Monday, November 28, 2011


It should have been easy.

A digital weather station for home use made by Taylor Precision Products. Two units. The base station featuring a LCD display with indoor/outdoor temps and other elemental read-outs. The base can conveniently stand on your desk or hang on your wall. And the second unit, the wireless sensor to be placed outdoors -- right into the action -- that transmits info to the base.

Each unit needs a pair of batteries to function. So I open up the base station battery compartment and install the needed AAA cells. It's literally a snap: just press and open with your finger.

Now to install two AAA batteries to the remote sensor. Hey, what's this? Tiny screws, four of them, that have to be removed to open up the battery compartment.

They're crosshead screws requiring a small Phillips-head screwdriver. 99% of the homes across America don't have such a non-standard screwdriver. But I do have a jeweler's screwdriver to fix eyeglasses. It's made only for slotted screws but its tiny head seems to fit the sensor screws. So here I go...

And after fifteen minutes of frustration I give up. A stripped screwhead tells me my efforts are in vain. The metal screws are too soft to unloosen.

On back of the sensor a warning: MADE IN CHINA. I'm guessing the prison slave laborer decided to really tightened down the screws to get even with the commie dictatorship. I can't blame him.

The unit is a triple lemon: non-standard screws produced with junk metal, all permanently screwed in. Taylor Precision Products created a precise pain in the ass.

I check online reviews for the same weather station. One commenter said they kept the product and made it work by prying off the screws. Forget it. Prying off screws -- that defeats the purpose of having a weather-proof sensor. And I'm not to spend any more time and energy with a product that wasn't designed properly. Back it went to the store for a full refund.

So don't buy this Taylor-made piece of shit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

1/3 Lucid: Boats

Two members of Lucid, Lowell Wurster and Kevin Sabourin, sometimes do gigs as a duo. Representing the other members in the band they appeared recently on WOMM - LP, a FM radio station across the lake in Burlington, VT. ( Lowell and Kevin performed some of their band's popular songs.

I was able to record the audio of the studio concert and wanted to use one of their songs to make a video. I was going to use photos of them performing as a duo, making a slide show. But I didn't have that many photos and I wanted to do more than a slow-moving parade of images.

Then the answer to the problem came to me in a flash...

ATTENTION: DO NOT VIEW if you have a problem with strobe effects/rapidly changing images.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rally On A Raw Autumn Day


A flock of crows fly overhead, dark wings flapping under a heavy gray sky. Winter bite in the air. What sunlight filters through the oppressive clouds is quickly fading; the days are now so short. Against the descending gloom the yellow glow of streetlights illuminate the "We Are The 99 Percent" gathering that began at 4 PM.

Despite the sucky weather they rally in Trinity Park to throw off a bit of heat and light. A chanting crowd of college students march down Margaret Street and join them, swelling the count to roughly 75 people.

Like the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators they're fed up, the vocal part of the 99% who think the elite 1% should share more. The ralliers hold up and wave homemade signs, pointed expressions on cardboard and poster board:




Some people portray the Occupy groups across the nation as spoiled rotten kids too lazy to get jobs. (What jobs?) But a number of grayhairs (besides yours truly) were present, some of them retirees like the former college professor I met. One middle-aged man held up a sign – A BETTER NY FOR ALL – a message from the union, AFSCME. Many of them grew up believing in "The System" and now they feel it has failed too many people, young and old.

After the rally I spoke with one of the organizers, Tavish Costello, at the ROTA Art Gallery. Inside with bright lighting and comfortable warmth.

At first glance a paranoid conservative might assume that Tavish -- in his mid-twenties, long dreadlocks and beard -- was one of those crazy young anarchists out to destroy America. But with his quiet demeanor and calm voice, his stress on non-violence, that stereotype doesn't apply. Tavish doesn't want to destroy the government; he just wants it to return to the time when it represented the all citizens, not a select few.

Tavish explained how the 99% movement began with Occupy Wall Street and its political action organization, the New York City General Assembly. The NYC General Assembly is a direct democracy group, allowing all voices to be heard. They discuss how to improve conditions, making the federal government become more responsive to the needs of the people, not the ultra-rich or corporations.

While the NYCGA allows all voices to be heard, anything contrary to the basic ideas of the group will be rejected, especially advocating violence. During a GA meeting, explained Tavish, members use hand signals to non-verbally communicate reactions.

He demonstrated the various gestures. He held up his open hands, palms up, saying that it meant agreement with the speaker's viewpoint. Hands down meant disagreement. Arms crossing the chest to form an X meant complete rejection, time to move on to another topic.

Following the lead of the NYCGA, Plattsburgh has its own General Assembly ( The group meets every Sunday at 4:00 PM at the ROTA Gallery, 19 Clinton Street, Plattsburgh City.

Recently there were shutdowns and evictions of park occupations in various communities across the nation by local law enforcement. But while that aspect might be over, the movement lives on, even in the hinterlands of New York State.

Asked about media coverage, Tavish had praise for the Press-Republican newspaper and its reporter, Steve Bartlett. He said Steve's articles were fair. But some of the online comments to those articles on the PR website? Tavish said that living in a generally conservative area as the North Country does make it hard to get the message out, to have people understand.

Following up on his comment I checked the PR site and, yes, while some defended the movement, there observations such as:

"Youth is a great thing do not waste it on crying. When the play ground bully pushes you down. What do you do? If someone controls what seems to be everything look for another angle because this one does not work. Sorry the 60's faded out 42 years ago and this is not Kent state." (

"Why are you communists not publishing negative comments on this anarchist movement?" (

"Hold a Job Fair at these rallies and watch em vacate....." (

"When is the Press Republican and the rest of the main stream media going to really report on these anarchist groups.

"Much is orchestrated out of the White House by the community agitator-in-chief in collusion with the SEIU, Acorn, George Soros and others...

"When the Occupy movement garners support from Venezuela's Cesar Chavez, the Ayatollahs from Iran and nothing is reported in the press, something is wrong."

People who live in a simplistic world of black and white. No confusing shades of gray allowed.

Even within the 99% movement one can find various shades of opinion and belief. While some criticize President Obama for not doing enough, not standing up to the conservative Republicans, Tavish personally believes that Obama is being bi-partisan to get re-elected for another term. It's the second term, Tavish believes, that will allow Obama to accomplish what he really wants as president.

That's why he thinks that Obama wasn't behind the police actions in various cities to forcibly remove Occupy demonstrators from their encampments. It's been reported Homeland Security and other federal agencies were behind the sweep, helping to coordinate it. Tavish says that Obama -- like JFK and other presidents -- have to deal with the NWO (New World Order) group.

It's not the first time I've heard someone his age voice this conspiracy theory.

Like they say, sometimes the left circles around and meets up with the right-wing.

If things don't improve and everyone really gets pissed off, then non-violence advocates like Tavish might be faced with the problem of chaos in the streets. And if that happens, left or right, Democrat or Republican, none of it will matter if mobs of citizens across the spectrum are rioting.

Tavish and others are trying to prevent such a disaster through peaceful means.

But as he observed regarding the recent sweep of Occupy sites, the 1% must be getting worried.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Art Of Displacement

"The Monopoly" by Dominique Bass-Terpstra

Why's a gas pump stuck in a beautiful rolling landscape?

Metal pipe. Vacuum cleaner. Bathtub. Man-made objects contrasted with natural settings or abstract backgrounds.

It's the motif of the exhibition, "Objects of Our Time," featuring works rendered in oil, acrylic paint, pencil and charcoal. The artist, Dominique Bass-Terpstra, starts with an object and then dis-places it with her creative illustrations. The gas pump disturbs the serenity of the pastoral scene both physically and mentally. It symbolizes the age of the carbon footprint, too many vehicles upsetting the natural planetary balance.

Dominique, a senior at Plattsburgh State University, was inspired when she spotted a rusty gas pump on private property. Of course, law-abiding artists don’t advocate trespassing per se but sometimes a minor transgression must be made to get the details needed from an object.

While she has been trained in the en plein air method, Dominique finds that taking a photograph of a subject and working from an image inside a studio can work just as well. But two-dimensional photos can be limiting. With a smaller subject, such as a pair of pliers, she prefers to have the subject on hand. Holding, turning, and placing the actual object help her to grok it.

Her art will be on display for about the next two weeks at the ROTA Gallery, 19 Clinton Street, downtown Plattsburgh. For more info:


Phone: 1 518.586.2182

Artist Dominique Bass-Terpstra and her work, "All We Had Left".

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mystery Outage

Hyperlocal. Covering local news, the strength of your hometown media.

A week later and still no explanation via Plattsburgh news outlets why the power went out for most of the city on Monday, 11/31/11, at around 1:45 PM.

On Halloween day everything was juiceless for approximately five minutes, especially traffic lights, businesses and factories. In the cosmic scheme of things, a minor incident, but not so minor that it didn’t rate a few words in the daily fishwrap.

Correct me if I’m wrong but there was no mention in the newspaper or other media about what caused the problem. I Googled and searched online, found references to an Oct.19th outage, but nothing about the more recent failure. I asked around if anyone heard anything via the local media or the grapevine. Zero. Zilch. Zippo.

After waiting a week I stopped by the offices of the Plattsburgh Municipal Lighting Department to satisfy my curiosity. The friendly PMLD staff explained that a breaker blew during a line switch. Time to get a new breaker.

I was going to ask if there had been problems lately with breakers or other parts of the system, meaning that other unscheduled outages might occur. But the PMLD people were busy and had other things to do instead of being sidetracked by an inquisitive customer/blogger. Anyway, such questions are the job of “official” media – or so one would assume.

I asked the helpful PMLD staff if the “official” media contacted them or gave out an explanation of what had happened. Zero. Zilch. Zippo.

I had tried calling PMLD first but didn’t feel like playing around with voice mail, leaving a message. Walking over to its office was quicker and easier.

Please note that it’s less than a two minute walk across the street from the back door of the Plattsburgh daily newspaper to the PMLD office. After all, a major power outage is “of interest” to those affected by it.

Hyperlocal, indeed.