Monthly Archives: September 2011

Celebrate Us!

UPDATE: This event is rescheduled for October 14, 2011, due to weather predictions of rain.

Categories: Amsterdam | Tags: , , , ,

The Lap Hound

‎A monarchy is the most expensive of all forms of government, the regal state requiring a costly parade, and he (or she) who depends on his (or her) own power to rule, must strengthen that power by bribing the active and enterprising whom he (or she) cannot intimidate.
– James Fenimore Cooper

When it comes to the subject of Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, Dan Weaver’s perception of the truth is not always shared by the majority. Check out Dan’s blog Upstream & Downtown as this non-resident faithfully defends the Mayor’s actions.

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics, Technology | Tags: , , ,

Thane Panders to Latino Vote

Under the guise of an unadvertised “neighborhood meeting”, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane went shopping for the Latino vote last night as she and other subcommittee members, City Historian Robert von Hasseln and 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero met with select members of the East End neighborhood at Centro Civico.

As Recorder reporter Jarret Carroll described in his article; Residents, officials discuss ideas for the East End, this was a meeting supposedly organized to discuss neighborhood problems and develop a strategy for revitalizing the East End.

The problem again with Thane is communication, as no one informed the rest of the residents! There was no meeting notice posted in the Recorder or on the Official City of Amsterdam website or City of Amsterdam Facebook page. 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero told me he was only notified of the meeting briefly the night before and if it wasn’t for Centro Civico calling to remind him, he may not have attended himself. 5th Ward Supervisor Karl Baia was not invited. I live just a block away from Centro Civico and would have attended this meeting had I or the majority of the neighborhood been informed of this planned meeting.

I understand that there was a very large food spread, as if Centro Civico was expecting a much larger crowd.

Even Centro Civico was duped as no one else was invited to take part. This was about one thing, the Latino vote. Our Mayor has virtually ignored the Latino population for four years and finally realizes she may need their vote to stay Mayor of Amsterdam.

Carroll’s report states that Thane even promised the crowd Disneyland!

You don’t have to limit yourselves, you can also think of sculptures, painting and artwork … you can imagine your own Disneyland.

But all of those empty promises come with a price tag, to be paid with grant money the City has yet to secure.

The consensus of the people I spoke to agreed, this was pure political pandering by a Mayor struggling to stay in office.

Until Mayor Ann Thane opens lines of communication with ALL of Amsterdam’s citizens and realizes the public is on to her schemes, the reelection route will be a tough road to travel.

Categories: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tax Fraud

It seems lately that the US Postal Service exists only to deliver tons of junk mail. This type of mail often advertises by targeting specific groups of people and if I get one more packet to join AARP….

I often respond to unwanted credit card offers by stuffing all the material back in the postpaid envelope and returning it to sender. I justify this action by thinking it helps keep postal workers employed.

Nothing angers me more than a local company flagrantly violating the Tax Law by advertising  Pay No Sales Tax  to promote their products as did Ruby & Quiri, at 307 North Comrie Ave., Johnstown, NY 12095, who describe themselves as being, Your Complete Home Furnishings Super Center.

Today I received  two advertisements for this same tax-free sale from Ruby & Quiri, one on the front cover of  Amsterdam Monthly Magazine, published by Sacandaga Advertusing LLCand another printed on a separate insert flyer.

The ad states Pay No Sales Tax* on all American made furniture and select clearance items. There is an asterisk after the word Tax that refers you to the small print at the bottom of the page  which reads *Discount equivalent to the cost of sales tax is applied at the time of purchase. However this disclaimer does not compensate for the fact that the advertiser is illegally refunding sales tax to sell a product, as illustrated in the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Publication 34 Sales Tax Advertising Issues.

An increasing number of merchants across the state have been running advertising campaigns that are in violation of the New York State Sales and Use Tax Law. Advertisements that offer to pay all or part of a customer’s sales tax liability, or to refund all or part of the sales tax, or to extend or expand a limited sales tax exemption to other products or time periods, are examples of improper advertisements. These violations could result in additional sales tax being owed by the business or its customers.

New York State Tax Law requires that a vendor must collect sales tax from the customer when collecting the selling price of any taxable item or service. It is illegal for a vendor to advertise or represent to the public in any manner, directly or indirectly, that tax is not considered as an element in the price to be paid by the customer. Therefore, advertisements stating that the customer will not be charged the tax, that the vendor will pay the tax for the customer, or that the tax will be refunded to the customer or applied as a credit against the customer’s bill, account, or future purchases, are prohibited.

In addition, though it is not illegal to advertise or promote sales tax-free periods on sales as provided by the Tax Law, you may not make up your own tax-free periods or exempt items.

I hope Ruby & Quiri as well as Amsterdam Monthly Magazine stop this illegal and deceptive advertising practice.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Media | Tags: ,

The Moon Festival

The 15 day of the eight month in the Chinese calendar marks the Mid-Autumn Festival, a lunar harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese since the Tang Dynasty. It is a major holiday in the Chinese culture that has many legends and story attached to it. It is a family holiday, a joyous occasion that celebrates the full moon. The highlight of the celebration is eating moon cakes, a thin crusted Chinese pastry filled with lotus seed paste, containing a salted duck egg.  Each year the date of the celebration changes depending on the lunar cycle. This year’s celebration took place  September 12, 2011.

I along with a few other select invitees from the local community, attended this year’s Moon Festival, held at the home of the World Peace and Health Organization in Fultonville, New York. Upon arrival we waited in the vestibule of the former Jesuit residence where the aroma of burning incense was the prelude to an evening full of sensory stimulation. Once all the guests arrived, we moved into the dining hall decorated in bright bold colors.  There was a buffet set up with a variety of gustatory delights. We heard warm stories of family and the necessity to help those in need. The WPHO entertained  with both song and visual performances of costumed dance and Tai Chi. Then it was time for the moon cakes after which we went outside to gaze at the lunar splendor.

I am honored to be asked to take part in this traditional Chinese family holiday.

Categories: WPHO | Tags: , , ,

Amsterdam’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony

City Hall was the place for this mornings 9/11 Memorial Ceremony. The original site of Riverlink Park could not be used because of recent flooding. Amsterdam’s City Historian did a wonderful job of both planning , organizing and speaking at today’s event.  I’m sure there were others involved but Robert von Hasseln certainly deserves a lot, if not most of the credit for today’s event that was chock full of pomp and circumstance (a little heavy on the pomp). There was music presented by the Amsterdam High School Select Choir, Loreal Lavigna sang our National Anthem,  and Misha Murdoch played bagpipes. There were members of the clergy, Rabbi Ariel Lynn Russo presented the invocation and Rev William T. Hodgetts, Jr the benediction. Speeches were given by both von Hasseln and Mayor Ann Thane who looked a little worn from the events of the past two weeks. There was a color guard, flag raising ceremony, wreath laying ceremony and the firing of three rounds, the Amsterdam Fire and Police Departments stood at attention in their dress uniforms. There was so much packed into this event, we almost forgot why were there. The meaning was soon brought home by von Hasseln’s impassioned speech describing the events that occurred 10 years ago that forever changed the way we look at the world. Here are my images of today’s ceremony.

Categories: Amsterdam, History, Photography | Tags: , , , , , ,

New York State of Emergency Confusion

With the National Weather Service documented tornado in nearby Cransesville, NY on Sunday followed by three days of continual rain, the rivers and tributaries are again at risk of flooding.

You would think with all the gained experience from the tropical storm Irene flooding on August 28, 2011, our local executives would come together this time with a coordinated effort to keep residents informed with OPEN lines of communication.

This is NOT the case.

The Montgomery County, NY Emergency Management Department declared a state of emergency banning all travel in the County except for emergency vehicles, threatening to ticket anyone caught driving.

Then we have the Official City of Amsterdam Facebook page issuing orders from Amsterdam’s Executive Officer, Mayor Ann Thane, stating you can travel but use common sense. Note that unlike the Montgomery County page, I have been blocked from submitting any comments even in this declared emergency.  If we were without power and phones as we were a few days ago, I would have no way to communicate my situation to City Officials.  One way Thane is at it again!

The City of Amsterdam issued its state of emergency about 7pm last night, without any executive orders.

Followed by several conflicting orders, the first stating to stay in your homes.

The next executive order directed the citizens of Amsterdam to pray. Really?

Prayer is a serious business serious theological business and it is not a mere acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country’ for the State to immerse itself in,” Brennan wrote. “Some religious individuals or groups find it theologically problematic to engage in joint religious exercises predominately influenced by faiths not their own. Some might find any petitionary prayer improper.

– Federal Justice William Brennan

Permission was then given to drive, using common sense, that the “County may not be the same story”.

Where is the coordination with Montgomery County Emergency Services?

Here is a downloadable PDF containing the State law governing the issuance of emergency orders:

N.Y. EXC. LAW § 24 : NY Code – Section 24: Local state of emergency; local emergency orders by chief executive

From what I read, the Montgomery County executive order was effective until our City of Amsterdam state of emergency was declared and emergency orders issued by the Mayor that superseded the County order.  I am not a lawyer, maybe a lawyer reading this post can clarify the situation that has left many citizens confused.

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics

Photo Restoration

During the past few weeks I have worked on several projects that involve restoring damaged photographs to keep a bit of history for future generations. One project was putting together my ancestry through family photos borrowed from relatives as well as images I have taken over the past forty-three years, all dutifully restored. Another project was reconnecting with old Army buddies through Facebook, sharing memories and restored images from over thirty-five years ago.

In 1987 I started doing photo restoration using film in my full color darkroom. Dodging and burning techniques were utilized during the exposure of the photographic paper to manipulate the final image. Color balance was trial and error using a composition notebook to record each adjustment of the enlarger’s color wheels. The final result was not clear until the print development was complete. Scratches and color was touched up using pigmented photo oils. The results were often less than ideal but the skills and concepts learned from manual print processing are still valid today.

Fast forward to 2011. Now my photo restoration process involves using the technical skills learned in college, including a good understanding of color theory, utilizing Photoshop CS5, as well as a professional scanner with dual lens high pass optics, a Wacom Cintiq editing monitor and a HP Dreamcolor (RGB LED backlit) monitor for color accuracy. I scan the negatives at 6400 dpi optical resolution and 48 bit color. This makes each image file around 250 megabytes. Some take more than an hour each to scan, remove scratches, stains, straightening out the crooked ones, filing in blank areas caused by rotating the photo one or degrees by cloning the adjacent pixels. Then each image goes through a manual color correction process before resizing and sharpening to display on Facebook. For prints I use the original file before reducing, sending a 16 bit file to an archival pigment based inkjet printer for maximum print quality. I use a similar process for photos but a resolution of at least 600 dpi depending on the size of the original. While we can do great things in today’s digital world, fixing damage caused by physical forces of weather, paper rips or holes, water stains, fading dyes caused by oxidation or exposure to sunlight, the final image is still very dependent on the quality of the original.

Working with just a digital image is the easiest restoration. It often only involves selective color balancing as in this example:

A tougher restoration is converting  a slide or negative with a underexposure problem to a color corrected digital copy. In the following example, the sky and ground were processed as separate images or layers and then sandwiched back together.

Even more difficult is restoring old, faded, torn, spotted and water damaged photos as you will see in the following examples.

I can also print the restored image up to 17″ x 22″ or longer depending on the image, with custom matting and framing done in my shop. The following image I printed on canvas and mounted in a period oval frame with domed glass.

The digital age has provided photographers new tools to do what was once unimaginable, using intelligent cloning with pattern detection to remove and replace distracting elements in a photograph.

If you have thought about throwing away family photos damaged from recent flooding, please consider my photo restoration service.

To see my restored Army photos, click on this link 427th Med Company (AMB), Ft Rucker, Alabama (1975-1978).

Categories: Art, History, Media, Photography, Technology

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