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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.

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There was massive hype about the solar eclipse that blanketed much of North America last week. Even though the Washington, DC area was included in the eclipse’s path, we were located too far north to achieve a total eclipse. According to this link, my area would see 81% coverage. I know people who scheduled special trips to places further south (such as South Carolina) in order to see the full eclipse. If it weren’t for the fact that I was too broke to travel, I might have done this myself. But I was still happy to see the 81% coverage.

Last month I attended a workshop on making a special solar eclipse viewer so I could safely see it. I also received a free pair of solar eclipse glasses so I could directly view the eclipse without burning my eyeballs. Here is what the glasses looked like.

Here’s a rare selfie of me wearing those glasses. Yeah, I’ll admit that they looked dorky on me but I was able to directly look at the sun safely (unlike President Donald Trump, who actually looked at the eclipse with his bare eyes while First Lady Melania and their young son Baron did the sensible thing and looked towards the ground). I remember those glasses were so dark that I had to remove them if I needed to walk even a step or two so I wouldn’t inadvertently trip over something.

I attempted to hold the glasses over my smartphone’s lens but this was the best photo I was able to get (when the eclipse was almost over).

Here’s a cropped closeup of that view, which is why this next photo looks a bit on the grainy side.

The biggest obstacle to the solar eclipse were some clouds that kept on covering the sun at various times. Luckily the sky was only partly cloudy so we could still see the eclipse.

I could’ve viewed the solar eclipse in my yard but I decided to travel for that event because I just felt a need to be around other people while I was viewing this extremely rare event. I ended up at Roosevelt Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where a few people gathered around.

The STEM center Makerspace 125 offered free refreshments (in the form of cookies and lemonade).

The next few photos show the various stages of the solar eclipse as seen through some of these homemade eclipse viewers.

Even though my area didn’t get full coverage, there was this really cool effect that one could see on the ground. If you look close enough, you can see these crescent-shaped shadows that were formed by the eclipse. They looked like scales on a fish.

I feel very fortunate that I got a chance to see that solar eclipse even if I only saw 81% coverage. The only downside was the very hot and humid weather (also known as a typical August day in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area). I was pretty overheated by the time the solar eclipse passed through our area.

When I got home I decided to find another way of remembering this occasion. Last year I made an ill-fated New Year’s resolution where I would do one new sketchbook drawing a day. I even purchased a small hardcover sketchbook for the occasion. Despite that effort, I found that I couldn’t always find time to make a new sketch. At first I modified it to once a week then a couple times a month. Then I misplaced the sketchbook for a few months. (I later learned that I had brought it with me to church when it was having one of its social events and I left that sketchbook behind. Then the person who found it kept on forgetting to give it back to me.) Now that my sketchbook was found, I decided to make my first new drawing since last September (when I did this drawing the day after I attended the third and final day of Intervention Con). Of course I had to incorporate that photo of President Donald Trump trying to view the solar eclipse with his bare eyes.

It seems like for the last week my mind has been overloaded with everything that has gone down in Charlottesville. I went to the second memorial event for Charlottesville in my event in a week. Here are my photos.

This event took place at the Greenbelt Community Church, which is a United Church of Christ congregation in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was organized by the Greenbelt Interfaith Leaders Association and it included participation by clergy from the various Christian and Jewish denominations.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

This sign showed the schedule of events that took place during this service.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

People were invited to take a flower from this makeshift altar and place it in the nearby memorial garden as a symbol of being in solidarity for peace.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The next few photos shows the wall in the memorial garden where people left the flowers along with a couple of poster boards and markers where people can write their feelings.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

Various clergy gave speeches while people sang songs. The service ended with people lighting candles in a symbol of solidarity with the people in Charlottesville.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

Beauty blogger and her new husband ruined their wedding photographer’s reputation over a $125 fee, so a jury told them to pay her $1 million.

Sorry, Google memo man: women were in tech long before you.

How a Maryland town is turning its New Deal past into a new economy present.

An Indian woman was born into the Dalit caste, which made her “untouchable” by society. Despite the odds, she managed to immigrate to America where she became the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York Subway.

Adobe to (finally) pull the plug on Flash, for real this time.

She encouraged a girl she babysat to continue with her interest in art. Eleven years later she got this letter.

The Italian highlanders who may have Scottish roots.

World’s oldest smiley face found on a jug from 1700 B.C.E.

Meet Anatomic Anna and Andy, dolls with removable organs.

Extinguished, a stunning animated short, will positively melt your heart.

Interactive art center Meow Wolf is forging a new business model for artists.

11 women who did groundbreaking things that men got the credit for.

The British Museum creates 3D models of the Rosetta Stone and 200+ other historic artifacts for free download or view in virtual reality. 

How the plastic pink flamingo became an icon.

A free tutorial on how to make a cardboard geodesic dome den.

An entire Manhattan village owned by African Americans was destroyed to build Central Park.

Why the myth of meritocracy hurts children of color.

Comic Parchment, the ultimate font.

Play The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy video game, which was designed by author Douglas Adams in 1984, for free online.

Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, Maryland has been hosting a series of workshops on how to build a viewer for the upcoming solar eclipse (which will take place on August 21, 2017) since it’s totally foolhardy to directly look at a solar eclipse with your own eyes. I took a few photos of one of the workshops on July 22 while I got my own viewer for that fateful day.

This is the equipment used to make a solar eclipse viewer (which were mainly recycled cardboard mailing tubes and packages).

Workshop on Making a Solar Eclipse Viewer

A volunteer shows how to make a solar eclipse viewer at Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Workshop on Making a Solar Eclipse Viewer

This is what the solar eclipse viewer looked like when completed.

Workshop on Making a Solar Eclipse Viewer

Here’s demonstration on how one can view the sun safely using a solar eclipse viewer.

Workshop on Making a Solar Eclipse Viewer

Ramadan

The STEM center known as Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, Maryland is currently reorganizing its space and doing some spring cleaning. They left quite a few items outside its doors encouraging passers-by to take what was there. Among the free times that were available was a nice looking wood desk and a wood cabinet. I also saw some half-built desktop computers outside, which would be perfect for anyone who is into building computers from scratch.

I managed to snag this toy dinosaur because I have a friend who’s into dinosaurs in a big way. She loved it when I gave it to her. She said that it will live with the other toy dinosaurs that she has on display in her kitchen.

Ramadan

Right now the big scandal is whether President Donald Trump was elected with a little help from his friend, Russian Premiere Vladimir Putin. Then-FBI Director James Comey was investigating the matter until President Trump abruptly fired him.

I could write a long separate blog post about this scandal except for the fact that there have already been so much written about this matter that anything I write here would be redundant. I’ll keep this post short by saying that James Comey was subpoenaed to testify before the Senate on his investigation, which began at 10 a.m. on June 8, 2017. I live outside of Washington, DC so naturally this scheduled testimony became the big talk of the town. In fact, some of the local bars decided to open way earlier than usual so people can watch the proceedings live on the TV screens while drinking alcohol. (Only in DC would the bars do something like this for a Senate hearing.)

The Greenbelt Theater decided to get in on the action by opening at 10 a.m. so it can broadcast the proceedings on the big screen. (The big difference is that the theater doesn’t serve alcohol.) I wasn’t able to get to the theater right at 10 because I was busy getting ready for another job hunting-related event at the state-run Maryland Workforce Exchange that was being held at the Laurel office that afternoon. I managed to arrive around noon. I set the alarm on my smartphone because I could only devote a half-an-hour to watching this because I had to get to Laurel. It turned out that I arrived at the tail end of the proceeding and it ended after I was there for 20 minutes. I managed to take a few token pictures to give you an idea of what it’s like to see something like this on the big screen.

In case you’ve missed it, you can read a summary of Comey’s testimony right here.

Ramadan

I happened to be in Roosevelt Center when I saw these interesting chalk drawings made by someone. I have no idea who did them or why they did them, all I know is that they were made in the area that’s located near Makerspace 125.

I attended this year’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival. On the first day (May 13) I arrived shortly before the festival closed down for the day mainly because I had spent the bulk of the day walking the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour. I still managed to take a few photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The following day was more sunny and it was a warm pleasant day. Plus it was Mother’s Day on top of it. I spent the bulk of my day at the festival where I took these photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Makerspace 125 had its giant box full of Legos for any child to play with.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

While the outdoor festival was winding down, the festival moved indoors to the New Deal Cafe. The band Kiva closed the 2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival with their show.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I only purchased one thing for myself that weekend: a bar of honey rose-scented goat milk soap that was made by Natural Image Botanicals.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I attended a benefit concert featuring my friends The Bachelor and the Bad Actress at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a fundraiser to help pay off the medical bills of the Bachelor’s sister. (Even though she has health insurance, the hospital bills were still very expensive.) Here’s a photo of the duo on stage.

Here’s a short video I shot of the couple.

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