You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Droid’ tag.

Uber can’t be fixed—it’s time for regulators to shut it down.

A new book examines how the upper-middle class has enriched itself and harmed economic mobility.

The rise of the 21st century Victorians.

Brooklyn’s famous Green Lady explains her lifelong devotion to the color green.

The far-out sci-fi costume parties of the Bauhaus school in the 1920s.

It’s the end of the shopping mall as we know it.

How to deal with a 4Chan troll. There is some information that’s useful for anyone who’s dealing with any kind of online troll regardless of whether it involves politics or not.

Low-income workers who live in RVs are being chased out of Silicon Valley streets.

Feminist publication makes history by appointing black trans woman as editor-in-chief.

The sketchbook of drawings done in ballpoint pen by Nicolas V. Sanchez.

A look at the female pioneers of the Bauhaus art movement.

The fight for health care is really all about civil rights.

23 ways to treat yourself without buying or eating anything.

Glow-in-the-dark “toonie” coins celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

These bosses share the worst interviews they’ve ever seen and the results are stunning.

Browse a collection of over 83,500 vintage sewing patterns.

Bid on old computers, speakers, radios, and other junk from the bowels of RadioShack.

This transgender doll is making huge strides in teaching children about gender roles.

She took on Tesla for discrimination. Now others are speaking up.

A new kind of tech job emphasizes skills, not a college degree.

Women in tech speak frankly on the culture of harassment.

Over decades of poverty, Detroit’s have fostered a resilient informal economy based on trust.

GoFraudMe is a blog that exposes fake GoFundMe campaigns.

Rural America is the new “inner city.”

3 ways to be seen as a leader in your field.

Artist repaints mass-produced dolls to make them look realistic and the result is amazing.

Every Sega game ever made is coming to iOS and Android for free.

Edvard Munch’s famous Scream painting animated to Pink Floyd music.

Despite serving time in a Russian prison under Vladimir Putin, a member of the punk rock group Pussy Riot is still defiant.

This 106-year-old cooking show host is YouTube’s oldest creator.

Turn your smartphone into a hologram projector using everyday items.

Tips on how to use emojis correctly and in a professional way as part of your marketing campaign.

Is American retail at a historic tipping point?

Artist crafts classic Stephen King-style book covers for classic songs.

3D printing replicates body parts.

Japan’s largest anime store opens up to international shoppers, but there’s a catch.

Eight things no one tells you before you become a YouTube sensation.

Apple’s most powerful computer in years will be in stores by Christmas.

Facebook releases several new open source tools for video and virtual reality.

How one writer became disappointed by Patreon.

Twitter has a serious problem with bots.

The truth about succeeding in business with your husband.

3D printed cars are the future. But are they safe?

Is multimedia journalism the way forward?

Streamers flock to YouTube Live, but the money (and crowd) is still at Twitch.

Find out if a robot will take your job.

Too many dolls: Is American Girl overextending itself?

PBS travel guru Rick Stevens sacrifices $4 million nest egg to house dozens of homeless women and kids.

Why photography is such a difficult business to get into.

You can now 3D print a tiny pretzel made of glass.

You can now live stream to YouTube from your phone if you have at least 1,000 subscribers.

Microsoft lets users access accounts without passwords.

Robots will soon become our children’s tutors. Here’s why that’s a good thing.

How Android smartphone users can stop Google from tracking your every move with its Google Timeline feature.

Nazi-looted art claim sets new test for Germany.

L.O.L. Surprise is the top selling doll for the past five months with over 2.5 million sold.

Adult animation brings more approachable culture to traditional TV.

How YouTube’s shifting algorithms hurt independent media.

Woman makes spectacular PowerPoint presentation persuading man to date her.

Software audit highlights major security weakness across all open source software.

How to make your kid’s art last forever without cluttering up your home.

The controversial My Friend Cayla doll have been banned in Germany. Parents must either destroy their child’s doll or face a fine of roughly $26,500 and two years in prison.

For animators looking to get into video games, there is a growing community just for them.

Where YouTube went wrong.

Six things you should never store on your work computer.

Why open source pharma is the path to both new and cheaper medicines.

Ramadan

This morning I came across this article on Medium.com titled I Beg of You, Do Not Take Photos of Fireworks With Your Smartphone that was written by Lindsey Weber. The title itself is self-explanatory and it was uploaded just in time for this weekend’s Fourth of July festivities where a lot of communities will sponsor numerous fireworks shows across the United States. Here are a few choice quotes from that article.

Your fireworks photos are bad.

As we approach this year’s annual Fireworks Day, aka July Fourth or Independence Day, no doubt my Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will be flooded with your horrible, awful, horrendous photos of fireworks.

It’s not your fault! Your smartphone, be it iPhone or Android, was not equipped to take photos of fireworks — so quick, so bright, so impossible to capture that they never appear as gorgeous as IRL through the lens of your cellphone.

You mean like these fireworks photos that I took with my Droid smartphone at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival back in April, 2015?

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Skill (and a bit of luck, Stocker adds) is certainly a factor, but without the manual controls of a Real Camera, here is how your many, many fireworks photos will appear:

You mean like these photos that I took with my Droid smartphone at a Bowie Baysox minor league baseball game back in June, 2015?

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Just awful.

Oh, really. So are these fireworks photos I took at last year’s Fourth of July celebrations in Laurel, Maryland with my Droid smartphone “just awful”?

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I’ll admit that not all of my fireworks photos I took with my Droid have been posted online. For every one of my fireworks photos that I actually end up posting online, I take at least 10 other photos that exist only on my hard drive and will never see the light of day because they are just as bad as the Instagram photos Lindsey Weber posts in her article as examples of bad fireworks photography taken with a smartphone. The difference is that I don’t ever post any pictures online that I personally feel is not up to my personal high standards as to what is acceptable to post online. I will admit that some people have no hesitation with posting a blurry photo online because they just want to post something online no matter the quality of the photo itself but I’m not like that. It’s no different from me refusing to step outside in anything other than acceptable street clothes while I’ve seen people out in public wearing pajamas with curlers in their hair or wearing pants so baggy that one can see what color underwear the person is wearing. I’m more hesitant with exposing everything while other people don’t share my hesitancy to put everything online and/or in public.

The other reason to refrain from the stereotypical fireworks photo this Fourth of July is simply that everyone’s doing it. And I don’t just mean taking pictures of fireworks, but seeing fireworks. It’s pretty hard to avoid them — so high up in the sky and so very loud. We all know what they look (and sound) like.

Okay so maybe she has a point there with so many people are already viewing and taking pictures of fireworks so your own photographs are bound to get lost in the online social media Internet shuffle. But you know what? Who cares? If you really want to take photos with your smartphone, go head and do it, even if your mother or grandfather are the only people who will ever see your fireworks photos online. If only one person ever sees your fireworks photos and likes them, you have made that person’s day brighter, even if it’s only for a brief moment.

The only thing that I agree with the writer about is this:

And there’s one tip we should all remember — forever and ever, fireworks or not: Turn off the flash.

I rarely use the flash in my smartphone because the colors always look dull and washed out. And if a person is staring directly into the lens, you’ll get that infamous red eye look where that person looks like he/she is possessed by demons. Generally people tend not to mind being photographed in public places if their eyes don’t get temporarily blinded by the flash.

Instead of snapping at would-be fireworks photographers whose only available camera equipment is a smartphone, I’ll provide this advice. When the fireworks shoot up in the air, take the picture right at the moment when the fireworks pauses in the sky. A firework will typically pause for about one or two seconds before bursting their full display. If you hit the shutter right at that pause, you’ll have a better chance of taking a great fireworks picture.

Getting a terrific fireworks shot with your smartphone will take some practice. I’ll admit that you won’t get the perfect fireworks picture on the first or second try. You might end up taking 50 or more crappy pictures to come up with less than 10 good shots. That’s the nature of photography in general. Most professional photographers will end up taking more pictures than they actually need in order to increase the chances that they will have a few usable photos that they can get paid for.

Just remember that not everything you shoot is worthy to upload on to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or some other social media. In fact it might be better if you wait a day or so after shooting those fireworks (when you’ll be less tired after having a good night’s sleep) then sift through the photos that you’ve taken in order to decide which ones you feel are good enough to share online.

But don’t let Lindsey Weber or anyone else deter you from taking fireworks photos if you want to do so. With enough practice you could come up with some fireworks photos that are similar to the ones I took at the Fourth of July celebration at Greenbelt Lake in 2014.

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Recently David Letterman had this teenaged Japanese pop singer named Hatsune Miku on his program. Except she’s not a real human, as you can see in the clip from the show.

This appearance, coupled with the awkward interaction between Letterman and Hatsune at the end, went viral online.

As I watched that clip, I thought that I could’ve sworn that I’ve seen that Hatsune Miku somewhere else before. I went through some back entries of this blog and I realized that, yes, I have encountered her before in one form or another, starting with this cosplayer at Otakon 2010 in Baltimore.

Cosplayer at Otakon 2010

A figurine at Otakon 2012.

Japanese PVC Collectible

Some more figurines from Otakon 2013.

Otakon 2013, Day 1, August 9, 2013

Otakon 2013, Day 1, August 9, 2013At the time I took all those photos, I naturally assumed that this blue-haired girl was a character from an anime that was popular on Japanese television. I was wrong about that assumption. (LOL!) It turns out that she was created as a virtual pop star by Crypton Future Media. Despite her cute girly presence, she is just a computer software program that was based on Yamaha’s Vocaloid program. She has gained worldwide popularity with lots of spin-off products (that are sold on sites like J-List, Play-Asia, and Amazon) and she has even appeared in a number of video games. Her appearance on David Letterman’s show was timed to coincide with the two American Hatsune Miku Expos in Los Angeles and New York this month.

While I was reading about Hatsune Miku, I found Mikufan.com, which has the latest news regarding the virtual pop star. Through that site, I discovered that there is a photo app available for both iOS and Droid called Mikuture. I downloaded the Droid version when I saw that it’s a free app.

Even though Mikuture is called “an augmented reality app”, it’s basically a photo app where you get to pose Hatsune Miku (you can choose from various poses, facial expressions, camera angles, and even lighting), snap her in your photos, then share them with the social media of your choice. I played around with it, starting with Miku standing in the dimly lit foyer of my townhouse at night.

My First Photo of Hatsune Miku

The following morning I attended Sunday service at my Unitarian Universalist congregation. Before the service began I took this quick photo using the Mikuture app.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

After Sunday service ended and the coffee social hour began, I really cut loose with that app as I put Miku in a variety of poses.

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International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

What was really funny about the next photo is that at the same moment I took a photo of Miku in that pose, my friend Carol, who’s in the right background, lifted her hands in a similar position to Miku’s. In addition, Carol is wearing an outfit in the same blue and black combination as Miku’s.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

I even played with the app’s camera angles by taking this next photo while I was standing on the deck overlooking the wooded glen below. It was so easy to make it look like Miku was actually in the woods below and I was looking down at her.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

Only a virtual person would have no problems with kneeling on a wooden deck the morning after a heavy rain storm swept through the area.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

After I took that last photo, I was planning on leaving until a man from Papa John’s Pizza arrived with several pizza boxes. I remembered that a group of people were trying to have a series of all-ages pizza lunches in the glen once a month. I was invited to come last month and I really enjoyed myself. I decided to delay going home for a while and go into the glen. I paid $5 towards helping with defraying the pizza cost while I ate food and took some more photos with the Mikuture app.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

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International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

I had fun with that app. The only reason why I played around with it on the church grounds is because it’s a Unitarian Universalist congregation. If it had been a more rigid and straight-laced house of worship like a Roman Catholic church or an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, I definitely would’ve been leery about using that app. I really liked that app’s ease of use. It’s something that I could use again if I ever reach a point where I need new material for this blog that I could whip up pretty quick. Since I live near Washington, DC, it would be cool to try having Miku pose near such landmarks as the Lincoln Memorial or the White House.

Ramadan

Last Saturday I went with friends from Unitarian Universalist congregation to a game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC to see the Washington Nationals play against the San Diego Padres. I’ve been near Nationals Park numerous times (most notably during the time that I participated in Artomatic 2009, which was held in an office building right next to the Metro station and it was one block away from the stadium) but I’ve never been inside the place before. It was my first baseball game since last year (when I attended a Bowie Baysox game with members of my support group for people who are separated or divorced) and it was my first Major League Baseball game since 2007 (when I went to a few Baltimore Orioles games at Camden Yards with my husband and some of his NASA coworkers the summer before my left hip started to go bad and I needed a hip replacement).

Going to that game had put me in a good mood, despite the intense heat and humidity. (The temperature was around 95 degrees Farenheit with the humidity to match.) It was one of the few times I was able to completely forget my current despair stemming from everything that has happened to me since my husband abruptly walked out on me three days after Christmas in 2011 and subsequently hooked up with a friend of ours then got engaged to her eight months after he left me. That day was the happiest one I could remember since before my divorce became final a couple of months ago. I was in such a great mood that I pulled out my Droid smartphone and took a lot of pictures. Here are photos of my first views of the area outside Nationals Park.

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Nationals Park

A street musician serenaded baseball fans on their way to the game.

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Nationals Park

The next photo shows one of the coolest looking recycling bins I’ve ever seen. If that doesn’t encourage people to take recycling more seriously, nothing will.

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I took this really neat picture of a statue honoring Negro League ballplayer Josh Gibson against a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

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The next photo shows the booth of the MASN sports cable channel.

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This next photo shows my first view of the ballfield in Nationals Park, which I took from the concourse. (I still had a ways to go before I reached my own seat.)

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Here is one of the many places where you could buy souveniers. Unfortunately the prices were too expensive for my current budget (especially since I spent the bulk of the money I had with me on food and beverages).

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Ben’s Chili Bowl is such an institution at its original U Street location that it has its own Wikipedia page. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a Ben’s Chili Bowl stand at Nationals Park.

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There are rooms and statues dedicated to past U.S. presidents.

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Nationals Park
Nationals Park

One interesting thing about Nationals Park is that I saw a set of plush couches at one of the side concourses. The couches are literally outside in sunlight. I guess the couches are weather-resistant. I’ve never seen anything like that at any other sports stadiums. If it weren’t for the fact that it was over 95 degrees Farenheit with high humidity, I would’ve tried sitting on one of the couches myself.

Nationals Park

There were all kinds of decorations at Nationals Park ranging from poles devoted to players in the Baseball Hall of Fame (the pole in the next photo below is dedicated to Jackie Robinson) to posters commemorating special events that happened at Nationals Park to various ads to large mobiles dangling from the ceiling.

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Nationals Park

I finally got to my seat where I also found my friends. I paid $14 for my ticket, which got me this sky-high view of the ballfield.

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The one advantage of being up in the nosebleed sections is that I got this really great view of the Washington, DC skyline, including the Washington Monument that is currently enfolded in scaffolding. (The Washington Monument sustained extensive damage in the 2011 earthquake that struck much of the East Coast and it is currently closed to the public because it is undergoing repairs.)

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Nationals Park
Nationals Park

I wished I had a better view of the scoreboard but, otherwise, the seats were pretty good for what I paid. The biggest downer was that the section we were in were in direct sunlight with no shade, which is pretty bad on a day that’s over 95 degrees with high humidity. Every now and then the sun would hide behind one the the clouds that one can see in the below photos, which provided temporary relief but that relief was usually very short-lived.

Nationals Park
Nationals Park

I tried using the smartphone to caputre some of the baseball action on the field. The good news is that, unlike last year when I tried taking baseball action shots at a Bowie Baysox game using the same smartphone, my phone has had a major upgrade in its operating system and my phone software included new controls where I could select the sports option to capture action. The bad news is that I was sitting in a section that was so high above the ground that I had to zoom in closer to the action until the figures were on the blurry side. After a few attempts, I gave up on taking action shots.

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Nationals Park

The last action shot I took was this commotion on the ballfield when the catcher for the San Diego Padres was accidentally knocked down by one of the Washington Nationals. The medics had to remove that catcher from the field and a new catcher took his place.

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Before the game one of my friends sent an e-mail advising us to buy bottled water from one of the vendors outside the stadium before going inside because the outside vendors were selling them for only $2 per bottle. I took that advice but I made the dumb mistake of buying only one bottle because I ended up drinking up the entire bottle very quickly. I had total sticker shock when that same sized bottled water was being sold inside the stadium for a whopping $4.50. At one point I saw on the scoreboard where the designated cooling centers were located so I made a mental note of that. I enjoyed the game for a while and I really enjoyed socializing with some of my friends but I was getting more and more tired of being in direct sunlight in high heat and high humidity. Finally I reached my breaking point and I decided to try looking for one of the cooling centers. As I walked along the shaded concourse (it was still hot there but it was far less torturous than being in direct sunlight) I took photos of some panoramic scenes of the Anacostia River, Diamond Teague Park, and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

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Nationals Park

At Nationals Park one had plenty of opportunities to purchase plushies based on famous U.S. presidents like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

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Here is the Wall of Dreams where one can pay to have his or her name engraved on one of the baseballs on display there.

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Nationals Park

I finally found one of the designated cooling centers, the Reagan Room (yes, it’s named after President Ronald Reagan). I felt like I reached nirvana when I opened one of the doors and a gust of air conditioning hit my face. The Reagan Room had padded chairs, free cups of water, and plenty of television screens on all the walls so one can still catch the action on the ballfield no matter where your head turned.

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Nationals Park
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Nationals Park

I originally intended to stay in the Reagan Room long enough to feel better then rejoin my friends in the very hot, humid, and sunny section. But the more I relaxed in the air conditioned room, the less I felt like even moving. I ended up watching the rest of the game in the Reagan Room. By the way, the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 5-4.

After the game ended I felt an urge to go to the bathroom. On my way to the women’s bathroom, I saw something that made me think of my ex-husband. There was an actual Jack Daniels stand that served all kinds of Jack Daniels beverages. My ex-husband loves Jack Daniels and he loved it whenever anyone gave him a bottle of it as a gift. (I don’t like Jack Daniels.) I remember my husband and I kept on talking about going together to a game at Nationals Park but we never got around to it so it was only after we were divorced before I finally had the chance to see the inside of Nationals Park. Had my ex-husband been with me, he definitely would’ve spent much of his time at the Jack Daniels stand.

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Nationals Park
Nationals Park

Near the Jack Daniels stand is this really cool looking giant Washington Nationals pig.

Nationals Park

After the game ended a free concert was held at Nationals Park. The band Thompson Square performed right on the ballfield. Baseball fans could watch the band from the concourse and the stands for free or, for an extra $20, the fans could go on the ballfield right next to the stage where the band performed.

Thompson Square at Nationals Park
Thompson Square at Nationals Park
Thompson Square at Nationals Park

I had never heard of Thompson Square before so I opted to watch the concert from the concourse. The concourse had a lot of television screens which broadcasted the concert so if I wanted a closer look at the band, all I had to do was just turn my head to the nearest screen.

Thompson Square at Nationals Park
Thompson Square at Nationals Park
Thompson Square at Nationals Park

A few days after the game I looked up the band on YouTube and here are a few of their videos. The first video is a live clip while the others are just music videos. I think they sounded much better live than their recordings show (which is why the first clip I embedded is a concert one). They seemed to have a harder sound in concert than what their studio recordings indicate.

After hanging around the concourse for a while, I grew totally tired so I decided to walk around the stadium itself since I had never been inside Nationals Park before while I continued to listen to the band. I saw more poles featuring Baseball Hall of Fame players (like Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth), more places to eat, signs providing information on how Nationals Park is a green park due to its innovative recycling program, a children’s playground, a cartoony replica of Mount Rushmore, and even a quote from Cal Ripken, Jr.

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Nationals Park
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Thompson Square at Nationals Park
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Nationals Park

I came across two memorials to the old Washington Senators ballplayer Walter Johnson—one a flat wall relief and the other a full-fledged statue.

Nationals Park
Nationals Park

I found one difference between Nationals Park and Camden Yards. The Baltimore stadium has only one statue in front—native Baltimore ballplayer Babe Ruth who later gained his gratest fame playing for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. National Park has three statues at its entrance. One is for Walter Johnson. The other is for Frank Oliver "Hondo" Howard, who is pictured below.

Nationals Park

The third one is for famed Negro ballplayer Josh Gibson. I took the photo of the statue earlier in the day and I took the second one of the same statue at twilight.

Nationals Park

I finished my time at Nationals Park by checking out the largest of the stores that sold Washington Nationals souveniers, which was called the W Clubhouse Team Store and was located near the entrance to the ballpark. I only did window shopping because the prices were too expensive for my modest budget these days.

Nationals Park
Nationals Park

Among the plushies that were on sale were ones based on Washington Nationals players Bryce Harper (Number 34) and Stephen Strasburg (Number 37).

Nationals Park

This last photo is one that I shot while I was walking from Nationals Park to the nearest Metro station as the sun was setting.

Nationals Park

American Flag

For the Fourth of July this year, I actually managed to see fireworks in person. I spent the bulk of the day at home (with the exception of going to the local nursery to take advantage on some Fourth of July sales on plants so I now have new herbs for my garden) mainly because most places were going to be crowded with partyers and I didn’t want to be among crowds. The good news was that it didn’t rain at all for the first time in about two weeks. The bad news was that the heat went up to 90 degrees and it included high humidity. I ended up not even going to the park nearest my home until after nightfall in order to avoid the blistering sun. (The humidity was still high at nighttime but the temperature was bearable.)

The last time I saw fireworks in person was in 2011, when I made my last ever Fourth of July family trip to Ocean City before my marriage fell apart. Last year it rained alot so I decided to watch the Washington, DC fireworks show on television instead. (For the record, I last went to downtown Washington, DC on the Fourth of July years ago. It was very crowded plus it was very hot with high humidity. I saw a few fights almost break out. While the fireworks show was excellent, the commute back was total hell. We stood in line for one hour at the Smithsonian Metro Stop before we could even go inside the station plus we waited in line for another 30 minutes to 1 hour waiting to get to the edge of the platform so we could board the next subway train that quickly filled up. I haven’t spent the Fourth of July in downtown DC since my one time.)

This year the weather wasn’t raining so I decided to head on over to the fireworks show that was held at Greenbelt Lake. It has been years since I last went to a show there because my husband and I normally did the family vacation in Ocean City with his sister and whoever else wanted to stay with us that year. (That rotated from year to year from a friend of our nephew’s to my husband’s father and step-mother to one of my sister-in-law’s friends.) I remember that some areas in front of the lake were crowded but I could find parking a few blocks away on some side street. Except even those side streets I used to be able to rely on in the past were full of parked cars. I drove around until I found a relatively empty area I could park in then walk about 20-30 minutes to the area of the lake where the fireworks were being shot. That area was crowded with people but I was still able to find a place where I could set up my portable folding chair and relaxed until the fireworks started.

I decided to play around with taking pictures with my smartphone camera. I remember that last year, when I took photos of the Bowie Baysox baseball game with my smartphone, the results were okay except the smartphone had problems with capturing action compared to my heavier Canon DSLR Digital Rebel camera. Since that time I managed to upgrade my Droid’s operating system and the camera now has controls capable of capturing action shots that didn’t exist before. I took a bunch of photos then whittled down to the ones that I thought were the best. I have to say that they looked pretty awesome. Remember that I took these with a Droid smartphone.

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

I’ve been so down regarding my hip problems that I ended up focusing on just one handheld game: Angry Birds. It all started when I discovered that there was a version of the game for the Droid Smartphone that was free. (In contrast, I had to pay 99 cents for the iPod Touch version.) I was curious so I downloaded it and found that this version had ads in it. It didn’t distract from the game itself and I even enjoyed this version despite the ads. In addition, I went ahead and downloaded the Droid version of the sequel Angry Birds Seasons (which I never purchased for the iPod Touch because the reviews complained about how you had to make additional in-game purchases in order to play the entire thing) and I basically alternated between the original and the sequel.

Hell Angry Birds is a perfect metaphor for these times. Not only do I have to deal with my hip issues I’m bracing myself for the possibility that the U.S. could default on all of its debts on obligations. I could understand the latter if the U.S. is a poor country that didn’t have much money in the treasury but it is a very wealth country and it’s literally being held hostage by extreme right-wing Tea Party Republicans who want the U.S. to default on purpose in order to punish President Obama. It’s really insane.

In a way it’s a bad time for me to require surgery because my husband is a federal employee and I’m on his health insurance that he gets through his government job. If the U.S. defaults on all of its financial obligations, we will have to face shelling out more money for the health insurance because it’s iffy if the government will continue to pay it or not.

These right-wing extremists want to cut their noses off to spite their faces and the rest of the country could suffer for it, which is grossly unfair. To me they are little better than those green pigs in the Angry Birds game.

Tomorrow is the day that I’m getting a second opinion regarding my hip. I’ll admit that I’m nervous about it and I’m hoping for the best.

The weather last weekend—with those record high temperatures of 100-105 degrees—was unbearable enough but it’s especially agonizing when you have an injury of some kind. I’m grateful that I had air conditioning even though the high heat really pushed the air conditioning to the max.

I’ve been slowly playing around with my new smartphone. Last night I downloaded a free app that got it to recognize those square codes that are popping up in print everywhere. Here’s a photo of one that I took when I was in Ocean City a few weeks ago.

Carousel Entrance, The Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland

So I ran that new free app and put my photo of that code up to the camera that’s in my smartphone. For those of you without a smartphone, I’ll explain what it did next. It brought up this URL: http://vimeo.com/oceancityevents/trimpers I hit the "Go" button in the app and it took me to this page that includes a short video explaining the 1902 carousel that’s still running at Trimpers Amusements in Ocean City.

I was sad and horrified over what happened in Norway last weekend. The fact that a right-wing Norwegian did it is so reminiscent of the time when Timothy McVeigh did that horrible bombing in Oklahoma City. I really feel sorry for the victims and their families. I’m also fuming over what Glenn Beck said on his radio show. He compared the youth camp where the gunman killed so many people to a Hitler Youth camp. Can you believe it? It’s like he’s blaming the victims or something. I’m glad that he isn’t on television any more and he has to confine his hate to his radio show and his new online subscription video web service.

I’m still bracing myself for economic calamity over the fact that there are people in this country who are willing to let the United States go into default to score cheap political points and they place a higher value on making sure that President Obama fails over the long-term economic health of the United States. They also don’t seem to care that if the U.S. defaults, it’ll take down the economies of numerous other nations with it. Haven’t they learned from history? When the Great Depression hit, not only did the U.S. economy went south but it took down the economies of many other nations in Europe with it. This led to the rise of the fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany, which led to World War II and the Holocaust.

Or do the Tea Partiers want to see a rise in fascism all over the world? If that’s the case, they’d better be careful of what they wish for.

I’ll just end this entry with a video of a song by Amy Winehouse, who passed away this past weekend at 27. In a way I’m not shocked that she died because she had a very public struggle with drugs and alcohol. I saw paparazzi photos of her at her worst that reminded me of the mentally ill homeless hanging around in the streets of downtown Washington, DC. It’s a shame because she was a very talented singer who could’ve have had a long and prosperous career had she been able to keep her personal demons in check.

Lately my ability to walk really depends on such things as fatigue, how long I’ve been sitting on my butt, and whether I have recently taken painkillers or not. If I’m well-rested, make an effort to not spend hours on my butt, and if I had taken painkillers less than an hour or two, I can walk fluidly with the aid of a cane. Otherwise, whenever I get up from my chair, I can barely walk. I’m hobbling on my cane until my legs warm up then I can walk fluidly with the aid of a cane

The problem is that my left leg has gotten stiff and it’s the same side as where I got my hip replacement. The primary care physician I saw also noticed that during my visit with him over a week ago and I can understand why he wanted me to go back to the doctor who performed the surgery back in 2008.

Since I saw the primary care physician late on Friday, I had to wait out a weekend before I could make an appointment with the other doctor. At least the primary care physician gave me a prescription for vicodin. With the vicodin and ibuprofen, I could at least manage the pain but I’m still stiff.

I was able to call the orthopedic specialist Monday morning but I was able to get an appointment on Friday at the earliest. I made an appointment for Friday afternoon and I knew that there would be another few days of living with pain, stiffness, and uncertainity on why I’m going through this. I’ll admit that I was paranoid about the possibility of the doctor not finding out what’s wrong with me because each week The Washington Post runs a column in its Health section called "Medical Mysteries" and it profiles people suffering from rare medical conditions and they didn’t get diagnosed until after going through months of medical tests and, in some cases, almost facing death or paralysis or something dire before the doctors find out what’s wrong. I rarely read the "Medical Mysteries" column when I was healthy because it was so depressing and I like it even less now that I’m currently going through this latest health crisis.

Until the day of the doctor’s appointment grew close, I made an effort to prepare for the worst. I even went so far as to upload a bunch of future blog entries and set it up so they will go live on certain future dates. I figured that the blog would still be actively updated automatically on a regular basis and I did it in the hopes that I can still attract art admirers who may want to purchase my work in the future just in case I would be too laid up to continue working on this blog. Right now I have enough blog entries scheduled to last me through mid-September.

I also made an effort to learn how to use my first-ever smartphone—a Droid 3—that my husband purchased for me on the same day that I was told by my primary care physician to see the surgeon who did my hip replacement. It took me a couple of days to even study the smartphone in detail because I was too depressed about my health. My previous cell phone experience included a Nokia Tracphone (one of those contract-free phones that required monthly phone cards to activate) and a T-Mobile Samsung flip cell phone. The former had crude graphics and the latter had such a tiny screen and keypad that I never attempted to use its Internet and texting functions. The Droid 3 is a totally different animal from my previous phones. It’s incredibly user-friendly and I’m learning how to text and surfing the web.

I’m glad I already owned an iPod Touch (it’s the third generation that doesn’t have a camera included—unlike more recent iPod Touch devices) because it prepared me for how to manuever the Droid’s touch screen. Thanks to the iPod Touch, I already knew how to flick screens and type using an on-screen pop-up keyboard so I had no problems with adapting to the similar functions on the Droid 3.

I did other things to keep my mind off of the upcoming doctor’s appointment. I decided to make a new art creation for a juried art show that’s co-sponsored by SCRAP-DC, The Center for Green Urbanism, and The 9/11 Arts Project. This art show’s theme is the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack and the entries must consist of 75% recycled materials. My project is still a work in progress so I can’t go into details about it now. I’ll only reveal that if it gets rejected, I have a back-up plan for this piece. I recently learned that this year’s Greenbelt Labor Day Festival will have a major environmental/recycling/green element for the first time ever. I can enter this work in its art show, which would dovetail nicely with the green emphasis.

A few weeks ago I started taking a Tai Chi class in the hopes that my flexibility could be improved. I went to class the first two weeks then I had to skip the third session because I was in Ocean City. I went to the fourth session last week and I had a very hard time. In this class you’re standing on your feet for an hour and during last week’s session my lower back kept on getting real stiff. There were times when I tried to rub my lower back in an effort to loosen my tight muscles to no avail. I was so relieved when the class ended and I was extremely stiff as I walked back to my car.

This week I skipped the Tai Chi class because I was in too much stiffness and pain to deal with it. I’m seriously thinking about dropping the class, especially in light of what I learned at the surgeon’s office yesterday.

I underwent some more x-rays at the surgeon’s office and he said that the socket part of my hip replacement has been whacked out of alignment, which is why I’ve been in a lot of pain in the hip area lately. He theorized that this happened during one of the falls I went through in February. (I underwent two falls exactly one week apart and I landed on my ass both times.) I would have to undergo something called a realignment surgery, which is less intense than a full hip replacement. Basically a surgeon would move the ball and socket joint back to its proper position. I would still have to undergo a long recuperation and physical therapy.

Right now my husband and I are in the process of getting a second opinion because I’m not really crazy about the idea of more surgery. I really want the pain to stop for good (or at least learn to manage it without having to use drugs). The surgeon I saw yesterday gave me a prescription for Percocet so I have that in addition to the Vicodin from the primary care physician. I’m also using ibuprofen as well. I have to be careful about taking the Vicodin and the Percocet since both drugs have a "No Refills" notation on the bottle so when they are gone, they will be gone for good.

So my current situation sucks right now but at least I’m covered under my husband’s health insurance. But, since my husband is a federal employee, there’s a possibility that we may have to take up more of the payments because of the total collapse in talks regarding the raising of the debt ceiling after Speaker of the House John Boehner walked out of the meeting. Which means that the debt ceiling won’t be raised and the U.S. will default in its loans that will not only bring the American economy down but will also drag down the economies of many other nations with it. Thanks for nothing, Speaker Boehner (or should I start calling him Speaker Boner?).

My health has gotten worse. As you may know, my current problems began in February when I fell on my ass twice. The first time happened when I was in Florida and I had a problem where I would limp when I got up for the first few steps but then everything worked itself out and I stopped limping. By the time I returned to Maryland, I felt much better to the point where I had fully recuperated. Exactly one week after my first fall, I fell on my ass again when I was in Annapolis. Not only did that second fall undo the healing, but I was walking far worse.

I saw a doctor who referred me to an orthopedic specialist who told me that I had potential back problems that can be reversed if I dieted and exercised. In any case, I physically felt better. The only snags came whenever it rained and I would feel aches and pains but they were minor compared to what I had been through.

Last month my problems began to worsen. It started when there was a lot of rain. There were periods when it would rain for two or three days in a row and my back began to stiffen and it affected my walking. There would be the occasional day with no rain and I would feel better but my recovery would be short-lived with the next set of storms. By the time of the Ocean City trip, I was back to using my cane. However, the trip also had days when it would rain, which exacerbated everything.

So it was raining when I got home and it kept on raining, which made my life miserable. My walking became more difficult and it would be accompanied by painful twinges. They got so bad that I went to CVS where I purchased this Futuro back brace. It made the pain more bearable but it was still there. I also took ibuprofen, which didn’t do anything whenever I took two pills. I tried taking four pills at once and it worked for a couple of days but then stopped working as well. (I think my body got used to it.)

The rain stopped a few days ago and it’s been sunshine with low humidity. I had hoped that my problem would end. While the pain was slightly less, it was still there and I also began to feel clunking noises along my left thigh—the same region where I had my hip replacement back in 2008.

I went back to the doctor. The doctor I usually see was off today so I saw another doctor in the same practice and, after reading my medical file, he became alarmed as how I was walking. He strongly suggested that I go back to seeing the original surgeon who did the hip replacement in order to get it checked out. He noticed that I had a difficult time walking on my left leg and he did some basic movements on that leg while I was lying on the table and I flinched when he moved it in a certain direction. He wrote me a referral slip to see the surgeon and also a prescription for Vicodin, which is being filled at a nearby pharmacy while I’m typing this.

All I really want is to manage this pain so I can exercise and go to the gym, which is what the orthopedic specialist who saw me back in March suggested. It’s so disheartening that I have to go back to see the original surgeon because the primary care physician thinks that my problem may be related to my left hip. I’m so depressed that I’m having a hard time enjoying the fact that my husband has finally bought me my first smartphone (a Droid 3). Under any other circumstances I would be thrilled with my new device. Now, after the doctor’s visit, I just can’t be bothered. 😦

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