How NOT to Photoshop

I went to Blossom Music Center again last weekend for the end of their Summer Festival.  It was a family pops concert, featuring fun things such as “Let It Go!” from Frozen (everyone sang along) and Pat Sajak performing an orchestrated version of “Casey at the Bat.”  Plus there were fireworks after.

As I have mentioned before, Blossom is the summer home of the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra.  It’s an incredible venue, and the performances are also incredible.  So, I was a little tickled by their program, which is handed out to everyone at the entrance before every show.

Sorry for the smears, etc...we were eating bbq during the performance.
Sorry for the smears, etc…we were eating bbq during the performance.

It’s a very good representative photo, and the sky is very pretty…until you realize…hmmm, those people on the blanket in the foreground…


And it only gets worse the longer you look at it:


There are probably more!  Honestly, these other ones are so subtle I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if I hadn’t seen the trio on the blanket duplicated right next to each other directly in the foreground.  And the quality of the Photoshopping is fine; at least, I can’t tell which is the real group and which is the duplicate.

Anyway, I just got a kick out of it and figured I’d share 😀


July Camp NaNo Wrap-up

Well, it’s been another month of writing at Camp NaNoWriMo.  I went back and continued my fairy tale retelling that I started last NaNoWriMo, which has become kind of a practice piece for me.

After my dismal failure with NaNo last November, I tried to give myself several options of ways that I would feel personally satisfied by my efforts this month (in order of lessening difficulty):


1. 10,000 words written (my ostensible goal, which was the lowest choice–I also opted to include blog posts in my word count total for the month)

  • Yeah, did not make it.  Word total: 5,943 from novel/blog combined


2. 10,000 words total in my novel

  • Nope, but close: I am sitting at 8,866


3. More than 5,693 words written (my total from last November’s NaNoWriMo)



So my consolation prize is that at least I did better than last time!  And really, that’s all I can ask of myself, to keep improving.

 I did a few things differently this month compared to last November.  Mostly importantly, I kept reading.  I read at least 3 novels and some short stories this month.  Now that I am feeling more comfortable with my writing style, and narration especially,  it didn’t really bother me to have to jump back and forth between my story and what I was reading.  In fact, on occasion it was kinda inspiring, especially because I was reading some enjoyable YA fantasy (my story’s genre).

 Obviously, I also kept blogging.  For those of you who can do math, from the stats above you’ll see that I wrote 3,173 words for my novel this month vs. 5,693 last November when I took a blogging break for NaNo.  So, blogging definitely cut into my novel-writing.  But on some level, writing is writing, and my blog keeps writing fun, which I feel is also important.

 I kept watching TV, playing SWTOR, and doing all my normal “fun” also, which I think will help me form a more sustainable strategy for incorporating regular writing time into my life, instead of just a one-month binge.

 As for what I wrote, I’m pretty pleased with what I accomplished (although I hoped to be further along in the story by now).  I wrote several major conversations between characters (sometimes writing out of order).  I also feel much more solid about the narrator’s voice and character.  I did do more research as I went, which, while productive, takes away from actual writing.

 Whereas when I first started last year, I was treating this story as a training exercise, now I’m starting to see some joy and life in it.  I have some revelations for the motivations of several main characters, and found some good ways to showcase various personalities.  The parts that I was writing this time started to detail the fantasy elements of the story, which also more fun for me.

I do still need to find better distraction-free setting for writing.  Our office room in the house is comfy, but my husband spends most of his time there, too, and he loves watching YouTube videos.  And Netflix. I love marathoning Star Trek series and Warp Zone music videos as much as the next geek, but not while I’m writing!

10 years make a decade, or a life together

And I can’t make it on my own

Because my heart is in Ohio

—“Ohio Is for Lovers,” Hawthorne Heights


Our story starts sixteen years ago, when I moved to Ohio against my will and started 7th grade at a new school.

There was no gifted program, just a program called PACE which was basically an excuse to let the smart kids out of class once a week.  That’s where I met B, although I don’t really remember it.  We were in band together, too.  I made some good friends in 7th grade.  I had a crush on a nice boy, but when I realized he wasn’t very smart I got over it quick.

Everyone knows 8th grade is the worst.  I had a crush on a smarter boy, but someone told him, and then someone heard him laughing about it.  I stopped telling my friends about my crushes.  B sat next to me in computer class (our last names start with the same letter) and antagonized me by making all his Powerpoints in Comic Sans.

In high school, the band was like my family.  I also did a bunch of other activities and had actually interesting, challenging classes.  In advanced English sophomore year, B made a point of getting to class early so he could claim the one cushiony chair.  I hardly ever got to sit in that damn chair.  Junior year, he went with a big group of my friends on a trip to England led by our wonderful English teacher. After that he started hanging out with our group more.

Senior year I shared a seat with him on the band bus once or twice.  I applied to college, and picked a good university two hours away.  B chose the local State school because he didn’t even have to write an essay to apply.  He gave me high fives in the band room, and he kicked the back of my shoe when I was getting books out of my locker.  His was three down from mine (last names, remember?).  I passed all my AP tests and went to prom with a group of friends.

He was the first person to arrive at my graduation party.  We saw each other constantly that summer, and he gave me his AIM screen name so we talked online all the time, too.  We saw Spiderman 2 at the drive-in, piled with friends in the back of my parents’ station wagon.  I realized I missed him when he wasn’t there.  I realized he was the easiest person to talk to I had ever met.  Neither of us knows when we started actually dating; we picked an arbitrary date to celebrate, first by month and then by year.

Most LDRs don’t survive freshman year of college.  He bought a new car so he could drive down to see me every month, and when we got tired of blowing through phone cards he bought us cell phones.  My roommates called him “B” too (or “Bubba”) and helped him sneak into the dorm to surprise me.

Junior year I spent fall semester in Spain, which was one of the best and most difficult experiences of my life.  For him, I think it was just difficult.  He proposed to me the next summer, after I came home from another trip abroad.  The first thing I said was, “Are you serious?” which he correctly took to mean yes.  We were at the drive-in, in my parents’ newer station wagon, about to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 3.  I could not have told you a single thing that happened in that movie.

I graduated and got a job near home with my degree, which was a minor miracle at the time.  We got married in my church (six years ago this summer) and took wedding photos by the life-size X-wing at a local restaurant.  We moved into a small apartment, then a bigger one, then bought a house.  He leaves notes around the house for me to find when he goes on business trips.  He keeps me sane when I’m anxious and depressed.  He tells me he’ll read the stories I write, and he’s even learned to clean the cat’s litter box.

My parents sold their station wagon, but I have a hatchback now, and we still go to the drive-in all the time.  Ten years is more than a third of my life, and every year that proportion spent with him keeps growing.

This is basically the kind of anniversary card we give each other.
This is typical of the kind of anniversary card he gives me.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Iguana Cuddles

From Española.

Two marine iguanas bask in the midday sun.  Nothing better than lying around with a friend on a summer’s day.

But attractive sunbathers these guys are not.  Marine iguanas feed in the ocean, drinking salt water and eating saltwater algae, so to help keep their bodily salt concentrations in balance they sneeze out salt, which crusts on their faces.  Their bodies are mostly dark grey, to blend with the rocks and absorb heat quickly, but do exhibit a wide range of coloration, with some variation between the groups on different islands.  These guys have red patches, common on Española.  They also shed their skin in patches, adding to their mottled appearance.

Rite of Spring

I was back at Blossom over the weekend to see a joint performance of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Joffrey Ballet.  It was a wonderfully varied program, with precious little “classical” ballet.

They began with Interplay, choreographed by Jerome Robbins.  This was probably my favorite piece of the night, as it was light-hearted with colorful, fun costumes.  Next was Son of Chamber Symphony, to music by John Adams; it was pretty much what you would expect from a contemporary minimalist performance.  Then, we enjoyed the lovely Adagio set to music from Spartacus; it was choreographed on the two performers, and it showed.

After the intermission was the main event: Rite of Spring.

Joffrey Rite of Spring

This legendary ballet was first performed in 1913, and it was so revolutionary it caused a riot in the theater.  Imagine a ballet having that kind of impact today!  Nijinsky’s choreography was a dramatic break from classical ballet, using jerking movements and primal stomping.  Joffery’s reconstruction is nearly true to the original, after years of research into the original costumes, scenery, and choreography.


As for Stravinsky’s score, it was similarly revolutionary.  You have almost certainly already heard it: it was featured in Disney’s Fantasia, accompanied with scenes of prehistoric Earth and dinosaurs.  Honestly, I used to fast forward through good portions of these scenes, because they are fairly intense.  I loved dinosaurs when I was little (the stegosaurus was my favorite), so I did not relish watching them all die to frantic drumbeats.  I just tried to watch the clip on YouTube, and it still upsets me!