains, not atop one. I could handle it. Easy.

After getting permission from the museum employee on duty, I entered the tower from the second floor exit. I looked up. Uh-oh. Steep stairs and the vast sky above. Sunny, partly cloudy. Maybe it was the movement of the clouds, the changing light pattern, that gave the impression the tower was slowly tottering back and forth.

OK, it's nothing. I started to climb -- slowly. Is this thing safe? What if an earthquake strikes? They're rare in the Adirondacks but they do happen. What about a sudden gust of wind? Recently bad storms have knocked down huge trees in the region.

I was being stupid. There was no reason to feel a bit unsteady on my feet. I kept telling my wobbly brain that. But sometimes a brain has a mind of its own.

There was a warning sign before entering the tower proscribing a limit of four people at a time. How did they ascertain that figure? Is that four average-sized adults? I'm large enough to count as two. And Pat is like me: a big guy. Good thing he stayed behind.

I carefully make my way up the steps. I stop to take shots; the views are great. But I don't lean too hard again any of the metal rails. They seem sturdy enough but just in case...

I concentrate on my photography. The vertigo goes away after I make it to the top. Great shots. A grand vista in all directions, mountains and clouds. A house in the distance built on a mountainside, peeking out from the tall trees.

That was easy. Now to head down...

And I notice how steep the stairway is going down. Somehow it's steeper than when I ascended.

Carefully, step by step, I descend.

Back when I climbed Poke-O-Moonshine -- I was younger, and more importantly, crazy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How To Destroy Your Downtown

The announcement: the first mall in the area is opening outside the city limits.

Rats like J.C. Penny and Wards quickly swim away to the new luxury liner. OK, downtown has taken a major hit from an iceberg, water is seeping in, but with some insight and foresight the old vessel can stay afloat. Gotta fix the leaks, tighten up the bolts.

So how to retain shoppers downtown? Maybe promote small niche shops that you would never find at The Mall? Compete differently? Naw, that won't work.

What draws people are one-way streets and wide sidewalks. So convert Main Street to one-way traffic -- even though it's confusing with the one-way streets already in place -- and widen the sidewalks for the throngs that never show up.

But one-way streets can be a major advantage. You're walking down Main Street, kicking tumbleweed out of the way, and a car pulls up next to you. The driver asks for directions.

You reply: "The Mall? That's simple. Follow this one-way street to the next corner, turn right and then follow that one way street until you see The Mall."

Another time a driver -- a rare event -- will ask how to get to a shop located in the downtown area. You stop and think. The easiest way would be the next turn but that's a one-way street going in the wrong direction. The next turn after that would work but that places the driver on the one-way street two blocks down from where it has to go. Maybe if he drives three blocks down, takes a left on that one-way street, then passes the next one-way street...

It would be easier to figure out a launch window for a space probe to the Bizarro World than to come up with driving directions to get someone to a downtown shop just around the corner.

They say the three top factors for a successful business are location, location, location. But not when you have to use calculation, calculation, calculation to get there.

When it comes to making decisions, the city council is great at committee work. They'll put their empty heads together -- or at least knock them together -- trying to find a solution for saving downtown. Like they say: A platypus is an eagle designed by a committee.

One reason why people like The Mall: free parking. So what should your downtown do? Leave in the parking meters for a couple of years after The Mall opens. That brings in customers. After all, it's entertaining to feed coins into a parking meter. Kids are just fascinated by the technology. Fun for the whole family.

But one day someone notices there isn't much loot being collected from the meters. How about free range parking, let people park where they want? Can't do that. Let those anarchists running The Mall engage in such chaos. The city leaders decide to rip up the meters and put in time-limited parking. A meter maid walks around and tickets cars that overstay the allotted period proscribed by municipal authority. This way someone won't park in one spot all day, making to hard for someone to find an open spot.

Does this take care of complaints about downtown parking? Does a platypus look like an eagle? It's still too hard to find an open parking spot.

Parking problem? Not so, says one businessperson and city councilor with a downtown shop. The parking problem is just a "perception." There really isn't a problem.

Then that businessperson moves the shop to an uptown plaza with a large parking lot, no time limits, plenty of convenient parking. Why did the businessperson move? The convenient parking, of course.

It's all about perception.

Like I said, insight and foresight. Ask the city leaders about a grand vision or design for downtown. They look like deer in the headlights just before impact.

That's the thing about the impending future: it has no brakes.

Maybe downtown could at least provide a small shop with everyday items at reasonable prices. Something like a dollar store. That would help people living there who don't own a car. Such a shop would take care of basic needs. But the city can't even do that.

Excuse me, I have to wrap up this essay now. I have to catch a bus to The Mall to buy some light bulbs, soap, and paper towels.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The G Spot

Sometimes I have fun changing one letter in a name or title. In this case I found a good spot for the letter G.

Once again I've taken an old comic book cover -- from a collection of scanned covers from monsters-on-the-loose Marvel titles at the Monster Blog -- and created a parody. Actually two since I discovered the changed name also applies to a Mario Brothers game character. Up first, the original cover, then my riffs on it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Good Day For Foot Tanning

Peeled But Unappealing

Details at my bad blog, Dogtown 12901.

FLW News Service?

There's AP (Associated Press), UPI (United Press International), and ESPN (Entertainment Sports Programming Network), all services that provide journalism to various outlets. So what is FLW?

I ask because recently the Press-Republican has been running articles by David A. Brown, FLW Outdoors Writer, about a Lake Champlain fishing contest.

Time to Google because the PR ain't gonna provide any details.

Here's an explanation I found at the FLW website:

"FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 189 tournaments in 2010. FLW Outdoors has also taken fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing awarding the largest prizes in the history of fantasy sports. FLW Outdoors memberships are available featuring numerous benefits including Player's Advantage."

A few more details here.

How clever. Notice the name of the organization is FLW Outdoors. So David A. Brown isn't an "outdoors writer" but a writer for FLW Outdoors. Brown isn't employed by a news service; he's a public relations hack. When a reader pays for the Press-Republican, he expects news, not public relations pseudo-news.

I doubt you'll see any discussions in any FLW Outdoors article about the impact of fishing derbies on the lake, whether or not there are problems. That would be journalism.

This is no different than a "Staff Writer" for Treasure Hunters Roadshow writing a full-page advertorial that appears at first glance to be a news article. Maybe the Press-Republican should officially abbreviated its name to just the initials PR so that knowledgeable readers will be tipped off that it's become a public relations organ.

This FLW business is just another example of the declining standards of the Press-Republican, a newspaper that one day won't even be worthy of being recycled as fishwrap.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Over at my bad blog, Dogtown 12901, I continue to document one of Plattsburgh's chronic problems. If you think the images are disgusting, keep in mind I see this stuff sometimes on a daily basis -- and I don't go looking for it.

Who Dogged City Hall?

BP: Brickbat Parody

Over at the Monster Blog a comic book fan has scanned in lots of covers from old Marvel Comics but not of the superhero variety. Before Spider-Man and the Hulk made it big, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby were cranking out all sorts of giant-monster-on-the-loose stories during the late 1950s-early 1960s. This was back in the days of Godzilla and movies like "Them," giant mutant ants on the loose.

It's great for someone like me to see those covers and read about all sorts of crazy creatures that appeared month after month. But after a while Stan and Jack were scraping the bottle of the barrel. It's hard to come up with a different type of monster, a scary entity that tops the one from the last issue. That's how we ended up with bizarro menaces like Groot, a huge mobile alien tree who was defeated by a scientist and his brilliant solution to the threat, super-termites.

A few of the covers I found inspiring, lending themselves to parody. Here's one cover featuring a water menace:

In light of events in the Gulf with BP (British Petroleum) and its deepwater oil platform polluting the waters, I envisioned a new version of the cover:

Actually is this my second version. I sent a even cruder one to a friend, Rick Arthur, who is much better at Photoshop manipulation. He ran with my idea and created this parody:

I have other covers in mind to get "the treatment" by me. Believe it or not, doing one of these parodies is time-consuming, especially when one doesn't know all of the nuances of Photoshop (or in my case, GIMP). But when I have the time, another mutated cover will be coming your way.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Well, looks like the air conditioning is finally fixed at the Plattsburgh Public Library. As far as I know there haven't been any more breakdowns lately for a number of days. From what I understand the repairs meant more of a draw on the system and that tripped a circuit breaker. If that's the case, then why didn't someone anticipate that problem with the greater load? That would've been efficient but it wouldn't have been Plattsburgh.

Anyway, great to have a comfortable place to read a magazine, to use a computer, and also to beat the heat.


Over at my bad blog, Dogtown 12901 (WARNING: Disgusting images), the question is asked: What is that stuff on the Durkee Street sidewalk? Check out "Clop, Clop, Plop, Plop?" Maybe I should start issuing travel advisories for pedestrians; I'm not horsing around...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roy G. Biv Gang Goes On A Colorful Spree

Seeing But Not Spotting

Nighttime. It looked like an old leaf hanging on the wall in the dim light, maybe stuck there by some spider-webbing. Of course that's what nature wanted me to see.

My friend Dean wasn't fooled. He's something of a nature buff who enjoys hiking in the Adirondacks. "I think that's a moth," he said.

I looked at the object outside my apartment building, dully illuminated by the side entrance lights. I told him it was just a dried out leaf. But he insisted I take a closer look.

I did. A moth with the colors and shape of a dried out ragged brown leaf was hanging on the wall. After Dean left I hauled out my tripod and took some shots but without flash. The moth was parked near a window to someone else's apartment. Even with the blinds closed tight I knew the renters in there might wonder about the bright burst when my flash went off.

I did a time exposure with a ten-second timer countdown and used the mirror lock-up feature on my DSLR to minimize vibration. I had to when I ended up with an exposure lasting 25-30 seconds. The lighting at the entrance really dropped off where the moth placed itself.

So despite training myself to look for potential images, I still need a second set of eyes to spot what I overlook.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fireworks Fans

Sometimes the best view is provided by laying on the ground.

(Click on image for larger view.)

To B Or Not To B?

Two options for photographing fireworks: long or short.

The advantage of using somewhat slow shutter speeds is that you can take your shots handheld, no tripod. But this means you have to be careful with keeping the camera steady, even with image stabilization activated. And unlike the longer settings on bulb, even shutter speeds as slow as 1/4th second still don't record the entire burst, they're still short in duration.

On the 4th of July I left my tripod home and found a spot on the lake to grab some shots of the Plattsburgh fireworks. Most shots were taken at a shorter focal length to minimize wiggles but a even a couple at towards the longer end came out.

(Click on each image for larger view.)

With the somewhat slow shutter speeds I had to anticipate the peak of the burst. Sometimes I missed that peak. And even if I hit that peak, I was missing the completion of the streaming patterns.

So on the following weekend I brought along my tripod in my wheeled backpack to save the strain on my bad back. The Mayor's Cup in Plattsburgh featured more fireworks. This time I got closer to the launch site and even with the wide-angle view I was still too close at times. But by using the bulb (B) setting I could leave the shutter open as long as I wanted -- 5 seconds, 10 seconds, etc. -- and record multiple bursts. The tripod kept the camera steady so I didn't end up with wiggly or blurred trails. So while I can image fireworks handheld in a pinch, I prefer the tripod, despite the effort of lugging it along.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Back Porch Band

Yesterday evening local band Lucid rocked downtown Plattsburgh, using the rear patio of the Koffee Kat as an elevated stage. Despite the heat and humidity the band gave its all.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fixed Library AC Is Unfixed Again

When I visited the Plattsburgh Public Library this evening I noticed the front doors were braced wide open. Uh-oh.

The air conditioning broke down again around 3 PM today. As I have posted before, it ain't pleasant when the AC is dead, especially during a heatwave with high humidity.

According to the thermostat thermometer on the wall it was 80 degrees F. And if the AC stays dead, I can't imagine how hot it will be tomorrow with a full day of heating from the blazing sun.

The AC was supposedly "fixed." New parts were installed. It wouldn't be surprising if more parts are on order to fix the fix.

I heard the AC dates back to 1986. I'm no expert but after 25 plus years of service it might be time to replace the whole system instead of trying to keep the old one going, rebuilding it piece by piece. But that's how the City of Plattsburgh deals with a problem: patch it up, don't replace it because the costs are too high for a new one. Of course, when the baling wire and duct tape fails, just add some more and pretend it will work.

Patchjob follows patchjob and in the long run money is wasted. A classic example is the front entrance to the library. For years the city kept screwing around, trying to keep the crumbling steps glued together, slopping on some concrete. But the steps kept crumbling no matter how much baling wire and duct tape was used.

Maybe the AC will be fixed without any more new parts. But I won't be surprised if it isn't and more money is thrown down the rathole. I would guess a new unit would be greener, saving the city some money through increased efficiency.

Spend money to save money? What a radical thought.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Macro Mothology

Sometimes you can observe the cycle of nature at your front door.

Or in my case on the outside door frame to my apartment building. Apparently a white moth thought the white-painted frame would help camouflage her while laying her eggs.

And some time later these little critters hatched out. I needed to use a macro lens so that the tiny caterpillars could be seen with some sort of detail.

More At My Bad Blog

Two more:

"Diaper Or Paper Towel?"

"Glass, Plywood And Blood"

Found at Dogtown 12901. Warning: Disgusting/disturbing images. The stuff you won't see at the Chamber of Commerce website.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Holiday Crap

Over at my bad blog, Dogtown 12901, see how some people show respect for this country on its 234th birthday:
Warning!! Disgusting. Not safe for work, mealtime, or anyone with a sensitive stomach.

(Don't get mad at me. Get mad at the ones who left this stuff behind.)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Troglodyte Talk

My nickname for the bar is the Alley Oop because of some patrons who like to hang out front, right next to the sidewalk, and make annoying comments to passers-by.

Late evening. I'm walking home when I notice a potential image. Under a streetlight there's a handmade sign with a purple plastic twirler hanging down from it. Some of the light is being reflected back up on the sign, a twisted glowing ribbon.

The trouble is the sign is near the Alley Oop. Two patrons are standing on the front porch. They don't bother me but I have the feeling if I stop and take the shot, even with my camera not aimed at them, I might get hassled.

I walk down the street and think about my options. Come back at 3 AM and maybe everyone has left so I can shoot in peace. Screw it. Other option: Be intimidated by potential trouble and forget about the shot. Screw it.

In a while I return, noticing that no one is out front. But just before I arrive at the spot, two more patrons, man and woman, come out and stand around. I ignore them, get close to the object and take some shots, making adjustments as necessary. I'm close to the sign, shooting away from the couple.

I cross the street and walk away, checking my LCD screen to make sure the shots came out.

In the background I hear a gruff voice say, "Uh, are you some sort of artist?"

I ignore him. It's the guy on the porch. I know better than to reply. I don't know how lubricated with beer he is and I don't want to find out. His female friend laughs.

As I keep walking I hear the same loud voice say: "Taking pictures around here while we're having a talk."

I didn't take the bait. If he wanted a private conversation, he should've retreated inside to a dark corner of the bar -- there are plenty of them -- instead of standing next to the sidewalk.

What happened just reinforced my POV. Most patrons don't bother you but there are a few that will attempt to create a confrontation. No use talking to those types. To communicate on their level I would have learn how to beat my chest and grunt. And instead of a camera, I would have to lumber about with a beercan in one hand and a wooden club in the other.


A county inspector has checked out the Treasure Hunters Roadshow to see if THR has been using certified scales during its latest visit to Plattsburgh.

I had emailed the Clinton County Department of Weights and Measures to discover whether or not the scales used by THR to weigh gold were certified. I didn't get a reply to my email so I phoned the department earlier today.

The official told me they had stopped by the THR operation and that the purchase scale had been certified in another county (Warren). I learned that there are two types of scales: one to make a rough estimate of weight and an official one used to record the final weight before purchase. The purchase scale has to be a design approved by the state and after it's inspected a blue seal is affixed to it.

I contacted the county Weight and Measures Department because I had read online how THR got into some trouble with its scales in other locations.

For example, in an article headlined "Collectibles buyers offer quick sale of gold, other items," published online May 11, 2010 by the Corvallis Gazette-Times newspaper in Oregon, you will read:

"Then in March, inspectors in Tehama County, Calif. fined the roadshow $1,700 for using scales that weren’t approved for buying jewelry and weren’t placed in a location so sellers could verify the weight registered on the scale. Inspectors had previously approved scales for THR, but when they returned during the sale, the scales had been replaced with noncertified ones.

"A few days later, Mendocino County, Calif. inspectors found roadshow dealers again placing scales out of view of sellers. County sheriff’s deputies shut down the sale for failing to obtain the proper permits..."

"[Jason Barber, administrator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture Measurement Standards Division] said inspectors in Klamath Falls just a few weeks ago found a Treasure Hunters dealer using four digital scales that were not legal for trade. The company arranged for a certified scale to be shipped via overnight mail and continued operations. Currently, the company is listed as having one legal scale for transactions completed in Oregon."

Isn't it fascinating what you can learn through Google?

PPL Upgrades

The AC is finally fixed at the Plattsburgh Public Library. And also a new emergency exit has been installed.

In case of an emergency, get a ladder, pop open the ceiling trapdoor, and crawl out through the ductwork.