May The Fourth Be With You

Chopsabers No, the title doesn’t really have a thing to do with this post; unless you count the fact that I actually flew home to watch two of the three prequels close to their opening weekends. Still have a bit of traumatic amnesia associated with “Attack of the Clones,” but I’m getting better. I won’t lie – I’m a little nervous about Disney taking over the reigns. Sure, J.J. Abrams has more than a passing familiarity with the movie, and I did like the way he handled Star Trek, but Disney. Don’t get me wrong, I *love* Disney films. I even like ones that no one remembers or liked – Atlantis, Treasure Planet, and the made-for-Disney-Channel movies like Starstruck (liked the Aussie one with the same name, too) and Minute Men, and, yes, High School Musical – I’m not proud. But it makes me nervous. I assume the writing will be better since himself won’t be involved at all (well, a little), but are they going to try and change the story or the feel? That would be wrong.

So much for not being about Star Wars

Frisch's Founders DayIt’s been an eventful week. Okay, no it hasn’t, but events have taken place. Yesterday at work, we celebrated Fifth Third Day at work (5/3, get it?). We wore our spirit wear (shirts with the company logo), and played Bingo and Wiffle Ball and Cornhole, and even got free soft-serve ice cream, with a choice of chocolate, vanilla or a twist, chocolate or cherry coating, and chocolate or rainbow sprinkles, or slushies for those of us who didn’t want – or couldn’t eat – ice cream. Our Big Boy chain, Frisch’s – the first franchise and only one in the country that is not Bob’s – celebrated Founder’s Day, where if you dress like the Big Boy, even just a little, you get a free Big Boy sandwich. Tartar sauce rather than Thousand Island dressing is used, and it’s a special formula that you can only get from Frisch’s.

Oh, and I have physical therapy scheduled for the fifteenth.

Okay, here’s the deal: My knees are old and creaky, partly because they’re carrying too much weight and have been abused many other ways over the years, partly because of the way my pelvis/hips formed that makes me put weight on the wrong part of my foot, and partly because I’m not 20 anymore. For the past few weeks, at random, my right knee would hurt. Not the dull, throbbing pain that’s more annoyance than anything, but a sharp, stabby pain that makes you think maybe it’s time to see someone. I’ve had a leg brace in the past, but it’s been over 25 years. It felt like my knee was trying to hyper-extend. It wasn’t constant; it happened most often when I was walking or climbing stairs, but it also happened when I crossed my ankles. Then Sunday, my knee went out.

Now, if you’ve never had that happen, this is going to sound weird, but there was no pain. Except for the part where I fell on concrete and skinned my knee, that is. Earlier that morning, while climbing a riser in the choir loft, it happened again and made me say a bad word in church. Not loud, and not that bad, really, considering the pain, but a word I’d have been smacked for when I was a kid. Stepped back, climbed up leading my other leg, went on. Rehearsal, break, service, up and down the stairs to the loft, drop off music, and leave. I was lucky; I couldn’t find a spot where I usually like to park, so I parked a block the other direction. What that meant was I would leave through a door that many of the other choir members left through, as opposed to walking down half a flight of stairs. The gentleman in front of me held the door, I put my hand on it, stepped out with my right leg, and I was down. It was like my leg from the knee, down just didn’t exist.

There was no pop, thankfully, and since I was with other people, there was someone to help me get up and walk down the stairs (as opposed to tumbling head-first and alone if I’d gone through the way I normally went), and even escorted me most of the way back to my car until I was sure I’d be able to make it. Monday morning, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, and worked from home. I didn’t trust my knee anymore. Wednesday, I saw an orthopedist, and Thursday, I scheduled physical therapy. I’ve been taking the elevator at work, which is a little frustrating, since it took so long for me to be able to climb those stairs twice a day without feeling like my heart was going to explode – stair-climbing exacerbates my issue.

So, not really that eventful, just a few events.

Faked Tilt-Shift
Click picture to see a larger version

Well, one more thing. This one’s a happier event, regarding my photography. Okay – I’ve spent many a year perfectly happy with my editing software. And really, if you just want to do tricks with pictures for your own amusement, this open-source freeware/donationware is great. Not so much with the one-click fixes, but it has many user-made plug-ins for non-native features (I’d suggest looking up BoltBait for some of the best and highest-quality). I’ve been able to do selective coloring, some minor repairs like removing spots, and even faked a tilt-shift (click the picture to see it larger). But major editing, not so much. And, because of the sheer volume and changeability of photo raw, I had to use another program to edit those – after finding a camera hack that allowed me to access the raw photos on my point-and-shoot.

There’s this thing, though, where I’d like to be paid for my work. Since I’d like to be paid, I needed to re-evaluate my tools. I tried Lightroom, and I wasn’t a fan. Sure, the controls were a little better, but not enough to justify the price, as far as I was concerned. I could do more with Paint dot net (layers, anyone?). Folks in a group I’ve joined are all using some variant of Adobe’s editing programs, so there was a bit of peer pressure, but I still saw no need to change what I was doing for something with only slightly more functionality, at considerably-more cost. I did give it another look, however, when one of the participants in that group mentioned she used Photoshop Elements. Alright, I’ll give it a look. Long story short, unlike Lightroom, it DOES have many of the functions I want, along with finer controls and a raw editor. And it cost less than a month’s groceries! So, I bought it. And I began editing.

Untitled Before I’d caved on getting PSE, I had started looking for a place to get my photos printed. In the same group, they’d mentioned a company that caters to professionals. No, I’m not telling you that one, you’ll have to find it on your own. In order to make sure my monitor was calibrated to their color mapping, I needed to send five pictures for a test print, with a particular resolution and at a particular size. I put it off for a while, not really sure how I would handle that. Lo and behold, PSE to the rescue. Off they go. I’ve gotten them back already, and no, my monitor does not match what they printed. Until I can afford the hardware needed to recalculate, I’ll need to adjust in my own head. Still, it was a bit freaky to see that envelope with my prints. Makes it a bit more real, what I plan to do.

I guess this week was eventful after all.