Benjamin Franklin

Danger is Sauce for Prayers.


For the past few weeks I’ve been complaining about dealing with not one—but two problem cameras. The camera that’s in my smartphone has been acting more and more inconsistently since last Christmas. I would frequently get those dreaded “Camera Error Please Restart Camera.” I would frequently complain about it in this blog. (You can read the most recent example here.)

That problem got so bad that I went back to using my 15-year-old Canon Digital Rebel EOS DSLR camera. That camera was once a top-of-the-line camera but the newer cameras have more megapixels plus that camera only does still photography. (I’m well aware that the newer DSLR cameras does videos as well as still photographs.) It’s also bulky and heavy compared to my smartphone.

For a while I brought the DSLR camera whenever I was going somewhere where I was sure that I would want to take photographs and I didn’t want to risk relying on the smartphone alone. But lately the DSLR camera’s battery isn’t charging (even though I make sure that I charge that battery ahead of whatever event I was taking it to). That came to a head when I made sure to charge it a day or two before the recent solar eclipse only to find that the battery wasn’t working at all. I was lucky that my smartphone camera decided to function just like old times so I was able to get a few photos of that eclipse. But then my smartphone camera reverted back to that “Camera Error Please Restart” message when I went to a Meetup event that took place just a few hours later.

I subsequently looked up replacement batteries for my DSLR camera and I saw that it varied widely between $8 to a whopping $60!

Then there was the issue of having to lug a heavy camera plus there are times when I want to shoot video and I would have to hope and pray that my smartphone camera is up to that challenge. I decided to shop around for a relatively cheap point-and-shoot camera that’s small enough to be portable (so I can easily carry it in a bag or in my purse), provide as many megapixels as the smartphone cameras, and is capable of shooting video.

After doing some Internet research on various camera prices and reading various online reviews, I decided on a Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS. I purchased a used camera for only $80 on eBay and it arrived in my home just in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend. I got a camera, a battery, and a battery charger. The one thing missing was an SD card but I already had one on hand so it was no big deal to pop it into the camera. The only other thing missing was the manual but I was able to find a .pdf copy by doing a Google search then downloading it.

By the way, that’s the best way of finding a new copy of any missing manual. These days you can find a missing manual for just about anything no matter what the product is or how old a certain product is. (Don’t be like this guy and email some random stranger asking to scan a copy of a manual then email it to him for no compensation and to email it ASAP. It’s just quicker to do your own Google search and you won’t have to irritate random strangers either.)

Since the camera just a couple of days before upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend I decided to give it a real workout at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. On the Thursday night before the start of the festival and the holiday weekend I decided to use the video feature to record a friend of mine who was performing at the New Deal Cafe’s regular Thursday night Open Mike. He usually performs as one-half of the duo The Bachelor and the Bad Actress and I did that animated music video to the duo’s song “Butcher the Hog” not too long ago. (They were also the same couple who held a public outdoor wedding in the middle of a music festival a two years ago and I have the video and a bunch of photos to prove it.)

My friend was doing a solo set that night under the name Joey Campfire. (His wife wasn’t at the cafe that night.) He sang two songs and I shot a short video for the last one as a way of testing out my new camera. I have to say that I liked the results, which I uploaded on to YouTube. Here it is below.

I also took a couple of shots of the various carnival rides that people were setting up near the cafe in order to be ready for the festival’s opening the following evening. I took a boatload of photos and another short video that holiday weekend. I’m trying to get everything sifted, edited, and uploaded as fast as I can. I’m trying to aim for next week when I’ll show off what I took with my new camera.

I liked the way the last two tye-dye t-shirts I worked on turned out last month. I liked the results so much that I decided to do it again with two more white t-shirts that I happened to have. (The one good thing about this project is that I’m finally doing something with my supply of blank white t-shirts that I purchased in bulk a few years ago.) Once again I used Rit Dye but this time I decided to use teal color. Otherwise I did the tye-dye in my washing machine like I did before. Once I finished dyeing the shirts (while following Rit’s directions to the letter), I let them dry then I decided to wash the two shirts in a separate load in order to get rid of most of the excess dye.

Once the t-shirts dried I ironed on a couple of new decals to the front of the shirts. Here are the photos below.

I ironed-on two glitter patches to one of the shirts. One is butterfly-shaped and the other is shaped like a flower. I tried spacing the two patches apart in order to give the impression of a butterfly flying near the flower. I have to admit that ironing on the flower was tricky mainly because that flower has larger beads. It helped that I followed the directions that said to only focus on ironing the edges with the smaller glitter stones and to ignore the large stones altogether. After I did the initial ironing I followed the directions and turned the shirt inside out so I could iron the patches from the back.

I have to admit that I love the results. Here’s a selfie of me modeling that t-shirt.

As for the second t-shirt I ironed on an embroidered dolphin patch on the front.

I really loved the dolphin’s cute and expressive look. It also helped that the patch is big enough to be prominently displayed on the front of a t-shirt.

Here’s a selfie of me modeling that t-shirt.

Here’s another selfie of me modeling that same shirt. I couldn’t decide which selfie I liked better so I decided to use both in this post.

I recently took part in the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show (which is usually held each year in conjunction with the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival). I submitted the maximum four pieces allowed per artist. Two of the pieces were older ones that I had never shown at that particular art show before but two of the pieces were newly created pieces. Here is some information about the newer pieces but, first, here are two pictures of these pieces.

Fashion Show
LEGO Minifig and acrylic paint on canvas
4 inches x 4 inches
10 cm x 10 cm

On Stage
LEGO Minifigs, acrylic paint, and computer printout on canvas
4 inches x 4 inches
10 cm x 10 cm

I got my inspiration for doing these two tiny mixed-media art canvases through some decluttering. I realized that I had purchased a bunch of tiny canvases in various sizes from various art supply stores but they had gone unused for many months.

At the same time I found three LEGO Minifigs that I purchased at a LEGO Store (either in Arundel Mills, Annapolis Mall, or Tyson’s Corner—I don’t remember which location). I remember how I came across them. Each LEGO store has an area where you can create your own Minifigs by assembling various parts together until you find the combination that you end up really liking. Basically you buy a set three Minifigs that your customize yourself for $10. I had this idea that maybe I could possibly make necklaces from these Minifigs that I could sell at future craft shows so I assembled three Minifigs of my own and purchased them. I think I may have purchased them at some point either before my hip revision surgery in 2011 or after the surgery but before my husband walked out on me just three months later (and three days after Christmas).

I never got around to making necklaces or any other kind of jewelry from them mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to put a loop at the top of the Minifig’s head without messing up the connected head and hairstyle. On top of it, the Minifigs are made from hard plastic so finding a suitable drill that could cut through the hard plastic while being small and thin enough to drill into a Minifig’s head would be a major challenge. Plus I was still reeling from my husband’s unexpected walkout and subsequent divorce.

So when I unearthed the unused tiny canvases and Minifigs I had an idea of pairing the two of them together into a mixed media piece. When I saw the redhead with the flashy off-the-shoulder top with a tiny silver star, I immediately thought of a fashion show. (I’ve also have long been a fan of Project Runway.) So I painted a fashion runway backdrop in acrylic paint and glued that Minifig to the canvas using an acrylic gel.

As for the other two Minifigs, I thought about the two of them being on stage somewhere (it could be in a small nightclub or a cafe or even a high school auditorium) being ready to perform. So I painted a stage backdrop for the two of them. For added measure, I printed out a small banner on cardstock and glued it to the canvas using acrylic gel. I got the “Everything is Awesome” slogan from the theme song to The LEGO Movie of the same name.

Those two pieces were formally debuted at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show. Although I didn’t win any prizes, I heard some people respond positively to it so it’s all good. (I’ve won in the past so I’m not totally hurt if I don’t win anything at this year’s show.) I’m happy that I was able to find new uses for what I had lying around the house instead of just throwing them in the trash or recycling bin.

American Flag

For September 11 this year I decided to try something that’s a little different from the usual remembering the horrible terrorist attacks in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania. The terrorists all came from the Middle East and I came across something that reminded me that the Middle East wasn’t always a hotbed of terrorism.

A few months ago I came across this recording of the Hurrian Hymn Number 6 (also known as Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal), which is the oldest music to have survived to this day. The song was written on clay tablets that were found in the ruins of the ancient city of Ugarit (which is located in what is now Syria). I thought it sounded cool enough to write a blog post about it.

After I wrote that blog post I did a Google search on Hurrian Hymn Number 6 to see what would come up. I found that there have been different interpretations of those clay tablets which held the music notations and that recording I found was just one of those interpretations. I found three different published sheet music from three different people with wildly different interpretations of that song. The big issue is that the clay tablets used a music notation system that’s different from the system that’s commonly in use today and there are different arguments as to which ancient symbol represented with modern-day music note.

I managed to input the three different sheet music in the open source sheet music software MuseScore and I found that each sheet music sounded differently. So I made my own video combining the three songs (each song is relatively short) while adding in various graphics I downloaded off the Internet along with some factoids I found about the song and the area that the clay tablets were found it.

So, without further ado, here are the three different interpretations of Hurrian Hymn Number 6 (a.k.a. Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal) as rendered by MuseScore.

As of this writing Hurricane Irma is pummeling the U.S. (especially in Florida) and the Caribbean. And this hurricane comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which has pummeled Texas and Louisiana. Click here for a list of ways that you can help the victims of these two storms. I will update the list as needed.

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Benjamin Franklin

Eyes and priests bear no jests.

I recently went to a free rock painting event that was held at Artists & Craftsman Supply in Hyattsville, Maryland. This event was held to demonstrate some paint markers. I decided to try my hand at rock painting with paint markers. I was stumped for ideas so I decided to just paint a fox. I did the background in silver because one of the staffers said that it was among the new paint markers that had just arrived and the marker made a really nice metallic effect. I have to say that she was right because the silver paint marker was pretty neat to use. Another staffer was so impressed by my work that she asked me if she could take a photo of it to show the other staffers and I said yes.

After I left the store I took two photos of my new painted rock. Here is what it looks like in the shade.

And here is what it looks like in direct sunlight. The silver paint really shines in this picture.

Here are a couple of recent photos that I consider to be the last summer ones. (I shot both on August 25.)  Here’s yet another nice sunset twilight photograph complete with some nice clouds.


Here’s another twilight photo of some Black-Eyed Susans in full bloom.


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