Monday, June 4, 2018

Any Photographer's Best Tool: Editing Software

I've been dabbling, very, very, very, quite amateurishly in photography for about a year now and just caught on to the very real relevance of EDITING! I have to all caps that, because, like... For-freakin' real??

How have I been soooo oblivious for so long?!

I mean, of course we all use filters on social media pics.  It ain't a selfie out there of me without a nice touch up from the digital Gods! This goes without saying.  So, why then, did it take me so long to recognize the necessity of a good digital alteration on pictures shot with my Canon (t5i)?  Since I got the camera I usually tweak the lightness/darkness or the color depth with iPhotos tools and that was really about it... Correct blemishes.. Small stuff. Usually, I'd add a crispness to the photos, but still many were not as amazing as I thought they could be.

Something was missing.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks over the weekend: Photo Editing!  As I admired some photography work on Twitter, I came across a guy that showed some before and afters of photos (edited vs unedited).  His edited photos are gorgeous! And not overly tweaked.  A bit of lightening, and maybe a few other subtle changes, but absolutely something I believe I could produce.  This gave me answers and inspiration.

Sometimes I need a push, ya know.

Well, I got all happy and checked out reviews on various beginner friendly editing software and ran out to purchase Paintshop Pro Ultimate 2018 from my local Best Buy.  I liked what I saw online of edited photos and everyone raved about how uncomplicated it was to learn, which is a biggie for me, because I purchased Adobe PhotoShop software over 5 years ago and never had the patience to figure it out.  I used it a few times and put together some ugly photos.  The failures and frustration got the best of me on that one, and eventually I uninstalled it.

But, getting back to Paintshop Pro... This is a PC product! (crying actual tears) Not Mac compatible, so I gotta return it, which may be for the best, since I am on somewhat of a financial diet at this time. That $60 can go towards my grocery bill or gas or something a bit more everyday practical.

Ok. So, Can't use this great software and after consideration, have decided that if anything, I'll search the attic for the Adobe Photoshop disc(s), reinstall that and give it a go at learning the ropes on my own.  But then! (*suspense*) I came across a few articles that gave it up for iPhotos' built in editing tool (which I have already been using for years) and saw pictures of manipulation tools I don't ever bother, such as the RGB Levels, Noise reduction, sharpness, etc. and this got my wheels going again:  Why not just toy around with what you are already familiar with??

I chose some lackluster pics and got to editing and I love it!

Here is a sample of what I've been up to:

Graduation Season 2018 "Head to the Sky"

Shut down Department Store "Good Bye to Yesteryear"

"Bordwalk Grub"

See more over on Instagram

**All photos belong to me. Use Contact Me link to seek permissions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

I'm New to the Freelancer World, And I LOVE It!

In early April 2018 the job that I worked for 8 years ended. It was a government contract that had been possessed by at least 4 different companies through my time on the contract. When I first got the job back in Spring 2010, it was my first ever employment with a government contractor. I told friends about the job and had been warned: "The jobs are usually good, but once the contract ends, you're left looking for something else." (sad face) Basically, I pretty much expected that it was more so a temp position only good for a couple years.

Once the first few years passed and companies had merged or were acquired by other companies and offices just changed location, and every few years the company I was employed with won the contract once again.. I gave no thought to "temporary".  I'd settled into the monotonous work life that I'd created for myself (due to some unwise, hasty decisions straight out of college).  And although it wasn't my dream position, it was comfortable and familiar and best of all, didn't require much, really, but my time.

Eight years ago, I didn't think much of time. Everyone has to work, right? Forty hours a week is the usual. 9-5. But, as my great Godmother, Miss Dolly Parton reminded us in her song, We work hard to make some man richer. (It's something like that. I never professed to be the lyrics queen.) And when you think of it in that context, it can surely drive you crazy!

A time came when I did begin to think, not so much that I am making someone richer while I toil hard on the front line... I had that thought when I was a college kid working retail. Getting mere pennies to deal with rude customers and clean up behind them after they leave tons of clothes in the fitting room, all off the hanger, of course, and meanwhile I couldn't even afford anything out of the store that I worked in! Talk about anger!

But, no. This time, with this job, I began to beat myself up about the lack of challenge the position presented. I really began to think, "You're too smart for this.", maybe about 5 years in.  On my team I was the only one with a Bachelor's degree, which obviously, wasn't even needed for the position. But, I'd squandered my post undergrad years worried more about saving money on a commute (and maybe fear of working alongside people that I'd probably feel were smarter than me-- but that's for a psychiatrist--another time..) and had no desire to begin an entry level position in the field of Biology by the time that I had begun to feel like jumping into any old field for pay and ease was a stupid idea.

So, for years, I dreaded Monday through Friday, 9-5, but I NEEDED it. And honestly, it wasn't the job.  It was me. The job was easy! Very 'laxed position. For the last 6 years of it I worked from home. Out of the 7 hours that I was expected to work, (excluding lunch and breaks), majority of the year I may work a solid 2 hours a day.  I had to remain available the remainder of the work hours, but if there was nothing that needed to be done, there was just nothing that needed to be done, you know. But I wanted more. I wanted to be on my own time, exclusively.  I didn't want to "punch the clock" so to speak or have regular, preset hours every damn day!

What's that saying, "Be careful what you wish for."?

Well, since we lost the contract, I've gotten my wish. Along with that wish comes: no health benefits (Thank God for Obama Care!) and lesser pay, but I get to do something I'm totally into: (fashion) styling and I create my own schedule! Every. Day!

Freelancing is the life!  Really.

I'd encourage anyone that has a passion or a talent to freelance, if possible. Even if only as a way to make additional money on the side.  It's a great release to share your talent and knowledge with others,  and to be monetarily compensated for it definitely doesn't hurt.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Samsung Note 8 Vs. iPhone 7 Plus [Video]

The great mobile phone debate in America:  #TeamiPhone or #TeamSamsung?

Well, I was a proud #TeamiPhone ride or die for many years.  Actually, an android device's malfunctioning pushed me into the arms of Apple's cellular.  Back in 2011 I was on about my 3rd or 4th HTC phone. The very 1st operated on Windows, (another story), but all the rest were Android and I was fairly okay with the experience. The thing I recall from back then with all of those phones was that I dealt with a lot of freezing and shutting my phone down and removing and reinserting the battery, broken battery doors.. These issues overshadowed the cool customizations that the phones offered and the last straw was when my fairly new HTC Evo 3D went bonkers on me and began to restart repeatedly on it own and the battery failed to keep a charge, not that I could do anything with it anyways, since it wasn't operable other than to repeatedly turn itself off and on over and over again.

Anyways, I ended up at the Sprint store, fed up to the max!!  Probably breathing fire and steaming from the ears, I'm sure. That day I bought a cute, small little white square with the glass front and back: iPhone 4. And I was in love with the gadget! It paired nicely with my MacBook and somehow I felt like I'd created for myself a nice little Apple system. Yeah, it was just 2 devices strong, but still.. I was part of something... "Elite", if you will.  You guys know what I mean, right?  And then I got an iPad. (Whaaaaaaat?!) Couldn't tell me nothing at that point. 3 Devices strong. Like... whatevzz! I was synced all 'round. I was never out of the Apple electronic loop and I basked in it! (I'll have to make a post on my thoughts about this level of dependency some day.)

So... long story semi-short.. I yearned for the Samsung Note 8 since its release. That S-Pen!! I just had to have this handwriting capability. And I wanted to draw and write on pictures. I wanted something new. Plus, the Android OS had to have come a long way since 2011, right?! I needed this phone, but I knew it would be a wasteful investment. I currently owned an iPhone 7 Plus and I was extremely happy with it. Fulfilled all my handheld device needs. Why go switching it?? But for months and months the acquirement of the Note 8 remained in the back of my mind. Plus, I met a whole team of developers that were all Android. (Like.. why?)

Well, the time for an upgrade came round and I went for it, and (here's something y'all have heard before), I love it!! In the beginning I felt ashamed, as if I committed an act of betrayal against iPhone. I'd been down for so long and I LOVED the iOS and the recent text message animations and swiping the screen to navigate on apps and the internet. I truly believe I was content, but yet, I still disrupted it.

I've got a new love now.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Review: Uncle B's All Natural Cold, Cough & Flu Syrup

This is a good ole testimonial for the peoples!

Uncle B's All Natural Syrup came through for me in my time of runny nose and congested need! Let me tell y'all all about it:

Last Tuesday I woke up with a runny nose and sneezing all over the place! During the work day I felt pretty well, but by nightfall the sneezing and runny nose began again.  Wednesday morning my symptoms were full blown and RAGING! The congestion began and one nostril was blocked. It was a full day of nose blowing, tired eyes and fatigue.  Midway through the day I remembered: Uncle B's (miracle) syrup!

I whipped up a cup of Sleepytime Detox Tea and put 2 teaspoons of the syrup in. It was a bit spicy, but the concoction tasted good overall.  Anyways, I feel like I needed that kick of spice. Kind of like that good kick pho soup gives the ailing. I repeated this another time or two on Wednesday as well as on Thursday.


I accredit that to plenty of water intake, sleep and UNCLE B'S SYRUP! Really. Who has a case of the sniffles for just 3 days?? Who????

My cases of the sniffles and congestion usually run for about 5-7 days.  I think if I had began to use the syrup the first day symptoms showed up I could have cut the duration down to maybe just 1 or two days.  I truly believe that.

This is definitely a good product to keep on hand. Pay $16.99 for 6 oz and receive free shipping! You really have nothing to lose with their money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.  Click the link below to get your very own miracle in a jar.


Friday, March 2, 2018

Review: Omega 8004 Juicer

I told you all about the great deal I got on this juicer at Kohl's in the last post. And I'm back to tell you of my experience with using it.

For a first time user of a juicer of any kind, I found this machine easy to use.  I did not use the white hopper part shown at the top of the clear chute. I just fed my fruits and veggies straight into the clear part and used the little stick/wand that comes with the juicer to push them down.

This machine is extremely quiet and produces a lot of juice! I watched a Youtube vid in which the vlogger said a good indicator of a decent juicer is how dry the pulp is.  This pulp that spits out from the Omega is dry! It looked moist, but when I rubbed it between my fingers it left no moisture.  I was surprised! Pleasantly surprised. The assembly was easy, just a few clicks and ready to go, and so was the clean up. Everything just rinsed clean, although I did follow the instructions in the manual and soaked the detachable parts in a large bowl of water and a little dish detergent.

The most time consuming part of it all was the preparation of my produce.  For this first juice I chose to include:

1 large beet (leaves and root)
1 large cucumber
1 medium sized Granny Smith apple
2 small Gala apples
4 carrots
1/2 bundle of parsley

I knew from checking out some juicing articles that I had to quarter the apples. Well... that turned into slicing the quarters further into 8ths for the fruit to make it into the chute. And then, came the beet. That thing was a bit massive, I guess. I've never dealt with beets in any way prior to this juicing, so I was a bit overwhelmed when I had to divide it further and further to get sizes that finally fit.  Here's some pictures from the process:

Thought that was kind of cool.

I juiced it all and I actually had a blast doing it! There ya go for some stress relief: Just juice some stuff. 

After just a few minutes I was done:

The sieve over the juice container caught all of the icky foam. And you may be able to see that the other container caught all the waste. 

As for the juice... The beet leaves were an overstep. A major overstep. This concoction tasted how fresh cut grass smells. Moist, fresh cut grass. I added some agave sweetener to it and as one would imagine, it did nothing for the grass taste. It made the mix sweeter, but it was still grassy. Then, as a last-ditch effort to make it bearable, I added a few ice cubes. Took me over an hour to slowly sip the 12 oz glass empty. With every sip I did not breathe from my nose. I swallowed and then took a deep breath. 

So, 12 ounces down and about another 16 ounces to go, I think (I'd really like to know the capacity of the juice container). I refrigerated the rest of the juice and think it'll be best blended with ice and a banana.

Another Step to Keep Cancer Away--I Bought a Juicer!

Well. As you may know, 2017 was quite the year for me: Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, 6 rounds of chemo, bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, ongoing Herceptin treatments... It was a battle, but as all things: did not last forever.

While going through, I questioned what could I have done to maybe have prevented this ailment, but the past being the past and all, I mainly focused on how to get rid of it.  Research brought me to The (Big Bad) Western Diet. This, along with stress and not knowing how to channel and alleviate my internal turmoil cooked up a tumor, I believe. I combated with Western meds, i.e. Anxiety meds, and Chemotherapy along with other targeted therapies.  That was honestly the easy part. The tumor is gone and I consider myself cancer-free.

The hard part is changing my lifelong eating habits. I vowed to never do dairy again. (INFLAMMATION! that leads to disease.) But, damn it! I love pizza and just cannot seem to let it go! I vowed to stop eating meat (much of it loaded with antibiotics and hormones which leads to disease.), but who can resist a fried chicken wing? I mean.. Really! So, it's tough.  And that's not even to mention the daily exercise vows gone by the wayside.

To tell you the truth, at times, I'm disgusted with my lack of drive on these issues. However, luckily, life happens to go on, and I'm here to give it another go each day. And this brings me to the World of Juicing...

..Actually, a vision brought me to this world... And to make a long story short, it involved beets. Researching beets I found that there are a lot of health (and spiritual) benefits. As far as the health tip,  they also have a high glycemic index, which is compared with glucose that has an index of 100. And I have read enough theories on glucose/sugar feeding cancer to want relatively low glycemic index produce in my life. Well, beets have an index of about 65. So, although they are packed with good nutrition, they are also packed with natural sugar that may be a bit too much for me to consume frequently. But, that beet vision put me on the right track: Juice!

I did my research on Juicers and first wanted to go with a Breville. I've heard the name before and thought it may be a respectable brand for small kitchen appliances. I was set on a particular, cutely shaped juicer from that brand, but then I researched more and found out there are masticating juicers, (which this particular Breville was not), that are better than the ones that usually work vertically and just smash products to result in juice. So, then I set my eyes on a Philips masticating juicer. But then I thought to research more and learned about the Omega 8006. I really wanted that juicer, but the retailer I wanted to purchase from, Kohl's, didn't carry it online nor in my local store. So I researched even more and found that the 8006 is the exact same as the 8004, (which Kohl's does carry), except for the color. (Yay!)

I was so set on purchasing from Kohl's because of Kohl's Cash and other discounts. Let me tell ya the great deal I got on this purchase. Check it out:

  • Retail Price:                 $380
  • On Sale Price:              $342
  • Coupon Savings:          $68
  • Kohl's Cash Earned:     $50
  • Kohl's Reward Earned: $40      (takes into account this as well as prior purchases) 
  • Shipping:                       $0

At the time of purchase, including tax, I paid $290 for the juicer, but on the back end I received $90 to spend at a later date.  No stipulations on how to spend it either, other than that it has to be spent in Kohl's, of course.  So, the way I see it, I got an almost $400 juicer for just $200. Steal of a deal, or what?! That's a steal of a deal!!

Seriously, if you are in the market to buy something that costs a little bit, like bedding, cookware, electronics, a season wardrobe change (especially if you are shopping for more than one kid), check out Kohl's during a Kohl's Cash promotion. Usually, you get $10 back per $50 that you spend. You then have to return to shop during a specified timeframe to spend it, but Kohl's always has something to buy. You'll be able to grab something you need or want without a prob.

So, I've got my juicer and have made yet another vow: Juice at least once a week and drink at least 8-12 ounces of fresh juice 3 times a week. HERE'S TO HEALTH & WELLNESS!

Stay tuned for a review on the Omega 8004 and how my first juice turned out. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Manic Panic "Siren's Song" Result & Purple NYX Lip Products

Serious Grunge Vibes

Hey. Heyyyy!
Real life Goldilocks

I've been considering dying my hair for a very long time. I wanted something bright and bold! So, I grabbed the color "Siren's Song" by Manic Panic.  I thought that since I had majority grey hair that I could get away with slapping this on and getting a cute streaked look, but that was a fail.  You could see the color a bit; a few people commented on it, but it wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted BOLD!

So, here I am, months later, and I finally purchased a bleaching kit. Bleached my hair and that was cool. The blonde/gold tone was actually cute. (Little did I know, I should have stopped there.)

True to my nature, I kept on moving on. I had to have what I thought was going to be this shocking dark teal blue.  What I got though??.. Joker Green.  Or as my mom likes to say: "Avacado with a side of Honey Mustard." It definitely has a shock factor, but not quite like I wanted. (Booooo!)

Since it turned out so unlike I wished, I immediately dolled up to put this shade in a different light (for myself). And then it was kinda cute and I wanted to share it with people. The cute, finished version, so myself and my oldest nephew sat down in front of the cam. I talk about this dye job gone wrong as well as some purple NYX lip products, and we are otherwise goofin' like we do. Check it out:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Almost 6 Months Cancer-Free!!

Yes. I say, "Cancer-Free".

All y'all Negative Nellies don't try contacting me or leaving comments, (which I will not approve and publish), saying, "You're in remissssssssioooonnn. Not cancer-freeeeeeeee." (in your whiny voices)

PLEASE! I claim it. Cancer-free for life!

My double mastectomy went well on August 31, 2017. The pathology report revealed that the tumor was totally knocked out of the affected breast and there was just millimeters of cancer located in breast tissue close to the tumor bed.  The unaffected breast had no traces of cancer at all and neither did the 2 lymph nodes removed from the underarm area on the affected side also had no sign of cancer cells!!!

Seriously good news!

And then I got the reconstruction in December 2017.  Awesome results courtesy of Dr. James Bruno in Chevy Chase, MD. If you are in the DC-area and would like a plastic surgeon for medical or maybe just for purely cosmetic reasons, visit Dr. Bruno. He has great bedside manner and is a true sculptor of the human body.  I promise he would not disappoint.

Recovery was great for all of the surgeries.  The only thing I really have a complaint about is those drains after the mastectomy! I had 2 on each side for a few weeks. A true pain! Both physically and psychologically!

So, really... What have I been up to? *Gracious sigh* I've been getting in tune with myself and the world. You know? Just living. Not stressing 'bout nothing. Meditating. Planning.  Seriously planning this time. (lol) No more procrastinating and doubting. Just doing.  And it feels really good.

I'm really into photography and (fashion) styling. I've been doing a lot of both lately. I'm feeling great.  And I'm working on a cancer-free diet and exercise regimen.  I have plans on researching more into the effects of diet and exercise on cancer and hopefully assisting other fighters and survivors with living a healthier life without the worry of a recurrence of this horrible disease.

As for blogging, I'm always around.  (Hope to post again soon.)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Please Help Me!!!!

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in February 2017.  Since then I have undergone 6 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and began reconstruction.

I've been off of work since June 2017 and with short-term disability I only bring home about half of what I usually bring home when actively working.  Anyone that knows me knows that I HATE to ask for assistance of any kind, but I realize when I am sinking and I'm reaching out for help to stay afloat, financially.

Please click the link below to donate and/or share my Go Fund Me link.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Two Helpful Solutions for Installing OS on a New MacBook Hard Drive

"Don't count me out yet.", says the vintage 'Book. (under the cover)

My 2011 MacBook's hard drive recently went kaput on me and I replaced it myself.  You can click here to read all about that process.  Turns out it was extremely easy to do.

In fact, replacing the hard drive was so easy I came crashing down when I realized getting the OS (operating system) onto the new hard drive was going to take a bit of research and much more time.  Replacing the hard drive was under 30 minutes to complete.  However!! Due to a couple of issues, getting the OS onto the hard drive took an hour!! And then it took another hour before the computer was actually functional for use.

A full two hours, people!

And here's why:

1.  In recovery mode I chose to (re)install the Sierra OS via the internet but the hard drive was not an option for which to place the system on.

I tried and I tried.  Several hard shut downs (by pressing the Power button for a few seconds) and the hard disk never appeared as an option!!!!  I'd choose my WiFi and enter my password and then choose to install the OS and would be met with a message that made me cringe: "Untrusted_Cert_Title".  And that was it.  I could go no further.

I eventually had to get my Google on.  I found the most bizarre solution:  check the terminal for the date and time.  If incorrect, this is your problem.  Correct it and try again.  And it worked!

Here are the instructions I followed while in Recovery Mode:


Great, right!  Now I'm on track.  All I have to do is go back, install the OS via internet and be good to go!

That turned out to be a big SIKE!

So, here's Number 2:

I tried to install Sierra again after correcting the computer's date and time, but still,  I needed a place to put it. (Why couldn't I wrap my head around this reality???)  The new hard drive is still not showing as an option.


I found a solution on to settle the hard drive option issue once and for all:

  • In Recovery Mode choose Disk Utility
  • Click on the hard drive on the left
  • At the top choose Erase
  • Name the hard drive
  • Erase

Once done with the above instructions, close disk utility and voila!  I was then able to successfully get the OS onto the hard drive and use my 'Book.

Start to end it took me TWO HOURS!!

So, I give to you this comprehensive solution to the two issues I encountered to save you time and frustration.  Had I known these solutions at the beginning.... Had I sought solutions instead of thinking shutdowns would make a difference and produce a technical miracle, I could have saved myself at least about an hour, I believe.

Go forth with the knowledge, my fellow DIY-ers!  Fix your "vintage" MacBook and be merry!  Use the money you saved on a professional fix and do something nice for yourself.  (Start a "New MacBook Fund" with it, maybe.-- haha)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

I Replaced My MacBook's Hard Drive & You Can (DIY) Too! [Video]

I know.. Me and this damn MacBook, right?!

About a year ago I began having issues with the ole 'Book, visited Apple and got the $600 issue fixed at no cost to me.  Click this link to check that whole story out: 2011 MacBook Pro Recall

And now I'm back with yet another story about this great machine.  (I mean.. It is 6 years old though. What do I expect, huh?)

About a month or more ago my computer began acting funky again: running super slow, getting to the desktop on start up super slow, internet running super slow.  SLOW!  Everything was slow.  And soon after that began I began to get reminders that my storage space was dangerously low.  I did a Time Machine backup of everything and proceeded to erase documents and pictures off of the computer that I didn't much need to have readily accessible.  Though this freed up some valuable storage space, it did nothing for the issues I had been having with the computer.

Next, I decided to try erasing the hard drive and start from scratch.  No matter what I did, I could not erase the drive.  It wouldn't unmount.  And then I did something, I think it was installing the OS from Recovery Mode, and it appeared as though the hard disk had nothing on it, but once I got Sierra back onto the computer and began to use it again I continued to suffer issues.  I checked out the hard drive again and lo and behold it was once again full.

For weeks I toyed around with reinstalling the OS and attempting to erase the hard drive and nothing worked.  A time a came that the Book did this series of 3 consecutive beeps at me and wouldn't get to a sign on screen when I turned it on.  And that's when I knew I had to go see the geniuses.

Wouldn't it be just my luck that my 2011 15" MacBook Pro had been officially declared "vintage" 10 days prior to my visit to the Apple Store?!  (I mean, I agree with them.  It's pretty old in technology years.)  And "vintage" means that Apple will not touch it.  As it was explained to me by the kind Genius guy, Apple no longer has the tools and/or parts to fix vintage machines.  So, I guess they would if they could, but they simply cannot.

Though he could not fix it for me, The Apple Genius did run diagnostics on my computer and found that the hard drive had a red triangle with an exclamation point, which indicates that it needs to be replaced.  He pointed me to an official third-party Apple repair shop or Best Buy for a professional repair.  And then he says, "You could get a hard drive and fix it yourself.  It's honestly really easy to do."

That afterthought laid on my ears like magic.  Tell me more, my eyes begged (I'm sure).  He suggested that I check out MacSales for a new hard drive and instructional videos on how to replace the drive.  He stressed that I want to perform this task in a static-free environment, but other than that, was pretty confident that I could do this repair myself.

I shopped MacSales for a new hard drive and came across a used, original Apple 500 GB hard drive for $22!!!  I ordered that along with a tool set to get the job done.  Including taxes and shipping I paid about $29.  I received the items in less than a week!

I sat down with my MacBook not really sure about if my environment was, indeed, static-free or not. I opted to sit on my bed and fix it on a portable desk surface.  As long as my feet weren't touching the carpet, right?? (I had no clue and was too lazy to research it.--Horrible!).

Pre-swap: Beneath the back cover

The guy from the Apple Store was right!  Took me about 25 minutes to swap the hard drives and it was easy-peezy!  The most time-consuming task (for me) was the removal of the screws from the bottom of the computer.  There are 3 long(er) screws and 7 shorter ones.  The shorter ones seemed to be tighter than the longer and harder to remove, though I could also just blame it on being inexperienced and a little afraid (remember that static..).

Here's the video I followed:

See?  Super easy.

Instead of going to the professionals and paying $200 or more for a fix, I fixed it on my own for under $30.

If your hard drive needs replacing, you may want to consider saving yourself some dough by going the DIY route.

Stay tuned for a soon to come post on my process of installing the OS on the new hard drive and getting back to a functional (vintage) MacBook.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: iPhone 7 Plus Camera vs. Canon PowerShot SX 620 HS

Recently the thought popped in my head that I wanted to have some real-deal photography equipment on my side; basically a camera that any photog would utilize to make what they are blessed to actually be in front of,  come to life and choke all viewers not on the scene with envy.

I want to be the owner of super crisp images that are magazine-worthy, ya know?  So, I took to the internet and checked out all the many options out there.  I think a $500+ camera would really sate this yearning, but financially, it's out of my reach.  (And what do you do when something is out of your reach??.. Hope you didn't say "Work hard and GET IT!!"  Nooooo.)  So, I settled for what I could comfortably afford: A Canon PowerShot SX 620.

After reading several reviews on various sites I decided that Canon's point and shoot would suffice (though I really wish I could have kicked for one of their EOS models).  Their SX 620 is currently $230 at most large retailers; a bit cheaper than its original ticket price of about $280.  I got mine from Best Buy just yesterday and am a bit sad that I will be returning it as soon as I feel up to getting back to the store (which will surely be before the 15th day after purchase).  This camera is just not worth the cost for me, because my iPhone 7 Plus' camera is better.

Now, please keep in mind that I'm no professional at photography.  In fact, I'm like an amateur's amateur.  Seriously.  I just learned a little something about lighting about a month ago.  I just love seeing beautiful things and I love to share them.  That's all this whole (more) "professional" camera kick is all about.  And even with that little disclaimer I feel confident in saying that if you own a later model iPhone you may want to skip this camera as a replacement.

Overall, I think the iPhone 7 Plus has a wider angle and the zoom on both distorts just as bad as the other.  As I like to say, the zoomed pictures have a certain degree of "ash", as others like to say, "noise". Both cameras shoot well in most lighting situations, even on the same level in low-lighting situations, which is one of the main reasons why I wanted a more professional camera.

Here are some pictures for comparison:

iPhone Zoom

Canon 620 Zoom

Okay, Christmas is long gone.  I know, but I also happen to know that I'm a little on the lazy side.  This wreath will probably never make it to the attic. *giggles*

So, from the pictures it appears as though the zoom on both devices is not at precisely the same exact level; however, I did notice that the Canon's scope is not as wide as the iPhone's in general.  In this particular iPhone snap you see quite a bit more of the wreath than in Canon's.  I believe that is due to a bit of how much zoom I used for the shots as well as because Canon's angle just isn't as wide as the iPhone's.

With this one I prefer the iPhone's shot, which appears more saturated (or soft with the colors), although Canon's shot is actually closer to the real-life colors of the wreath.


Canon SX 620

This picture was not taken in the same orientation (iPhone held vertically instead of horizontally) and the same amount of zoom was definitely not used, but once again, I like the iPhone shot better because of the color vibrancy.

(Maybe there is a setting to change on the Canon to alter that?-- At this point, I don't know nor care, my mind is set on returning it.)

iPhone with flash and zoom

Canon SX 620 with flash and zoom

This picture illustrates once again how the Canon gets less into the frame than the iPhone; however I like Canon shot better on this one.  The saturation of the iPhone shot loses the vibrancy of colors, I think.  Or it could be that the phone's flash is just not as strong as Canon's.

Excuse the bit of a mess going on, on the bed.  This one goes to Canon.


Canon SX 620
Alright, I'm starting to see that it's more to do with your preference on how soft you prefer your shots to be.  This shot with the dirty wine glasses (that are now strictly for my Apple Juice binges) goes to Canon for me.  I like the crispness this shot has with the brighter white and paler blue in the curtain pattern behind the glasses.


Canon SX 620
And again, the iPhone 7 Plus' camera has that color boldness, while the Canon is more so a truer depiction of what you see in person.

So, I guess it's not so much of the iPhone's camera being "better", as I stated in the beginning of this post, than me simply preferring the color saturation of the iPhone's camera.  The two cameras actually pretty much deliver the same except for when it comes to what the devices can get into the frame, with the iPhone being the obvious winner there.

It's also worth a mention that I shot a vlog with the Canon and the wifi upload to my phone failed.  The wifi connection to my computer from/with the camera failed totally.  The computer just would not come up as a recognized device on the camera.  I once again settled and transferred only the pictures to my phone/iCloud.  I really wish I could get the video on either of my usual (larger) devices because the preview screen on the cam is so small, but it looked about the same as all the iPhone videos I've taken.

Which brings me to another issue... The transfer of pictures and videos between devices; particularly getting them onto my computer.  Whatever I record or snap with my iPhone goes to the cloud and I can just continue work with them from my MacBook, or in a worst case scenario I just hook my phone up to the computer and import the photos and vids into Photos.  With the camera this wifi share is pretty cool, except for it doesn't seem to work too well with larger files, such as the 18-minute video I shot on it last night.

Eventually, I figured out to stick the SD card in my MacBook and transferred the video that way.  The depiction on the camera's small screen was accurate: Quality not any better than what the iPhone produces.

Bottom line is that I'm the owner of a roughly $900 iPhone (128 gb).  Spending $230 on a camera that does not do more than the iPhone's camera and even (in my opinion) lacks a bit, isn't the right move.

**Since beginning this post days ago I have already returned the camera and purchased a Canon Rebel T5i second-hand on eBay.  That camera is said to be a great cam for beginner Photographer/videographers. And I snagged it for just $350.  Should be a great investment for years to come; kicking out better quality vlogs, visually, as well as photos.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

No Joke: Foods and Many Other Everyday Products Could Be Harming You

Prior to my diagnosis of estrogen positive (100%), progesterone positive (3%-m'eh), HER 2 positive (98%) Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (Breast Cancer) I had not a care in the world about the ingredients in the products I used in my household nor on my body.  I also gave little thought to the ingredients in the foods I consumed.  I love cakes and ice cream as much as I love spinach and sweet bell peppers.  What's wrong with that, right?  I got a nice balance going on.  Or so I thought.

We all recognize that cakes and ice cream are loaded with sugars and carbs and fats that should be enjoyed in serious "moderation" doses.  Especially, if you are like me: overweight/ teettering on the line of clinically obese with a BMI of 29.8.  (Here's a good place to plug that since diagnosis I have lost 9 pounds thanks to cutting out sodas and drinking copious amounts of water daily as well eating better--YAY!) The dangers of junk food is pretty much all preached out.  I think everyone gets it.  But  what about the dangers of the healthy stuff?  The fruits and vegetables?

Many of you are probably screwing your face up and have strong thoughts to move on from this post, but I implore you to hear me out.  I used to have the same reaction, "People are crazy! All these conspiracies! Fruits and vegetables are good for you!" 

Well, turns out that the use of pesticides and fungicides potentially turn that last sentence into a falsehood.

According to among other potentially harmful pesticides found on many produce items is Carbendazim which is known, for sure, to be toxic to the male reproductive system and is a suspected hormone disruptor.  Hormone disruptors, also referred to as endocrine disruptors, is defined by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as: "chemicals that may interfere with the body's endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in both humans and wildlife."  NIEHS' site goes on to say that the institute supports studies to determine if exposure to these disruptors cause lowered fertility, an increase in endometriosis and some cancers.  Here's their explanation of what these disruptors (can) do inside the body:

  • Mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogens (the female sex hormone), androgens (the male sex hormone), and thyroid hormones, potentially producing overstimulation.
  • Bind to a receptor within a cell and block the endogenous hormone from binding. The normal signal then fails to occur and the body fails to respond properly. Examples of chemicals that block or antagonize hormones are anti-estrogens and anti-androgens.
  • Interfere or block the way natural hormones or their receptors are made or controlled, for example, by altering their metabolism in the liver.
The mimicking one-1st bullet-- is my chief concern.  The cells that this breast tumor is comprised of all have receptors for estrogen and thrive and proliferate when estrogen binds to its corresponding receptor... or when something that seems like estrogen binds.  Estrogen overstimulation??.. Clearly, I have a problem.

And it's not just residual pesticides that pose a threat to our bodies. How about chemicals in everyday health and beauty products??  EWG has a great search tool that allows you to find out what your faves are made of.  (Click here to see for yourself)

What I found out in the search of hygiene products I use everyday is that lotions, face wash, soap, and deodorant all have to go!  They all contained ingredients that known to be toxic to organs (via absorption) and disruptive to the endocrine system.  I was hard-pressed to find any of my makeup on the naughty list, but surprisingly, (and thankfully), none made it.

I placed an order with Bubble and Bee Organic yesterday to replace my daily-use deodorant, soap, face lotion and cleanser.  I will give a review on these products in a few weeks.

And then in addition to foods and health and beauty products you have plastic products that pose a threat as well with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and BPA (bisphenol A) which are both known endocrine and reproductive system disruptors.  To lessen your exposure to BPA use glass and ceramic (anything but plastic) whenever possible, especially when reheating and storing foods and avoid PVC products, period.

And you know... Many people have and will live very long lives without a shakeup to their health.  This population may use whatever products they want and eat what they like with no regard to exposure to harmful compounds.  I think that is super cool.   But for me, a current cancer patient, even if one day announced "CURED", I cannot risk it.  I cannot risk toxic exposure like I'm not especially susceptible to an ailment such as cancer, like many others that have not fallen victim to this ailment may be willing to do.

Cancer forces you to live a certain lifestyle; while the tumor is there and even long after it is gone.  You cannot feed it.  Whatever you take in, whether it be a thought, a food, a drink... You're forced to think: "Am I feeding cancer too?  Is my body a nice, comfy home for cancer to thrive in?.. Will ingredients in this perfume absorb into my skin and cause an increase in estrogen in my body?"  I have to be conscious.  I'm finding that it's a bit of an inconvenience, but you know what a bigger inconvenience is?? (You guessed it: CANCER!)

I'll close this post with EWG's 2017 lists of the dirtiest (most harmful) and the cleanest (least harmful) produce; though there is a minor update that didn't make the visual: Pears are #6 on the Dirty side.  Don't know if that means we now have a "Mean 13" or if the list remains "Dirty Dozen" with potatoes dropping off.  Either way, I'm keeping all 13 in mind and avoiding what I cannot peel all together.

No wonder I cringed as I sat in line at the local Walmart recently watching an elderly man rest leisurely on his cart as he ate dusty grapes fresh from the produce section.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Delayed Reaction to Chemo After Round 1 [Video]

After chemo round 1 my hair began to come out  more than usual with combing just days later.  Easter weekend I got the cut that can be glimpsed in the above picture.  From there, about 2 weeks in my hair fell out with a combing, leaving me all whipsy-haired like a damaged q-tip, with a bald spot at the crown.

That was expected.

The full body rash I developed 2 weeks and 2 days afterwards was not expected!   Last weekend ended very uncomfortably for me and left me with a question on my mind: QUIT CHEMO OR NO?

The good news is that the tumor is just about nonexistent.  So something is working in that toxic chemo cocktail, but on the other hand the cocktail seems to be threatening my very existence.  Of course, I've heard, "Chemo's no fun." and all of that, but is it always really necessary?

The last question I'll answer for myself and address at a later date with a video.  For now, check out the full details about the rash in the below video:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Round One of Chemo-- My Day After Was Brutal!

Thursday, April 6, 2017 was my first round of 6 chemotherapy rounds.  Each round is to be separated by at least 21 days, giving a total of 18 weeks of chemo.

Here is a timeline of how this first round went: (all drugs *in bold* delivered intravenously)

8:30 AM    Arrived at Doctor's office/Fusion Center
9:07 AM    Steroid
9:18 AM    Benadryl
9:27 AM    Suddenly extremely tired. (Cool rush to my head--eyes?)
9:33 AM    Emend
***Fell asleep***
10:00 AM  Spoke with Pharmacist
10:13 AM  Left upper arm (IV arm) sore. Warm to touch (due to blanket?). Place pillow underneath arm and blood flow was checked.
10:15 AM  Aloxi
10:43 AM  Perjeta
11:45 AM  Herceptin
1:38  PM   Docetaxol
**Tiny wave of nausea hits**
3:05  PM   Carboplatin
~4:05 PM IV "flushed"
4:10 PM all done!!

Long day, right?!

Before I was unhooked for the day a Neulasta OnPro was attached to my stomach.  I went home feeling a tiny bit tired, but not exhausted.  The day went on pretty much as usual, though I could tell that I wasn't physically up for much.  My sister and nephews stopped by to check on me and I wasn't much for company.  Can't really tell how much of that can be contributed to my mental or psychological state; with the realness of the diagnosis and the day's events heavy on me or how much was a true physical tiredness.

I slept pretty well that night.  Since leaving the fusion center and sleeping I had taken anti-nausea and steroid medications as directed and then I woke up on Friday and continued to take as directed.  Friday I felt flutters of nausea but nothing that I found to be particularly bothersome.  The waves were a tiny stray from normalcy.  Only noticeable in the way that you come to know your body in over 30 years of existence.  If I were in my teens it would have probably gone unnoticed.  So, needless to say, Friday was cool.

...Until it wasn't cool!

The Neulasta OnPro releases the medication 27 hours after it is attached to your body.  The administration of the drug was okay.  As instructed, I took Claritin about an hour before the OnPro release began (actually ended up being a bit shy of an hour).

And this is were everything went to SHIT! (Figuratively and quite literally.)

From about 8:10-ish to 10:30 PM I experienced:

Extreme diarrhea
Hard to breathe
Swollen face
Extreme lethargy
Extreme abdominal/pelvic contractions
Extreme lack of coordination

The entire experience was surreal!  Thinking back on it I imagine I looked like I was in the midst of transforming from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll as I lay writhing around on my bathroom floor clutching my stomach and gulping air.

The entire ordeal was not pleasant!

Check out this video detailing it all: