SIA Post: Nebra Sky Disk

We have another SIA challenge, this time hosted by Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey (http://14shadesofgrey.wordpress.com), and this time, she has chosen this awesome piece, a disk showing off a series of celestial bodies, in this case, the moon. You can see an image of it here (https://14shadesofgrey.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/sia-inspiration-nebra-sky-disk/).

It wasn’t too difficult for me to find something to wear for this SIA challenge, though I wasn’t quite sure how I would go about it.

I got the colors right, which was what I was going for. But I feel like I could have played around a little more in terms of how to present it. The yellow in my coat was a nice addition and really matched well with the gold found on the disk. But as I was photographing this, I thought about maybe having a bit more yellow (I have no idea how I would incorporate this) and eliminate the gray in my coat. I don’t know… to me, it doesn’t look as good now as it did when I first took the pictures and if I had more time, I could have come up with something better. What do you think?

Anyway, this is my interpretation for this week’s SIA. Be sure to visit Salazar’s blog this Wednesday to see the interpretations by the other participants. Hope to see you there!

Today’s number:

A 5 digit composite number, with 3 prime factors (5×41×467) and 8 divisors.

Postcard Post: “Moonlight”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about any postcards on the blog, the last one being back in June of last year, according to my records. Way too long…

And even though its been a while since I’ve blogged anything (not counting the SIA post I recently done), the bright side to having such a long hiatus is that now I have quite a bit of content to post and write about. Even though I haven’t been writing much since the summer of 2020, my hands have not been idle. I’ve painted well over a dozen postcards, most of which I’m quite proud of and am looking forward to sharing with you.

And I’ll start with this one, Moonlight, painted back in July.

A pretty simple scene here, with nothing to get too excited about. This scene came from a photo that I took around that time when the moon (a waxing crescent to be exact) was simply beaming with luminosity. And I remember thinking that I just had to capture this as a painting! Like I said, nothing to write home about in terms of detail, color or depth. But outside of that, a beautiful scene that I enjoyed painting.

And here is today’s number (yes, I’m back on my numbers!):

A 5 digit odd prime number, with 1 prime factor, and two divisors (1 and itself) and is not divisible by any number less than or equal to 9.

SIA Post: “Girl With A Pearl Earring”

Hey there! My first post of 2021! Not to mention my first post since I think August of last year. Wow…!

I hope that everyone had a good holiday season (I didn’t), despite the crummy year that we had in 2020. Let’s hope that this year will be better.

I won’t bore you with a lot of reasons as to why I’ve been gone for so long (it’s not that important, and not very interesting) so let’s just pick up where we left off, shall we?

The first SIA of the year was chosen by Terri, over on http://meadowtreestyle.com, our new SIA host when our friend, Kim stepped down (I have been away for a long time!) She chose a classic and iconic piece by Johannes Vermeer called Girl With The Golden Earring. I just love the serene look of the girl’s face in the painting. The colors are quite muted, giving the entire painting a sort of melancholic calm feel, without making it look too depressing. My kind of painting for sure.

And as this is an SIA post, naturally my photos will follow.

As always, I went with color matching, and I think that I managed to get it just right, between the blue and tan-like colors found in the painting. Not a bad start for my return to SIA and first post of the year. I hope that I can keep it up for future challenges. Life has a way of messing up one’s routine at times so we’ll see how I do. 😉

Be sure to check back on Terri’s blog this coming Wednesday to see how everyone else interpreted this painting, as well as give a little support for our new host!

P.S. Please forgive me if some of my posts from here on out are not on par with my previous ones. Since I’ve been away from the blogging world, WordPress has since changed their format, forcing me to “relearn” everything that I was STILL learning before the change! Geeze, WordPress… 😛

Late SIA Post: “Morning Glories”

I’m a few days late in posting my SIA photo. In truth, I had not intended on participating this time around at all, due to time restraints with my busy schedule now that I am working again (no complaints there, believe me!).

But I actually had a little extra time yesterday to snap some pics, so I figured why not? The challenge is still pretty fresh and the week isn’t over yet.

Anyway, this week’s challenge was curated by Salazar and she chose Japanese artist, Suzuki Kiitsu and her piece, Morning Glories, as it is summer now, both in Vietnam, as well as here in the States. You can see it here. And though I’m not a big fan of the summer season (for reasons which I won’t get into), it’s still a pretty sweet piece of art, and this was one that I could easily translate into an outfit. Check it out.

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I think that I hit the jackpot with this one, as I pretty much matched all of the colors of the painting with my outfit. The dark blue and the lush green of my shirt and jacket (which was really hot to wear when I took the photo), the neutral color of my khakis and my white tennis shoes; all colors that are found in the piece. The background of the Morning Glory flowers is a little more yellow than my pants are, but that is a minor detail and I don’t have to hit it spot on for it to be great, do I? I matched the white inside of the flowers with that of my shoes. And of course, the blue and the green that dominates the painting is matched by my shirt and jacket.

All in all, I’d say that I did really good.

And we can’t forget the background behind me. Once again, I chose the secluded spot of our backyard for a backdrop. I tried to stand in a place where anything “man made” isn’t showing so that it looks like I’m really standing out in the woods. Nice way to “get away” without really getting away. Clever. 😉

That’s it for me. Be sure to check out Salazar’s round-up post here to see how other participants interpreted this piece.

Today’s number:

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Art Exhibition – July 2020

I have quite a special and different kind of post for you all today. My blog friend, Kezzie, over on KezzieAG, had a wonderful idea for a few of our fellow bloggers to have a sort virtual art exhibit on our respective blogs, showcasing various art pieces that we have displayed in our homes. That is a fantastic idea, don’t you think? Especially in our current world conundrum where we all can’t simply go and visit our local museum.

I have quite a few pieces to show, but be aware that not all of them are considered typical “art”. But I’m quite proud of everything that I have displayed, especially the pieces that I have displayed in my bedroom, as I just recently hung art in there as I wanted my personal space to start feeling more like “home” and less like a big empty hotel room, which it was feeling like that for quite some time. We’ve been in our new house for over a year now and I’m just now getting my pictures hung! I certainly had the time to do it these last few months!

Prepare yourselves for a lot of photos in this post. But before I get started with my art expedition, we have to have the proper background music. And I have the perfect piece for your “walk” through my virtual home gallery. Even if you’re not a classical music listener like me, you’ve probably heard the beginning played in TV commercials and other short segments. It’s called, Pictures At An Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky, composed in 1874. One of my favorite classical pieces, but rarely heard, I thought that this would be the perfect music to listen to while reading through this post. I mean, the title literally says it all, doesn’t it? You can listen to it here, or you can YouTube it yourself and pick whatever version that you like. The one I chose is supposed to be the original piano version, but I’ve heard it played on other instruments as well and it sounds just as good.

Now, without further ado, please follow me into my home art gallery.

Living Room

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Let’s start with one of my favorite pieces in our house. Now keep in mind that I don’t know the names of any of these pieces and didn’t want to go through the trouble of trying to take each of them down to try and search for what they might be called. If any of you happens to recognize any of these pieces and knows the names of them, feel free to enlighten me! Until then, I’ll just refer to them as numbers and what room that they are hanging in.

Anyway, this is piece #1, hanging in our living room. As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. People walking about in the city while it’s raining, as seen by the “wet-like” effect the artist used to show that people are walking in the rain (plus the fact that many of them are carrying umbrellas). Looking at this reminds me of the downtown area in my own city on a rainy day. If I were going out on a lunch break, I would see a similar scene like this.

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The woman seen here is the obvious focal point of the whole painting as your eyes immediately go straight to her (at least mine do), with her white dress and white umbrella.

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You can see other closeups that I took of the painting of various figures, which help add depth to the overall image. As you can see, up close, it just looks like dabs and smears of paint. But when you step back and look, your eyes naturally usher in these dabs and smears into one coherent whole. Clever!

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Living room Piece(s) number 2 are probably some of my favorite ones in our house. You can probably guess why if you’ve been reading the blog for a while. My affinity for the color black is pretty evident. And see? We have matching furniture to add to the monochromatic look!

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Living room Pieces(s) number 3 are more flowers, but with more color to them. And they are framed, which helps them stand out better.

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Living room Piece number 4 isn’t really an art piece, but I like what it says. And with all of the wonderful friends that I have made over the years, I feel that this rings true. This hangs over our doorway, leading to the hallway, and straight ahead leads to the kitchen and dining room, which is where we’ll head next. If you will follow me…

Kitchen

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Kitchen Pieces numbers 1 and 2 are the only “paintings” in our kitchen, which are hanging high above as you walk in. In fact, if you look closely enough, you can see them hanging in the previous photo if you look at the word “Flowers” and look slightly below that. That’s why these are not perfectly framed in the pictures. I had to raise my arms up in order to snap the pictures! I’m too short, lol…

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Kitchen Pieces numbers 3 and 4 are “Kitchen Rules”, which translates into my rules. I most certainly enforce rule 2 in Kitchen Piece number 3, lol.

Dining Room

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This Dining room painting number 1 is similar to the one that we have in our living room; depiction of people walking in a city-like scene during a rain shower. I love how the only colors that you see are the red trees and the slight blue of the figure’s umbrella. This makes for a nice autumn-like scene (the red trees give it that look) and rain is pretty common in these parts during the autumnal equinox. Nice brush strokes, nice use of two point perspective and depth of field; a painting that I’m truly proud to have in our home. The next one is even better!

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This is probably one of my absolute favorite paintings that we have. I mean, just look at it.  Amazing use of one point perspective, nice use of reflections on the ground to show that a rain shower has just passed over town, and great neutral color use, with the red jacket the woman is wearing as the only bright color. I love this painting, for all of the aforementioned reasons that I just listed. Between looking at the line of lamp posts, the style of the buildings and the “busy-like” background, I can’t help but think of a 19th century Sherlock Holmes scene.

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Our final stop will be my room. I saved the best for last, so let’s head upstairs. Next stop, my room!

Mike’s Bedroom

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The stairs leading up to my bedroom begin in the hallway between the living room off to the left and the kitchen on the right. The doorway at the bottom leads to my brother’s and mom’s bedrooms. We won’t be going there! At the top of the steps here is a landing and after a sharp turn is my bedroom (to the left of the banister). And on the wall above the steps, you see the first of many pictures that I have in my room. Here’s a close up of that picture, below.

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Do I even need to say anything about these? I mean, they fit my motif perfectly, don’t you think? My mom bought these paintings for me when we first moved into our house. She knows me and she knows me well. 😉

You’ve probably noticed the postcards in some of pics surrounding my pictures. I’ll briefly talk about those.

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With the exception of the Japanese characters that you see in the middle (I’ll get to that next), all of these postcards are from my pen pal who lives in Japan. I’ve known her since 2014 and we’ve been exchanging postcard art since we first met. She is a professional artist and I’m nowhere near as good as her when it comes to painting. But she is one of my biggest inspirations for my art to this day! These are some of my favorite paintings that she did for me.

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Now this here is from a cultural convention that I attended way back during my graduating year in High School (2002) and there was a Japanese man there that was writing people’s names in Japanese, if I’m recalling that correctly. It’s been over 18 years after all. If any of you out there can read Japanese, can you tell me if this reads as “Michael” or some variation of it? I guess I could send a photo of this to my pen pal and she could tell me! 😉

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On the left side of my window, are more postcards that I’ve received from friends over the years from various places; China, Russia, India, Thailand, to name a few.

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Here are some postcards that one of my friends painted for me a few years ago. I think she is also a professional artist. I LOVE how she paints trees! I must learn her technique!

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This was a framed painting that a friend gave to me as a gift a while back. It looks like it was done with watercolor and looks like one that I would have painted. Beautiful colors and nice use of distant spacing. I’d call it a winner!

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This was a painting that I won in a drawing from our very own SIA friend, Erin (Loop Looks) back in 2017. I believe that it was an actual SIA project of ours, looking at some of my old e-mails from that time. Kelly Jo, a participant of GrowARTS, painted this awesome picture of a mug of coffee. And being a coffee drinker myself, of course I participated in the drawing and I actually won!  I think it may actually be the first time that I’ve ever won anything, so I’m super proud to be displaying this wonderful piece of art!

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These three pieces are art projects that I did back in 2007, taking a painting class while in college. Keep in mind that these precede my postcards that you’ve seen on the blog (about 7 years before I started painting those) and are much bigger than the postcards. The latter two are acrylic paintings based off of two things. I painted these from the collage that I made, which is what you see in the first picture. Absolutely no painting for that one. It was all done by cutting out scraps from magazines. Where did I get the idea for this? It’s actually based off of a stage from one of my brother’s Sonic the Hedgehog games, the stage, “Oil Ocean Zone” has this enticing looking background resembling a cityscape, and while watching him play through this stage, I thought how I could turn it into a painting. Since then, I’ve based several postcard paintings off of this very concept. You just never know where inspiration will come from. 😉

20200715_160610 These of course are not paintings, but I like them so I decided to include them here. They are to the left of the paintings that I just presented above (on the other side of the bolted door where our house insulation is kept). A lot of these “posters” I clipped out of magazines (back when I was really into anime). I’ve had most of these for close to 20 years, as they were hanging in my room at our old house (before we moved to our apartment back in 2013). I didn’t watch any of these (except Pokémon) but thought that they were cool nonetheless.

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And more posters a bit further down the room. Keep in mind that my room is extremely long so I can actually space these things out! Quick side note. The Pokémon poster that you see here I got out of a magazine about 20 years ago! It’s nearly faded in color from all the years of having the Sun shining on it through a window in my old room, but it still looks pretty awesome!

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This sticker was already on the wall when we first moved in. It was the only thing in what was soon to be my room, along with a few torn Barbie and butterfly stickers on the closet mirror. I could tell that this was a little girl’s room when I first looked at it. I decided not to take any of the stickers down, feeling that they give the room some personality. 🙂 I’m not averse to having a few “girly” things in my room, if they’re already there. Besides, I like this saying. Yet another message of encouragement to myself, left by the previous owners, to be proud of myself and to “Shine On”!

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Of course I would have a Yu-Gi-Oh! picture up! Those of you who know me well enough know about my love and obsession with the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime. I watch it all the time, especially now that I have the entire DVD set of the first series (courtesy of my brother) and pretty much have all of the episodes (236 total) memorized, including the final movie, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, which was a totally awesome way to close out the first series. I’ve seen some of the succeeding series after the first one, but they all pale in comparison to numeral uno. And for those of you who don’t understand my love of the show, for all of you Star Wars, Marvel, and DC movie lovers, the Yu-Gi-Oh! series to me are these movie franchises are to you. Unfortunately, this is the only picture that I have at the moment, but am seriously thinking of finding some posters online to buy and add to my collection.

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Just above the posters are my world maps (because I’m a total nerd). I used to stare at these maps back at my old house and is how I learned where places were in the world. Sometimes I wish that I was like my friend, Salazar and traveled. I wouldn’t mind visiting some of these places (when and if we ever come out of this pandemic). I’d also like to put some star charts up along here because again, I’m a total nerd. 😛

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Someone from my job gave me this poster a while back. Not really my taste but pretty cool in terms of color and design.

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These are more paintings that I did back in 2007, around the same time I did the “Oil Ocean” ones. And like those, these are also a lot bigger that the postcards that I paint now. They are located on the opposite side of the Oil Ocean ones and just to the right of my friend’s postcards from Japan. As you can see, my technique wasn’t nearly as refined as it is now, especially the volcano painting. Ugh…

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Both of these are drawings/paintings that I did back in 2007 (boy was I busy that year!). Back when I was into anime, I tried creating my own characters and even attempted to create a written back story for them, but it never fully came into fruition.

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If you recognize this guy, then you must be a Digimon lover of the late 90s. I was really into it at the time and this guy, Ken Ichijouji (aka, the “Digimon Emperor”) was one of the main villains of the second season of the Digimon anime, which I loved (before I discovered Yu-Gi-Oh! about a year later. Not a bad drawing if I do say so myself.

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This is my final painting to show, as we exit my gallery; a painting by Claude Monet. Don’t you just love those colors?! I’m thinking that this could be a future SIA project. Maybe I should let the Terrific Trio of SIA hosts know!

And that’s it. I hope that you all enjoyed your virtual walkthrough my house and had a great time viewing all of the art/posters/postcards that we have in our home. Be sure to check out Kezzie’s blog (link at the beginning of this post) to see the great “art galleries” of other fellow blogger participants! And courtesy of Kezzie, here they are!

Alison

Ally

Anca

Bev

Hazel

Ivana

Julia

Kezzie

Mike

MK

Louise
Ros

Salazar

Sophie

Sheila

Vix

Take it easy everyone! And remember to wear those masks!!!

SIA Post: Mask Up

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting much lately, it’s simply because I’m emotionally worn out. With all that has happened over the last few months, my own personal troubles, and the fact that COVID-19 has “hit home” rather close, so to speak, I’m just tired…

Tired of people walking around and not wearing masks, not keeping their distance from each other. And if I may be so bold, I’m tired of hearing the words “social distancing”. That is such a misnomer to me, yet most everyone I know continues using it. You’d think that the experts could have come up with a better, more direct term than this. I must keep my distance from my friends and neighbors, but I can still remain “social” with them in other ways. I only “social distance” from those that I consider to be (how can I say this?)… undesirable; people that I don’t want any social interaction with whatsoever, period (And there are a few out there). That’s what social distancing means to me.

I just thought I’d put that out there in case any of you are still wondering why I don’t like the term “social distancing”. And just so you all don’t think that I’m totally making this all up, the World Health Organization (WHO) will back me up on this. Check it out both here and here.

And now that I have spoken my peace, I will leave this topic and won’t bring it up again. And after weeks of holding in much of my frustration, I feel a little better now, so let’s get to some SIA photos.

And one more thing. Please don’t take my mini rant here as a sign that I’m becoming complacent with this virus. I’m not. I’m still taking this very seriously and doing all that I can to protect myself. And like I said, the virus hit pretty close to home recently, so that alone is more than enough for me to stay forever vigilant in my efforts.

Now, on to some photos.

This week’s SIA was curated by Kim, over on Fierce Fashion, which is where you can see her chosen piece of art; a ceremonial mask. You can also see it on the Metropolitan website here.

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So, as always, I went with the colors that grabbed me the most. In this case, green and brown/tan. Dark green Polo shirt and khaki pants. Simple as that. And I chose to stand in a different part of our backyard for a more “woodsy” backdrop. Our backyard is actually pretty big, the biggest we’ve ever had out of all the houses we’ve ever lived in. Mowing it is a bit of a pain, but I like the exercise that it provides, so I’m cool with that. I’ll show you some more photos of it at the end of this post.

Now for the most important part of my outfit: the masks!

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Since this SIA piece is literally a mask, I decided to incorporate the masks that I always, repeat, ALWAYS, wear whenever I have to go out. I used the photo editor on my phone to cut down some of the images (so you all don’t have to look at my big forehead up close) to focus on the masks themselves. The first one is a homemade mask that was made by one of my co-workers way back when this all started. Back when the weather was colder, I would put on my full “armor”, topping it off with my scarf whenever I had to go out.

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But it started to warm up and it’s practically suicidal to be walking around in my “armor” in 80+ degree weather, not to mention it being all black clothing.

So my ultra cool mask made by my co-worker was a perfect replacement for my hotter scarf.

And as luck would have it, the disposable surgical masks became more readily available, so I made sure to capitalize on that opportunity and bought as many as I could. You probably noticed that this one that I’m wearing is a bit more colorful than the typical disposable mask. That’s because I colored it (what can I say? It’s the “artist” in me). I quickly found out that watercolor paint doesn’t work too well on these (hey, it was worth a shot), so I tried crayon next and that worked better. I tried to match the colors of the SIA mask by coloring it with reds, greens and browns. Not bad, right? That’s all there is to it.

Now see? If a “mediocre” like me can wear a mask, why can’t all of you (those of you out there choosing not to wear one for no other reason than you being stubborn?) “Mediocre” was what one of my former “bosses” used to call me; her “nice” way of calling me “stupid” or “slow”. She made sure to say it loud enough for others to hear, furthering the insensitivity of the situation. Whatever. I always knew that I was better than what she called me, but now I’m strong enough emotionally to admit it to myself. Mediocre… ha…

Wow… you all are really getting a glimpse into my mind today. Let’s finish this.

Here are some pics of our backyard to help give you a better look and perspective.

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From where I’m standing, up to the white garage (our neighbor’s) is all of our yard.

20200710_210725And up to that tree (near where I was standing for my SIA photos) is also ours (don’t ask me why the orange traffic cones are there. They were there when we moved in).

20200710_210710And this is to the right of me from where I took the SIA photos. Up to that tree that you see (the grayish green one near the upper right corner) is all our property. Like I said, a lot of land. Takes about 40-45 minutes to mow, not counting the front.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, this virus has hit pretty close to home for me. I won’t say in what ways, but I will leave you with this:

Don’t be a “mediocre”, as my former boss would say to me.

“Woman up.” “Man up.” “Mask up.”

A Physical Distanced 4th of July

Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans (and those who consider themselves Americans at heart)!

As we approach yet another holiday to celebrate, I’d like to give you all a few friendly reminders on remaining safe and helping to do your part in order to keep those around you safe.

  1. Please, if you choose to go out of your normal personal safety spaces, please remember to WEAR A MASK. I do it and it’s really not that big a deal. It may not be the most stylish, hipest, coolest accessory that you’ll ever wear, but it will help protect others around you (and you will feel good in knowing that you may help prevent someone from taking an unexpected trip to the hospital. It’s not a “right” to not wear a mask. It is a responsibility for you to wear one.
  2. I wouldn’t recommend attending large 4th of July barbeque gatherings (for one, I’m one of the biggest “wallflowers” and introverted individuals that you’ll ever know, so this wouldn’t be a problem for me anyway), but if you feel like you just have to get together to celebrate, please remember to  KEEP IT SMALL, and please remember to PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING ) or if you prefer the other more common nomenclature term (which I don’t, but most everyone says), practice social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet apart from each other at all times and stay home if your temperature is running high.
  3.  WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!!! This is a no brainer. Soap is one of the world’s greatest assets to humankind. It comes in all kinds of colors, fragrants, and is fairly cheap and easy to find. Use it.
  4.  CARRY HAND SANITIZER with you at all times if you find yourself far away from soap and water. I know that this is pretty hard to come by, as I’m having a hard time finding it myself. If I don’t have hand sanitizer, I found that a little bottle of soapy water (I save the little Purell hand sanitizer bottles, back when they were available) also works fairly well. I take a few droplets of dish detergent, or liquid hand soap, fill it with water and presto! It may not be as effective as actual hand sanitizer, but it’s better than nothing, and will get you to the next sink with actual soap and water.

Keep these four things in mind while SAFELY celebrating your 4th and all should be well. I don’t wish to sound like I’m lecturing here, but I can no longer remain silent and have to speak out about this. One of the main reasons that COVID-19 is still maintaining its grip on the US is that too many people are not following the guidelines. It’s not that difficult. I come from some very strict schools back in my day and had a lot more restrictions, more difficult than these, placed on me in my youth. I didn’t always agree with them, but they kept me safe and probably saved my life on more than one occasion. Following these guidelines may not be fun, may not be enjoyable; you may not even agree with them. But follow them anyway. Just do it. The more people that get on board with this, the better our chances are of us beating this thing and hopefully will allow us to go back to our lifestyles (hopefully wiser than before) where we don’t have to wear masks in public or keeping our distance from other people and so on. If you truly want to be patriotic and show your patriotism this Independence day, then be respectful of your fellow Americans around you. It’s not about us wanting to always do our little individual things and say “we’re in this together”. It’s about us actually thinking about those around us and working together, doing our part, to keep others safe. That’s what it means to be an American, to me anyway.

 

Today’s Number:

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SIA Post: “Number 453”

This week’s SIA is hosted by Daenel, over on Living Outside The Stacks, and she chose a piece that is most pleasing to the eyes to look at. It is Number 453 by Anne Ryan. I can’t display it as it’s copyrighted, but you can see it on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website here. Daenel chose this piece because (if I may quote her) “it’s soothing and calming, but bright and summery”. Well put, Daenel; I couldn’t agree more. After the last few weeks, well, months, who wouldn’t find this pleasing to look at?

Here’s what I came up with.

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I admit that I struggled a little bit at first with this one, as I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. At first, I thought about just focusing solely on one or two colors, as I usually do. But that’s been done to death so much with me, that I didn’t want to do that again. My wardrobe is pretty basic, with over half of it being all black, a handful of graphic T’s, a few Polo shirts of color, and a few dress up shirts for more formal wear, amid my mostly dark attire. But then I remembered that I had my Metro Parks T-shirt, which I used for a previous SIA challenge, and I felt that it would be perfect for this as I see the “collage” in both images. I didn’t think of this at the time, but I should have worn jeans to match the blue behind the patchwork-like image. But overall, not too bad.

Be sure to check in on Wednesday to see the round-up on Daenel’s blog and see how everyone did with this!

As a bonus, here are some pictures that I took as my family and I waited in line to be tested for COVID-19 over the weekend.

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Super long line of cars waiting… and we were early! Good thing that my mom’s car has working AC! It was a hot day!

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Double line of cars… we still waited a good 2 hours.

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Masked up and physical distancing in the car!

Today’s Number:

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Do You Have A “Robotnik” In Your Life?

The other day, I was thumbing through some YouTube videos (the modern day version of “channel surfing” I suppose) and I came across someone’s video that talked about one of my favorite childhood TV programs, Sonic the Hedgehog.

Now, I was never a fan of the superhero stuff (it would be years later after Sonic before I discovered Batman the Animated Series and entered into the world of the DC Animated Universe). Sonic was my first fictional superhero. He was hip, he was fast, he had a bit of an attitude, but he was cool; everything I wanted in a cartoon superhero.

For those who don’t know, Sonic is a video game character for the game company, Sega, that was mostly used to compete against Nintendo’s Mario Bros. games back in the day. I’m not into games or anything, but my brother (who you all met in the previous post) was, and still is, into them. But I would watch him play the Sonic games and couldn’t believe how fast this guy could move compared to Mario’s more timed but sluggish movements. Watching him play the games allowed me to discover the animated cartoon, which was on at the time. The version that I really liked came on Saturday mornings (back when Saturday morning cartoons were more of a “thing” than they are now. Do kids even watch cartoons anymore??), and had a more grittier feel and story to it than its more light hearted, slapstick counterpart, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, which I also watched. Sonic the Hedgehog SATAM (Saturday Morning AM), as I said was a bit more gritty and dark, due to some of the themes and the overall plot of the story. I watched the show often and read the comics (the first 50 issues or so anyway, before it started to go downhill).

Robotnik (whose name used to be Julian before he changed it), is the main villain of the show, and was a ruthless dictator who captured and enslaved the inhabitants of Mobius (a planet similar to Earth but a few thousand years ahead of us and inhabited by anthropomorphic animals) by turning them into mindless robots with a machine called “the Roboticizer” and are then forced into hard labor for the rest of their days. But Sonic, along with a band of other anthropomorphic animals called “The Freedom Fighters” rise up and form a resistance to fight against Robotnik and his robot army.

Do you see where I’m going with this? This was a kids cartoon show that was aired on Saturday morning television back in the early 1990s. It was aimed towards kids, but had a more mature meaning and story behind it. As a child, I didn’t pick up on these themes (I was just happy to be watching Sonic at the time). But looking at it as an adult, and looking at what’s happening in our world now, it makes a lot more sense to me. And that leads me to say this.

At some point in our lives, we will all have a “Robotnik” that we have to deal with. Whether it’s another person that was cruel to us and tries endlessly to get us to think the way they do and like the things they like with no say whatsoever (I’ve definitely had someone like this in my own life…), or a society or group that’s going down a dark path and you’re standing alone because you believe that their path is wrong and you don’t want to follow, there’s always that form of oppression that’s looming over us and we must not let it overtake us.

I really like how this person on YouTube worded their speech about this and I’ve included it here so that you can hear it for yourself. The video itself is over an hour long and most of it talks about the show. You don’t have to watch the whole thing (unless you want to know more about Sonic SATAM, and you’ll get more details about the show than what I told you). But I highly recommend that you listen to the last few minutes (between 1:00:54 – 1:04:35) of the video. It’s pretty deep and really sums up nicely with what we’re going through today.

The person in the video sort of goes in a “different direction” than what’s going on now, but the overall concept of one group being oppressed by another is still there.

It’s a bit of a tear jerker too, so prepare yourself. But I find it pretty amazing that this person was able to talk about one of my favorite childhood cartoons and bring it to a similar reality that we face today. Watch the video, either the whole thing, or the last few minutes of it and tell me what you think. Do you have a “Robotnik” in your life? If so, I encourage you to stand up to it. Stand up to him or her, that person that tells you that you’re a nobody, that you’ll never amount to anything; don’t let anyone convince you that these things are true. You are worth it. You are special, not a mediocre, not a slave (things that I was called at one point, among other things). You are you and there’s no one else like you. Embrace that and love who you are. That is one good thing that this pandemic has helped me to learn. In my free time, I’ve been reading a lot of self help books and trying to “reprogram” all of the negative talk that was once fed to me. It is difficult and I am still working on being a more positive person, but I am getting there. There is no end goal with this because there is always something new to learn, something new to embrace; a chance to grow and be happy. I encourage everyone that reads this to stand up to the “Robotniks” in your life. I’m not saying to go and fight anyone. Sometimes the oppressors in your life live in your own heart and mind. You owe it to yourself to face those oppressors. And whether they be other people, or your own personal “demons” inside, don’t let them convince you that you aren’t worth it. Why? Because you ARE worth it.

Note: There is a bit of cursing in the video, or an indication of it, but is bleeped out, so just make sure that you’re cool with that before watching.

Today’s Number:

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SIA Post: “Triple Portrait of Charles II”

This week’s SIA was chosen by Salazar, over on 14 Shades of Grey, and she chose the Triple Portrait of Charles II by the ever so great artist, Kehinde Wiley, best known for his paintings of African Americans, which includes Barack Obama (2018). I tell you; everytime I see his work, I just melt. I’m no good at painting portraits at all, but seeing Wiley’s work makes me want to learn.

Salazar was inspired to choose this one due to all of the current happenings here in the US and to support the Black Lives Matter Movement (thank you, Salazar!).

And as you can probably guess, I’m all for this for reasons which I won’t get into, but you can probably figure out why.

I have two outfits for this one, both of which have nothing really to do with the painting visually, but have significant meaning  on another level. Let’s see them.

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I felt inspired to wear this t-shirt for the sole reason of supporting Black Lives. It has historically significant people printed on it, like Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, Martin Luthur King and so on. And in bold letters, it says “Celebrate Black History”. It speaks for itself here and I thought it was perfect to wear during this critical time in our history.

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My second outfit has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the painting at hand. This is my daily attire; what I wear everyday to work, when I go shopping for groceries, when I just go out walking; always in all black. My reasoning for this is personal so I won’t get into that. But I chose to wear this for this particular SIA because I want to show that I’m proud to be who I am and not ashamed. Ultimately, it’s not the clothes that make me who I am. I make who I am. Its taken me a long time to learn to accept who I am as a person. And that’s not to say that I always feel so confident in that. But I am better at it now than I ever had been before and that’s what I think makes good character building.

To me, this is one of the most important SIA challenges I’ve ever done because it means so much to me. Its made me think hard about what it means to be a person, not just an African American, but a real person. Some people have tried to tell me otherwise (and some have succeeded temporarily with their $&!% talk). But over the last few months, I have alluded to several times on the blog that I am learning more and more that it is okay to be “me”, to have flaws and wanting to learn from them, to have self doubt and question things when others say controversial statements; it’s okay to be “me”.

So that’s my take for this week’s SIA challenge, a deeply personal but fun topic all the same.

And before I end this, we have a special guest joining us; my brother, Marcus!

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Yep, he’s my younger brother and my cameraman for all of the SIA photos that I present on the blog. Though we are brothers, we are vastly different (our choice in attire is a big hint for starters). Quite the dichotomous pair we are, but nonetheless, very close. It took a little convincing to get him to make an appearance (he’s even more camera shy than I am), but with all that is going on, decided to make an appearance.

Be sure to check back on Salazar’s blog this Wednesday to see how everyone else interpreted Wiley’s painting.

Today’s number:

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