Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jennifer Curtis: Don't Judge An Artist By Her Cover

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Saturday evening, 12/29/12

A Saranac Lake native, Jennifer Curtis is a senior at SUNY New Paltz majoring in painting and drawing.  She looks like the classic girl next door: blonde and pretty, neatly and stylishly dressed.

I ask the artist to pose by her favorite work for a photo.  She stands next to her gloomy painting of a feline eating a dead rabbit, a close-up of the cat chewing on a bloody facial wound.

"It's just part of nature," she explains.

OK, but shouldn't a bright young woman be rendering a nice pastorale scene of a horse grazing in a gently rolling field of green grass and sunny-yellow daisies?  Sure, in a world where only stereotypes live.

During the reception for her exhibit at the ROTA Gallery I ask Jennifer if she had any interesting reactions when someone saw her more intense artwork first and then met her later.  She smiles when I mention how an art patron might have been expecting a goth chick with black clothes and lots of piercings.

Jennifer acts a bit nervous, kinda shy, while I interview her.  Of course, having a writog fire away with so many questions while scribbling away in his notebook can be discomposing.  Or maybe her nervousness is because this is one of her first exhibitions and she's worried about the reaction to her creations.  She needn't worry.  While some of her work is dark and outre, it all shows imagination with an artist's eye for detail.

One phantasmagorical painting, acrylic on canvas, depicts a floating child's face, both eyes missing, an electrical cord bifurcating behind the boy's head, splitting into new cords.   Each cord runs through an open eye socket, dropping into the upraised palms of the subject, terminating into a plug.  Jennifer explained the inspiration behind "Plug Eyes" was the birth of her nephew, thinking about how the latest generation is immersed in a world of electronics,  TV and computers.

But not all of her creations are so bizarro.  Other pieces in the exhibit, for example, paper mache bears leaping out of solid walls right at you, are offbeat fun.

The Jennifer Curtis exhibit will run for the next two weeks at ROTA Gallery, 50 Margaret Street.  More info at .   To see works by Jennifer online, .  She can be contacted at .

Friday, December 28, 2012

Consider The Numbers

Stats: Koffee Kat Plattsburgh Versus Koffee Kat Espresso Bar

Screencap from the last email from Facebook about the stats for the two group pages. Even though the page I had created, Koffee Kat Plattsburgh, was still getting hits, it was decided to delete it without my permission. The page could have remained up, promoting the Kat on its own. Note that my stats were better. Gee, was someone jealous?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I created the first Facebook group page for Koffee Kat called Koffee Kat Plattsburgh. I received an OK from the owner and spent considerable time setting up and adding content to the page. An employee – no longer at KK - wanted to be added as an admin to the group page. I added her, not suspecting what she wanted to do. She started a new page, Koffee Kat Espresso Bar, and tried to delete mine using her admin privilege. Her deletion attempt was unsuccessful. I thought that deletion could only be done by approval of all admins.

Today I log on to Facebook and find that my page, Koffee Kat Plattsburgh, has been deleted, apparently by another admin. All my work is gone, the history of a certain time at the coffeehouse. No one asked me to delete the KKP group page. One would think that someone with a modicum of civility would contact me about deletion outside of an automatic notice from Facebook.

Now no one can access my photos and short articles because Koffee Kat Plattsburgh no longer exists. The thanks I get for volunteering my time and doing a good job.

So I've learned my lesson. Backstabbers are out there, ready to erase your work to promote theirs. My advice: if you start a FB group page make sure you can trust any admins you add. Better yet, just make yourself the only admin.

You may ask: Why not contact FB and fix the problem, restoring the page? Obviously you've never dealt with FB -- it's user unfriendly. And I shouldn't have to fix a problem that someone else created.

*   *   *


I had left a copy of the above post at the Koffee Kat Espresso Bar page.  Of course, someone doesn't like the truth and it was deleted.  This post was put up:

* * *
Koffee Kat Espresso Bar
2 hours ago via mobile
Koffee Kat Plattsburgh and Koffee Kat Espresso Bar pages have been merged at the request of the owner. We thank everyone for your understanding and look forward to all of you visiting and making Koffee Kat a great place to spend coffee hour!

* * *

So I left this comment:

"So if the pages have been merged, where is my material from Koffee Kat Plattsburgh? And why wasn't I contacted before my FB page was deleted? Maybe I should delete this page without warning and see how you like it. Erasing my page after all my work is incredibly underhanded."

Let's see how long before that comment is deleted.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Candlelight Vigil On A Cold Winter Evening

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- Saturday 12/15/12

5 PM.  Trinity Park, downtown Plattsburgh.  Brought together by People for Positive Action, people gathered to hold a candlelight vigil for the school shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut.  Yesterday a man armed with semi-automatic weapons entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Twenty children and six adults were killed.

The vigil was a time for heartfelt prayers, songs about peace, individual expressions of grief and sympathy.  A moment of silence.  Against the cold darkness parents held their children close for a moment.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Thunder Road" Movie Pleases Skateboard Fans But Others Beware

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- December 14, 2012

NO SKATEBOARDING?  Not at ROTA Gallery Friday evening.

Skateboarder fans whooped and applauded during the premier of the locally produced movie "Thunder Road."  The "grindhouse" venue was packed, every seat taken, by many young viewers with a few graybeards in the mix.

The technically well-made documentary is almost non-stop thrasher action.  There are no interviews with any of the boarders.  If you want to find out what makes them tick you'll have to go elsewhere.  If you enjoy seeing skateboarders perform impressive maneuvers and stunts – and also take some nasty spills – for an hour then this movie will suit you.

Most in the audience didn't mind seeing skaters repeatedly riding their boards down long metal rails or grinding along the edge of concrete structures.

The movie shows the boarders in action in various places around the area but not all of the spots are skate parks.  In one scene videoed on private property a sign proclaims NO SKATEBOARDING.   But if you're young and reckless, hey, why worry about a stupid sign?

The thrasher life philosophy was summed up by a bumper sticker I saw one time: WORK IS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T SKATEBOARD.  It was plastered near a stop sign in downtown Plattsburgh, the same stop sign that some skaters would ignore.

Skateboarders would use Marion Street as their own park.  They would zip down Marion without looking, speeding across the intersection with Clinton.  One building on the corner was tight to the sidewalk, creating a blind spot.  Someone walking or driving up Clinton Street would have to watch out for skaters coming out of nowhere.

A barbershop used to operate out of the same corner building.  The owner would complain to the police to no avail that the skaters were causing problems, scaring away customers, even sitting outside on the ledge of her picture window.

She wasn't alone in her complaints.  The First Presbyterian Church which borders Brinkerhoff and Marion streets spent a lot of money fixing up its property, including the installation of new stonework.  Skaters came along and started grinding, ruining all the recent work.  The police were called.

One of the skating locations in "Thunder Road" is – yup, you guessed it – the same church.

In some cases skateboarding is for people who don't own property.

Don't expect to see "Thunder Road" playing at the Presbyterian Church.  It doesn't have a prayer.

NOTE: Each image was digitally photo-edited, combining separate exposures for audience and screen. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good News Doesn’t Spur PPL Board To Restore More Funding

PLATTSBURGH CITY – December 11, 2012

A favorable report was followed by a mysterious lack of additional action at this evening’s Plattsburgh Public Library Board of Trustees meeting.

It looks good for PPL regarding its funding for next year, according to City Councilor/Library Liaison Tim Carpenter. Some PPL employees were concerned that they were facing layoffs if the necessary funding wasn’t approved.

When he made his report, Carpenter indicated that PPL had the support of the majority of the City Council, meaning the $60,000 Mayor Kasprzak had cut would be restored. He added that nothing was final until next month when the Council approved the budget.

Back in September Mayor Kasprzak was conservative with estimating future sales tax revenue while working on his budget proposal.  But that revenue turned out to be better than expected. 

With this good news Trustee John Prim raised the option of asking for restoration of other funding that the Board had cut. Carpenter said that it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Trustee Ginny Brady said she was hesitant about asking the Council for more funding.

Carpenter said that the best way to proceed with the issue was to make a motion.

Prim made a motion but there was silence. No one seconded the motion. The Board moved on to other issues, going into executive session.

Why wasn’t the motion seconded? It seems that even if the request to restore more funding was turned down, there would be at least a record that the library still needed financial support for some of its programs. Going back next year to the city for budget approval, the Board doesn’t have anything to point to. The challenge could be made, “You didn’t need it last year so why are you asking this time around?”

It’s a mystery why the Board didn’t pursue the matter, especially after its City Council liaison said it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

[ REVISED 12/13/12 12:30 AM to add paragraph re: sales tax revenue. ]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Signs Not To Be Ignored

PLATTSBURGH CITY - December 10, 2012

It's a matter of cuts.

No cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.  No more tax cuts to the richest 2% of Americans.

Noontime.  The sidewalk outside the Gateway Building on Durkee Street where Congressman Bill Owens has an office.  About 20 peaceful demonstrators holding up signs to get the message out.

Meanwhile in Washington, DC President Obama tries to make a deal with the Republicans while a political Sword of Damocles -- the fiscal cliff -- hangs over the pols' heads.  After Midnight December 31 spending cuts and tax increases will kick in unless a compromise can be reached between Democrats and the GOP.

The demonstrators outside Owen's office are concerned that Obama might compromise and allow cuts in Social Security and other safety net programs.

Among the ralliers was Mary Alice Shemo, chair of the local People for Positive Action.  She said that the term "entitlement" wasn't a bad word: people her age were indeed entitled because they had paid into the system and were expecting what they had been promised.  She delivered a petition to Owen's office that was accepted by the congressman's aide who would pass it along to his boss.

Another demonstrator, David Curry, Chapter President of United University Professions, explained that similar rallies were being held across the country, promoted by the AFL-CIO to coincide with Human Rights Day.  Thanks to the Internet, he said, local people were able to network through email lists and organize their own rally.  He added that the AFL-CIO was going to hold a candlelight gathering later at 4 PM.

The rally had a cross section of representatives from other activist organizations such as Working Families, Northeast Central Labor Council, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Depending upon how the whole Obama-Republican-fiscal cliff situation plays out, today's demonstration might be an inkling of things to come.  Bigger, louder protests.  And it won't be just members of activist groups, it will be Joe and Jane American taking to the streets, upset that the American Dream was really a bill of goods.

Mary Alice Shemo, Chair of the local People for Positive Action, says that the richest Americans should pay their fair share.  She thinks the Bush-era tax cuts should expire.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sequential Artist Skips Sequence, Finds Success

Mark Gonyea and his StoryPosters at ROTAcon 2012.

The old catch-22 of mainstream publishing: To get published, you need an agent.  To get an agent, you need to be published.

Traditionally a writer or artist couldn't get an agent until he sold a work to an editor.

Cartoonist/graphic designer Mark Gonyea didn't follow that sequence.  He skipped the editor and went directly to an agent.  Using the reference book "The Writers Market" he contacted three agents with a project he had completed, a children's book about design.  All three liked the proposal but only one offered to represent Mark, seeing how his book fit a niche that no one else was filling.*

The agent sold his project, "A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good," to a publisher and soon other titles followed.

Mark returned to his hometown Saturday to participate in ROTAcon, a celebration of imaginative works from comics to SF/Fantasy novels to superhero toys.  I spoke with him during the slow spells while he manned his merch table at the ROTA Gallery in downtown Plattsburgh.

I had met him briefly years ago when he and his brother self-published a small black-and-white comic book.  He's been busy since then.  After a gig as a graphic designer for Vermont Teddy Bear Company, he's now self-employed, living in Hinesberg, Vermont where he works out of his home studio.

Besides paper media Mark has also found success with digital, selling short comic book stories through iBooks for 99 cents a pop online.  Each comic is dialogue-less, the lack of word balloons giving it universal appeal to readers around the world.  He also sells each comic as a large wall poster, the story told in square panels on one sheet suitable for framing.

99 cents, he says, seems to be the magic number for selling works online.  A price point that reminds older comic book readers such as myself of the days when comic books were cheap entertainment, not $5.00 works of Art.

Besides his online sales and book advances Mark also keeps busy as a freelance graphic designer.  His own story ends up in a good place all because he skipped a panel.

You can learn more about Mark and his works at:

* [ Edited sentence for clarity re: agents 12/8/12 at 7:40 PM .]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PLL: Questions Raised About Past And Future

PLATTSBURGH CITY – Tuesday  November 27, 2012

Was the unexpected budget shortfall that hit the Plattsburgh Public Library last year – and the resulting furor – a disaster?

That was one point discussed at this evening's PPL Board of Trustees meeting.  The board still struggles with the library budget after an unexpected shortfall that caught it off guard last year.  At that time four employees were facing the possibility of being canned.

The question of disastrousness came up when trustee John Prim pressed for a decision to be made on a budget surplus target number for the year.  He asked Interim Director Russell Puschak what his target was.

Puschak replied he didn't have a target.  He said the library had a balance, a budget that was approved by the board which had a surplus quoted that PPL was going to meet, even doing better than that.  He added spending time to figure out exactly what a target was going to be was not a good use of time for the board.

"I think having a [target] surplus," said Prim, "in the $100,000 range is something we as a board should have as a goal."

"You can't go from disaster to health in one year," observed Puschack.

Prim commented that what happened last year wasn't a disaster.

Puschak disagreed.  "I think it's a disaster when many employees are in a panic about their jobs and livelihood," he said.  He added the media coverage of the crisis pointed to a library with serious issues.

As detailed at this blog (post with video) citizens were vocal, showing up at board meetings to defend PPL against any rash decisions.   Among them was Puschak, before he became acting director, who shared his concerns as taxpayer and library supporter.

Disaster or not, what happened a year ago is still being felt now. While one person familiar with the situation said they would be shocked if cuts are made, some employees are still concerned that they might end up losing their jobs this time around.  They are looking for confirmation through an official email not sent yet that states the City Council will include $60,000 in the budget to keep the library’s status as is for next year.

PPL Principal Clerk Jody Helfgott spoke to the board at the beginning of the meeting, reading from her prepared statement.

“Silence,” she said, ”is our biggest enemy.  It gives rise to paranoia, fear, and anger that spreads like an epidemic to not only to the staff but our loyal, supporting patrons.  Your [Board President Roland Lockwood’s] quick positive response allowed me to convey a renewed hope for all of us.”

The positive response refers to good news that Lockwood passed along verbally to PPL after attending a City Council budget hearing.  It seems the council will maintain the same financial arrangement hammered out last year by City Councilor/Library Liaison Tim Carpenter that prevented layoffs.

But nothing is finalized yet.  Until some PPL employees see it in print, they remain wary about their future.

In the meantime Interim Director Puschak thinks progress has been made.

"We have all worked together," he said at the meeting. "The staff has done an awesome job, the board has done a good job, to put the ship back on course.  It's moving forward and it's something to be proud of."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chris Rigsbee: Rebirth Through Adversity

Chris Rigsbee AKA Adrian Aardvark performs at ROTA.

PLATTSBURGH CITY -- November 19, 2012

A wall of blinding white light.  No sounds or smells.  A feeling of calmness, that's the way life just is, you're born to have all sorts of experiences and then you die.

That's how local singer-songwriter Chris Rigsbee describes his near death experiences, the last one during a car accident that left him with a totaled vehicle, bruised ribs, and a concussion.

Chris explained how traumatic events had influenced his life and art during a sit down interview last week at the ROTA Gallery.  Among his friends and fans he is known by the stage moniker of Adrian Aardvark.  Joining the interview was Matt Hall, ROTA Vice President and also co-producer of Chris's upcoming album, Hidden Magic Revival.

Besides the car accident in September, two years ago Chris and his girlfriend were the victims of an early morning assault by a group of college-age men in Plattsburgh City.  Chris was stomped into the pavement, gravel embedded in his gums, and he lost three teeth.  As detailed at this blog what should have been a case of a hate crime and gang assault ended up with only one person found guilty of a mere disorderly conduct charge.

Dealing with depression, Chris was beginning to recover from that brutal attack, starting work on a new album back in February with Matt Hall, recording material in Matt's apartment studio.  He was also attending college, things were flowing along but -- BANG! -- right at the start of the fall semester, the on-campus car accident.

"As terrible as certain things were," Chris said, "the car accident and the assault, they really helped me shape up.  It was like, 'That's the first part of my twenties, now I really need to live life.'"

His spirit reborn, Chris dropped out of college and later left his retail job at the mall to concentrate on music, creating his own and working with other artists on various projects.  On November 30th ROTA will host a performance of Hidden Magic Revival in its entirety with a supergroup of local musicians who helped with the album.

Matt explained that the album in one way is like a mainstream studio production in that the lead performer performs his tracks first and then other artists are added to the mix afterwards.

"We recorded all of Chris's guitars and vocals together like live," continued Matt, "and then [the other musicians] were overdubbed, all of them were an afterthought.  We had ideas we wanted but all those parts were written by the musicians well after the songs were written."

For example, Chris and Matt knew someone who played trumpet and so they would drag him back to the studio to add a track.

Adrian Aardvark (at microphone) & friends, ROTA basement show.

Chris greatly appreciates the help provided by his friends on the album. "One of the songs I never recorded ("Weird Sweetness"), I thought I couldn't do it justice, but with the musicians and working with Matt Hall on recording those sounds and everything, in arranging them in such a way it does do the song justice."

Chris noted that major themes in his work deal with relationships.  Relationships with love, violence, life and joy.

"This album is about my renewal," he said, "my happiness, my staying away from certain things like drugs and overuse of alcohol, overcoming the self-destructive actions and thoughts I was having for a very long time in my life."

Describing the new clarity in his life, Chris summed it up: "I'm trying to focus on this art, this side of me that was so strong [but] I just neglected.  It's definitely a rebirth."

Hidden Magic Revival will be performed live on Friday, November 30th, at ROTA Gallery, 50 Margaret Street.  There will also be an arts auction with Adrian Aardvark themed works, food catering by Riff Raff, and a Q&A after the performance.  Doors open at 6 PM with a sliding scale admission of $3 - $10.  More info: .

Friday, November 16, 2012

Newspaper Follies: alliativeC areM onth?

The headline reproduced below appeared in a half-page ad on page A10 in the Thursday, November 15, 2012 edition of the Press-Republican.  A good organization like Hospice of the North Country deserves better than this.  (Click on image for magnified view.)

The person who let this go by should see an ophthalmologist at EyeC are fort heA dirondacks.

And this isn't the first time this kind of mistake has been made as evinced by this previous blog post.

Hear that sucking sound?  That's Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. down in Alabama sucking all the worth out of the PR.  There are good people at the PR but their efforts are being undermined by CNHI cutting the operation down to the bone and then some, right into the marrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lensing Art

Artist Walter "Gator" Dunnington (right) discusses his work with two patrons during the opening reception for his exhibit at the ROTA Gallery.

After being nearsighted most of my life, stuck with Coke-bottle-bottom eyeglasses, I grok how lenses can simply detail or bend reality.

Friday evening I was wandering around the ROTA Gallery, taking a few shots of the opening reception for the artist Walter "Gator" Dunnington.  The exhibit features paintings inspired by an eclectic range of sources, from puzzles to Mimbres pottery to the stylings of comic book artist Jack Kirby.  I noticed how an eyeglass lens of an attendee was providing an unusual POV with one piece. 

Sunday evening there was a music event at ROTA and once again I spotted an unusual POV of the same exhibit, this time provided by a bespectacled listener in the audience .

Is focusing on the image within an eyeglass lens weird?  Kinda.  But let me invoke the standard excuse: I'm an artist.

The Dunnington exhibit will run for about two weeks.  ROTA is located at 50 Margaret Street in downtown Plattsburgh.  Depending upon volunteer staffing, it is open daily from 12 to 5 PM.  More info at .

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Don't Overlook Her Book

After months looking over her manuscript for accuracy, somewhat camera-shy author Kelly Julian looks over a copy of her recently published book, Images of America: Plattsburgh.  With her background as Reference/Local History Librarian at the Plattsburgh Public Library, Kelly selected documents and images from the PPL and Clinton County Historical Society collections to highlight key events and people in Plattsburghian history.

There will be a book signing by the author on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:30 PM in the PPL auditorium.  Kelly will share some of her research with a PowerPoint presentation.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Front Page Folly: Does Anyone Proofread Proofread Text Text?

And to add to the goof, the photo and related article were on Page A7, not A6.  Getting your money's worth?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Halloween Magic

PLATTSBURGH CITY - October 31, 2012

ROTA Studio and Galleries sponsored a family friendly Halloween party Wednesday evening in cooperation with the advocacy and support group NAMI-CV (National Alliance On Mental Illness of Champlain Valley).  A magician had set up shop to demonstrate his paranormal powers of prestidigitation.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Historical Anatomy Question

Did Samuel de Champlain have a tail?

Bending TheK nee! ?

Maybe I'll go to the "hurch" and ask if they want me to vote or veto on "November6 th."  (See how the Press-Republican has improved so much with the extra quarter being charged per newsstand copy?  Even display ads get the special treatment.  It seems the PR outsourced its layout to Bizarro World.)

Newshole Follies

"Quick -- we got a blank spot on page A2, nothing to fill it with, no ad or story!  Hey, let's just copy and reduce the some of the articles already on the page and plug the hole that way.  No one will notice..."

(Click on image below to enlarge.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PPL Board Talks In Circles

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - October 23, 2012

Ever see a blind dog chase its own tail?

After sitting in for over two hours at the Plattsburgh Public Library Board of Trustees this evening I felt I had witnessed a lot of circling around issues, the same points repeated ad nauseam, but no decisive action.

Yes, it’s not easy working with others in a group setting.  Various viewpoints have to be considered.  That’s how the democratic process works.  Unfortunately at times the process is inefficient.  Group dynamics twist upon themselves.

I can’t criticize every individual on the board.  Each one cares in his or her own way but in the end the PPL Board of Trustees comes across as dysfunctional.
There are problems the Board must address, especially in the area of the city budget process.  Mayor Donald Kaszpzak’s proposed budget for next year includes cutting out $60,000 from PPL.  If this action does proceed, certain undesirable matter will strike the air circulation propeller.

As I detailed about a year ago at this blog there was a lot of controversy about how to address a budget shortfall at the public library.  The trustees decided to take the simple way out and lay off staff.

Fortunately city Councilor Tim Carpenter came to the rescue with an alternative plan that meant no layoffs, just hours cut and other concessions.  It seemed that this would be the set-up for the next four years, the city contributing $60,000 per year to keep the library going.  But the catch is that contribution has to be approved every year.

This evening at the PPL Board meeting there was discussion, more discussion, and even more discussion how the trustees should present its case on behalf of the library to the city council.  As council liaison Tim Carpenter pointed out, the mayor proposes a budget but the council has the final say.

After Carpenter left the meeting John Prim (Ward I) proposed that the Board should act as if the $60,000 wouldn’t be approved, going back to the option last year to lay off people.

Board Vice President Sally McSweeney (Ward IV) mentioned that if the $60,000 contribution from the city didn’t continue, the new agreement made with the PPL employees union would be null and void, thus the old contract would kick in.

As one observer familiar with the situation has mentioned to me such a scenario doesn’t bode well for the city.  Besides the public backlash over PPL employees who made concessions in good faith and still end up being tossed out in the street, other city unions could also raise a stink.  The city has been pointing at the PPL contract, telling other unions that if PPL had to make concessions then they must also.  A return to that old contract wouldn’t give the city anything to point at.

For some reason trustee John Prim acted as if he shouldn’t be an advocate for the library, its patrons and employees.  He had admitted defeat, ready to cut jobs.  Ward III trustee Harold Brohinsky pointed out that it seems that the mayor won’t fight the council over the $60,000 to avoid another public relations war.  But Prim didn’t pick up on that.

The meeting spun around and around.  A consensus couldn’t be raised about how the Board should present its case to the city council.

A couple of trustees said that the Board should have a united front, advocating for the best on the part of PPL.  On the other hand John Prim was ready to wave the towel as a white flag before throwing it into the ring.

The Board then went into executive session to secretly discuss who knows what.  I had to leave, walk away.

I didn't mind.  It was a relief to my sore ass.

Disability Advocates Address PPL Accessibility Problems

Disability advocate Debra Buell shows a keyboard after an inexpensive fix that makes it more usable for someone with vision limitations.

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- October 23, 2012

Sometimes as the solution is as simple as putting high-contrast stickers on a computer keyboard.

Other solutions involve much more work.

At the Tuesday evening meeting of the PPL Board of Trustees disability advocate Debra Buell pointed out problems that disabled patrons face when using the Plattsburgh Public Library.  She offered suggestions that would help those patrons with wheelchairs or walkers and those with vision or hearing limitations.  She was accompanied by Andrew Pulrang, Executive Director of the North Country Center for Independence.

Debra mentioned that she had been trying for around a decade to work with various  library directors on resolving issues affecting disabled patrons.  She provided the PPL Board an informational CD with videos and photographs documenting areas that needed attention such as the public computers and the photocopier.

She also included a video of the difficulties she encountered with her wheelchair fitting into the handicap stall in the women's restroom.  The stall wasn't long and deep enough, meaning that the door couldn't be closed for privacy because her chair stuck out.  Also, the set-up made it problematic for someone to ambulate out of a wheelchair by using the handrails; the grab bars were too far away.  With a measuring tape in hand she showed that the stall at its narrowest point -- where the paper dispenser was attached to a wall -- was about 29 inches wide, not 6 feet wide to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

In her video Debra noted that money had been spent on making the stall more accessible but the renovations didn't go far enough.

She and Andrew suggested to the PPL Board was making a restroom unisex and handicap compliant, no stalls.

Suggestions were also made how to modify the public access computers so that people with vision and hearing difficulties would have less problems using them. Debra held up a netbook computer with high-contrast stickers on its keyboard that made it easier for the visually impaired to type.  The stickers, she said, were less than three dollars.

Interim PPL Director Russell Puschak said he was willing to work on improving accessibility.

This photograph by Debra Buell shows how her wheelchair is too big to fit into a bathroom stall at Plattsburgh Public Library.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Frankie Pops The Question

 MORRISONVILLE, NY  - October 20, 2012

At a Halloween-themed barn dance Saturday night the Frankenstein monster (AKA Frankenstein, Frankie or Jimmy Dolan) joined the Blind Owl Band on stage to make a special announcement.

Attending the event was the Bride of Frankenstein (Erica Exner) who had met Frankie a year ago through the Blind Owl Band.  Frankie mentioned this during his announcement, saying that once again the band was providing an opportunity for him -- this time to ask her for her hand in marriage.

 As you can see in the above photo, the Bride was stunned as if hit by an electrical jolt.  Behind her a vandyke-bearded man couldn't contain his own surprise as evinced by his agape reaction.  (Hey, is that Skitch Henderson or "Sing Along With" Mitch Miller?)

The Bride said yes and this Frankenstein story had a happy ending.  Congrats to Erica and Jimmy.