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I’ve recently published another article on OpenSource.com, which I not only wrote but I also took the photographs as well. Here’s the link:

How Linux and maker spaces can strengthen our social fabric

I have to thank Phil Shapiro for his suggestion that I write something for that website. I previously wrote a tutorial on tracing photos in Inkscape back in 2014 but I didn’t get much response to that one. Phil basically encouraged me to try again and he feels that this story might result in gaining a few new contacts that may help me find a new day job to help me pay the bills. Only time will tell whether Phil is right about this or not.

My article is about this event that was held one Saturday afternoon in May at the STEM center Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a workshop titled “Build a PC and Install Linux.” Basically the attendees got hands-on experience in building a PC using donated used computer parts and installing the Ubuntu operating system. Once the attendees finished, they were allowed to take their new PC’s home free of charge. I took a bunch of photos that I uploaded on to Flickr and I showed Phil, who then urged me to write the OpenSource.com article.

But I’m going to show something from that workshop that’s exclusive only to readers of this blog. Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, I took the pictures that are in that article. However, OpenSource.com only printed a few of the photos I took. So, as a treat to you readers, I’m going to post the outtakes from that article right here. All of them were taken during that workshop.

Here’s one of the Brood X cicadas that had hatched back in May who was crawling around in Roosevelt Center just a few feet away from Makerspace 125. Those bugs were not only big but they made this loud mating call that sounded like a car alarm and they were really noisy between sunrise and sunset.

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

The rest of the photos outtakes were taken inside Makerspace 125 during the workshop.

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

An automated knitting look at Makerspace 125.

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

Build A PC and Install Linux Workshop, Greenbelt, Maryland, May 20, 2017

If you want to see the photos that actually accompanied my article, click here.

Late last week I finished my latest animation, which is based on the song “Jack Sprat (aka Butcher the Hog)” by The Bachelor and the Bad Actress. Here is the video. I’ll write more about how I made it below.

I’m pretty friendly with a few local musicians. (None of them are major stars and all of them have day jobs since they don’t make enough money from being musicians to pay the bills.) A few months ago I did a short animation to Phil Shapiro’s song “Open Source is Yours and Mine.

Among my musician friends are a husband and wife duo known as The Bachelor and the Bad Actress. (I even went to their wedding that was held during the Crazy Quilt Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland a couple of years ago.) At one point I was communicating with Joe the Bachelor on Facebook (yes, he’s married now but he’s still known as The Bachelor because, well, old habits die hard [LOL!]) and I linked to the “Open Source is Yours and Mine” and I joked about offering to trash one of his songs the way I “trashed” the “Open Source” song. He really liked the video and was open to the idea of an animated music video to one of The Bachelor and the Bad Actress’ songs.

Meanwhile I’ve been going to the weekly animation meetup at Makerspace 125 and there is talk about all of us collaborating together on one animation but nothing has happened yet along those lines (as of this writing). When I mentioned this to Joe the Bachelor, he offered to let those of us in that meetup to each take one of their songs and animate it.

I brought it up with the meetup group but it was met with indifference. I decided to do one of their songs on my own and show it to the other meetup attendees just to show that it’s possible. I picked “Jack Sprat (aka Butcher the Hog)” because the lyrics were straightforward and I figured that I could do a comedic animation that’s reminiscent of the old Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

I used Moho Anime Studio Debut for the bulk of the animation. There were a few times when I had to use Adobe Photoshop for some scenes where using Anime Studio would’ve been frustrating. (Like most graphics programs, Anime Studio Debut uses layers. Unlike the other graphics programs, you literally cannot control the opacity in those layers. So I switched to Photoshop for those times when I needed to control the opacity of certain layers, exported the graphics as a .jpeg, then imported it into Anime Studio Debut. I’m going to stop here on the technical stuff since not everyone is interested in such details.)

This animation was my first foray into actual lip-synching. Anime Studio Debut recommended this free open source software called Papagayo, which churns out lip movements based on both audio recordings and what you type into the application. If you want to know more about this, I suggest getting it yourself, since it is free to download.

I originally planned on doing the entire thing in Anime Studio Debut while I would use iMovie only to put in the opening title and closing credits. There was a snag when I discovered that Anime Studio Debut can’t go any further than 3,000 frames and the song lasts longer than that. I was basically using the app’s default at 24 frames per second. If you do the math, you’d know that the maximum run time that the software can handle is 125 seconds or two minutes and five seconds. The song runs for two minutes and 31 seconds.

I found a workaround when I brought the song into Audacity and broke it up in two. Then I created two separate animation files, exported them separately, then brought them into iMovie where I managed to patch everything together into one file.

While I was working on this, I found out that Moby had been releasing animated music videos. The first one is a statement about people being addicted to their smartphones. The second one has become controversial because it makes an unflattering statement about President Donald Trump but that’s another story altogether. I was influenced by the end titles in both videos and they were my inspiration for how I created the end title in my own animation where I showed people where they can download or stream The Bachelor and the Bad Actress’ music.

Speaking of President Trump, I added some imagery of my own about The Donald along with a quote from George Orwell’s book Animal Farm. See if you can spot them while you’re watching my video.

I have to admit that this was my most ambitious animation to date and there were times when I was on the verge of burnout. And that’s because I was also doing some major job hunting using tips from a book that I had recently gotten a hold of.

I finally decided that doing two big things at once wasn’t good for my health. With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, I decided that I would finish the animation first then resume reading the job hunting book after the holiday. (If this book works for me and I end up getting a new day job to pay the bills, I will write another post praising this book and urging all my readers of this blog to buy it.) With another finished animation under my belt, I now have something recent I can show to any potential employer interested in my animation skills.

I’m also toying with starting a Patreon page where I would make short animations (meaning less than five minutes) for anyone willing to give me some money. Working on this animation has shown me what I can realistically do for a potential patron while setting a price that’s reasonable for the patron while not pricing myself so low that I end up making $1 or $2 per hour (which is impossible to live on anywhere in the United States of America).

By the way, if you like the song, “Jack Sprat (aka Butcher the Hog),”  you can purchase it or stream it through The Bachelor and the Bad Actress’ Bandcamp page.

Ramadan

Like I wrote yesterday, I decided to devote a separate post to my attendance at the latest installment of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, DC because it would have made my last post extremely long otherwise.

This event was held during DC Pride Weekend and it was also held on the same day as a big demonstration on the Mall for LGBTQ rights. I wasn’t able to make it because I attended Sunday service at my church that morning, Dr. Sketchy’s was supposed to begin at 3 p.m., and there’s the issue of Metro’s unreliable weekend service where you typically have to wait between 15 minutes to a half-an-hour for the next train. I wasn’t too bitter about missing the march because it was very hot outside. (The temperature went as high as 95 degrees with high humidity.)

I saw rainbow flags everywhere in Dupont Circle as I was walking to the Bier Baron, where the event was held. Even the Bier Baron itself was decked out in rainbow colors.

Once I was inside I even got in on the act by laying out my pencils in a rainbow pattern.

Once again Reverend Valentine hosted the event. I gave her this toy dinosaur that I found outside Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, which was among the items that the STEM center invited the general public to take for free. (Makerspace 125 is currently undergoing some major spring cleaning and reorganization of the space.) I knew she was into dinosaurs so I figured what the hell since it was free and everything. (Besides, it gives me the excuse to post this picture right here.)

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.

The event was pretty well-attended despite the fact that it was scheduled during DC Pride Weekend and that big march was still going on at the Mall just a few miles away. The model for this event was a burlesque performer named Amira Jade and some of these drawings are definitely NSFW.

There was only one contest at that event. This one was a beach theme. She said that she would also give extra points for including a dinosaur. So I had Amira Jade with Dino the Dinosaur.

I also decided to ad Batman surfing on a surfboard in the ocean as my personal tribute to Adam West, the actor who played Batman in the 1960’s TV series who had died the day before. It was based on this incredibly campy clip from the TV show.

My drawing made it among the finalists but I didn’t win. Oh well. You win some and you lose some.

I did a couple of more drawings of Amira Jade before the event ended.

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

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

This is the fourth year that a maker event took place in Greenbelt, Maryland. (It used to be known as the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire until this year, when the organizers decided against renewing the license with Make magazine, which holds the rights to the name “Maker Faire”. One of the reasons I heard is that the organizers of this event has always insisted on it being a non-commercial, non-profit community event which is the opposite of most Maker Faire events, which tend to have all kinds of corporate sponsorships.) After sitting out last year, I decided to return as a participating vendor with my own table.

Makerspace 125 is the main spearheader of this event. This is what it looked like on that day all decked out in balloons and hoops wrapped with yarn.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Someone draped the nearby Mother and Child statue with long strings of beads.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Here is my vending area at this year’s event.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

A few days earlier I created a video slideshow of my sketchbook drawings I made over the years (I only admitted the ones that depicted partial or full nudity because this festival is an all-ages family-friendly event). I made a little brochure explaining about myself. I also offered free Oreo cookies.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

This section shows the comic book coasters I made by cutting up the comic book collection that my ex-husband left behind. (I attempted to sell them but comic books are worth squat these days, especially if they were published after 1985.) I first debuted them at the 2015 Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and I still had a few left mainly because I haven’t worked as many art shows and craft fairs in recent years as before the economic meltdown of 2008.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Last, but not least, here is my Barbie doll section.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

The one in the front is the Barbie that I customized into the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (which I also documented in my four-part DIY video series).

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

The three other dolls in the back are ones I originally found in thrift stores and I converted them into fairy dolls.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Since this event took place the day before Easter Sunday, there were plenty of eggs on display this year.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Here are my photos of the rest of the festival. The day started off cloudy and cool but then the sun came out and it got progressively hotter until I took off my hooded sweatshirt and just walked around in a t-shirt instead. The cream in the middle of the Oreo cookies I was giving away started to ooze from the middle of each cookie. (I ultimately had to put the entire pack in the refrigerator when I returned home.)

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

Even though the weather was ideal, the event drew a smaller crowd this year than in previous years. I have a feeling that the fact that this event was scheduled on the day before Easter had something to do with it. I only made a total of $25 in sales throughout the entire six-hour event. I was sort of disappointed because I really wanted to get rid of some excess crafts that have been stored in my home for the past few years while earning extra money. Oh well. At least I got to see a lot of my friends at this event so that’s something.

I also shot a short video of some parts of the festival, which you can view below.

The week prior to Easter Sunday was an event held at Makerspace 125 known as Member Week. The STEM center was opened to the general public in an effort to get more members to join the makerspace, which had recently converted into a member-owned cooperative. While I was there a couple of nights that week, I only took pictures on Thursday, April 13, 2017, when there was a demonstration of the various electronics that the makerspace hopes to run workshops on in the future, including open source devices like Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

The decoration of the outside of Makerspace 125 was well underway that night but it was still a work in progress when I took these pictures.

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Here is the electronics demonstration itself.

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Member Week at Makerspace 125 ended with the 2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival, which was held on the day before Easter Sunday.

I recently completed my latest animation called The March of Liberty. I’m going to post it here first while posting all the details about the making of this animation underneath the video.

Now here’s the story behind this video. Last summer the local STEM center Makerspace 125 decided to offer a series of free weekly workshops on animation, which would be centered around this new animation program that was released as free open source software known as OpenToonz. It created a lot of buzz, especially in the tech press, because this application is based on the high-end software that was used by the Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli when it made its hit anime films like Spirited Away and Ponyo.

So I went to a few meetups where I played around a bit with OpenToonz on my MacBook until I got annoyed that it kept on frequently crashing. I was stuck for ideas on what my first new animation (since doing the web ad for a new non-profit low-powered radio station) would be about until I was working on a page of my Doll Dreams art book in early July. Since the French holiday Bastille Day was coming on July 14, I decided to do a French-themed character. I did some research on the Wikipedia where I learned about Marianne, who is basically the French equivalent of Uncle Sam. So I did some Marianne art in my Doll Dreams book (which I have since misplaced, which is why I haven’t made any further posts about that book since last July).

As I was researching Marianne I learned that not only was she an inspiration for the Statue of Liberty (which isn’t a major stretch since the statue’s creator, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was French) but Marianne herself was inspired by the ancient Roman goddess Libertas. When I looked up Libertas on the Wikipedia, I learned that she was based on the Greek goddess, Artemis Eleutheria, which was a variant of the Greek goddess Artemis but her worshippers in the Greek city of Myra named her Artemis Eleutheria (with “eleutheria” being the Greek word for “liberty”).

So once I finished my Marianne page for my Doll Dreams book, I decided it would be cool idea to do a short animation tracing the lineage from the Greek Artemis Eleutheria to the Roman Libertas to the French Marianne to, finally, the Statue of Liberty. I drew a storyboard where I had a woman emerge from a privacy screen adorned with the Greek flag with the name “Artemis Eleutheria,” walk past some of the major Athens attractions, then duck behind another privacy screen with the Italian flag and the name “Libertas,” walk past some more attractions, etc. until the Statue of Liberty appears at the end. I even thought about using the national anthems of the countries involved (Greece, Italy, France, and the United States) as the soundtrack.

But then I hit a major snag and it was regarding OpenToonz. First it was the program’s penchant for frequently crashing. New upgrades were being frequently released and I finally found a version that didn’t crash so often. Now for the bad news. Not only was it extremely difficult to quit out of the application once you loaded it (I had to use “Force Quit” if I wanted to exit from the program) but I also found out that the Mac version of OpenToonz did not export the animation as a standalone video file at all. That’s right, an animation program that didn’t export a standalone video file. My only choice was a series of still images and I would need to find a different video program where I would have to manually put those separated files together and export them as a standalone video file.

That was incredibly frustrating, especially since the Windows version of OpenToonz gave users the option of exporting it as an .avi file. Mac users didn’t even have that luxury. I decided to put The March of Liberty on the back burner rather than waste time dealing with the software turkey known as OpenToonz. Instead I made this video called OpenToonz Sucks where I highlighted all the deficiencies of that program.

I also wrote a blog post detailing further my frustration dealing with that program. I basically wanted to warn other people, especially Mac users, to avoid OpenToonz like the plague. Despite the fact that I gave up on OpenToonz I still continued to go to the animation meetup at Makerspace 125 mainly because they also showed classic cartoons during that meetup so I basically watched the cartoons while doing other things with my MacBook besides making cartoons with OpenToonz. Not long after I made my OpenToonz Sucks video, someone in that meetup group encouraged me to download an updated version. I gave it another shot and found that not only did OpenToonz for the Mac was still not capable of exporting any animations as a standalone video file but this upgrade included being able to export the animation as a series of still pictures in this obscure file format that’s only readable by high-end laser machines. (WTF?!?) That prompted me to write this sequel titled OpenToonz Still Sucks Despite Its Recent Upgrade.

So my March of Liberty animation remained on the back burner for a few months. I looked into alternatives to OpenToonz but I was too cash-poor to even consider any paid applications.

But then I came into some money. It wasn’t a lot of money. Basically I had done some work for a startup back in May but I walked off the job after two weeks because I didn’t get paid. (I was paid for the first few days but then the payments stopped.) It was the same startup where the founder convinced me to write a post about it in this blog instead of getting a separate blogging account just for that startup because he couldn’t be bothered with getting one (despite the fact that many major blogging platforms offer free accounts). That startup was such a disaster that I had to make a new policy for this blog where I would no longer write about any work I do for other people in this blog until after the job was done (or there was some other kind of closure).

The startup owner finally paid me for the work I did in November. Even though I’m glad he finally paid up, I still wouldn’t work for him again for a number of reasons. (Basically the way he ran his business—including not even bothering with registering for a vendor booth at the events where he wanted to sell the startup’s products but, instead, just show up at the event without first notifying the event organizers and mingle among the crowd while selling everything out of backpacks in a manner similar to hot dog and beer vendors working the crowd in a sports stadium—screamed “AMATEUR” and “UNPROFESSIONAL”.)

I was able to use the money to buy a low-end animation program. After much research, I decided on Smith Micro’s Anime Studio Debut. It costs only $30 in the App Store. In addition, I also have the option of upgrading to the more robust $99 Anime Studio Pro at a later date. So far I like the debut version but I’ll definitely keep the pro version in mind if I ever feel like I’ve reached my creative limits with the debut and I really want to branch out further.

Compared to OpenToonz, Anime Studio Debut worked like a dream. There are a few glitches in that software but they were nothing compared to the total fuckery of OpenToonz. I did most of the work in Anime Studio Debut, with a few of the images (which were mainly the background images) being initially done in Photoshop (mainly by applying the various filters on some pictures I downloaded from the Internet) before being imported into Anime Studio Debut. Unlike OpenToonz, I was able to export my animations as standalone .mp4 videos in Anime Studio Debut. I assembled the various animated .mp4 videos in iMovie, paired it with some music, exported the animation, and uploaded it online.

As I was working on this animation, my idea as to how to end it evolved. I originally was going to end it with a closeup of the Statue of Liberty until I read in the news about how the U.S. Mint had issued its latest Lady Liberty coin. Unlike the previous Liberty coins, this new coin features an African American woman (or a Lady Liberty with African American features). Of course that coin received racist backlash.

That incident prompted me to create a new ending. After the closeup of the Statue of Liberty, I feature images of three different Liberty coins. The first one is an older coin depicting the Statue of Liberty. (Actually that one is the dollar coin, which usually has the Statue of Liberty on one side and an image of a deceased President of the United States on the other.) The second one is a 2015 Liberty coin featuring a more human looking Lady Liberty with short hair. The third one is the 2017 coin that has all the racists feeling totally butt-hurt over the fact that Lady Liberty now has African American features. Provocative? You bet it is!

Seriously people need to get a grip! Lady Liberty is no different from other mythical figures like Santa Claus, fairies, and elves. While she may have originated in Europe, there’s really no rule that says that she MUST remain white at all times. Look at elves. They originated in Norwegian mythology but they have literally spread all over the world way beyond the Scandinavian peninsula. Don’t believe me? Check out this ball-jointed elf doll that is currently being made by a Chinese company known as Bobobie and you can even order her right here.

As for the music, I used the national anthems of the various nations represented in the animation. Here’s the information about each song.

“Ymnos seis tīn Eleutherían” (Greek national anthem) came from the Public Domain Archive’s YouTube channel. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (reuse allowed).

“Il Canto deli Italiani” (Italian national anthem) was declared to be in the public domain by the Italian Ministry of Defense. This version came from Wikimedia Commons.

“La Marseillaise” (French national anthem) was recorded by the U.S. Marine Band in 1897. This recording came from the Internet Archive.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” (American national anthem) was recorded by the U.S. Marine Band in 1910. This recording is courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

In a way it was a blessing that I had to wait a few months later to finish my animation given the current political climate. The Trump Administration has only been in power for two weeks and there is already a lot of daily drama along with a lot of alienated people. (Yesterday President Trump managed to be totally rude to the Prime Minister of Australia. Australia!!! The same Australia that’s among the U.S.’s closest allies!!!) I uploaded that animation soon after the recent Women’s March on Washington so I think it’s very perfect timing to upload a female-centric animation like The March of Liberty online.

Way back in January I wrote a blog post about how last year the opening ceremony for the annual Festival of Lights in Greenbelt, Maryland was moved from the back of City Hall to nearby Roosevelt Center, which resulted in higher attendance since the movie theater, restaurants, and convenience store were all located there. I was there for the opening ceremony in its new location but I didn’t bother with taking pictures, which I regretted later. I took pictures of the lights in Roosevelt Center on the last day of the festival, which was on a Sunday night (when most of the businesses tended to close early on Sundays). The entire area was pretty yet deserted when I took those photos.

The opening ceremony was such a huge hit in its new location that the City of Greenbelt decided to do it again this year in Roosevelt Center. This time I took pictures of the festivities.

The festival gave out free hot chocolate. The festival organizers encouraged people to bring their own coffee cups or hot thermoses from home instead of using the free paper cups that were also available in order to get as close to having the festival produce zero waste as possible. I brought this coffee mug that had Stitch from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. (It was one a gift I gave to my then-husband but it was among the many items he left behind when he walked out on me back in 2011.) It turned out that that coffee mug was a conversation starter because I had so many kids who literally focused their attention on this mug.

I brought my mug from home for the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

I brought my mug from home for the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

As you can see, this event drew a lot of people of all ages.

A crowd gathers for the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

There were lights strung everywhere.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

A local band played Christmas and Hanukkah music.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights. The band performs Christmas music.

The Christmas tree remained darkened until Santa Claus arrived.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights. The tree is waiting to be lit.

Santa Claus arrived on the back of a fire truck.

Santa arrived at the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Santa arrived at the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

The lights on the tree were lit after Santa arrived.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

The nearby Greenbelt Theater was having a free showing of the original made-for-TV cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas just like it did last year. I saw it on the big screen last year and it was such a different experience from simply watching it at home on the TV. I thought about seeing it again but the line at the movie theater was really long this year. (I later heard that every single seat in the theater was filled.) I decided to skip it. It was no big deal since I saw it on the big screen last year plus I have that show on DVD so I can watch it at home anytime I want.

Makerspace 125 decided to schedule an Open House to coincide with the Festival of Lights opening ceremony. Someone decided to decorate a ladder with lights and ornaments instead of a tree.

Here's how @Makerspace125 does a Christmas tree at the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Here's how @Makerspace125 does a Christmas tree at the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Here's how @Makerspace125 does a Christmas tree at the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Makerspace 125 had this one free hands-on activity where people could make fancy paper ornaments.

A lot of making went on @Makerspace125 at the Open House held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

One person brought her dog, Honey, who totally enjoyed herself at the open house.

At the Makerspace 125 Open House held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Most of the festival attendees basically cleared out after the Greenbelt Theater finished with showing the Grinch. Here are a few more photographs of the lights that are currently up in Roosevelt Center.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

The lights will remain up until after New Year.

UPDATE (December 25, 2016): After I attended a special Christmas Day Sunday service at my church I decided to head to the Beijing Restaurant in Roosevelt Center (where I took advantage of its special Sunday buffet). After I left the restaurant I noticed that the Christmas tree from the Festival of Lights looked very glittery. Of course it helped that it was a very bright sunny day. Here are a couple of extra daytime photos.

Festival of Lights in the Daytime

Festival of Lights in the Daytime

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