Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gun Control vs. Planned Parenthood

What do you think would happen if we treated those who wanted to purchase guns the way we treat women who want abortions? (See image at the bottom of the page.)

First, I want to preface this with  ---I would be very happy if there were never another abortion. I don't like the idea of abortions.  I wish that everyone would use birth control or common sense so that unwanted pregnancies would not happen.  However, they do happen and I also believe a woman has the right to choose a safe and legal abortion and that belief was confirmed by a Supreme Court ruling decades ago.

The problem is that the same people who are against abortion are also against birth control, condom distribution, and sex education.  Back in the 1970's Elie Smeal, who was the president of N.O.W., tried to set up a dialog with anti-abortionists to come up with a plan to reduce the number of abortions.  They would not even respond to her appeal to meet to discuss common ground.

A few days ago, President Obama gave a speech about another school shooting in Oregon.  The President was visibly upset and frustrated by routine coverage of such incidents by the media and the lack of sensible gun control legislation which has been blocked time and again by a mostly-Republican Congress.

When Jeb Bush was asked to comment on the killings in Oregon, he responded with "Stuff happens."  How callus can one be to such a tragedy?

I know there are Democrats who oppose gun control, so it is not only a Republican issue. I also know that the majority of NRA members are law-abiding citizens who use guns for harmless target practice or to provide food for their families. I also know that most of the perpetrators of gun violence are mentally ill and we need to address mental-health issues in conjunction with gun control.

Yet, poll after poll shows that most Americans, even NRA members, are in favor of sensible gun control laws.

I see the real problem as the leadership of the NRA that makes senseless arguments against gun control.  Why would they do that after seeing students killed in Columbine High School?  They even scheduled their next convention in Colorado, almost throwing those deaths in the face of the Colorado population. Why would they continue such senseless arguments after all the other senseless shootings, including the one where elementary school children were gunned down in Connecticut?

It might be because the NRA receives the majority of its funding from gun manufacturers and I wouldn't doubt that the NRA leaders get a big chunk of that cash.

We can't ignore that gun-manufacture lobbies and the NRA donate billions to campaign funds to those legislators who continue to oppose sensible control laws.

The NRA leadership says that we should have more guns in schools. They claim that if more people carried guns, there would be fewer deaths from mass shootings.  It's crazy talk.

First, there is the possibility that an innocent third party could be caught in the crossfire. 

There are instances where people have been jailed, not for starting a shooting, but because they happened to have a gun and fired back.  

Norman Williamson is still serving time in Sing Sing 25 years after a shooting, for reckless endangerment for firing his gun only after others had fired first. Police couldn't prove that his shot killed a young boy, Tremain Hall, so he's not in prison for murder. He's in prison for firing the gun after others had fired a gun. 

If someone steps up with a gun to kill the perpetrator, s/he could become a victim.  What's to prevent the police from assuming that any person holding a gun is one of the perpetrators? (Read more HERE.)

Compare the number of annual gun deaths in various countries.  I was surprised there were over 100 in Japan.  I thought 300+ in Germany was a high number.  But compare those numbers to over 11,000 in the U.S., as reported in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" in 2002.

According to the CDC, in 2013, there were a total of 33,636 firearm deaths in the U.S.  Homicides made up 11,208 or 33% of those deaths. There were 505 unintentional discharges, 467 legal interventions, and 281 undetermined. In addition, 21,175 or 63% were suicides. (More CDC information can be found HERE based on the number of deaths per 100,000 population.)

Notice that there are nearly twice the number of suicides as homicides in this country. Most people contemplating suicide want a quick and painless way to kill themselves. Thus, I wonder how many could be prevented if potential victims didn't have access to guns.  I'm sure many would find another means, but still, I think the numbers would go down.

The Israeli army was able to drastically drop the number of suicide deaths among its soldiers by requiring them to leave weapons at the army base when off-duty, a fact that seems to fly in the face of the claim that more guns in people's hands will prevent gun deaths and suggests that lack of a firearm might prevent some suicides.

I understand that the gun control issue is not clear cut.  A good article at FactCheck.org points out the variables. The article can be found HERE.  It compares Barack Obama's claim that states with the most guns laws have fewer gun deaths with Carly Fiorina's claim that areas with stringent gun control laws have higher gun-crime rates. (Note that the wording is different in Obama's claim and Fiorina's.)

FactCheck.org examines the claims. The causation of gun crime and gun deaths cannot be proved because there are many factors that might contribute to gun violence/deaths including poverty, lower educational attainment, more rural areas that might make getting to a hospital in time to save one's life difficult.

However, overall, the report seems to confirm Obama's claim rather than Fiorina's.

Compare the lack of response to the gun-control issue in Congress to the relentless outcry against Planned Parenthood, based on an edited video created by an anti-abortion group, that contained false information and implications.

The outcry comes mostly from Republican men. They ignore most of the services provided by Planned Parenthood ---breast, ovarian and other cancer screenings, birth control, menstruation problems, infertility, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, STDs, menopause (to list only some of the serves provided.) Those who oppose Planned Parenthood even ignore sexual health services for men, including vasectomies.

In addition, they act as if the money the federal government pays to Planned Parenthood is a giveaway, whereas it is actually reimbursement for health services provided. No federal funds are used for abortions.

At a Congressional hearing, one hapless Congressman put up a totally misleading chart that he claimed came from Planned Parenthood.  In reality it was created by an anti-abortion group. At the bottom of the chart it clearly states "Source: Americans United for Life." Among other things, its figures were incorrect and the chart made 327,000 look like it was a higher number than 935,573. (See the chart and a correction to make it accurate at the link above beginning with "totally misleading.")

So I direct you to "How about we treat every man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants an abortion."

Addendum 3/14/16: CBS's Sunday Morning on 3/13/16 the entire program was about guns. I didn't see the entire program, but It can be watched online. 

 They interviewed people in Colorado (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/guns-a-family-affair/) who use guns for hunting and need them for protection on large ranches where they might run into bears or wolves. I have no problem with that. However, I did question the wisdom of teaching children to shoot, some beginning as young as 5. I don't believe a 5-year-old is mature enough to determine if and when the use of a gun is warranted. 

 I do have problems with gun owners who think they need assault rifles and those who don't lock their guns to keep them from children. About 100 children die each year in the U.S. at the hands of other children when playing with guns. I read a news report a few days ago about a woman in Florida who was shot in the back through her driver's seat by her 4 year old who found her gun in the car. The woman was not seriously injured, but she was a big gun advocate who wasn't responsible enough to keep her loaded gun away from a 4-year-old. (Poetic justice, perhaps?) 

 A study was done, putting 2 or 3 12-year-old boys in a room and leaving them alone for a while. If they were curious enough to open a drawer, they would find a gun. Video showed the boys aiming it at themselves or each other. Sensors on the gun showed that 1/3 of the boys who found the gun (unloaded, of course) pulled the trigger enough to discharge it. Half later said they couldn't tell the difference between a real gun and a toy. Those who have shot and killed another child are also victims, some dropping out of school and becoming involved in drug use. (See more here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-other-victim-of-an-accidental-shooting/

 The most interesting report (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-australia-dealt-with-mass-shootings/) was about a mass shooting in Australia that killed 35 people in 1996. Within 12 days, the new Prime Minister John Howard convinced the legislature to pass strict gun laws. Excerpts from the CBS report: 

The tough new laws banned the sale and importation of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns; forced people to present a legitimate reason, and wait 28 days to buy a firearm; and perhaps most significantly, called for a massive, mandatory gun-buyback. Australia's government confiscated and destroyed nearly 700,000 firearms, reducing the number of gun-owning households by half.
"People used to say to me, 'You violated my human rights by taking away my gun,'" Howard said. "And I'd [respond], 'I understand that. Will you please understand the argument, the greatest human right of all is to live a safe life without fear of random murder.'" 
 In the 15 years before the laws were passed, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia. In the two decades since, there has not been one.  Plus, gun homicides decreased by nearly 60 percent. 
 Locking up your guns and ammunition in separate safes is another regulation, as are surprise inspections by police. 
American lawyer and wine-maker Greg Melick had to part with some of his prized guns in the buy-back. He still owns about two dozen weapons, which he uses for sport, hunting, and shooting pests on his vineyard. 
Melick sees gun ownership not as a right, but a privilege. "I'd be very uncomfortable going back to the way it was before, when anybody could go in and buy a firearm," he said. "It's just bizarre, the number of people getting killed in the United States. And you have these ridiculous arguments: 'Well, people carry guns so they can defend themselves.' 
From Tasmania, to Sydney... we kept asking if there were lessons for the U.S. in all of this. 
 "I am loath to comment," said Loughton [whose 15-year-old daughter was killed in the 1996 mass shooting]. "But my question is, 'How is it going for you over there?' But I can't answer that for you. My heart goes out to all of you over there in America."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer of Color 2015 - Week 6: Orange, Orange, Blue

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the "Summer of Color" text link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 6, we are supposed to choose two shades of orange and one blue. This is the final week of this event for this year.

If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you post to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account. Sometimes I can see your images, but I can't comment.) 

This design was started with one of my old abstract drawings done in pencil, which I scanned mainly for the textures, but it is so different from what I started with it might as well have been done completely in digital. Although I often begin with a photo, there were no photos involved in this image.

"Playing with Cool and Warm Textures"
digital art

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer of Color 2015, Week 5: Green, Green, Pink

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the "Summer of Color" text link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 5, we are supposed to choose two shades of green and one pink.
If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account.)

I was playing around with a design a few days ago and knew I wanted to use it this week., but I didn't know what colors would be chosen. So I just used two random colors and figured I could easily change them digitally once the colors were announced. Amazingly, I chose two greens and one pink! I must be clairvoyant.

"The Squares Within"
This design was created from several photos I took at the Portland, Maine art museum. There were 

large openings in the second floor walls that looked down onto the lobby area of the first floor.  
Designs made from varied colored squares were painted on the lobby walls so I positioned myself
so that the painted squares would be framed by the openings upstairs. I knew when 
I took the photos that I would eventually use them to create an abstract design. I overlapped and   
rotated parts of my images until I had a composition I liked. Although the colors were originally
quite different, I changed them to greens and pinks even before I knew this week's colors.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer of Color 2015 - Week 4

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the "Summer of Color" text link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 4, we are supposed to choose two shades of red and one metallic.
If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account.)
"Angles 6"
(Artist Trading Card, 3.5" X 2.5" without the border)
I created this with a collage of various papers, red & silver paint, and metallic silver markers.

One paper is a glittery craft paper made by Crayola ---which can be put through a printer to add color, but is a silverly sparkly paper without added color. It is no longer available, but I still have several full sheets and a lot of small scraps which are perfect for ATCs. 

 When I scanned my image, that paper turned blue on my scans, so I added a color layer over it in Photoshop using my first red shade . It now looks white with pink and red outlines of the glitter. The actual piece would appear to be different from this scan ---with the silver paper, paint, and markers more apparent.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love vs. Hate - Love Won!

My thoughts about gay rights have not changed in nearly 50 years. Too bad those who oppose gay marriage haven't changed their minds either.

In 1968, I had just completed one of two years in the Peace Corps in Brazil. I was using my vacation time to take a bus trip from the northeast of Brazil, south as far as Buenos Aires.  Along the way south and back, I stopped to visit a Peace Corps friend in São Paulo. He was a lawyer and had set up a free legal-aide service for the poor in that ever-growing city.

I don't know how we got onto the subject of gay lifestyles, but I remember saying, "I wish people would worry more about who hates each other than who loves each other.  Lovers are not a problem. Haters are."

To me, gay rights should have been a non-issue, but of course, it wasn't in Brazil and certainly not in the U.S. despite our claiming to be the one country in the world that awards freedom to all.

At that time, I never thought it would take 47 years for marriage equality to become a reality. Yet, over the years, there were times when I thought it would never happen.

The Civil Rights Bill had recently passed. I never would have thought we'd still be dealing with deadly racial issues in 2015 either.  When 9 black members of a Charleston church were killed by a young man full of hate, who turned out to be the better people? Every family member I saw on TV said they forgave the killer. It must have been extremely difficult to say that, but they knew it was the right thing to do. So much for the racial war the killer expected.

So, let's worry about the people who hate, not the ones who love ---and that includes a lot of people who say they are Christians, yet are intolerant, hateful, and have no empathy for anyone who is not like them.

My hat is off to those religious people who have remembered to "judge not."
From the last page of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilizations’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

written by Justice Kennedy

This comment was found on The Daily Kos in response to an article: "Revolution and the right to discriminate: Republicans respond to marriage equality" by Laura Clawson

Can someone explain to me just exactly what right or rights we Christians lost today? We didn't. We still don't have to marry a gay person. We can still choose to marry another heterosexual. We can still go to the church of our choice. We can still live by the ideals of Christ. We just can't FORCE it on others. Because we choose to follow Jesus doesn't permit us to require everyone to. The Constitution is our governing document, not the Bible. If you really believe that "God's law" comes before Constitutional law, then you really never learned the basics of American History.

I might add that Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.  The law everyone refers to is from the Old Testament. That, of course, gives reason enough for many people to agree with the Bible that it is an abomination.  But that same Bible gives hundreds of other laws (I believe more than 600) and most people break many of them all the time. If you eat pork, lobster or crab, if you wear clothing made of two or more different fibers, or have ever cheated or lied, you have committed abominations. If you are proud, scheming, have a hard heart or have ever stolen something ---those are abominations. It's an abomination to wear clothes of the opposite sex. I stopped wearing dresses long ago simply because I hate wearing stockings and dress shoes, so I guess I'm in deep trouble. 

If you do not stone a disobedient child, you are breaking an Old Testament law.  If your daughter is raped, according to O.T. laws she has to marry her rapist and never divorce. If you use the same knife to cut both cheese and meat, you are breaking a Biblical law. Other O.T. rules and laws give you permission to own slaves and even to sell your daughter into slavery. If your brother dies without heirs, it is your duty to have sex with his widow to give your brother an heir.
It is interesting that there are no Biblical laws against lesbian activity. And because lesbians have the lowest rate of HIV, many have claimed they are God's chosen people.

Why have we rejected many of the O.T. laws, but cling onto the one about homosexuality?  According to the O.T. the main reason homosexuality was frowned upon was that gay couple do not reproduce.  At that time, teens were encouraged to marry and have as many children as possible. Why? First, the infant mortality rate was high, so even if one had 10 children, a couple was lucky if 5 survived. And since the life expectancy was around 40 for men and lower for women (due to childbirth complications) one had to reproduce at a young age and often.  But today, with world population exploding, there is no need for everyone to reproduce.  And even many heterosexual couples choose not to. My husband and I consciously chose not to have children.

If you want to site an O.T. law that you feel everyone should obey, then you better follow every one of the laws in the O.T. yourself.  Unfortunately, you would probably be going against civil laws and be in jail if you sold your daughter into slavery or killed your adulterous neighbor by stoning him or her. If the death penalty as described in the O.T. was applied to every abomination in the Bible, few would be spared.

We have evolved beyond many of the rules and laws of Biblical times, because we no longer think they are humane and/or they don't make sense in our time.  To keep people who love each other apart is also inhumane.

The reason everyone needs marriage rights is because there are benefits. Spouses can be on each other's healthcare plans, when one spouse dies the other won't have to pay inheritance taxes, they can save money by filing joint tax returns, they can visit each other in hospitals and receive medical information for a spouse who is unable to speak for him/herself. They can also make a public commitment to each other.  In other words, they can have the benefits open to heterosexual married couples that are not open to live-in partners.

I lived in Brazil for several years. There, church marriages are not legal marriages. Couples must be married by the equivalent of a justice of the peace for their marriage to be legal.  Then, if they wish, they can also have a religious wedding.  Therefore, all legal marriages are civil unions. They provide legal benefits to married couples.  Many European countries' laws are similar.

I think that would be a good solution here, too. All marriages would be civil unions --then if the church of one's choice chooses to marry a couple, be they heterosexual or homosexual or transexual, then the couple can marry in that venue, too. If the church does not respect the right to marry, then a couple will still be married in a civil union, which has to be recognized by local, state, and federal governments. They can, of course, choose a church that is more tolerant to marry them in a religious ceremony.
If you are still not convinced, I suggest you read this (written by a minister):

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Does Anyone Else Hate Steam-in Bags?

I hate paying more than is necessary for anything.

Vegetables in steam-in bags have less content and cost more than regular frozen vegetables.

I checked prices a few days ago.  A one-pound bag of frozen peas was $1.79 (11.19 cents per ounce.)

A 12-ounce steam-in bag was $2.79 (23.25 cents per ounce)  ---more than double the price.

Other vegetables had similar price differences.

Oh, but the steam-in bags are so convenient, you say.  Really?????

With regular frozen vegetables, I have to put them in a container, then microwave them.

With steam-in bags, I have to microwave them, then put them in a container.

Same work, different order.

But now, it is almost impossible to find some vegetables in regular bags.

Please complain to your grocery stores about steam-in bags. Demand the regular bags of frozen veggies that have been around for years.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer of Color 5, Week 3: Purple, Purple, Yellow

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 3, we are supposed to choose two shades of purple and one shade of yellow.  I always end up with many more shades because when I overlap colors they create more tints and shades.

If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account.)

Click on images for larger views. Textures and details are much more visible in a larger format.
"Dissonant Doors"
This composition began as three separate photos. Two were of doors in homes. The other was
a door and a window in the stone foundation of a barn. I cropped the three individual
images and rearranged them to create my composition. I then changed my image to black &
white and increased the contrast. I added separate color layers for my three colors. Finally, I
created a bas relief layer to give it a little depth and detail, then added a grunge texture layer.
(My grunge texture was from Graphic Stock with some of my own modifications.) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Up, Up and Away - The Joys & Anxieties of Airline Travel

Compared to some of my friends, I haven't traveled a whole lot by air. I have several friends who take two or three trips a year and have been doing that since their twenties.

I will be 70 this year, and I figure I have taken a total of about 13 trips by air.  I say "about" because I'm not sure how to count those. For example, I flew to Brazil in 1967 and didn't return until 1969. Do I count that as one or two trips?  I decided that if there was more than a month between going and returning, I'll count it as two. Otherwise, as one.

If you count each take-off and landing as one leg, I've taken 52 individual flights.

Although I've heard horror stories from people who have lost their luggage or been forced to spend hours or days in airports, most of my travel has been relatively easy and enjoyable. The problem I've encountered most often are delays. Luckily they have never caused me to miss a connecting flight ---yet.

Below is my record of travel ---probably not of much interest to anyone else, but it serves as my own record of the trips and flights I've taken.

The more interesting parts ---the interesting travel stories ---are in this color of text below.

If I put a location in parenthesis, it was only a layover at an airport.
Locations without parenthesis are places I stopped for a least a few days.

1. 1966 Pittsburgh (to Chicago to San Francisco) to Sacramento  3 flights
    Stayed 8 weeks in Sacramento.

2. 1966 Sacramento (to San Francisco) to L.A. (to Chicago) to Pittsburgh   4 flights
     My only complaint about my first two trips is that the legs to and from Sacramento were on a very small commuter plane. Although these were my very first flights and I could barely imagine how a huge airliner could get off the ground, they seemed so much more stable than those small planes.

3. 1967 Philadelphia (to Miami to Caracus) to Rio to Salvador 4 flights
    We were on the plane in Miami ready to take off when we were asked to leave the plane because of a mechanical problem. I'm not sure how many passengers were aboard, but there were about 60 in my group. We waited in a lounge for several hours before taking off. 
     It was probably one of the most uncomfortable flights I ever took. My period had started and I was smashed in the middle of three seats. I don't think I caught more than an hour or two of sleep on the overnight flight.
     I spent about a week in Rio, then 6 weeks in Salvador, then took a bus from Salvador to Aracajú. 
     I lived in Brazil for 2 years. All of the travel I did while living in Brazil was by bus. 
     Besides Rio, Salvador, and Aracajú, I traveled to Recife, Maceio, Paulo Afonso, Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto, Brasília, São Paulo, Porto Alegre and on to Montevideo (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina.) 

4. 1969 Aracajú to Rio (to São Paulo) to Lima to Cusco to Lima to Mexico City to Houston to Pittsburgh  8 flights
    I only paid for a few of the flights in the 4 trips above. I was sent to CA for Peace Corps Training and then to Brazil to serve in the Peace Corps, so most were covered by the U.S. government. 
    I had to pay the difference to take a side trip to L.A. (to visit relatives) on my way home from training,  
    I received an airline voucher to fly home from Rio to Pittsburgh, which I exchanged for flights from Rio to Lima to Mexico City and Houston (to visit a friend.) In Lima, I decided to take a side trip to Cusco so I had to pay for the flight there and back. (My favorite place on earth is still Machu Picchu ---Cusco to Machu Picchu by train ---- so I'm glad I took the side trip.) 
     I had planned on taking a bus from Houston to Pittsburgh, but when I compared time on the bus (and purchasing food for several days) to a flight, the price difference was minimal, so I paid for a flight home.

    I didn't fly again for more than 10 years, and for a while thereafter, my flights were few and far between.

NOTE ON INFLATION: When I left Brazil the one-way airfare voucher I received to fly me from Rio to Pittsburgh was worth $750. According to an inflation website, $750 in 1969 would have the buying power of about $4960 today.  In 2011 my round trip ticket from Pittsburgh to Rio and back cost me $1020.  I've checked recently and found round trip tickets for under $700 ---but they are creeping up again due to rising fuel costs. But still, isn't it amazing that airfare is relatively much cheaper than it was 46 years ago?????

5. 1982(?) Pittsburgh to NY City to Pittsburgh   2 flights
    Does anyone remember People's Airline?  I think the round trip flight cost about $49.00. Four friends and I took a weekend trip in December. Our flight was delayed due to snow --which was good because the roads to the airport were bad and we may have missed our scheduled flight to NY. In NY it rained a lot and we got soaked waiting in line for same-day half-priced tickets to shows.

6. 1989 Pittsburgh to Cincinnati to Pittsburgh  2 flights
     This trip was job-related and paid for by my employer.
     Find an amusing story about this trip here: http://proartz.blogspot.com/2009/02/sexual-identity-crisis.html

7. 1994(?) Pittsburgh to Minneapolis to Pittsburgh 2 flights
    I can't remember if we had layovers in Chicago or maybe Detroit, so I didn't count them.
    This trip was connected with a small business I owned so I was able to write it off as a business expense. On the morning I was going to return, I was several hours from the airport. I left in plenty of time, but a sudden torrential storm came up.  Driving on flat landscapes, the water had nowhere to go, so I had to drive slowly through deep puddles.  I had to refill the tank of the rental car and couldn't find a gas station. Finally, I saw a police car  & waved it down. The kindly officer escorted me to a gas station and then to the airport rental car entrance.  
     I expected in early June that Minnesota might still have a few patches of snow in shady places, but it was extremely hot. I was dripping wet after running through the airport to catch my flight ---which was delayed. I was so glad to be able to call home to tell my husband the flight would be late, sit down, calm down, and cool down for an hour before take off.

8. 1997(?) Pittsburgh to Raleigh/Durham to Pittsburgh 2 flights
     At that time US Air's headquarters was in Pittsburgh. Each week on Wednesday morning, US Air published bargain flights for the weekend.  A friend had moved to NC, so on my summer break from teaching, I checked every Wednesday morning and when I found a flight, I called to see if she would be available for that weekend.  
     My flight was delayed by about 2 hours. My friend is an early-to-bed, early-to rise person, so the flight that was supposed to arrive at 10 pm plus the drive to my friend's home in Wilmington was already going to put my arrival time near midnight.  I had to call to tell her from the Pittsburgh airport I probably wouldn't arrive until 2 am. She said she'd leave the door unlocked but she woke up when I pulled into the driveway.
     My round-trip flight was $79. My rental car was $99. And I was shocked at the price of gasoline. My husband usually filled the tank at home and I hadn't even noticed that the price had gone up everywhere.

9. 1999 Pittsburgh to Chicago to Pittsburgh 2 flights
     My friend who I visited in NC had moved to the Chicago area. She sent me an email saying a small airline (name?) was offering round-trip flights for $45.  It was January and who in their right mind would want to fly to Chicago?  But I wanted to visit my friend more than see the city. However, we did go to the city one day.  The wind chills were way below zero so we bundled up. We were still cold outside, so would duck into stores or coffee shops to get warm and then had to peal off layers and layers to keep from overheating.

10. 2001 Pittsburgh to St Louis (to Chicago) to Pittsburgh  3 flights
     My husband had to take me to the airport very early because he had a meeting he had to attend on that Thursday afternoon. (This was May so before 9/11, so I didn't have to be at airports as early as I was.)
     When I checked in, I was told my flight had been cancelled. So the attendant went to a different airline's counter to see if I could be put on another flight.  A flight was leaving several hours before the flight I was supposed to take and it was a direct flight. (The one I was supposed to take would have had a layover in Chicago.) So I actually landed in St. Louis before I was supposed to take off from Pittsburgh.  How's that for a bad situation turning into a good one?
     This was a memorable trip for several reasons. I was going to Missouri to attend the graduation of a girl who had been my neighbor.  Her mother was divorced and worked, so during the summer Beth would have been alone most of the time.  So she spent a lot of time with me because I was a teacher and was home during my summer breaks. Beth did all kinds of chores for me. 
     Beth liked art and I was an art teacher. We grew close and she often referred to me as her surrogate mother, so I wanted to attend her college graduation from the U of Missouri.
     I'm an amateur Mark Twain scholar but had never visited Hannibal, so I rented a car in St Louis and drove north to Hannibal. I spent all day Friday and early Saturday at Mark Twain sights. Then I drove to Twain's birthplace in Florida, MO and on to Columbia where the U of MO is. 
     I was supposed to share a motel room with Beth's mother Pam who had moved back to IL to be near her ailing mother. She expected to arrive around 4 pm, so I had lots of time to spare. I planned to visit several small art galleries in the town. But most of them were closed.  On my list was the Shelter Insurance Company garden, outside of town, so I headed there.
     The gardens were spectacular on that perfect spring day. So, I took dozens of photos ---which resulted in my first (but not last) photography-related injury.  I was so intent on taking photos that  I got too near to the edge of a sidewalk and turned my left ankle and came down on my right knee.  A nice young couple helped me hobble to a bench and I assured them that I was fine, just needed to sit for a while.  But I was not fine.  My ankle hurt like hell. I finally made my way to the car and drove to the motel even though I didn't expect Pam to be there yet.  But she was. She helped me get my luggage to our room, then asked the desk for plastic bags and filled them with ice.  I sat in my bed with my foot on ice for several hours that Saturday evening. When Beth arrived, we drove to a store where we purchased an Ace bandage and some cold pack pouches for my drive to the airport the next day.  
     I was able to hobble my way to a restaurant that night and to the graduation ceremony on Sunday morning. The graduation took much longer than expected.  The minute I snapped a few pictures of Beth receiving her diploma, I headed to the car and my drive to the St Louis airport.  The next day I discovered I had a small fracture in my ankle.
     During my layover in Chicago, I had to get off to catch my next flight. During my walk through the airport, I almost ran into David Carradine of TV's "Kung Fu" fame. I thought he looked familiar and only realized it was him a few minutes later. If it wasn't him, it was his doppelgänger.

11. 2005 Pittsburgh (to Minneapolis) to Phoenix (to Detroit) to Pittsburgh  4 flights
     This trip was taken with a friend to visit our mutual friend who had moved to Sedona. It was my first trip to AZ. Both of my friends had already been to the Grand Canyon, so I took the rental car there one day by myself while my friends did something I wasn't interested in doing anyway.    
     I don't mind traveling alone, especially when taking photos. I can spend as much or as little time as I want.  However, I only got as far as one can drive at the Grand Canyon. I didn't take the bus on the part only available by tour bus. But my husband and I did that 8 years later.
     The flights home were almost empty, so my friend and I each spread across several seats. Our flight was delayed so we almost missed the Detroit to Pittsburgh flight. Then, the plane taxied and taxied and taxied through the airport for about 40 minutes. I thought it was going to drive to Pittsburgh. 

12. 2011 Pittsburgh (to Atlanta to Rio) to Aracajú, (bus to Salvador, flight to Brasília) to Manuas (to Brasília to Curitiba) to Foz do Iguaçu (to Curitiba) to Rio (to Atlanta) to Pittsburgh 12 flights
     This was a 25-day trip to visit my old friends and former students from when I lived in Brazil more that 40 years earlier. After spending a week in the state of Sergipe (Aracajú and the small town in the interior where I served in the Peace Corps) I used a Brazil air pass to travel to other places.  I had always regretted not visiting the rain forest area and Iguaçu Falls so I was able to cross those from my bucket list, but I also stopped in Salvador and Rio (where a blogger friend and her husband hosted me for a few days.)
     My husband has never been to Brazil so we are planning a trip there for 2016. We will avoid August when the Olympics are taking place in Rio and elsewhere.
     Of the twelve flights, most within Brazil were delayed to some extent.  
     Rio often has early morning fog, so my flight from the U.S. had to circle the city until the fog lifted and we were given permission to land.  (My friend in Rio told me that often flights are redirected to Belo Horizonte and it takes hours and hours before they can return to Rio.) I was concerned about my connecting flight.  I had to go through customs, buy a phone card, call my husband from a pay phone so he knew I had arrived safely, check in for my flight to Aracajú, and meet the other woman who had served in the Peace Corps in the same town as I did. But, as with other delays, it ended up being no problem. Every flight landing in Rio that morning was late due to fog, so they were also late in taking off. We were supposed to arrive in Aracajú around 2 pm. We didn't arrive until about 4:00. We were expecting three people to meet us. There were about 30. Only a few people didn't wait for the two extra hours for our plane to arrive because they had to return to work.
     I often say that serving in the Peace Corps was the best thing I ever did. Returning to Brazil was number 2 ---and was one more thing to cross off my bucket list.
     Learn more about my return trip to Brazil here: http://alittlepeaceofbrazil.blogspot.com/2011/11/return-to-gloria.html

13. 2013 Pittsburgh (to Atlanta) to Phoenix (to Atlanta) to Pittsburgh 4 flights
     My husband doesn't like to fly so this was the only trip we have taken together by plane in our 30 years of marriage. We stayed in Flagstaff. From there we visited my friend who had moved to Sedona and the woman I had visited in both NC and Chicago who had moved into the house next door to my other friend. We also visited Walnut Canyon, the Sunset Volcano Fields, the Meteor Crater near Winslow, AZ, the Grand Canyon, the town of Williams, and visited many places in Flagstaff including the Museum of Northern AZ, the Pioneer Museum, and the Lowell Obervatory and hiked on Mt. Humphrey. We had a list of things we wanted to do in 10 days and were able to complete all of them with a day to spare. The weather in September was perfect. Pleasantly warm during the day and cool at night. Our first day there brought a brief afternoon shower. All other days were sunny and beautiful. The morning when we were leaving to return home, we found frost on the rental car. We were leaving at exactly the right time.
     Travel tip: If you are traveling to Phoenix and renting a car to go to Flagstaff, make sure you get a good-sized car with a powerful engine. Our rental was a small car that struggled on hills. It is almost all uphill from Phoenix to Flagstaff which lies at about 7000 ft. of elevation. Mt. Humphrey rises to 12,000.
     I knew that Oak Creek Canyon between Flagstaff and Sedona was quite steep, so I suggested we drive down to Sedona on that road and then take the major highway, which has a more gradual climb, back to Flagstaff. 

I enjoyed all of these trips for one reason or another despite some minor problems.

Here is a link to some travel tips from an airline pilot, that might make your airline travel more pleasant:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pink, Pink, Orange; Summer of Color 2015, Week 2

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 2, we are supposed to choose two shades of pink and one shade of orange.  I always end up with many more shades because when I overlap colors they create more tints and shades.

If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account.)

Click on any image for larger views.
"Spring Dawn"

Bonus Image
"A Scrap of Paper"
using the same pinks & orange

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"The Time Machine" for Try It On Tuesday - 6/9/15

Try It On Tuesday has a challenge every two weeks with a limit of five images per participant that can be rendered in any medium. Click on the challenge title at the beginning of this sentence to participate or view the works of others.

This week's challenge is Watches and Clocks.

Click on any image for larger views.
"The Time Machine"
I started with my own photograph of Kaufmann's Clock, a landmark in Downtown Pittsburgh.  I then added images of other clocks and gears, added some electric sparks and created a border.

Since 1913, "Meet me under Kaufmann's Clock" was said by one and all when meeting someone in downtown Pittsburgh. This clock has been added to the list of official local landmarks.

Kaufmann's was a large department store in the city then, and later built additional stores in the suburbs. The store is now owned by Macy's. The Kaufmann family was also famous for hiring Frank Lloyd Wright to design their vacation home in the mountains southeast of the city ---the home which became known as Fallingwater.
My original photo.

From an April 21, 2013 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website, marking the 100 year anniversary of the clock: 

"The current clock is... the second one at Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street. The original, four-faced clock was installed in 1884 and stood on a post at that intersection....

"The present clock was designed by Coldwell Clock Co. of New York City and weighs about 2,500 pounds. It was incorporated into the building's facade by the Pittsburgh architectural firm of Janssen & Abbott.

"In 1987, when the clock was dismantled for cleaning and restoration, more than 100 pieces were removed in a two-part process that took three days. The clock's works were tagged, numbered and photographed to ensure accuracy. Three teams of 15 specialists worked for 10 weeks on the restoration.

"The clock's surface was so heavily oxidized and coated with 74 years worth of soot, grime and pigeon droppings that chemical cleaners and solvents proved useless.

"Using bridge cleaning equipment, workers blasted 1,000 pounds of ground corncobs at the clock to clean it."

SUMMER OF COLOR 2015: Week 1 - 6/8/15

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker pagehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/cj_proartz/18609859576/in/dateposted-public/

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 1, we are supposed to choose two shades of blue and one shade of green.  I always end up with many more shades because when I overlap colors they create more tints and shades. In this image, I combined two of my great loves ---art and quotations.

If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account, nor do I want one.)

"The Function of the Artist 2"

I have always loved blue and green together.  They seem to be a perfect combination, like the green leaves of summer against a blue sky.

To the right are the three basic colors I chose for this week.

To see what I've been up to for the past three months click HERE.

What I've been up to March 4 - June 8, 2015

I've been busy.

I stopped posting to my blog for several months because I was busy with:

1. Taking photos and posting to Flickr and 500px.
These photos were taken at the W.A.Wright and Sons Machine Shop and Foundry, a shop that closed its doors, leaving everything as it was on the day it closed in 1969. I'm usually more into color photography rather than black and white, but the dusty old place just seemed to call for B&W and muted colors for most photos. Click on images for larger sizes.
"Rounds 2"
"Mystery Machine"


"Wire Wheel"
2. My local Photography Meetup group.
I'm now a Co-Organizer and this eats up a lot of my time.

3. Home renovations.
This old house is close to 100 years old and we've put off many renovations and repairs for years, but finally decided this was the year to do the work  We had planned a trip to Brazil but are postponing that until next year after the Olympic madness is over in Rio.

Although we have hired contractors to do the work, we still had to search for good contractors & arrange for dozens of estimates. Then we had to move things to make room for window installers, for example, to get at the window areas.  So far we've had 11 new windows, three new doors plus one garage door installed.  On our huge garage, we had 5 windows boarded up.  They are about 3 feet from the wall of a neighbor's garage so provide no view and little light anyway.  One old door from the garage was moved to replace our basement door.

We still need to move other things around in order to have a huge plumbing problem repaired, the house painted, siding installed on the garage, exhaust fans installed on both garage and house,have more windows replaced, and have the driveway and some sidewalks repaved.  We need bathroom fixtures renovated or replaced and a new shower stall in the basement. We want to add a bulkhead door to the cellar, and replace the basement windows with glass block.

...new door.
Old door in the
garage is replaced by.....
One of our workers in an Amish man who brings several of his 5 sons and/or neighbors to help.  If we had unlimited funds, we could have him and his family move in for about 5 years.

There is so much more to do and we're already hemorrhaging money, so some of this might have to wait for another year or two.

I was hoping by now we could sell the house my mother left me, but she died when the housing market was terrible, so decided to wait. Meanwhile I allowed my niece to move in, and well, it's difficult to throw out a relative.  I thought she might be able to buy the house, but now she has one son starting college and two more children going to college within the next 3 years, so I figure it will be seven years before she can do that.  I've been charging her only enough to cover taxes and insurance, but I think I'll have to raise that, enough to bring in a little income but not enough to be a burden on her.

4. My left foot.
I mentioned that we need to have our concrete repaired or repaved. I was walking to the car one day and I turned my left ankle on an uneven patch where the concrete is broken. I fell, bruised and scraped my right knee, had a bloody thumb, & bruised my right wrist.

It was early in the morning.  No one was around and my husband was still in bed. Because I'm a night owl and sleep in the afternoons, we have disconnected the phone in the bedroom.

The problem getting up is that I have arthritis in both knees.  To stand up, I had to start in a kneeling position, which is hell on the knees. Then, when I need to get one foot on the ground to push up, it's painful to push off of either knee. I had my cell phone in my bag, so I could have called 911, but I was determined to get up on my own.

"My Left Foot"
Luckily, I had fallen right behind the car, so I used the key-remote to open the trunk.  I reached in and pulled out two huge padded/insulated Costco bags and placed one on top of the other on the driveway concrete.  I was able to kneel on those ---still painful, but not as bad as bare concrete.  With the trunk still open, I was able to grab onto the lower part of the opening to pull myself up.

It was only then that I realized that my knee wasn't the worst of my injuries.  It felt like a knife had been pushed into the bottom of my left foot. In severe pain, I hobbled to the house.

Often if I injure myself, it hurts like hell for a while, then the pain subsides, so I thought I'd be okay. I took a couple of Tylenol and went to bed in the afternoon. But when it still hurt then I got up that evening I decided to call the doctor the next morning. On my doctor's advice, I  headed to to the emergency room. There, it was determined that I had a broken bone in my foot.

So now I have a 'boot' on my foot and a walker.  I have an appointment to see my orthopedic doctor tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Digital Art -3/4/15: "Going Negative"

The Digital Art meme hosted by Natures Footstep memes   now includes what was formerly the Abstract Photo meme.



 A few months ago I started to experiment with "going negative" ---that is, I took an image, either straight from the camera or one that I had already enhanced, then inverted the colors.

On some images the inverted colors look terrible. On some they look wonderful and then there are some that look OK, but need some adjustments. Sometimes I am surprised at what colors turn up in the inverted image.

I tend to like bold colors, so there are usually some dark colors in my images. Those turn white or almost white when colors are inverted, so sometimes I erase the white in the inverted image to leave the colors from the original image (on a layer below) show through or I select the light colors and replace them with darker ones. I often make additional adjustments as I normally would with any image.

If you want to try this in Photoshop, go to any image. Duplicate the image on a new layer (control +J ---or command +J on a Mac). Use control + I to invert it (or command instead of control on a Mac.)

Below find just a few before & after images I created over the past few months, with one step in-between.

Image 1a: "Silver and Blue"
If you remember this from several months ago,
 I took a photo of the top of a square wooden post
painted blue (notice the tree rings on the left) with some
duct tape on top.  I rearranged and worked with color
to come up with this abstract design.
Image 1b:
After inverting colors, before additional enhancement.
Image 1c: "Brown and Gold"
I upped the clarity and color saturation and made some
areas darker with the burn tool to increase the textures.
Image 2a: "White Hydrangea"
SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera)
Image 2b: "Hydrangea in Negative"
After inverting colors, there seemed to be too much white,
so I added a blue-violet gradient to the white in the corners,
then upped the clarity and color saturation slightly.
Image 2c: "Hydrangea in Negative, Framed"
I copied the center of the inverted image (above) &
placed it on a new layer, then upped the saturation a bit.
On the layer with the complete image, I used the
cutout filter to simplify it, then added a violet layer in
color mode over that (under the center section layer.)
I selected the center section, expanded the selected area
added a new layer under it and filled it with a blue I took
from the image to create the small outline around it.

Negative colors with a difference:

I started with a photo of columbine flowers. When I inverted it, I didn't like the result. (The green flower bothered me.)

But then, I changed the inverted layer from normal to "difference" mode and WOW!  I loved the result.

After adjusting levels a bit, it was even better.

Image 3a: "Columbines"
Original photo of columbines after
normal enhancement.

Image 3b: Inverted image.
Image 3c: "Columbines in Technicolor"
Inverted image in "difference"
mode and levels adjustments.
I suggest trying this on an image that doesn't have a lot of white or very light colors and very little black or very dark colors. If you can't find something, try adjusting the contrast. Or choose the dark areas and add a lighter color and add a darker shade in the light areas.

Once you have your inverted/difference layer,  you can make additional changes on the layer(s) below it,. When you change the lower layer, the layer in difference mode will adjust accordingly.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Digital Art - 2/18/15: "Golden Slide"

The Digital Art meme hosted by Natures Footstep memes now includes what was formerly the Abstract Photo meme.

Click on the links above to view the posts by other artists/photographers or to participate yourself.

There used to be a large "Play Castle" at a local park. It included all kinds of bridges, slides, and climbing apparatus.

One day, after taking a walk in the park, when it was rather cold and close to sunset, no children were using the equipment. So, I climbed to the top of several spiral slides and took photos, looking down. The slides were made of metal, probably aluminum. The sun was low in the sky and there was just a hint of reflection from the orange sky in parts of the photo.

I like taking photos of playground equipment.  However, these days I'm reluctant to take photos when youngsters are playing.  I don't want anyone to think I'm stalking their children.

This equipment is now gone, replaced by a new playground. The new equipment is more colorful, and probably won't result in splinters, but I think the old structure looked like more fun.

Click on any image fore a larger view.

"Golden Slide"
For this image, I added color and textures.
original photo:
spiral slide, looking down from above
"Play Castle"
gone, but not forgotten
"Play Castle"

See my photostream on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cj_proartz
Below my name there, click on albums to find a particular type of photo (Black and White, Fences, Abstract, Landscapes, Still Life, Autumn Scenes, Bridges, Animals, Art Created from My Photos, etc.)