Here she is:
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the local Black Sheep Gathering. I had so much fun. I hugged the sheep. Never underestimate the power of hugging sheep. :) I met a nice lady who had a goreous spinning wheel for not too much. She let me pay part up front, and I will pay the rest when I get my severance. She is pretty. I have been playing with her. She spins like butter. I am out of practice, but it is coming back. I have a bunch of roving that needs spinning, and it came with 4 bobbins, so I will have stuff to do.
Here she is:
She's a Paragon wheel. I do not know what that means yet. It is supposed to be an old refurbished wheel. Not sure what that means yet either. But she spins well. Spinning is kind of a destressing, zen activity for me. And she is a single treadle. That is good. I prefer the single treadle. It means I can continue spinning even when my joints hurt. I can use one foot then the other. I can rest the one I am not using up on something, and I don't have to put twice as much pressure to use it with one foot. So now I have a wheel again, a good quality camera to animate with, and food enough for the next few months. Now I just gotta get a job. Or win the lottery, one of the two.
So yesterday at work I was in the middle of a support phone call when my boss told me to get off and follow him. Fuck.
I worked at Symantec, where they decided last month to get rid of %10 of thier work force. Yesterday the heavy axe of restructuring landed painfully on my job. I don't know final numbers yet. I am hoping it wasn't just me from the Springfield site. Not that I want others to be out of a job too, but if I am the only one from that site escorted off campus I will feel totally singled out. I have been unable to find anything online about it. We were told it would happen, but not when. As the Springfield site has been running almost on skeleton crew since the last "big cull", we thought we weren't going to be effected. As well as having a site wide all hands that made it sound like cuts were not happening there. They are also selling thier building, and only renting back what they need, which to me tells me they are planning on closing thier Oregon site soon.
So for me, that means I am unemployed in the most tech-unfriendly cities and one with the highest unemployment rate in Oregon, which is one of the highest unemployment rates in the US. Portland has a better job market, so I am looking there. Lately the local news has been trying to tout Eugene as the Silicon Shire. Bullshit. We have 450 tech startups, that is what they base that on. Well, "start ups" do not equate more tech jobs. Start ups rarely have the money to hire outside help. All that means is 450 people, plus whatever partners they have in the business, are kind of employed. Does not mean huge employment jump for the whole county.
The ironic thing is it happened right after I got a bonus, and blew it all on a new camera. And I can't send it back because it was a no returns bundle sale. Which is fine, I guess, because I think I will need the creative outlet to help me deal with this shit. I can't get Dragonframe to work with my computer. According to the manufacturer and the glewinfo utility, my graphics card is compatible to work with OpenGL 2.1. Every time I try to open Dragonframe it throws an error that it is not and closes. This computer cannot be upgraded any further, and Dragonframe does not state it is compatible with Windows 10, and that doesn't matter anyway cause I don't have the money for a new computer right now. I can run Unity just fine. I should be able to run Dragonframe. I have a feeling I am going to have a fight with DZED over this.
For now, though, I have a new camera and a fuckton of stress to get over, so my plan is to get a trial version of Aardman's Animate-it! that is made for kids and see what I can get through it. I have a feeling I might have to deal with a watermark issue, but we shall see how it goes. And maybe re-research free or low cost programs to use in the interim. I am sure that landscape has changed since the last time I did the research.
So plan of action set. If I get anything watchable I will post it here.
So....Stop mo hasn't happened in a while. My camera is highly inadequate, so nothing has been filmed. I have been planning, scheming, thinking, wishing....but nothing has actually happened.
I miss doing stop mo. I hate feeling trapped without the means to do it. This last week I was informed I get a small bonus in my mid month check. I should save that money. Or pay off my medical bills. Or even pay down my student loan. My practical side is nagging me to do that.
For the amount of money I am getting, I can get a low end prosumer DSLR, Dragonframe software, and maybe even a trip to Jerry's for the parts to build a lighting rig. My practical side is screaming at me at the top of it's lungs. But my creative side is huddling in the corner crying and dying of malnutrition, and giving myself the tools is the only thing to remedy that. I may regret it later, but I have decided to go for it.
Much internet searching and researching has happened. The camera I have settled on is the Cannon EOS Rebel T5i. Not full frame sensor, but one of the larger ones. And better yet, if I keep watching the deals I may be able to get the body, a couple of lenses, and still have enough money for Dragonframe. The camera I REALLY want is $2000 just for the body. That is not even in my scope right now. But this Canon is, and Dragonframe specifically lists it as a camera it is made for. Most of the complaints I am reading are about how slow the autofocus is. Seeing how I don't plan to USE the autofocus, I really don't see it as an issue. Autofocus is the bane of my stop mo existance. It is really, really hard to get consistant shots if you are refocusing between each one. I struggled hard against autofocus with my point n shoot while filming the Douglas Adams video. There are SO many of those 30 second sequences I had to start over completely because of it. You might say I loathe the "feature". I turn and spit on the ground whenever I have to talk about it. (Which, by the way, is a bad idea if you are in your living room with old stinky carpet). But looking at the inexpensive lenses, they have the option to turn it all off. I am just crossing my fingers that it means OFF off, and not "we'll give you some control, but if we think you are wrong we will override you" off. That was the issue I had with the point n shoot. This is just a few steps above point n shoot.
So once I get myself outfitted, I plan to do some test sequences and play around. Maybe post a few of the videos I do. At work they are forcing us to take at least 5 days off in a row before August 1st, so I will have June 28th through July 5th off. As it is too late to go to Westercon or An Tir West War, I plan to take that week to film the films and record the songs. I am kind of excited about that.
It has been another long chunk of time without any posts. I have been trying to avoid this issue, but it seems to be something I will always struggle with.
One of the barriers I deal with are chronic health issues. I have always hesitated mentioning this in public, because I don't want people to assume I can't do. I want to be able to read my body and decide what I can and can't do. Lately, though, I have been struggling, and struggling does effect my art and my production. Not just blog posts, but also performing, creating stop mo videos....even writing. When you spend all your energy getting to work, making it through the day, then getting home, you just don't always have enough left to create.
I don't see a whole lot online dealing with this....how to keep doing even when your body is rebelling. So I decided to start working through this on this blog. I don't think anyone really reads this anyway, so for the immediate it is a safe space. Eventually if people to read it, I will have to be ok with people knowing the struggle.
After years of struggling with energy, joint pain and other issues, I was finally diagnosed. 3 years ago I got my butt into a rheumatologist, who did all the necessary tests and exams and declared I have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. Finally, a name to go with this. And finally, issues I have been struggling with since childhood make sense. My mother and doctors liked to tell me it was in my head, I was being lazy, or other dismissive things. I tried hard to get someone on my side, but really didn't succeeed.
So what is Joint Hypermobility Syndrome? Well, Joint Hypermobility in and of itself is easy to figure out. It is also known as being double jointed. It just means that you joints move in ways most people's don't. It sometimes effects all your joints, sometimes it just effects a few. For me, as a kid I was able to stand with my legs straight, bend at the waist and rest my head on the ground. My hands could be pushed back to lay flat against my arm. My thumbs would go all the way back. And without holding them I could leave them back and pull the tip of my thumb forward. This is not uncommon in children. I believe they estimate it effects about 10% of the population. My mom's side of the family didn't seem to have this, but what little time I spent with my cousins on my dad's side, it seemed pretty common among the cousins.
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is when it goes to an extreme, causeing pain and issues. Regular joint hypermobility can turn into the syndrome if there are regular injuries to certain joints in a hypermobile child. According to my doctor, there is a genetic propensity towards moving tome hypmobility to the syndrome.
As a kid I seemed to injure my joints easily. The first time I tried skiing when I was 12, I tore a ligament in my knee. In normal joints, what I did may have been a light sprain at most. I ended up in a knee brace for 6 weeks. The kind that goes from the upper thigh down to the ankle, and does not allow your knee to bend. There are other signs I was dealing with the syndrome as a kid.
But anyway the regular Joint Hypermobility usually goes away as the kid gets older. Past 25 the joints just naturally start tightening. When it is Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, that does not necessarily help. Especially in joints that are injured, or repeatedly injured. It can effect all joints or only very specific ones.
By the time I went to the rhuematologist, I had face planted several times injuring my wrist and arm, because randomly my ankle joints would decide to stop holding my ankles together. One of the times I was just standing there and ended up on the ground. When I was 21 I stepped in a deep hole and broke my left ankle. Then I kept reinjuring it, tripping on it getting out of my van, or missing a stair. My right ankle kept getting sprained for stupid little things as well. Finally when I was 33 I was on a date and walking on the bike trail, and I missed the edge of the trail and ended up with my right foot half way on the pavement and halfway in the mud next to it, which majorly injured the ligaments and tendons. I was in a stablizing boot for 4 months. By the time I lost my insurance they were discussing surgery to put screws and rods in to keep it together.
As a kid, I had major issues with balance, which is common when the joints aren't holding together correctly. When there is too much stretchy, no amount of muscle tone will be able to hold you up. I had a major issue with heights, which in retrospect I wonder if it was because I didn't know if I was going to lose my balance unexpectedly and fall. As a teenager, my hips started painfully popping out of joint. Without doing xrays (why I have no idea) the doctor decided that it was a remnant of having hip dysplasia as a baby, and sent me to physical therapy to train my muscles to hold my hips sockets together around the mis-shape. It did not help a whole lot. I stopped being able to ride a bike, cause every time I did my hips popped out of joint. For the next 20 years my hips would randomly pop out of joint, and I couldn't get them to pop back in. I would just have to lay down on a flat surface and wait for them to decide it was ok to go home.
The point of all that is to explain which of my joints are effected by this Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. I am also having issues with my toes, as my whole life every time I stubbed one it would pop out of joint. I have had issues with my hands as well. Mainly that is the main joint where the fingers attach to the fleshy part of the hand. I have been slowly losing strength. I can hardly grip some days. And some days they randomly decide to stop holding whatever it is I have in my hand. I will be standing there talking to someone and whatever is in my hand drops. This has been an issue in my music. I can no longer play mandolin, as I don't have the strength to hold down the stiff metal strings. I have switched to ukulele, which is much easier to grip and the nylon strings are more fogiving. I have always had issues with fine motor control. I have tried drawing, but I just don't have the control needed to make the lines do what I want.
There is a lot to Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS). If you really want to learn what it entails, here is a link to a paper a doctor in Washington wrote to help his patients explain it. Not all of it applies, but a lot if it does. If you are curious, my Beighton score is 6 (out of a possible 8, 4 for each side).
JHS effects more than just the joints. It causes pain, yes, but it also causes digestive issues, etc, that are not fun to deal with. When I am having a bad pain day, everything hurts as well as having the additional digestive issues. At this point, there is no longer anyone here in Eugene who can help me with this issue. There was 1 rhuematologist who knows anytthing about it, the one who diagnosed it, and heis no longer here. There are no physical therapists who know how to help me get fit without making the joints worse. At the moment I take it one day at a time. I pay attention to where my body is at, and do when I can, don't when I can't.
Lately it has gotten worse. My left hip is still randomly popping out, but it no longer is days or weeks between. I can be fine when I leave my cubie at work to head to the bathroom, and not be ok half way there. As a result I now carry a cane everywhere. Doesn't take away the pain or make it pop back in, but it does help me take some of the weight off it so I can continue to walk. I have to wear lace up boots whenever I leave the house, because I have the same issues with the ankles. This week they have decided they are going to quit anyway. It feels like someone has inserted rocks into my ankles.
So what I am trying to do now is balance my health issues with my need to preform and create. Right now I don't own a car, and the bus stop is 1/2 a mile form my house. On a bad pain day it takes everything I have to get to work, make it through the whole day, make it home. Some days I get home, drop on the couch and can't move. I am literally going on momentum, and once that is gone there is no more. Usually it takes several hours before I can even get up and get myself dinner. Generally I grab a piece of bread and go to bed.
So with the unpredictability of this condition, how do I keep doing? How do I commit to a performance, when I don't know if I will be able to make it to the venue, much less make it through a performance? Sometimes when it is that bad my brain just shuts down. It is hard to be creative when that happens. How to I keep myself going?
Well, that is pretty much it. How? What do other people do? This week is better than last. I am in pain, but I can move and relatively energetic. But what about next? I need to figure out how to work around this. I do not accept that I have to just quit trying.
So this month, besides being my birthday month, is February Album Writing Month (FAWM). I have not completed it successfully in the past, but I am optimistic about this year. 3rd time's the charm, right? Also a member of the FAWM Uke Club (FUC). I am on song #3. So already I am ahead of the previous 2 years. I will get (shitty or not) 14 songs written by the end of the month. As I am currently at odds with my camera, this seems a good time to leave that alone for a bit. Song #2 may need a bit of a tune revamp. The chorus seems familiar to me, so I am sure I may have lifted it unintentionally from something. But they are coming along. Wish me luck.
Ok...so this one the words won't be as big in the last one. I think I overdid it there. :)
So I did not get the video done in time for the winter video contest. I haven't done much. I did find my little mouths, so played around with them a bit. Still jumpy, but it was good practice for syncing mouths to sound. Here is the attempt:
Not great, but not too bad for waht it is. I had tried doing some new animations with my new camera. It is crap. It will not stay focused. I will probably figure it out eventually. In the mean time it is just frustrating me and has me cursing my poverty. I did play around this morning with paper and pen animation.
So I plan on doing some more, once I get my clay to soften a bit. Tuesday is my birthday. My friend is taking somewhere fun for the day. I intend to take pics, so maybe I will finally be able to get some good photography.
So I have been working on cleaning out my old external hard drive, and I found a bunch of folders with unfinnished projects in them. So I plugged them into Pinnacle and played around with getting it to work right for me. I tried putting them up on YouTube, but I can no longer sign into my old account. I have no idea why. So I made a new channel. My newer stuff will all be put here. I started playing around with some mouth pictures I took, syncing their movement to a Cake cover I recorded. It is a bit jumpy, but I think I am getting the hang of it.
So a little bit of progress has been made. I have found 250 ways NOT to build a groundhog head. I will get it eventually, it is just taking so long.
I got the camera finally. It is a Nikon Coolpix L340. Not great. Has even less control then the powershot had. It takes forever to focus. It takes forever to save a picture after triggering. That may be fine for stop mo, as it takes forever to get the next shot set up and make sure nothing has been bumped.
I took some time today to walk around town, take some pictures of artwork etc, just to see what I could do. I added those pics to my photography page. It may or may not be good enough. Apparently daylight is not good enough for this camera, because everything is mushy. I tried to fix em, but it did not help much. Tomorrow I intend to play around with different animations, see what I can get out of the camera.
Yeah, it has been a while. Been slacking. Well, working, but not posting. A lot has happened. II have been having monthly filk nights here. They have been fun. They started shortly before I went to Spokon. I really enjoy playing with other people. I have decided I need to do that more often.
It has been long enough now that the stop mo bug has hit once again. I spent some time looking for animation and video contests. I found one that is witter theme that needs to be between 20 second and 3 minutes 16 seconds. I can totally do that so I decided to do that. At work I have been doing well emnough that I have gotten several monetary awards. They com0e in the form of gift cards. I thought I spent it all on holiday presents, but I checked yesterday and I had a fiarly large balance still. So I got a gift card for Amazon and got myself a camera. Basically for free. It will be pretty much on parr with the other camera I had...it wasn't THAT much. But it will work better than the cracked iPad. It will get here Thursday, so I guess we will see then.
After some thought I have tentatively settled on the theme of a groundhog who can't sleep. His buddies are all hybernating, so he will have to amuse himself. II was goingto start making head mock ups for him today, but I ran out of aluminum foil, which is hat I use for the base. Tomorrow I will go get some and start trying ddifferent styles till I find one that will work. I have decided to use replacemjent animation for the ehads. I have b\never done that before, so this should be interesting. II am excited to get this started.
This weekend is Eucon, Eugene's first locally organized comic con in 10 years. Last month there was one, but I guess the organizers were from Portland. I heard some bad things about it. I am not going to say anything about it, as I didn't attend. This one, however, is awesome.
It started out rough. Turns out they have a few people running different elements who have never even been to a comic convention, or any convention, much less volunteered at one. I got there, and there was no signage, no directions to where things are, no documentation, nothing. When I tried to ask questions, staff either ignored me or they passed me off. Registration had 3 lines, 2 that were for people who already had tickets or were paying with cards, one for people with cash. And never the twain shall meet. People were being kicked to the back of the line because they had cash. I was there right when registration opened, so I am hoping it was just them working thier shit out and not the way they did it the whole time. By noon the line was wound out the door and around the building. It was taking people an hour or so to get in.
But once you got in.....for a first year con, it wasn't bad. The artwork was goreous! If I had my way, I would have spent thousands on all the pretty shineys there. I know that is usual, but I really didn't expect much for a first year in a smallish town. The crowds are huge, but it was set up so that for the most part flow was good. I did have a few talks with newbies about where to pull out of traffic when they need to stop. I needed my cane this weekend, and people kept kicking it out from under me. I don't think it was on purpose, I think people were distracted by the shineys (who can blame them), but still they were lucky I had some stability and I didn't end up on the floor. When in public you watch out.
So now I get ready for day 2. Today is panel day. Hopefully Jim Beaver, the guy who plays Bobby on Supernatural, one about Tardis doocumentary, the Trek Theatre, and Creative Creature Creation with terryl Whitlach, who used to create for Lucasfilm.
Eleanor is an aspiring writer, stop motion animator, crafter, musician, and anything else shiney that might cross her path. She is a geek, nerd, and all around weird person.