Return to the site of the “white van” incident


Port Jersey Peninsula Preserve Obervation PlatformShortly after I wrote about my rights being questioned while shooting the US Airways Airbus A320 on the barge, I decided to return to the site at the very next opportunity I had to get there to see if I did miss some sings indicating I did do something wrong.  Well, I went back on January 25, 2009 at around 10AM.  I thought since the initial media frenzy was over, that there wouldn’t be many news vans or people around since every other visit to this site has been uneventful and I was right.  There were none.

There were only a few cars around the entire area, especially since I didn’t see any ships in the various ports around the area.  So, as I drove down, I was looking very carefully for any signs that I might have missed.  Well, I didn’t see any indicating I couldn’t be where I was that day, nor that I couldn’t be there any other day, as long as I observed the posted operating hours of the site.

Port Jersey Peninsula Preserve

Upon closer inspection of the above sign, just below the map, it reads, “Visitors are only permitted at the fishing are and this elevated observation platform”.  Well, I guess that is a little too open for interpretation, and if I pressed the woman from the white van, she might have pointed to the sign and told me that is why she could question me.  In looking around, I could not find any signs designating the “fishing area”, but I assume it would have to be on the shore, in front of the tower, which is exactly where I was when I was stopped.

Oh well, I’ll let this go for now, and in case you want to go see the plane, this spot isn’t really that good for photos of it.  It can be photographed from a much less “restricted” area, where there are no signs about any limits, there are designated parking spots, and no posted operating hours. So here are two shots from just up the road from the observation platform area.  They were just finishing up moving the plane around from one barge to another.

Relocating US Airways Flight 1549 onto another barge

US Airways Flight 1549 on the barge



My rights questioned while shooting the US Airways jet


Yesterday, January 19th, 2009, I had to run a few errands, one of which was going to take me very close to Weeks Marina in Jersey City, NJ, where the US Airways A320 jet from the flight 1549 “Miracle on the Hudson” landing is being dismantled on a barge. Being a photographer, I packed my gear into the car and out I went with the intention of just snapping a few shots of this little piece of history and moving on.

I drove down Port Jersey Boulevard,  a spot I am familiar with because there is a waterfront observation tower erected there for the purposes of bird watching. A spot I have been to many times without incident. However, on this occasion, I felt like I was in some movie, maybe like Men In Black, or Wargames.

When I got to the tower, I drove past many news vans, and drove past two marked police cars, without even giving it a second thought. I didn’t drive past any police tape, no “No trespassing” signs, nothing of the sort. The spot is a very industrial/international shipping area, but I was not on any private property, after all, there is a public bird watching tower setup there, with marked parking, and hours of operation posted. I was there at around 10:30AM, well within the posted hours of “Closed – 6PM to 6AM”.

So, I climbed the tower, and took a few shots, climbed down, walked the shore line a little bit and took a few other shots, when I see a white mini-van pull up, and a woman wearing a Reuters [news agency] baseball cap on hopped out, and promptly, without identifying herself, asked “Can I have your ID”? To which I responded, “for what?”. She said I was trespassing on federal property, something nonsensical about me being in international water (makes NO sense) and that I had to leave immediately.

Well, I was already finished shooting, so I just said, OK, whatever, and started back to the car. As I was walking away, she mentioned something about federal prison. I turned back and re-stated that I was leaving, and she responed with “just take your pictures and get out of here and make it quick”.  I never did show her any kind of ID.

I didn’t really have my wits with me, nor did I have the time to sit and argue with her, and, I have some responsibilities at home (wife and 9 month old) that I can’t afford to be taken in and questioned and held for no valid reason. Hindsight, I should have first asked her for her ID when she asked for mine because she came out from an unmarked van and she was not wearing any sort of recognizable uniform. I could have argued about it being a public spot, where I have been many times and never been questioned about why I was there.

I just don’t understand why people feel the need to act this way about photographers. I’ve read the stories about the guy who was detained by police recently, for shooting the trains, for a contest that Amtrak themselves sponsored, I’ve read other stories about this sort of abuse, and I just do not understand the thrill these folks get from acting in this way.

Once the plane leaves, I might go back there and document the spot a bit more, but for now, here is one of the shots I took.

US Airways Flight 1549 on a barge in Weeks Marina

Perhaps, even more ominous, is this massive flock of geese I captured just the day before, when I was in the area just shooting in general.  The lens I had with me just didn’t do the size of this flock justice.  It was at least twice the size.

Ominous large flock of geese near Liberty State Park

In the end, I am just glad faux security lady didn’t use her mind eraser on me…



Upgrading to Lotus Domino 8.5


Lotus Domino Server IconWell, it is finally here (for me), probably one of the biggest upgrades to Lotus Notes since the introduction of the “Domino” moniker back when I was still running it on OS/2.  OK, the 8.x release came out months ago but was missing a key feature that we use (roaming) but the “Gold” 8.5 release came out a few days ago, which put that feature back in.

So tonight is my upgrade of our primary production server to it.  I’ve been a Notes Developer/Admin/User since version 3 and wow has this come a long way since then.  Uber significant UI and functionality changes in the client really shine, never mind the ID vault and things like DAOS on the admin front.

Upgrades to new version of Lotus Domino have always proven way to simple (finding a large piece of wood to knock on) and as tested, this one should be no different.  I’ve done upgrades as a consultant to a certain other mail server and it was much more painful to me.  Am I against Microsoft Exchange, no, and as just a mail/calendar type server, it is fine, but for the way we use Notes here, doing it in the Microsoft world would be a massive undertaking of all sorts of other servers and applications.

People who “get” Notes, love it, and therein lies the problem – getting people to “get” it.  When IBM took over the Lotus brand, I didn’t expect the marketing to get better, and sorry IBM, but you have thus far proven to meet that expectation.

On a recent tweet by @chrismarquardt, he asked about year planner software for a Mac to which I said, “Lotus Notes is very happy on Macs these days” and his reply, “Lotus Notes? I had almost successfully forgotten it” and my reply, “You’d probably be surprised at what you see. IBM/Lotus made a rather large announcement at Macworld [2009]”.  After that, a few responses about how people hate Notes, wishing they never had to use it and other general derogatory remarks about it, my favorite, “Lotus Notes? Please do not mention it!! *&%$+” which just furthers my point about the lack of understanding of an otherwise great piece of software.

Do I work for IBM, nope, am I paid to say these things, nope, do they sponsor this site, nope – call me a Lotus fanboy if you like, but me, I like things that just work, and my Notes setup does just that.
Have a look at some other type of Lotus Fans.