Thursday, May 31, 2007

SouthCoast Photo of the Month

Here it is May's SouthCoast Photo of the month!

Here's a picture I took a couple of years ago while attending an event in Fall River's downtown.

What struck me was how the clock tower and church steeple seemed to reach into the sky like the castles of fairy tales. I did some editing to straighten the photo out and to add a soft focus to enhance that 'fairy tale' effect.

The clock tower belongs to the old Durfee High School, which now serves as a court house and the church steeple belongs to the Church of the Ascension. Both buildings have graced the city skyline for over a century.


Are you an avid picture taker? Do you have a shot you're particularly proud of? Perhaps just a shot that you'd like to share? Submit it here for the SouthCoast Photo of the Month! Send submissions to

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Return of the Chainpod!

Back in October I blogged about a chainpod, a clever, simple little device that can anyone can make on their own and is portable enough for the average photographer to always have on hand.

It consists of a 1/4 key and some chain and basically serves the same function as a monopod. The big difference is a monopod stabilizes the camera by giving you, the photographer something to rest the camera on, a chainpod uses the tension you create by holding the camera and stepping on the other end of the chain to make it taunt.

Back in October I had hoped to put one together and do a follow up blog post. Well the funny thing is I bought all the stuff, drilled the key and let it sit until I was ready to do the post. Well it has sat for a long time!

Today, with plans to go to Fall River's Memorial Day Parade and fearing some overcast weather (which turned out to be groundless as the day was 'picture' perfect!) I decided to throw together the chainpod and have it on hand in case I found myself taking pictures in low-light conditions where the stability of a 'pod' would be a must.

My quick test after assembly showed some definite improvement with the chainpod (the top photo was with the chainpod and the bottom without, in case there was any doubt) but I really need to use it more to get a feel for it. the total cost was probably about $6 and I bought more chain than I really needed. I really think the chainpod could be made even cheaper, smaller and lighter by using good thin nylon rope securely knotted through the key and with the other end knotted through something big enough to step on.

Yes Virginia, a river really does run through it!

I can remember as a child being told by my parents that Fall River got its name because there used to be a series of waterfalls that cascaded down to the river below and that those waterfalls were buried underground to allow for the building of roads.

In my young mind's eye I pictured amazon-like waterfalls cascading down hillsides entombed as if in a mine shaft, with rough hewn lumber support beams holding up the the built upon street surfaces.

As a child I believed that somewhere under a cover of granite boulders, wooden posts, and dirt an unmolested natural resource gurgled away unknown, unheard and untouched.

The truth is far less idyllic and for more discouraging.

The Quequechan is a vital part of this city's history. The wampanoag word quequechan literally means 'falling river' and it's where Fall River gets its name. It was the river's waterfall that powered Fall River's mills enabling the city to become a giant in the textile industry. This magnificent and mighty river eventually succumbed to industrial abuse. Covered over by those who wanted to harness it's power and polluted as a convenient way to way to remove sewer and waste. Finally, much of the river and its spectacular waterfall were rerouted and bottled up to make way for Rt195 in the 1960's.

From time to time calls to 'daylight' the Quequechan make the paper but other than being a popular bullet point come an election no real action has taken place. Just this past week two members of the city council submitted a resolution to call on our local delegation to include the Quequechan and it's fall in the Water Resources Development Act. This action would make the project eligible for grant funding through the Army Corps of Engineers and could help provide the momentum needed to return the Quequechan River and its waterfall above ground where they belong.

No Hassle? Don't Bank on it!

I happen to have a checking account at Citizens-Union Savings Bank and this month when my statement arrived I noticed that they had finally done away with mailing me my processed checks and instead were now sending a printout with miniaturized check 'images'.

Now, I hate to confess but I'm really awful when it comes to scrutinizing things like my bank statement. I usually have a close 'guesstimate' in my head on what should be in the account and quickly scan the balance to see if I'm pretty close. However the new images made me a bit more curious than normal and I pulled out the sheet to look it over.

What immediately caught my eye was that none of the check images were mine! The account information was mine and amount seemed to be in order, but the images were certainly not. Two things crossed my mind at almost the same instance. It felt very odd to be viewing somebody else's checks and it made me wonder who was viewing mine.

I called the bank and notified them and I must have been one of the first to do so because the person on the other end seemed pretty surprised but it wasn't until later that I realized that it wasn't just my check images in someone else's hands but my personal information - including my credit card numbers.

Citizens-Union sent out a letter of apology, detailing the steps the bank was doing to make sure that customer information was safe and things that we could do as well. I have to say that the bank is doing its best in a tough situation, but the suggestions ranging from opening new checking accounts to pulling credit reports and placing "fraud alerts" on your credit files are just a hassle that I could do without. On top of that the issue is with a 3rd part vendor and I wonder what steps THEY are doing to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

Citizens-Union's slogan is "feel the freedom" but right now I'm not feeling free, I'm feeling pretty chained down to my account.

Read Citizens-Union's press release here