Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Most-Modified Photo Thus Far - Veteran Vespa

Veteran Vespa by John AThis one took me a couple days, though mostly it was figuring out how to get the effect I wanted. (I'd call it photoshopping, but I did it with Paint Shop Pro 7.) The color insert is a full-resolution section of the original photo. (Click to see it full size.) I wanted to blur the background to emphasize the scooter, so I first made a mask by tracing a freehand selection around it. (I saved the mask to a separate grayscale image in case I needed it again, which turned out to be a very good move.)

Then I duplicated the image in a new layer, did a Gaussian blur, and applied the mask to it so the bike would be clear. It came out okay, but looked too artificial with the pavement blurred right under the in-focus wheel. I reworked the mask image, adding a couple gradients to bring the pavement partly back in focus as it approached the distance of the front wheel. That looked much better. I made a b/w version with a grain (I love grainy b/w images,) but then I noticed a flaw. The blur had pulled color from the scooter into the nearby surrounding background. You can see it in the middle inset.

I scrapped that and started over. This time I edited the duplicate layer before applying the blur, copying and pasting parts of the background over the scooter, erasing it and reconstructing the curb, barrel, etc. I applied the blur and mask, and was very disappointed to see the pasted blocks so plainly visible. Dang it.

I backed out of the mask and blur and made another layer copying the original, on top of the others. I applied the mask, sans gradients, to it, and tweaked it to get rid of the last little bits of scooter peeking out. I merged it with the erased scooter layer. Now I had an erased bike layer with the background intact pretty much right up to the edge of it. I did the blur, applied the mask with the gradients, made the b/w version, and there it is. The top insert is a detail of that version. Much better, I think.

By the way, if you know the model of this Vespa, please leave a comment identifying it. Thanks!

Prints and other items featuring this photo are available for purchase.
Veteran Vespa Custom Framed Prints and Greeting Cards at
Veteran Scooter Prints and Greeting Cards at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kyle XY Season 3 Finale (Spoilers)

I finally watched the season finale last night. It was a much more effective cliffhanger than last season's.

In the promos they said someone will end up missing. I figured it could possibly be fem-Kyle XX, slipping off to disappear with her clone mother, (or should that be clone sister, since she's really more of a late-born twin than a daughter,) without telling anyone. It's the sort of thing her mother/older twin sister might insist on if she were at all competent at evading people as seemingly resourceful as latknock (or however it's spelled.) But that's not what happened.

Instead, the disappearance didn't happen until the very end of the episode. Kyle's girlfriend (who is becoming ever so slightly inquisitive about the things he does and who apparently failed to notice they were levitating) is gone.

Who did it? The obvious answer is latknock, but that may be too obvious. I mean would a member of a super-genius society be so dumb as to leave their ring behind? Okay, there's the whole "absent-minded professor" stereotype, but these folks don't seem to be made in that mold. Could it be fem-Kyle's "father" trying to get some leverage to get Kyle to help find fem-Kyle? No, that would take too much planning to pull off so soon after fem-Kyle decided to run off with sister mama. Is it that big bad corporation again? Maybe, but I forget what even happened to end their involvement in the show and suspect the writers may have too at this point. I suspect the writers plan to introduce yet another organization that's after Kyle.

But leaving that for next season, let's take a look at what we know of the circumstances of the girlfriend's disappearance. There was a security guard hanging out in front of the gym, who seems like an obvious suspect. There was the very young to be a TA DJ who spoke to Kyle in the gym. And there was the ring. Like I said, I doubt the ring was there by accident. I think it was a plant intended to misdirect Kyle, and us. And I'm really suspicious of the DJ.

Here's why. First, he's a super genius for his age, and attends (if I have this straight) the same college that the Kyles' clone parents/siblings attended. He's Kyle's foster dad's TA, and there is a precedent for villains placing their operatives close to the dad. And just look at the tension with Declan and Lori. You just know she's going to get together with the soon-to-be-revealed evil boy genius DJ, (but won't put out, per her declaration to her dad,) then when his evil affiliation is revealed the conflict will be resolved and she'll go back to Declan who will somewhere along the way do something to establish himself as her hero and the guy who truly loves her and always will and who is a true friend to her and her family, especially Kyle.

It's just all so obvious. Maybe the writers are trying to make up for last season's cliffhanger, the resolution of which was so unpredictable it didn't even seem like a cliffhanger. I do want to see what happens, though, so I'm going to watch.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Photographs - We Have The Negatives

I've been fiddling a bit with macro (physically close up) photography. I took this one of some old negatives this weekend. I'm calling it "We Have The Negatives" with the idea of evoking images of blackmail letters and spy photos of illicit acts. (The negatives are actually from our niece's 3rd birthday party.)

The strips were laid on a pad of white drawing paper, and lit by a closely positioned desk lamp with a helical compact fluorescent bulb. I white-balanced the camera with the back of a paper plate before the shoot.

Prints and other items featuring this photo are available for purchase.
We Have The Negatives (color & b/w) Custom Framed Prints and Greeting Cards at
We Have The Negatives (color & b/w) Prints and Greeting Cards at
We Have The Negatives Giftware and Stationery at

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What My Wife Got Me For My Birthday

A New York style cheesecake! And a small jar of chocolate fudge topping to go with it. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Frozen Embryo Transfer.

We transfered two frozen embryos today. The quality varied a bit between the two. When blastocysts are frozen the collapse like raisins. When they are thawed and survive they reexpand like grapes. (Well, grapes don't actually reexpand, but you get the idea.)

One of the two was in the process of expanding at the time of the last check before the transfer. It had some ruptured cells, but that is expected in frozen embryos. The other one was still raisiny, but did have plenty live cells. The doctor told us that usually if they had only the one raisiny blast they wouldn't bother transferring it. Since we did have the fair one, though, we put back both.

Now we wait. The pregnancy test will be on the 17th, if I recall correctly. (It's been a long day.) We asked what our chances are, and after thinking about it a bit the doctor said we have a 20% shot. It's not that much, but a frozen transfer is a much less expensive and uncomfortable cycle, so it's a shot worth taking. If this doesn't work, I'm not sure what we'll try next. My wife may or may not feel up to doing another fresh cycle. Our contingency plan is to do IUI with donor sperm supplementing mine. Hopefully, though, we'll get pregnant this time and not have to worry about that.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Had A Filling Break

I just got back from the dentist. This is the piece that broke loose. (Much enlarged.)

It was an old metal filling, dating back at least to my teen years, if not pre-teen. I'm nearly forty so I guess my folks got their money's worth. The dentist put in a new-fangled type filling that matches the tooth. She put it in in layers with a syringe and the assistant held a UV light gun up to it to cure it. Pretty neat.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lining Is Good

We went in for another uterine lining measurement yesterday. It was over 8 mm and the doctor declared us ready to move on to the next phase. Today I start giving my wife injections that will shift her from growing the lining to making it hospitable.

The transfer is set for this coming Thursday afternoon. If neither embryo survives the thaw - they pretty much always lose some cells, but at this stage they can usually weather that - they'll call us around mid-day and tell us not to come in. They said we can call if we don't hear anything, to make sure. I think we'll probably call when the employees go to lunch.

I hope this one works. After this the next thing to try is IUI augmented with donor sperm along with mine. If we simply can't have a child that's mine so be it - I'll take what we can get. When we were first getting to know one another I briefly suspected our nephew might actually by my wife's son, and I was okay with that. I really hope this new child will ultimately be our own, though, and as long as what we're trying involves sperm, and I have some to contribute, I will.