Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Supermoon Fireworks

 (C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Not only did the Mayor's Cup fireworks fall on the night of a full moon but it was also a supermoon event.  Supermoon refers to a moon that appears larger because it is at its closest orbital point to the earth (perigee).  Obscured by clouds during the fireworks the moon was a yellow eye in the distance observing the multi-colored burst-patterns.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tense Moments: Update

In a previous article I reported about an accident involving a pickup truck and stroller after the fireworks display in Plattsburgh City on the night of July 4th.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Pike and Bridge streets near the Campus Corner restaurant.  The Plattsburgh Police Department didn't have an officer directing all the traffic and pedestrians leaving the area at that spot.  The police and ambulance did quickly respond.

According to info from the Plattsburgh PD website blotter and a Press-Republican article the pickup truck driver was ticketed for not yielding the right of way to a pedestrian, in this case a woman pushing a stroller with two children.  His truck had reportedly clipped the stroller.

The woman, Kristy Pulsifer, age 23, and the two children, William Pulsifer, age 4, and Lila Souliere, age 2 — all from Plattsburgh — had suffered bruises.  No one else was injured.  The police blotter says the incident occurred 22:12 (10:12 PM) on Pike Street.  More details available through these links:

"Accidents for period Friday, July 04, 2014 to Thursday, July 10, 2014" - http://www.plattsburghpd.net/Blotter.htm

Police Log: July 10, 2014. — Personal-injury accident

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Diaper Day 2

They say you can't fight City Hall but in Plattsburgh you can leave a dirty diaper dumped on the ground for two days.

Sunday, July 06, 2014



(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush

A couple of people suggested to me that I should help the Ban The Bomb Trains protesters by faking an image.  (Article about the event: http://writog.blogspot.com/2014/07/meanwhile-who-was-watching-watchmen.html )

I was asked to take one shot of the protesters on the pedestrian bridge over the Saranac River with the train trestle in the background.  Then I supposed to go back when a train went through with tank cars loaded with Bakken crude, the same spot where I took the first shot, and then photo-edit them together.

Sorry.  I don't fake photos unless it's obvious fakery to make a point.

And the point is that I may be a citizen journalist/blogger but I do have journalistic standards.

When I told that to one of the suggesters he said, "Well, just label the photo that you fixed it."  He added that he could do it on his kitchen table with a cutting knife and a couple of photos.

Digital photo-editing does make things easier than the old days of prints, scissors and paste but it isn't magic.  Even the crude fake image above wasn't a snap of the fingers.  Layering was a bitch.

To create a good composite protesters-and-passing-train image both photos would have to be taken in the exact same spot with the exact same perspective and lighting.  You can see the problems involved with the above image.

Also, no one knows the train schedule.  Am I supposed to camp out all day to get the train shot?  For free?

Believe it or not I have a life.  I don't mind doing photography but not when it becomes a colossal spasm in my posterior.

Yes, the disaster at Lac-Megantic in Quebec was horrible.  But photo fakery isn't justified when raising the public's awareness about the tragedy.

Google "Lac-Megantic" and see real photos of what happened there a year ago.

And if you want special photos, don't ask me, just DIY.  You'll quickly learn how "easy" it is.

[ CREDIT: Train image - http://www.academylane.com/news/national-train-day

Meanwhile Who Was Watching The Watchmen?

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - Saturday 7/5/14

Local activists promoted awareness of the oil bomb train problem with a sign-carrying march and then speeches at a location near the Saranac River.

The event received great coverage — but not only from the media.

TV, newspaper and radio journalists were there.  Even someone from the Voice of Russia Radio in Washington, DC.

Meanwhile the Homeland Security helicopter kept circling the downtown Plattsburgh area.  Police officers stood guard under the Smith-Weed Bridge.  Yellow tape marked with POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS restricted any close approach to the tracks.

I followed one group of activists who carried signs and also a long banner — BAN THE BOMB TRAINS — through the downtown area, stopping at certain locations to let their message be seen and heard. 

This group walked over the Smith-Weed Bridge and then crossed to the other side of the river via the pedestrian footbridge that runs parallel to the railroad trestle.  They joined others waiting at the speakers area that had been set up for the event.  

At one point I looked over at the giant bronze eagle, a symbol of freedom, atop the towering obelisk of the Macdonough Monument while the Homeland Security helicopter made another wide loop around downtown.

While the speakers made their presentations — peacefully — I asked one participant about the helicopter.  He said it made him "nervous."

I spoke to someone else who said that a representative of the protest group had contacted the Plattsburgh Police Department about the event.  The story goes the police chief expressed concern that maybe a protester would try to block a train carrying tank cars loaded with highly-explosive Bakken crude oil.

Those damn hippies!  They'll try to put LSD in your drinking water!

(Does the term "McCarthyism" mean anything to you?)

Questions: How much taxpayer money was spent on fuel for the circling helicopter?  Was it well-spent? 

After the event wrapped up I noticed the whirlybird watcher was gone. Maybe the crew got called to help out with a cat stuck in a tree up dere in Chateaugay, bucky.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Tense Moments

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - Friday 7/4/14

After the fireworks last night there was an accident at the intersection of Bridge and Pike streets involving a mother pushing a stroller and a pickup truck.  (The camera metadata recorded with the above image says 7/4/2014 10:17 PM.)

I was on Pike Street, my back to the intersection, when I heard a thud and people yelling.  Turning around I saw the aftermath of an accident.  Apparently a pickup truck was leaving Pike Street and the driver didn't see the mother with the stroller crossing the street.  The stroller was being pulled back from the front of the truck.

The Plattsburgh Police Department must have been short one officer to direct traffic at that intersection where the Campus Corner restaurant is located.  The police did quickly respond to the scene.  The two children seemed to be OK.  One officer used a flashlight to examine the eyes of each child for any indications of a possible concussion (eyes that stay dilated, don't constrict).

The city ambulance arrived and the children were taken to CVPH for further evaluation.  The mother was emotionally distraught but from what I could see she wasn't injured.

I'll update this article with more information if it's available.

New Space, New Exhibit

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Artist Gharan Burton poses with some of his work during the opening reception for his solo exhibit at ROTA Gallery.  His exhibit runs for one week.

ROTA has settled into its new spot at 39 Bridge Street.  President Jenn Allen plans to offer a wider variety of activities and services to the community.  More info at www.facebook.com/rotagallery.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Welcome, Russian Friends

 (C) 2014 Luke T. Bush

It seems that many Russians are thinking about living in the Plattsburgh area.  Why else would our hometown newspaper, the journalistically excellent Press-Republican, print so many Home For Sale ads with a good bit of Cyrillic script throw in?  At least I think those strange symbols represent the Russian language.  It's not as if some dingbats are handling software interfacing and just plain old proofreading.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Happy Freudian of July!

Hey, Mr. Newsstand Owner

(A time travel dream by Luke T. Bush.)

"I'll take all of the copies of that comic book behind you.  That one with the guy in the spider costume swinging in the air on a web rope.  Why do I want all of your copies?  Well, they're only 12¢ each.  Call it an investment."

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

47 Dead Not Forgotten: Local Activists to Remember Lac-Megantic Disaster

Activists display the banner they will carry on Saturday, July 5th, as part of an awareness campaign regarding "rolling bombs," tanker cars with highly explosive materials transported via train through the North Country.  They will meet at 2 PM at the Plattsburgh Farmers Market.

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Decades ago I was a college student, journalism major. The first article I wrote for the campus newspaper was about "rolling bombs," tanks transported via railways that contained highly explosive materials.

How times have changed.

I live in a building around 40 feet away from a railroad crossing where the bombs roll by.  Black Cyclopean capsules containing Bakken crude oil.  The same material that devastated the town of Lac-Megantic last summer.

Lac-Megantic is located in the eastern townships of Quebec.  During the community's early days the railroad that passed through its center brought business and growth.

In an online slideshow about the history of Lac-Megantic the Montreal Gazette notes: "On July 4, 2013 residents gathered for the unveiling of a special exhibit honouring the role of the railroad in the history of the community."

Two days later a runaway train would derail in Lac-Megantic, resulting in fiery blasts that killed 47 people.  Five bodies were never found, apparently vaporized.

The train had been left unattended by its crew, just one engineer.  The company that had bought the rail line, US-based Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA), was known for cutting costs and letting the line deteriorate, even though it was eligible for federal/provincial funds to fix the marginal condition of the tracks.

The RR crossing out my back door used to have problems with the barrier dropping and red lights flashing even though there was no train.  Some people waiting in vehicles would get fed up and cross the tracks, skirting the wooden arms.  As far as I know the problem has been fixed.

But there's a lot more to the situation than faulty crossing barriers.  The tanker cars transporting the highly inflammable oil are not up to proper safety standards when it comes to potential derailments.  The same type of cars that pass right through the middle of Plattsburgh.

You didn't think that your government, federal and state, would allow such dangerous conditions to exist, did you?  If you did, shake yourself out of that stupor and smell the coffee.

Local activists are planning a rally on Saturday, July 5th, to address the rolling bomb problem.  They will meet at the Farmers Market in the city parking lot in downtown Plattsburgh at 2 PM.  They will march with a banner to raise awareness of the Lac-Megantic disaster.  The procession will end up on Green Street near the area of the railroad trestle that passes over the Saranac River.  Guest speakers will explain the issues surrounding the controversy.

In the meantime the bombs keep rolling.  And the only practical advice I've seen so far in the event of derailment is summed up in one word: Run.

Unless you've been vaporized.