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Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.
As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.
I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.
Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.
There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.
I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)
Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.
The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.
There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.
There were other video games that people played.
I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”
I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.
The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.
There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.
Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.
I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.
The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.
Here’s a shot of the Mall.
One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.
March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.
A billionaire collector of Rembrandt’s works said he started his collection with the intention to take art out of hidden, private collections and put it back into the public domain by creating a lending library. He’s doing this in an effort to build bridges between different groups and countries.
Google unveiled a new set of features for its popular Maps app that lets users share their locations with friends and contacts in real time so they can quickly let friends know if they are running late to a meeting or stuck in traffic.
Last year I briefly worked for a start-up that was founded by a housemate of a friend of mine. (At the time I wrote in this blog that he was a friend of a friend. In reality the two of them share the same house. I didn’t want to go into too many details about my friend because I didn’t want his home life to be adversely affected by whatever I write in this blog.) Basically the start-up would sell disposable jumpsuits that were pre-sprayed with Sawyer Permethrin spray. I did the administrative tasks, including manually spraying these jumpsuits with the permethrin spray and packing them into plastic bags.
There were weird things about the start-up from the beginning, such as the owner’s insistence on using my Square reader card for all credit card transactions (even though it was connected to my PayPal account and not the start-up’s) instead of getting one for the start-up. But I had let my bullshit guard down mainly because he was my friend’s housemate. On top of it this person was dealing with his own struggles with Lyme disease while also simultaneously dealing with a partner with dementia. If it weren’t for my compassion and softheartedness, I probably would’ve walked out the door way sooner because I grew weary of dealing with the frequent reprimands for any slight mistakes while being discouraged from taking any notes on procedures so I can do my job better. (He expected me to just retain his instructions in my head instead of taking notes.)
Even though I tried to encourage the founder to get a free blogging account, he talked me into writing a post in this very blog instead and I foolishly went along with it. I wrote this post about what I was doing and I included a selfie of me wearing one of the jumpsuits.
We were preparing for formally rolling out the jumpsuits at the Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run. When the founder asked me about other events, I mentioned the Greenbelt Green Man Festival that took place the weekend before the Loudon event. By that point it was too late to get a vendor booth but he talked me into wearing one of the jumpsuits to that event and sell them from a large Aldi recyclable shopping bag. Even though I got plenty of attention, I failed to sell a single jumpsuit. The start-up owner wasn’t too concerned about the lack of sales and he assured me that we would sell more at the next event.
I naturally assumed that we would have a vendor booth for the Loudon Lyme event where we would sell the jumpsuits. In fact I even helped out with designing promotional materials that I assumed would be displayed at the booth along with the jumpsuits. It wasn’t until two days before this event I was told that there wouldn’t be a vendor booth. That was how I found out that the founder had this sales plan where you never register for vendor booths at events. Instead you would just show up to these events wearing one of the jumpsuits while selling the others from backpacks—just like I did at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival.
Anyway we failed to sell a single jumpsuit and the person sent me a text message a few days later accusing me of self-sabotage. I was pissed at that point because I had written that blog post promoting the start-up and it was basically too late for me to delete it since it’s common knowledge that what you put online lasts forever. So I wrote a retraction post where I announced a new policy where I would no longer write about work I do for other people until after a project is finished and I provided details as to why I’m no longer with the start-up that I previously wrote about. I basically put that start-up behind me after I wrote that post.
I would occasionally hear from my former boss on Facebook but we didn’t interact very much. A few days ago he tagged my name to a Facebook page that was a sales page selling permethrin-treated jumpsuits. I took a look at that page. It looked like it wasn’t even completed and it didn’t look like it was a real business page. There was no email address, phone number, nor any other information about that business other than the name. There was one post on that page that said “Don’t tick me off” but that was it. Here’s is why this page raised my ire: This page was using my selfie as an avatar, implying that I was the owner of that company. Which meant that the one post on that page had my selfie next to it, implying that I was the one who wrote that.
I sent a message to my former boss asking him if that was his page but he didn’t respond. The next day I decided to send an email my friend asking him if he knew anything about this since they are still housemates. My friend promptly responded with an email where he said that his housemate had not mentioned reviving his jumpsuit business at all nor had he seen any evidence that he had done so (such as seeing an excess amount of jumpsuits lying around the house). I began to think that some unknown sleazy asshole was trying to start some bogus business on Facebook while using my selfie as the face of that fake business and that was why my former boss tagged my name.
So I reported that page to Facebook. After I did that, I sent a message to my former boss thanking him for letting me know about this page and I had reported it to Facebook for using my photo without even telling me. At that point he finally responded saying that, yes, it’s his page and he doesn’t know how to remove my photo that he uploaded on that page without even telling me. He offered to pay me for the use of my image.
Six months after I wrote my original retraction post, I made an update at the end of that post because the founder finally paid me the rest of the money he owed me and I wrote that update to reflect that fact. At the time I wrote:
Would I work for him again? I don’t know. It really depends on a lot of things (such as whether he would do things differently now or not).
After his latest shenanigans with using my selfie as the face of that Facebook page without even telling me fist, I have decided that there’s no way in hell I would work for him again. It was bad enough how he ran that start-up last year. What he recently did is totally sleazy and unethical and I want no part of that.
As a photographer I feel that I really need to speak out on the issue of whether it’s proper to risk your life for a selfie. I’ll admit that there are times when even I take the occasional selfie, such as these.
At least I’m standing on solid ground when I take selfies. Some people take their selfies a bit further than I ever would. These people, such as Kirill Vselensky and Angela Nikolau, have received a huge following on Instagram because of their penchant for taking selfies from really high places (like the beam of a skyscraper or the edge of a tall mountain).
Then there is this photograph of three teenaged girls, which has made the rounds of Facebook a few times for the past month or so. The girls were standing on a train track when a train whizzed past them on the opposite track. They decided to take a selfie as the train went past while blowing their hair. At the same time another train that was on the same track was approaching the three girls from behind while they were busy taking their selfie. Technically the photograph is well-composed, complete with the light from the oncoming train in the background producing a halo effect around the girls’ heads. It’s the kind of photo that the girls would’ve been proud of.
Unfortunately they didn’t live to enjoy the result of making such a well-composed selfie. The engineers on that oncoming train tried tooting the horn to warn the girls to get off the track but, for some reason that will never be fully known, the girls failed to listen to that train horn. The engineers tried to stop the train but the train hit the girls before it was able to make a full and complete stop. All three girls died as a result.
Sadly this tragedy is not an isolated incident. An Instagram user known as drewsssik had also gained a huge following for his death defying selfies. In 2015 he attempted to make a selfie where it looked like he was falling to his death from a rooftop. He was supposed to be suspended by a rope but the rope snapped and he really fell to his death. He was only 17.
There are plenty of other examples where people have literally died while taking a selfie. Yes, it’s true that there are times throughout history when photographers have literally risked their lives in order to take certain shots. Some of these have become well known, such as this photograph showing the 1968 execution of a Vietcong officer during the Vietnam War. In this case these photographers are trying to reveal the truth about a certain issue or story to as wide an audience as possible. The world would’ve been worse off had these brave photographers not revealed what was going on in a certain situation.
In contrast, dying for a selfie is far more unnecessary than dying to reveal a truth because selfies tend to be more self-indulgent. The people who take these selfies are basically thrill-seekers who want to impress people with their abilities to take selfies while standing from a tall ledge or mountain top. They exhibit a devil-may-care attitude while thinking that they will wow people online with their latest thrilling stunt selfie only to make a fatal error in judgement and they end up having their families bury them.
In short, these thrill-seeking selfie takers are needlessly throwing their lives away for no good reason other than to take a shot that may go viral on Instagram and other social media sites for a very brief time until a different photo or video replaces that shot as the most viral thing on social media.
There are legitimate reasons for risking your life. One is to defend the homeland against a foreign invader. Another is to fight a repressive regime. A third is to try saving someone else’s life in a dangerous situation. Taking a selfie in a dangerous place is NOT a legitimate reason for risking your life.
Think about the three teenaged girls whom I wrote about at the beginning of this post who died needlessly for taking a selfie on a railroad track. Two of them were 15 while the third was 13. They had their lives cut off at a very early age. They will never get to experience such things as getting a driver’s license, falling in love for the first time, going to the senior prom, graduating from high school, going to college or trade school, getting their first job, getting married, having children, traveling to a different location they had never been before, or meeting all kinds of interesting people throughout their lives. They will never get to experience all that life has to offer because of a selfie.
On top of it, their parents had to bear the tragic burden of burying their own children and they will have to live with the sad knowledge that they have outlived their own children for the rest of their lives. Add to the fact that the engineers on that train who tried tooting the horn and stopping the train only to fail to stop that train before it hit the girls will have to live with that nightmare for the rest of their lives. They will continuously ponder what else they could have done to make those girls get off the track while living with such horrible guilt. All this will happen because of a selfie.
If, for some reason, you feel tempted into taking such death-defying selfie, please read and re-read this post before you start risking your life foolishly.
A selfie is not worth dying for.
The night before I was at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland attending a Halloween dance dressed in my Rainbow Dash hoodie. The following morning I went to Sunday service but I decide to jettison the My Little Pony garb in favor of wearing a witch hat with a black cloak. (The hat was one that my then-husband bought for me years ago. The cloak was also something that he purchased for me at the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival a few years before he left me.) I took a couple of selfies before I went to church.
Here is a Halloween pumpkin that my church displayed at the Sunday service. (The flaming chalice is a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith.)
After the service ended I decorated my trunk with a lot of small Halloween decorations that I brought from home.
Here are the other decorated trunks.
Here are a few photos of the Trunk or Treat participants.
As you can see, a good time was had by all! 🙂
Today is finally Election Day. The polling places are still open as of this writing so I won’t know who will be the next president until either later tonight or tomorrow morning. In the meantime I’d like to show off what I wore to the voting booth today.
Back when George W. Bush was president (and before he won re-election against John Kerry) I bought this t-shirt at the Disney Store during the 2004 elections. Ever since then I generally wear this shirt only on Election Day, which is why this t-shirt is still in pretty good condition.
Here are a few selfies I took of myself wearing that shirt before I went to the polling place.
Actually the weather was relatively mild for early November so I was able to get away with wearing only the t-shirt until sunset when the weather turned a few degrees colder.
Here is the sticker in English and Spanish I got after I voted and I put on my t-shirt.
A few years ago, when I was still married, I purchased this product that was briefly on sale at most of the arts and crafts big box retailers for about a year until it was discontinued. (The Lumi company itself is still in business but anyone who wants to purchase something from its Inkodye line can only do so online.) I didn’t do anything with that kit at the time because I was dealing with hip problems at the time followed by my husband’s sudden walkout and all of the physical, emotional, and financial fallout from those two catastrophic events.
A few months ago, while I was doing a little bit of decluttering, I found the Lumi Inkodye kit that I originally purchased from one of the arts and crafts big box retailers a few years earlier.
I decided that it would be a shame to not do anything with it after buying it so I decided to give it a try. I figured that if it worked really well for me, I could continue to purchase more Lumi Inkodyne products online.
The kit came with a packet of special detergent, a blank pencil case, an acrylic overlay, and two small dye packets—one in orange and the other in magenta. The pencil case itself is light on one side and dark on the other, which indicates that only one side of the pencil case should be worked on.
The instructions had this bonus tip towards the end that said:
Love to draw? Try drawing on transparency film with an opaque black paint marker or fresh dry erase marker to block the sun and transfer your illustrations onto fabric.
That tip seemed to speak personally to me. So I dug up an old black Sharpie marker and purchased some transparency film a local arts and crafts supply store. I had an idea of using the orange dye packet to create a fox pencil case. I found a fox photo on the Internet that I traced over on the transparency film. Then I opened the orange packet and smeared half of the packet on the pencil case while putting the other packet half in a ziplock plastic sandwich bag to keep for another project. Then I placed the transparency film with my fox drawing and put everything outside where the sun did its thing for a half an hour.
Afterwards I washed it using half of the enclosed packet of special detergent. (The instructions said to wash one load with the special detergent followed by another load using regular detergent.) I put the other half of the opened packet in a ziplock sandwich bag for use in another project. I began to eagerly look forward to seeing my fox image appear like magic. (Yeah, I know that it’s really science and not magic.)
Except the image never appeared on the canvas. In fact, it looked like an orange tye-dye pencil case that one could’ve found in a circa-late 1960’s hippie art supply shop. The result wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t what I had in mind. I later decided to paint a fox head on the pencil case using brown, black, and white acrylic paint while having the funky orange show through. I have to admit that I liked the result much better.
It was a bit of a letdown that the process didn’t work quite like what I had in mind. I read online that Inkodyne can be used on a t-shirt as an alternative to tye-dye. I had one packet of magenta dye and a half a packet of orange dye left so I decided to try the tye-dye idea. I purchased a blank white t-shirt from a local arts and crafts supply store, gathered a bunch of rubber bands of various sizes, and proceeded to tie the shirt like I would with a conventional tye-dye project. Then I smeared both packets around the t-shirt until I used both of them up. I placed the shirt on some wax paper and put it outside in direct sunlight. I left it outside for 30 minutes then I flipped it over on the other side so it could get its share of sunshine for another 30 minutes.
The big snag is that the leftover special detergent did something really funky with the ziplock plastic sandwich bag where it fused both halves together so it looked like it was some kind of an experimental abstract art piece. I literally could not open the bag at all. I decided to wash it once using regular detergent then wash it again using plain water. I found that the Inkodye process wasn’t really affected at all despite not using that special detergent. (Of course it helped that I wasn’t trying to aim for a specific design.)
But then I looked at the result and I found that I really didn’t need to use the rubber bands at all because I didn’t have enough Inkodyne packets to completely cover the t-shirt with dye. I also found that while the sleeves and back of the shirt were adequately covered with colored splotches, the front of the shirt looked relatively plain by comparison. I fixed it by making an emergency run to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts and purchasing a Tulip beaded t-shirt transfer. Using my iron I managed to successfully have something for the front of the shirt that matched the colored splotches.
Here’s the front of the shirt.
And here’s the back of the shirt.
The bottom line is that Inkodyne is fine if you want to do an abstract kind of project (such as what I did on that t-shirt) but if you want to do something that’s more concrete, you may need to look at alternatives since Inkodyne may not live up to your expectations. I suspect there’s a reason why a lot of the big box arts and crafts retailers opted to stop carrying Lumi Inkodyne products after one year.
I’ll end this post with a couple of selfies of me modeling this t-shirt.