Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Humility and Salad

This beautiful big salad is my brunch today.

In it is a mix of romaine, kale, spinach, carrots, celery, orange slices, a touch of salad vinegar and a tiny bit of salt. It's pretty yummy actually, and no doubt full of nutrients. Though I might have been able to avoid the salt and vinegar altogether for an even healthier meal. It'll take me a while to finish, to be sure. That bowl is bigger than it looks!

It's good to eat slowly. It's the best way to get the good out of good food and it gives a person time to think.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine said some things that struck a chord. He said it in a video he posted--he's been vlogging his raw foods weight-loss journey. Which, by the way, is going pretty well. Anyway, he mentioned how he felt the people around him seemed to be moving slowly, while he was speeding right along. He was irritated by it, I thought. Though, in some way, he seemed surprised at his irritation. I sort of understand what he's talking about. I used to live in that town. It's small, so things flow without urgency.

He remarked about an experience he had, whilst buying produce. The cashier, a slow one, an apparently largish one, set a bag of organic apples down rather harshly after ringing them up. He was rather annoyed by it. I suppose I don't blame him. Often cashiers are numb to the tedium of scanning hundreds of odds and ends of stuff. I know, I used to be one. Haha! The monotony sort of makes the eyes glaze over.

There were more things said in the video about shopping experiences and about the whole of the public. To sum it up, he was dealing with zombies. People walking around in a daze, who appear to have no idea what's going on around them and could care less to change it. It's more noticeable, perhaps, to a former zombie. Or even to an outsider. A tourist. He's become an unintentional tourist in his own hometown.

In the beginning, I found the video off-putting. I thought my buddy came off as slightly arrogant. It surprised me how uncomfortable it made me feel. And since yesterday, when I watched it, I've been trying to discern why that is.

So far, I think the reason is, I see myself in what my friend said. Not only am I the half-asleep cashier, but also the annoyed customer. No different than anyone else.

There have been many times I've made remarks about the lackadaisical behavior of the public. To be sure, an article or two about the subject can be found on this blog. Particularly in the early days, when the town I'm in was new to me. It appeared everyone was oblivious to one another. They seemed to shop that way, drive that way. Blind to the existence of other human beings. This was shocking to me. And a simple misunderstanding. Because now, since I'm no longer a tourist, I see something else here.

I see busy people. Troubled, cranky, normal people. Like me. We are in the same boat. And since there are so many of us here, all going with the flow, it is difficult to focus on just one or two at a time. Even so, when one of us has car trouble or gets hurt, many will stop to lend a hand. There is kindness behind those seemingly empty eyes. It's a bustling town and a big one. One in which, basically, we are all doing the best we can.

And so, when I feel like uttering a foul thing about another of us here, I have to remember my own imperfection. For certain, my attention is not always focused, nor am I always the kindest person there ever was. Being a better human is a bit of hard work, at times. When you make some progress at it, you just sort of want to shout it to the world, share the knowledge, teach the other humans.

I think that's what my friend's goal is. Sharing what he's discovered about truly living and feeling alive. Perhaps, he's a bit impatient about it, because it's become so obvious to him what needs to be done. No time to waste. Each and every moment is to be savored, appreciated... noticed. "Start living NOW!" in flashing neon lights.

He's right, you know. But, not everyone is ready. The work that needs to be done to achieve such clarity is not easy. Some may never reach that "A-ha!" moment.

Perhaps, what is needed is a bit of patience. And a modicum of humility. Remember those times before your enlightenment. Lest you risk alienating those you could teach. In my rambling, it would seem that is the point. At least, I think so.

Even so, my bowl is empty...
My friend's YouTube channel:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It's one of those strange days again.

This morning, the mood was set. The air was misty. The bare tree limbs were softened by the fog. And the sound of rain drops could be heard coming from the ground, though at that moment, there was no rain. The earth must have been sucking up the moisture, dew drops filling the voids that popped like bubbles.

The peculiar feeling has been building for days. I can't put my finger on its cause. Maybe it's the weather. At least, the blame usually goes there, rightfully or no.

Indeed, we've had one of the oddest winters I can recall. If one could even suggest it has been winter at all. One of the few winters we were actually prepared for. The first time we've had winter boots and proper snow gloves on hand, and no snow, scarcely enough cold to require a glove. Several days of warmth with rare moments of rain.

Let's hope for a bit more rain. Last summer's drought cast a pall over much of the region. Sour moods erupted from the dry. At least, the damp will green the earth, perhaps, spreading some cheer.

In the meantime, I'll work on shaking this weird feeling. And it's not just me. Others have mentioned it, too. Must be the weather...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Make an Animated GIF for Tumblr

I remember years ago, there was a wondrous place called MySpace. I know, it seems nearly defunct now, but at one time, it was the place to be. You could post photos, music playlists and animated GIFs. It seemed everyone was making those GIFs and putting them in their comments. I couldn't wait to figure out how to make them, too. There were, and still are, websites out there that help you make them for free. Just Google "animated gif maker" and you'll see what I mean. But the first ones I ever created were made using an old version Photoshop and Image Ready 2.0.

Now, we have Tumblr to post those still popular magical moving images. And now, I've got some slightly newer software, Photoshop Elements 7.0.

It has been quite some time since I made an animated GIF, since lately I've been animating with the likes of Anime Studio Pro 6 and DrawPlusX5. Though, after a little brushing up with Photoshop, I made a couple of them fairly easily.

It got me thinking, there might be others out there who've wondered how it's done, like I did back in the MySpace days. So, I made a video about it. Enjoy! (^.^)/

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Oranges at Play

So, I was sitting at the table looking at the oranges that no one will eat. I guess they are just too cute.

There was little left to do, but document a moment of their day.

I used the Canon Vixia to take some still shots of the little guys at play. Then, found some music, "Silly Fun", Kevin MacLeod, Rounding it out with a few sound effects,, and me using Linux Multimedia Studio (LMMS)to create the "force" sound effect. All edited with Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10.0. At last, I've figured out how to make a wobbling "force" beam using Vegas. For me, this is a major accomplishment. Maybe I'll do a tutorial on it.

It would seem, I've got too much time on my hands. Perhaps, though it's possible this little exercise in stop motion animation might come in handy one day. In the meantime, I'll just keep honing my skills. It doesn't hurt that it's loads of fun!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

On Hold

So, I was on hold the other day, attempting to get business done. Just something simple, really.

You'd think getting a simple thing done wouldn't take so long, but somehow it did. I just needed to correct a few things on an account. Easy enough. No biggie. And it wasn't really, once a human spoke to me everything was fine.

But, the waiting on hold began to get on my nerves, and I'm normally a peaceful kinda gal. First of all, I really don't like to make phone calls. Or even talk on the phone, because my hearing isn't all that great. I tend to misunderstand what's being said, and have to make assumptions a lot. Either that or ask them to repeat nearly everything that's been said. But no, it wasn't the wait that bothered me. Nope.

It was that music!

The butchering of perfectly beautiful classical music by blasting a terrible rendering of it as loudly as possible. It crackled, whined and groaned through the tiny speakers on my phone. I suppose I could have turned it down a bit, but I knew I'd not hear when a human would speak. So, I pulled it away from my ear and waited a while.

And then, the human spoke. He was very kind and knew just what to do. Though, he took each correction one at a time. So, yes, he put me on hold, after each correction. It began to get comical almost. And since I had to get these corrections done, I sat there, listening to the screaming violins as though they were right in my face shouting, "CAN...YOU... HEAR...ME? HUH? HUH?" in ever increasing pace. And each time he'd return, I could scarcely hear his voice, as, somehow, the connection was suddenly quite poor.

Eventually, I got everything done with that particular account. Despite being driven nearly mad by what would seem an overly eager and very robust orchestra. Then, it was on to another phone call I had to make.

And wouldn't you know, I'd been cursed. That phone call yielded the very same music! Gah!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A Leisurely Drive and Laptop Things

It's not like I really need an excuse to use the new software I've come across. I say it's new, though only because it's new to me. The software just happened to come with the new laptop I was forced to get. The old one, how I loved it so, was full to the brim of miscellaneous software, pics, vids and goodness knows how much music was stashed away in those little compartments, folders, files. The thought of walls full of dusty old filing cabinets stuffed with yellowing pages, half of them in the folder, the other half spilling out, some on the floor, or simply filed in an unknown place (file 13), just crept into my head. That's what's inside that old laptop.

I wonder if most people get their money's worth out of their laptops. I know I have. And it will still be visited from time to time. The time, when I find time, to "clean house" as it were. At the moment, it has been relegated to portable DVD player for the kiddos and the machine they can use to visit the Starfall website.
"Sports Car" Laptop

I worry the new machine will meet a similar fate. I really should learn to edit and store only the good stuff on an external drive. I'm a hoarder, of sorts. Though the contents of my house may be sparse, one need only take a look at me ol' laptop to know the truth! It won't be long before the keys on this new sports car computing device will be polished smooth and shiny, the "f" and "j" home-key bumps worn flush.

And so, in a very roundabout way, I've come to this. The editing software that I made the vid with, Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10.

Now, I've heard of the Vegas Movie Studio stuff for years. I envied those who had it, simply because it could do that chromakey thing. You know, so you can make your background transparent then put some other background in, pretend you were in beautiful France or on the beach somewhere. Silly, I realize. There are more important things going on in the world, to be sure. Yet it had always fascinated me. Funnily enough, I found the software I was using at the time, Cyberlink PowerDirector had the same feature. I'd just not uncovered it yet. Or, maybe it didn't always have that feature? I've upgraded the software a few times, so who knows. Even so, I just knew Vegas was somehow better.

Here's what I know, PowerDirector is extremely easy to use. It has a nice package and can do a pretty fair job of editing and producing some decent stuff. Rendering is super fast. Did I say "super"? (O.o)

Vegas, on the other hand, well, let's just say when I first tried it out, I thought I'd never learn how to use it. Maybe I was expecting it to be similar to the other stuff. It's not. It has me intrigued, because it's a bit of a challenge. It's something new. Although, not very pretty or slick. It seems, there's loads of stuff that can be done with it. For starters, in the version I have, which is not "pro" unfortunately, you can put up to 10 video tracks! What? Seriously. Methinks that's pretty cool, because how else are you gonna chromakey a bunch of stuff without all those layers? Not to mention, you can also put, I believe, 10 tracks of audio. What? I know! Pretty neat! And then, there's the control factor. You have much more control over each maneuver through adding, subtracting keyframes which adds motion or creates some other change. Okay, to be fair, PowerDirector has a little bit of that, too. But, only a little. It's how I managed to create the kaleidoscope effect in my previous posts, Kaleidoscope Experiment II and Kaleidoscope Experiment III. Which, one may notice, part III turned out a bit better, simply because I finally learned how to fine tune and manipulate the keyframes.

So, I guess after comparing the two pieces of software, PowerDirector and Vegas, I'd say if a person were looking for ease of use, go with PowerDirector, it's awesome! However, if one wanted more control and the ability to put in all those extra tracks, definitely go with Vegas. I have to admit, I've crashed them both several times whilst testing out their features. You sort of learn to save your work frequently, just in case. Still, I managed to put several layers of video and music into that vid up there, get it rendered and uploaded to YouTube. I think it crashed so much because the vid of the drive was a huge file, HD no less. And I squished it together on the timeline to speed it up. It wasn't happy about it. Not happy at all. I also threw in a little animation I made on Anime Studio Pro 6. I really want Vegas Pro. Just sayin'.

I'd better get this posted, so I can see what other trouble (software) I can get myself into.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Kaleidoscope Experiment III

It had to be done. This one is a final edit of the second experiment. I had finally learned how to fine tune the kaleidoscope effect in PowerDirector 8. It took a while, but in the end, this, the third one, is my favorite.

I suspect, in the future, I'll be doing more of these, using different images, of course. The reason, the peacefulness I feel when gazing into the changing patterns. And too, the beautiful music I've happened across. Kevin MacLeod is kind enough to offer it for the public's use in any project one might dream up.

It would seem, the days of late have been a bit stressful. Time zooms without me, as though I'm in one of those videos standing still with all the many people and cars, mere streaks, rushing by. It's a chaos. Though not entirely unpleasant. More of a distraction from the unpleasant.

Still, I miss those days when it seemed the world spun slower. To what end will this ever increasing speed take us? Well, I suppose we know the answer. What's the hurry, I wonder. And so, I like to make these kaleidoscope things...

Friday, February 03, 2012

Kaleidoscope Experiment II

Sometimes, it's just nice to hear some nice music and not see anything in particular whilst doing it. Not anything with a defined shape, that is. If music had shape, though, I imagine it would be a flowing morphing one. It would have color and on occasion, not.

I gathered some pics I'd taken last year, along with a few graphics I'd created, and dropped them on the PowerDirector8 timeline. There's a neat feature in the software for automatically creating pans, zooms and fades of still images. I clicked on that. Then, I applied the kaleidoscope effect. A few tweaks and it was time to finish editing on the Sony Vegas Movie Studio software.

The music, "Willow and the Light" by Kevin MacLeod ( It took me a long time to find a piece that felt right. This one seemed to suit. I think it reminded me of an epic video game I'd played a while ago. Loads of adventure that one had.

In the final edit, I cycled the vid twice, but applied a "light-ray" effect on the second cut. I could have done more with that, I thought it was pretty. Maybe next time.

Here you go~~