Friday Fictioneers: Sleepless…

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  This week’s prompt photo is from Doug, over at ironwoodwind.

Seeing the prompt, it wasn’t long before Con Air came to mind…I caught the flick again on TV, recently.  It’s crappier than I remembered.  But, past that, I found actual coordinates in the prompt photo, and tried to find the location.  Google Maps turned up blank, so I went to the map poster… Long story short, I got the coordinates in the wrong order.  I should’ve guessed by the file name, “keck”…the photo is of the W. M. Keck Astronomical Oservatory in Hawaii.  But the wrong coords. did give me an idea, so… Enjoy.

100 words

Photo Copyright © Douglas M. MacIlroy

I’d always dreamed of being a scientist.  You could picture me a young lad with a pen and a dorky grin; and boy, was I hungry for knowledge.  I felt alive.

Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself at the North Pole!  Calibrating instruments under harsh, isolated conditions, I cannot sleep a wink.  Worse, there appears to be a bug going around.  Stomach flu, perhaps.

Bad news.  One measly lung infection, and we’re quarantined?  And beyond my team, where is everybody?  And why am I still here?  I’m immune!  …Boy, am I hungry… I think I’ll eat Bob.

Participation is welcome to all.  The goal is to write a story, beginning-middle-end, in 100 words or less.  You are also encouraged to “think outside of the box.”

Click here to add yours or see what others have written for the prompt.

Visit Addicted to Purple for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers page, stories, and artwork.  You can follow her blog for the prompt each Wednesday.

Color Sense & Sensibility

I’ve been “color correcting”  the images taken with my camera phone for some time.  I put ‘correcting’ in quotes because it’s been done with my naked eyes—manually, attempting to fit the image with my vision, or close enough.

Much of the time the images come out bluish.  Color-balance with camera software on the phone is automatic without option, so there’s no way to get an even tone.

original (scaled)—taken 4/18, no more snow…
“corrected” (scaled, cropped)
But beyond the unsharpening to reduce JPEG ‘blockiness’ (prior to scaling), and RGB balance, I came across a bigger problem.  There were superfluous greens in the mix, and I’m not talking grass or moss.  The wood you see at the bottom of the original image, above (click to enlarge), is supposed to be bluish/purplish to the eye (how the bare wood returns light under a cloudy sky), not something turquoise with the camera.  Similar greenish blues show up with the tree barks.

Part of “correcting” this has been color rotation, moving some of the blue channel into the red to compensate.  For this particular scene, it took venturing outside a few times to see the desired colors.  And I know I’ve gone too far when the whites on trees turn orange…

Side note: all processing has been done with GraphicConverter and sometimes ColorIt (for effects and color grain reduction), using the Mac emulator.

Well, it turns out, I was on to something with the color rotation.

A while back, I had noticed that the rods of the Quartz heater, when lit, were showing up pinkish.  To the human eye, however, electrified Quartz emits an orange color.  At first, I thought the camera was picking up ultraviolet light.  So on Saturday, I did some testing…

(horiz.-sharpened to reduce motion blur)
The above image shows not only the pinkish, but the fact that the camera shows the rods visibly lit while my eyes did not; the heater was just starting up.  The camera is sensitive to light in ways the human eye is not.

In further testing, I used my glasses as a filter (they have a UV filter).  (I haven’t worn them though, in part because of a vein above my right ear—it gets pinched.  Not wearing my glasses may have contributed to my vision loss…)


It would seem UV pickup was a problem because the light through the lens comes out darker.  But upon wearing the glasses to view the new TV, the colors came out better.  Now, how could that be?  Turns out the glasses block some of the violet spectrum!  It’s no wonder I couldn’t fix the colors on the screen no matter the settings—the blue filter on the screen is letting through violet light!  Maybe that part of the spectrum wasn’t anticipated with the LED backlighting…

Back to the camera, curious about what I was dealing with I looked up what I could find for the camera’s spectral sensitivities, and how close it is (or would be) to human vision.  Guess what I found?

First, I couldn’t find the exact camera model for the phone, but it’s a Sony, apparently.  The smartphone is a Motorola Luge (2014 model), which is pretty much an enhanced version of the Droid Razr M/XT907, a 2012 model.

Second, the spectral sensitivity specs differ from camera to camera.  Some are better than others, of course.  You can download the 2012 PDF I found, detailing characteristics of several kinds of cameras here.  (NOTE: 9.6 MB !)

Third, not only do digital cameras not pick up UV light (to any significant degree, anyway), but they fall out of the violet spectrum as well.  So despite color correction software (also present in modern digital cameras), any given lens may not know blue from violet, or even pick up violet.  (Try shooting scenes in black light.)  I know my camera doesn’t translate violet into violet when viewing the TV, blue-only.

Lastly, the human eye does not see color in RGB.  And this is important—no camera that picks up RGB the way digital lenses do will see what we see, no matter the auto-correction software.  Here’s why, and what I’ve come to understand about the human eye.

Cone cells (which got the name because their tops have a physical shape of a cone) do not see RGB wavelength ranges, but short, medium and long wavelength ranges closer to magenta, cyan and yellow at their peaks.  Rod cells, which make up the majority of low-light vision, have a more narrow range.  (Because rods interfere with color processing, they’re usually deactivated during periods of normal light.)

(R denotes rod sensitivity range)
SVG source: Wikipedia
The cone ranges overlap a lot, so it’s in the subtraction of these natural overlaps that we get there’s an antagonistic nature when it comes to combining the cone signals for a relative color point.  In the outset, we get violet due to a second resonance of long range (L) wavelengths.  The second resonance in the graph above is clipped, but you can start to see L rise again (toward the left).

To produce one of the tens of millions of possible colors we see every some 50th of a second in exposure time, it takes hundreds to high thousands of photon hits.  This signal processing is so dense that it’s performed entirely in the retina.  The visual cortex in the brain works to process the eye’s signals into perceived colors.

In all, despite our advancements in technology, human vision is still far better than the conventional cameras we’ve made.  At the very least, rod cells each require only one photon to activate, and populate the eye to the count of roughly 125 million.  Only modern night-vision gear has improved upon our night-vision, albeit at lower resolutions.

…Well, that’s my 900-word two cents.  I know now that no digital camera that I know of will do photography justice, not just my own.

Thanks for reading, and if I’ve gotten anything wrong, feel free to tell me.

Friday Fictioneers: All Smoke and No Fire

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  This week’s prompt photo is from Roger Bultot.

At least one of the ideas I had were already used…and I already wrote an arson story… Well, this is one’s inspired by an actual case.  Enjoy.

100 words

Photo Copyright © Roger Bultot

“Those boys’re guilty!” yelled a town local.

“The ‘Satanic five’ stand accused of murdering Billy Sawyer, who was just five years old when his body was found in a—”

Gracie shut the TV.

“What is with this place?!” Gracie said.  “Satanic five??”

“You know the media hype things for ratings,” responded her husband.

“I cannot believe people buy into this…garbage.  Our son is not a killer!”

A window shattered downstairs.

Approaching the stairs, Gracie and Rob saw flames.

Scared to death, they quickly grabbed their son, and got out in time.

Damning evidence led to the arrest of Sawyer’s uncle.

Participation is welcome to all.  The goal is to write a story, beginning-middle-end, in 100 words or less.  You are also encouraged to “think outside of the box.”

Click here to add yours or see what others have written for the prompt.

Visit Addicted to Purple for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers page, stories, and artwork.  You can follow her blog for the prompt each Wednesday.

*Officially* Spring in Maine

You know it’s Spring when…


You can leave a photo untouched, already full of color, with the blue sky, greens, and browns of bark.

When you can walk outside without a jacket or coat, as I did in the afternoon.  Temperatures were in the upper 60s until sunset; only later did I put the jacket on.

When you can count the few remaining patches of snow.

Driveway—snow/slush small enough to be removed by hand
Beside the house
Front yard (littered a bit; notice the wood)
And who can forget, the little tree, now completely free of the white stuff.

Barely any color-correction needed for this photo—full sunlight.  (April 15)
These Spring photos sure beat the heck out of the bleak January ones…

Shot through a screen…
Let there be green!


Okay, not so much green yet as the leaves are all brown leftovers on the ground.  But they’ll grow back soon enough…

In the meantime, there’s plenty of oxygen to go around!  Aah, to just walk around and breathe…my brain thanks me for the O2, lol. :-D

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The $25 Million Fine Isn’t The Real AT&T-FCC Story


Great. Now with net neutrality, above and beyond, the FCC may act on the behalf of ‘privacy’ regulations too. NSA, FBI, the list goes on in just how the U.S. government cares about privacy…

(TechCrunch is powered by WordPress VIP.)

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Editor’s Note: J. Trevor Hughes is the president and chief executive officer of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

It’s easy to focus on big financial penalties. All of us intuitively feel the pain of writing the FCC a check for $25 million. But if you’re focusing on the monetary pay out in the FCC’s consent agreement with AT&T for a data privacy lapse, you’re missing the real story.

First, you need to be paying more attention to the agency that’s doing the fining here: the Federal Communications Commission. Notably, when President Obama launched his Privacy Bill of Rights effort in January of this year, he did it from within the bowels of the Federal Trade Commission, as the FTC has traditionally been the privacy cop on the beat serving and protecting U.S. consumers.

However, the FCC has now placed a badge firmly on its chest by delivering the…

View original 367 more words

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock


“Not functioning is not charming. Not being able to keep a job or friends isn’t cute. … Struggling all day, every day to even grasp some of the world around them isn’t amazing. …in real life, people have to live with the consequences.”

Yep, this August post still holds up today.

(Note: comments here are closed.  Go over to Parker’s post.)

Originally posted on yadadarcyyada:

1asp16I think it’s tragic that people have so many prejudices, especially about things they don’t understand. They don’t know what they’re missing.

Have you even known someone with: ALS,MS, Parkinson’s Disease, CP, Alzheimer’s, Tetanus, Pinched nerve, meningitis, Huntington’s Disease, Migraines, Epilepsy, Polio, stroke, or any of the other neurological disorder?

Would you tell someone who’d suffered a stroke to just talk properly? Unlikely.

Would you tell someone with ALS to stop being so lazy? No way.

Tell someone with Alzheimer’s they could remember if they just tried harder? Doubtful.

Someone with Parkinson’s to stop shaking, that they were just trying to get attention? Improbable.

Yet people with Autism are constantly told to grow up, smarten up, man up, stop being so lazy. People scoff, blame, bully, abuse, mock, make jokes, call names, etc.
Autism is a neurological condition just like any other. They have as much control over how…

View original 464 more words

Beginning to look like Spring

cleared snow

Most of the snow is gone, and the bare ground, with the leaves, should say it all.  Higher temperatures, above freezing, as high as 50°F—it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no precipitation, but even then the rain helps clear the snow.

tree free from snow

And there’s the small tree, now free from the snow, standing almost upright.  These photos don’t do the scenery justice as I can’t properly color-correct them.

So.  Tomorrow’s forecast: 61° and sunny. …But you never know, it could snow.  At least I can walk around freely, getting exercise that way, without having to deal with the white stuff.  The mud is less muddy and more like dirt.  (For now.)

Well, I wish I had more for today, but…nothing happens around these parts.  Have a good Sunday. …Man, life is flying me by…

Respect for defenseless animals…even pests

I know I’ve called the mice in the house ‘bastards’ many times.  They are pests, here, unwelcome guests that leave ‘gifts’ everywhere.  Everywhere.

But when you see one dying, it’s another story.  Here’s a brief account of what happened yesterday.

And it is pretty sad.  The poison causes internal bleeding, from what I remember.  Just to see the field mouse go in and out of consciousness…defenseless.  It would otherwise be cute if you didn’t know it has only minutes left on its life.  It unknowingly made its presence known to me by shifting around in the newspapers laid on the floor (the papers—a practice that came with the leaks in the house, and all the water damage…).  Some time later…

It moved on its own, almost willing to get somewhere, but it kept falling asleep.  Low blood oxygen will do that.  Once outside, my mother just turned over the tissue box, where the mouse plopped into the snow.

As an adult who suffers from undiagnosed medical issues and pains every day, I’ve said, I don’t want anyone to suffer.  Now I may have been a little cruel in the past, taking my misery out on other invaders in the house, but not anymore.  Just witnessing the mouse react to the cold, the snow, and drag itself forward, where I knew it would freeze to death—it wasn’t particularly horrific, but it was horrible enough.  So I nudged it back into the box.  It accepted.  Afterward, its breathing became sporadic.

The box was set near the corner of the house away from the back porch.  I checked outside some time later to find the interior of the box wet from splashes of water (it rained Friday).  The mouse was long-dead.  I thought about burying it for a moment, feeble as the thought was.

I take no pleasure in this.  I’d rather it/they not invade the house in the first place.  But once it’s done, it’s done.  Death happens, and life goes on.  Animals don’t understand the concept of death nearly as well as us, but they certainly move on.  Life can happen so fast, too; our bodies kill countless invaders within our blood all day long, where we get zero notification.

So we are all mortal here.  We have to protect ourselves, our family, our property, etc.  But cruelty to animals, even pests?  No.  No, you can count me out.