A thousand bottles

A breeze blows in the window and across the room where it feels cool on my skin and lifts soft wisps of hair off my face. Outside the trees sway and dance with a million graceful arms that make a sweet rustling sound and provide a background for the instrumental music playing from my computer. A steady, but easy and soundless, rain continues to fall as if it will not stop for days. Arthur sleeps in his safe place behind the recliner I often sit in to read. Earlier on the screened-in porch, Arthur’s shivering and quaking from the cool air or fear of the weather eventually drives us both inside.

It’s a very peaceful moment and would that I could bottle it and hang it from my neck on a thin ribbon to experience when I’m not at peace and life is a clanging symbol fraught with uncertainty and fear and longing. Would that I could breathe in this moment and set my soul to rest at whim.

Would that I could fill a thousand bottles and give one to you.

May a cool breeze tease your hair, softly brush your face, and clear your mind.

Have a nice weekend.





The woods green up

This is a project I’ve been working on since the middle of March. I wanted to capture the way the woods green up. I never noticed before that the green starts at the ground and gradually moves up the trees. The limbs at the very top are the last to unfurl the leaves. This is all makes good sense if we consider that it must take more time for the water and nutrients to travel to the very topmost branches of the trees. I really don’t know the science behind the way the leaves come out in spring, but this was fun to watch. I explain how I did this, what I learned, and what I might do differently at the end of this post.

The woods green up from the ground to the sky as the earth reaches for the heavens.

This morning, I sorted through the photos I had taken, titled with the date, and saved in a file. I discarded many that I didn’t think would work, like the one below that didn’t fit into the transitions of the slide show. I actually like the photo because of the shadows.

Taken March 19, 2012

After I had the group of photos I hoped to use, I did an auto-correct on photoshop for contrast and color, hoping that would even out the varied light conditions under which all these photos were taken.

Although I tried to stand in the same exact place on our deck each day, and target the stone patio for the lower and left third of the photo (rule of three), I did not have a very scientific or well-regulated methodology and some of the photos had the patio up high:

And some had the patio closer to the bottom.

Taken April 1, 2012

So I had the problem of lining them up so the transitions wouldn’t be unacceptably jerky. I used the circular stone patio as a guide, created a template on PhotoShop with a rectangle containing the circle. I placed each photo under the template, moved it so that the stone patio was directly under the circle on the template, then cropped the picture along the template rectangle. This method wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement.

After that it was a fairly simple matter of loading the pictures into an iMovie project, adding transitions between the slides, exporting the movie to a file on my hard drive, and uploading it to YouTube. I added the music as an enhancement to the video on YouTube.

I spent all morning on this project. But I think it was worth the time, not because it turned out all that well, but because I learned a lot, which is always good, but especially important as I age to keep my brain healthy.

So here’s to a morning spent on Alzheimer’s prevention, with a video to boot.

As a side note, I was surprised to see that I have 19 videos up on my YouTube channel (57cmsmith) of varying quality, but you have to start somewhere. My most popular video was Animal Control Removal of a Rattlesnake from Hilton Head with 467 hits, followed by the two videos of Mark’s knee replacement surgery recovery at 3 days (115 hits)  and 2 weeks (124 hits). My Self-Pub Proof Copy Arrives video got 97 hits.

One reason why I’ll never be famous — or two for Tuesday videos

Yesterday morning I wrote out a nice detailed to-do list that included items like clean off the top of my desk, update my Quickbooks file for Grote Ink, move furniture, buy paint, that sort of thing. No where on the list did it say videotape birds.

But the birds were singing and the mother wren and starling I’ve been watching were working hard making their seemingly unending round trips out to find food and back to the nest. I’ve tried to capture them with my still camera without much luck.

Starling leaving the nest after feeding babies.

I had a little better luck catching the house wren.

Wren constructing nest.

She’s carrying a twig in her beak for the nest, no doubt.

Wren constructing nest.

I think she’s having a bit of difficulty getting the twig through the small hole.

Wren constructing a nest.

Earlier I thought the chickadees were going to nest in this birdhouse. I caught photos of a chickadee checking it out. Not sure what happened, but clearly, the house wrens are living there now.

This first video is just a tad over 2 minutes. I edited it down from 18 minutes of shooting. In that time, the adult wrens visited the nest 9 times, although the first two times were fly-bys. I think they were afraid because I was outside. At a couple of places in the video you can see one bird waiting on a branch while the other goes in to feed the babies. I thought I heard the adult call to the babies and then they answered.

This is a 33 second video of a starling on her endless trek to and from the nest high up in a hole in the sycamore tree. A nest was here last year as well. I don’t know if there were more than one starlings feeding the babies, but I suspect there may have been.

I tried to get a video of the robin, but I ran out of disc space and then the battery died.

You don’t even want to know how long I spent video taping, editing, and posting these videos. If I told you, you probably wouldn’t believe it. If you did believe it,  you would think, why in the world would she spend so much time on that? A question I frequently ask myself. And one of the reasons I haven’t promoted my book, updated my book bank account, or done any of those things that I read I should be doing if I want to be a successful and/or famous author.

Oh. The robin’s back. And my camera’s charged. Gotta go.

A little Christmas Eve story with Happy Holiday Wishes

Arthur stands at the window all day and watches.  He looks up.

He looks down. What is he looking at?

Oh my. Arthur sees a squirrel up on the chair. The squirrel is trying to jump to the bird feeder.

The squirrel gives up and goes for the easy pickings.

Arthur barks at the squirrel.

The squirrel doesn’t care. The squirrel only worries when I say to Arthur, “Do you want to get the squirrel?” and Arthur turns and dashes  from the room. He runs around the banister in the hall, taking the curves on three-legs. He runs to the door and gets into a stance to sprint. When I open it, he dashes out the door straight for the squirrel. The squirrel is halfway across the driveway or up a tree by the time Arthur makes it across the porch.

It’s no wonder Arthur barks at those pesky squirrels.

Who invade his territory.

Arrogantly tease him.

And then run away.

But Arthur doesn’t worry. He’ll be right back here at the window tomorrow. Doing his job.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it with us. And happy winter holidays, however you celebrate them, from the squirrel-chasing, bird-defending little white dog and me.

Caught by the radar – on YouTube and copyright infringements

8:02 am Tuesday, Dec. 13

I uploaded the video I posted for Ogre Returns part 2 of 2 or Music on the Web using photos of Matthew painting freelance and a song clip from Journey’s “Can’t Tame the Lion.”

8:05 am Tuesday, Dec. 13

I received the following email from YouTube:

“Dear 57cmsmith,

Your video, Matt’s Slideshow Cinci Dec 2011, may have content that is owned or licensed by SME.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

– The YouTube Team”

I immediately visited the link YouTube recommended finding the following:

“Copyright Info: Ogre Returns – Cinci Dec 2011

Your video, Ogre Returns – Cinci Dec 2011, may include content that is owned or administered by these entities:

  • Entity: SME Content Type: Sound Recording
What should I do?
No action is required on your part. Your video is still available worldwide. In some cases ads may appear next to your video.
What can I do about my video’s status?
Please note that the video’s status can change, if the policies chosen by the content owners change. You may want to check back periodically to see if you have new options available to you.
Under certain circumstances, you may dispute this copyright claim. These are:
  • if the content is mistakenly identified and is actually completely your original creation;
  • if you believe your use does not infringe copyright (e.g. it is fair use under US law);
  • if you are actually licensed by the owner to use this content.

I need more information. I want to learn more about the dispute process.

Please take a few minutes to visit our Help Center section on Policy and Copyright Guidelines, where you can learn more about copyright law and our Content Identification Service.”

I immediately visited the Help Center link YouTube recommended finding the following:


Content Owners


YouTube Users


Copyright Education

The first link for Content Owners provided information about how to file copyright notifications using YouTube’s “easy-to-use web form”; information on the content verification program for copyright holders who have an ongoing need to removed allegedly infringing content from YouTube; and information on YouTube’s content ID technology that “allows content owners to identify user-uploaded videos and audio comprised of their content, and choose what they want to happen when those videos are found: Make money from them. Get stats on them. Or block them from YouTube altogether.

As I was not the content owner, I didn’t dwell long here.

The link for YouTube Users had the following three choices:


What happened to my video?

Check here if your video was removed,
muted, blocked in some or all countries,
or is unexpectedly showing ads.


Why do I have a strike on
my account?


Why was my account

I click on “What happened to my video?”

“Before reading about the options available to you, we first need to understand exactly what happened to your video. Was your video removed, muted, or blocked in some or all countries? Is it currently displaying advertisements?
If your video was MUTED, BLOCKED IN SOME OR ALL COUNTRIES, or is DISPLAYING ADVERTISEMENTS, YouTube’s Content ID system has identified copyright content in your video.

Content ID matches will appear next to the video on your “My Videos” page, and the video will also be listed on your “Content ID Matches” page.

You can see an example below:

If this happened, you do not currently have a copyright strike against your account.

What I did next:

Okay, I know I’m in violation of a copyright. I also know that probably the biggest repercussion is going to be getting my video yanked from YouTube, and getting a strike against me with YouTube. I imagine if I keep infringing on others’ copyrights on YouTube, eventually my account will be cancelled and I will have to get a new email address and start a new account if I wish to continue with my illegal activity.

I went back to the page for the video in question and noticed that someone had inserted both Journey’s name and links to where the song title could be purchased. I am now part of Journey’s advertising program, which is fine with me. I love Journey. I like them even better knowing how they opted to handle this. I hope people will buy their music.

What I learned from this experience:

1. I learned that, wow, that radar net is pretty good. I am not going to be able to infringe on others’ copyrights on YouTube unnoticed.

2. Probably many artists are willing to let you use their music as long as it is not done in a demeaning manner. This is what I would do if I were a famous musician. Free publicity.

Now what?

I’m wondering if I should upload and post my Ohio River slide show set to Old Man River as performed by Bee Adair. . .

Ogre Returns part 2 of 2 – or Music and the Web

I was going to simply post a Tuesday (under) two-minutes video of snapshots of my son painting freelance when he was in town for a gallery opening on December 3. I used iMovie on my Mac and was going to add a soundtrack. Then I went off on a tangent.

I’m probably not  allowed to use a soundtrack from a recorded artist on my slideshow on my published blog. I don’t have the required rights. This realization led to a whole series of other related (and not so related) thoughts and questions.

What exactly are my rights when I purchase a Trial by Fire CD by Journey produced in 1996? I know I am allowed to play it for myself. And probably play it at a party that I may have. But am I allowed to broadcast it across a sound system at a crowded arena where I host a party to a million people? Probably not. But I’m only guessing, because I really have no idea what my rights are when I purchase a CD.

I am more familiar with what I am allowed to do with the printed word, especially if I am writing something of a scholastic nature, like this post for example. I learned that for the purposes of my college papers, I could quote whatever I wanted from someone else as long as I credited the source. In fact, quoting from another preferably scholastic paper added credibility to my own arguments. What I don’t know is if I have the right to subsequently publish what I wrote that contained said quoted material. What if I put it on my blog? I think I am still okay, because authors like to have their words shared, unlike musicians. I am not permitted to include song lyrics in my published work without permission from the song writer.

I believe I am free to use song titles, however, which usually are made up of lyrics. So perhaps I could also slip a few short phrases under the radar if I really needed  to include lyrics in a story. Or I could try to track down the performing artist and seek permission. I’ve thought about doing that for a slide show I made about the Ohio River while I was in college. I set it to the music, “Old Man River” performed by Bee Adair. I have no idea who Bee Adair is, where he (or she for that matter) lives, and even if he or she is still alive. It’s a pretty cool little slide show with some great shots of the Ohio River and people working or relaxing on the river, but it really isn’t much to look at without the music.

What really confuses me is YouTube. I can embed any YouTube video on my blog that I want to. They make it easy for you to do. I don’t think they would encourage it if it wasn’t permitted. So I can put a YouTube video of Journey’s “Can’t Tame the Lion” on my blog. Can I put my own slide show with “Can’t Tame the Lion” playing in the background on YouTube as a video and then on my blog?

Truthfully, I really don’t know. Do you?

Here’s hoping I fly under the radar yet again.

You can hear the complete song track by Journey, “Can’t tame the lion” on YouTube. If you’d like to read more about Journey, Mark Pakulak at The Idiot Speaketh has a wonderful post with photographs of Journey in his Music Flashbacks series. No animals were injured in the production of this video.

The artist in the photos, my son Matthew, says he doesn’t know what he is drawing until he begins with the black lines when he does this type of work. He also says that this is more about the process than the final result and that small short lines and quick ink spots make for an interesting time-lapse video.

The editor of the video, yours truly, needs a little work as noted by the clumsy ending. I bought the iMovie and iDVD for Dummies book, but in light of the restrictions on music, I may either need to learn how to create my own music via Garage Band, (note to self, order Garage Band for Dummies), or give up this hobby in its infancy and go back to knitting.

Tuesday’s two-minute movie – Chameleon Crazy

Well, this was actually going to be “Monday Movie—one day late.” I’m trying to really embrace this blogging culture. “Monday’s Movie,” “Tuesday’s Trauma,” “Wednesday’s. . .” well, I’ll get to Wednesday later. Anyway, I may not need one. I will probably have given up on this idea by then.

Then I remembered how my son informed me that my “Proof Copy” video was too long. So I wonder how long is too long? Is a two-minute movie okay? Aha. It’s Tuesday. I need a two-minute movie. Unfortunately I have a 7 minute and 41 seconds movie. Now is the perfect time to learn to edit my films.

You’ll see the cuts. Be patient with me; I’m still learning.

And the two minutes is more like two minutes and 46 seconds. I’m working on it.

Grote Ink productions not-so-proudly presents, Chameleon Crazy: or the hard way to remove invasive ivy from your garden.

See more posts about gardening in my series.