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On the first Saturday in November I went to two different events that were held on the same day at two different churches. Fortunately both churches were located just a few miles from each other so getting to both of them was no problem.

The first thing in the morning I went to the Christmas Bazaar that was held at St. Hugh of Grenoble Catholic Church in Greenbelt, Maryland. They had some nice things on sale along with some nice Christmas decorations.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

There were all kinds of handcrafted wares available for sale along with a sale on used books and DVDs and a booth that sold fair trade items such as crafts from Third World countries and ethically sourced foods.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

There was even a table and chair set that was on sale for $160. I had no idea if the tablecloth, china, cloth napkins, and the centerpiece were included in that sale or not.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

The next two photos show what I bought at the Christmas Bazaar. I purchased this small nativity set that was made in Peru yet it has an African theme to it. (I found it charming that a leopard replaced the usual sheep, donkeys, camels, and cows that one usually find in a traditional nativity set.)

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

Here are the two other items I also purchased at the Christmas Bazaar. One is a used DVD of the movie The Producers, which is well-known for the one where Mel Brooks made his film directorial debut and it was also one of Gene Wilder’s early film roles. It was later turned into a Broadway musical then was remade as a film that featured the music from that Broadway show. I only paid $1 for that DVD, which was a great deal since I found that film to be hilarious. The other is a fair trade dark chocolate candy bar that was made from ethically sourced ingredients and it was made in a factory where the workers there were paid fair wages.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

After spending an hour or so shopping at the Christmas Bazaar I decided to head over to a different Catholic church for lunch that was located a few towns over from the other one. The main difference between the two churches is that St. Hugh of Grenoble is a Roman Catholic church while the other is an Eastern Orthodox church. St. Gregory of Nyssa Byzantine Catholic Church in Beltsville, Maryland was the setting for that church’s annual Slavic Festival, which focuses on all kinds of homemade Slavic food. Here’s a photo of the front of the church building.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

As I was walking to the entrance to the Slavic Festival, I couldn’t help but notice the church’s charming gazebo that is located near that entrance.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

That Slavic Festival was very well-attended for a good reason: The food is excellent. I purchased the Sampler Platter for lunch, which included holupki (cabbage stuffed with beef and pork in a tomato sauce), kolbasi (homemade smoked sausage), pirohi (pirogi), haluski (dumplings with chopped onions and cabbage), and sauerkraut. It was all so delicious.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

The Slavic Festival took place in a large room that was off to the side from the room where weekly Sunday worship takes place. That room had all kinds of appropriate fall decorations including pumpkins and autumn leaves in shades of red, yellow, and orange.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

The room where the weekly religious services takes place was open for visitors to take a look. I took the majority of the pictures in that room because there was all kinds of interesting Eastern Orthodox Christian art everywhere.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

A church member was around to provide information about the church facilities. The one thing I learned is that this church was originally founded by immigrants from Czechoslovakia, which I found quite fascinating for personal reasons. One of my ancestors came from that same country (back when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) but he was an ethnic Czech while the people who founded St. Gregory were Slovaks. Czechoslovakia has since split further into two separate nations. My ancestor came from the state of Bohemia, which is one of the two areas known as the Czech lands (the other is Moravia), and that state is now in the Czech Republic. The other nation is Slovakia, where the Slovaks live.

Another cool thing about the Slavic Festival is that they also offered takeout food that could be frozen and eaten later. I purchased a bunch of carry-out home cooked meals to put in my freezer. I’ve defrosted and eaten a few of those meals since that day but, as of this writing, I still have some Slavic food in my freezer just waiting for me to defrost, heat, and eat. It’s nice to eat a special home cooked meal made from scratch where I don’t have to do any of the making.

In addition to checking out the two different events at two different churches, I did one other activity that day. After I left the Slavic Festival I went to nearby Laurel where I visited Dinosaur Park, which I’ll write about in my next blog post.

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I really did a lot of things on the weekend before Halloween. Friday I went to the Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville then I went over to catch the tail end of the nearby Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. While I was sitting in the New Deal Cafe recharging my camera battery, I had someone, whom I’ve done some work for on an upcoming documentary focusing on the musical acts who have appeared at the New Deal Cafe during the cafe’s 22 years in existence, contact me suddenly via Facebook Messenger saying that he needed me to shoot some more footage for his documentary. One of the acts, The Mojo Priests were performing that very night while the other act, The Wild Anacostias, were performing the following night.

I managed to film The Mojo Priests on a partially-charged camera battery. (That director was only lucky that I happened to be at the New Deal that night when he made that last-minute Facebook Message asking me to film that band. If I had been elsewhere like in DC or Baltimore or Montgomery County or Northern Virginia, there would’ve been no way I could’ve been done this on an extremely short notice.) As for the Wild Anacostias, I couldn’t stay for the entire concert mainly because I needed to be at church the following morning so I had to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I could wake up early the next day.

That afternoon I went to Annapolis to check out a few Halloween-related events. I managed to squeeze in the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk in the early evening mainly because the Wild Anacostias weren’t due to start performing until after 8:30 p.m.

After I finished the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, I headed straight to the New Deal Cafe where I shot some footage of the Wild Anacostias. Here is a Halloween costume fashion show, where the band encouraged audience members to take to the stage where they were showing off their Halloween costumes.

Here’s the band performing the song “I Got a Spell on You.”

The band performs the song “It’s Your Voodoo Working.”

Here’s the band performing “Fortune Teller.”

And, last but not least, here’s the band performing “Spooky.”

Like I wrote earlier, I couldn’t stay for the entire show due to church the next morning but I hope that he’s happy with what I shot. My friend is working on a documentary that’s supposed to feature all kinds of performances at the New Deal Cafe over the cafe’s 22 years in existence. He’s gathered older videos that I shot as well as what others have shot as well. For the past few months he wanted new footage of the latest acts and he’s also filming interviews with people who have either worked at the cafe or performed there. I know that there’s a certain wisdom in always having more footage than what you’ll really need so you won’t be short-handed when it comes to the final editing. But the challenge is to make sure that you don’t go overboard on this or else you can easily end up with a documentary running three hours or more that very few people will want to sit through because it’s too long.

In any case, after this post, I’m going to revert to my previous policy of not talking about ongoing work I do for others until after a project is done. If and when this documentary gets released, I will let you know in this blog.

The Saturday before Halloween was definitely jam-packed for me. In the afternoon I went to Annapolis to check out a few things. The night before I promised someone that I would film a portion of a performance at the New Deal Cafe that was happening a few hours after I returned from Annapolis. That performance was scheduled to begin until later in the evening. Earlier that evening there was the annual Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk through the woods. I decided that I could squeeze it in before the performance at the New Deal Cafe.

I’ve gone on that walk other years (in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016) but I have gotten very few decent photos from the walk itself. This year I purchased a used Canon digital camera from eBay that has special low light settings so I decided to use it on the pumpkin walk in an effort to take pictures in the dark woods. I have to say that I have gotten the best photos ever from that Canon camera. Here are the photos I managed to shoot successfully.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

The wooded path has fallen tree logs and exposed roots that can make this path a challenge to walk on at times, which is why I always carry a hiking stick and a flashlight with me when I go on that pumpkin walk.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

I encountered a ghoul on the walk holding one of the jack o’lanterns.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

You can’t get more self-referential than a headless horseman carved on the side of a pumpkin. (LOL!)

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Here’s a pumpkin for Minecraft fans.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Here’s a little bit of humor.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

The legendary Goat Man greeted walkers on the wooded path.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

The Halloween fairies greeted visitors as well.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

The next pumpkin references the upcoming Greenbelt municipal election, which was held soon after the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 28, 2017

I have to say that this year was the best year I ever had picture-wise. Other years I would’ve been lucky to get at least 10 photos to turn out well but to have the vast majority turn out well really thrilled me. Having the right camera for the job makes all the difference in the world.

On the Friday before Halloween I wanted to have fun. I found out that there were two events happening on the same night. One was the Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville and the other was the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I decided to go to the Hyattsville one first since that one was scheduled to end earlier. Costumes were encouraged for all ages so I put on my Rainbow Dash hoodie. When I arrived in Hyattsville I decided to check my smartphone to see if my camera was even working and—to my surprise—I found that it was working. I decided to use that opportunity to take a rare selfie.

A Rare Selfie

Sadly my smartphone camera stopped working after that selfie. At least I have my Canon camera with me to continue taking photographs with. The only bad thing was that I discovered that I didn’t have much battery power left. I managed to take a few pictures nonetheless.

The entire Art Walk trail was marked by orange balloons, such as the one in the next photograph.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I first went to the horn sculpture that is located outside the Hyattsville Court House.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Next I went to Art Works Now, which was all decked out for Halloween.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Art Works Now had this hands-on demonstration in a type of printing process using acrylic paint and glass plates.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Here is what I created.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I briefly visited this new place known as Uzu, which provides Japanese comfort food. (No, I didn’t eat there.)

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went to the Artist & Craftsman Supply store, which had a special art exhibit done by the store’s employees.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I visited Tanglewood Works, which held a meade tasting by a local supplier who plans to set up shop in Hyattsville soon.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

A marching band was playing music as it walked along the sidewalk.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this haunted house that was created using upcycled and recycled materials.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this place that housed a recording studio and a tattoo parlor.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

The last place I went to on the Final Friday Art Walk was to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. By that point my camera battery had died and the art walk was going to officially end soon. So I took these last two pictures before I got back in my car and headed for the other event.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I headed to the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, where people were still carving pumpkins. I pulled out my camera in the hopes of being able to get one picture and, miraculously, I managed to take this picture of a pumpkin carving in progress.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, October 27, 2017

But then my camera totally died. I tried my smartphone camera since it had worked earlier only to find that it wasn’t working either. I decided to duck inside the New Deal Cafe and make an effort to recharge my battery for a few minutes before I would go back outside and take more pictures of the lit pumpkins. I rested for a few minutes when I suddenly got this urgent Facebook Message from someone whom I’ve been doing some recent video work for.

On that note, I’m going to violate my own personal policy of never writing in this blog about ongoing projects I do for other people until after the project in question is done because I can’t really go any further in this narrative unless I write a little about this project. Here’s the thing. The New Deal Cafe is a non-profit cooperatively-run eating establishment that’s located in Greenbelt, Maryland. (You can read more about it here and here.) Ever since its inception it has hosted live music (mostly from local bands). The performers don’t get paid by the cafe (mainly because it’s totally run on a very shoestring budget) but the cafe provides tip jars and that is how the musicians make any money. From time to time I’ve shot videos there of various acts over the years, all of which I’ve uploaded on to YouTube and embedded in various posts throughout the seven years that this blog has existed.

A few months ago this filmmaker whom I’ve known for a few years came up with this idea of doing a documentary featuring the various music acts who have played at the cafe over the 22 years that the cafe has existed. He found out that I had been shooting some video and wanted to use what I’ve got. I gave him the video footage that I have on my laptop (and it’s also the same footage that I’ve uploaded on to YouTube) and he has been contacting other people who have also shot videos in an effort to obtain their footage as well. He also planned on interviewing various people to get their recollections of what it’s like to see these bands or work with them or even play in those bands.

Despite the video footage he received from myself and others and his plans to interview people, he still wanted new footage of recent band performances and he asked for my help in filming. Fortunately I had recently purchased a used Canon digital camera off eBay so I had a more reliable camera than my nearly four-year-old smartphone camera, which only sporadically works these days.

So I shot some recent footage of various bands over the past several weeks, which is why you’ve been seeing more embedded footage of what I’ve shot at the New Deal Cafe lately.

So I was sitting in the New Deal Cafe waiting for my camera battery to recharge so I could shoot still photos of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival when this filmmaker came over on Facebook Messenger. He decided at the last minute that he urgently needed new footage for two bands—one that was scheduled to perform that very night I happened to be at the New Deal Cafe while getting his message. The other would be scheduled to perform the following night. He couldn’t be there for either band but he desperately wanted some footage of both bands. I told him that I was recharging my camera battery and I could try to record that night’s band but I couldn’t guarantee anything. (I had never tried shooting anything on a half-charged battery before.) He got me to agree to shoot both that night’s band and the other band the following night, even though I can’t stay too late most Saturday nights these days. (That’s because I not only attend church on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. but I’m currently volunteering with the church’s program of teaching English to recent immigrants and those classes run from 1:15-3:15 p.m. On top of it, that Sunday was the Sunday before Halloween and I was among the adults who were involved with the Trunk or Treat event that was scheduled to run between the end of Sunday service and the beginning of English classes.)

By the time I got away from Facebook Messenger, I put the battery back into my camera and darted outside to see the lit pumpkins only to find that volunteers had already taken them away. Yeah, it sucked but I’ve shot photos and videos of previous Greenbelt Pumpkin Festivals so it’s not like I don’t know what such an event is like. I went back inside the New Deal Cafe and I managed to film one of the bands in question, The Mojo Priests. I didn’t film for too long because I only had a half-charged battery. But I managed to film some footage of the band in action.

It’s fitting that I’m finally writing this post since today is Election Day. Basically most of this year’s elections deal with local and municipal elections, which is why you won’t hear anything about them in the mainstream media.

A few weeks ago there was a major effort to encourage voter participation in the upcoming Greenbelt municipal election (which is among the local municipalities holding its elections today). It was held at Beltway Plaza Mall and it featured a really awesome performance by Kevin Robinson and KERQ. There weren’t a lot of people present (mainly because this rally was held on a Tuesday night, which is a relatively slow night at the mall) but the few people who were there were enthusiastic. You can even see some dancing in this video that I shot.

Earlier this month I caught this horrendous cold that literally flattened me the first few days. (The cold lasted around three weeks and I’m only recently starting to feel human again.) I was tired so much of the time that I managed to miss out on this year’s Utopia Film Festival. I managed to go to the Oktoberfest celebration that was held in the basement of St. Hugh of Grenoble Catholic Church in Greenbelt, Maryland where I ate some good German food and took a few pictures of the festivities.

They had an accordion player who not only played polka music but he also had an extensive repertoire of Abba music. Seriously! I shot a video of him playing the songs “Waterloo,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Dancing Queen.”

I shot this video footage of the Linwood Taylor Band doing an awesome cover of Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” live at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland on September 29, 2017.

If you like what you hear and see, you can check out some more of the band’s music at tunein.

Like I’ve written numerous times, I recently purchased a used Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS for $80 on eBay (after the dealing with an increasingly erratic smartphone camera app and a Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera battery refuse to recharge) and I’m fast falling in love with that camera. It shoots pictures and videos that are just as high quality (if not more high quality) than my Droid Ultra smartphone but it’s incredibly lightweight so I can carry it in my pocket or bag or purse (which is in contrast with the older and bulkier DSLR camera).

I recently used my Canon PowerShot when I saw the band Frenchy and the Punk when they performed at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland earlier this month. In some ways it’s appropriate that I used this band to test my latest camera. I went through my older posts and I found that the last time I saw this band perform was in 2011 when they performed at—you guessed it—the New Deal Cafe. I was still married and my husband and I had just gotten our first smartphones (a Droid 3). I had recently done a Google search for tutorials on how to shoot photos and videos with my Droid smartphone (up until that point I had a flip top phone that didn’t take pictures mainly because, at the time I got this camera, having a cell phone with a camera cost nearly twice as much).

So I used that particular Frenchy and the Punk performance to practice my video shooting skills using that smartphone. I shot and uploaded a total of four videos from that particular show: “House of Cards,” “Magician and the Dancer,” “Yes! I’m French,” and a jam session the band did while people dressed in gypsy steampunk costumes danced in the audience.

I still remember that night like it was yesterday. My then-husband was also at that show along with a few friends of ours. Among those friends was a woman whom my husband would leave me for her just a few months later.

A few years later I saw Frenchy and the Punk’s booth at the Maryland Faerie Festival where they sold their CD’s and some handcrafted goods as well. I didn’t see them perform that day because, if my memory serves me correct, they were scheduled to perform later at a nighttime party that charged a separate $25 admission that was not included in the festival day pass. I not only couldn’t afford it but I was leery about making a long night commute through unfamiliar roads all by myself.

Let me see. In 2011 I saw Frenchy and the Punk perform at the New Deal Cafe while I was testing the camera function of my first smartphone that I had just recently acquired and I was still learning how to use. So it’s now 2017 and I managed to see Frenchy and the Punk perform at the same venue while I was testing a new camera that I had recently acquired and I was still learning how to use. Sometimes the past DOES repeat itself. LOL!

Well, anyway, I took a few still photos with my camera, which you can see below.

I also shot some video footage as well. I didn’t shoot as many songs this time around. (Well, actually I only shot three songs this time around while I shot four songs back in 2011. So I only shot slightly less footage this time.) First up is a song about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade which fought in the Spanish Civil War titled “¡Vive la Quince Brigada!”

I wasn’t able to get the title of the song that the duo performed when I shot this next video but it was catchy enough to get quite a few people dancing near the front of the stage.

Last, but not least, I shot the song that the band closed their show with: a very enthusiastic cover of the Mary Hopkin song “Those Were the Days.”

The band put on a show that was just as enjoyable as when I saw them in 2011. It’s like everything was the same in that I was testing out a new camera on the same band in the same venue. The only major difference is my personal life in that I’m now divorced. Otherwise everything was exactly the same as before.

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.

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.

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