Thursday, 26 September 2013


Now for some reason, the idea of a photoblitz triggers the song "Ballroom Blitz" in my mind. Don't ask me why, it may be just the word blitz is common to both.

So I did my photo blitz at home over the lunch hour. My camera is at home, the strongest shadows occur at midday and my dog Pumpkin is there so I could take a picture of his paw (not that I included it in my list of five photos.) I actually took a series of photos of his tail, sharp and clear and then blurrier and blurrier for the abstract "is this really a photo" idea, but choose not to upload it. Taking the photos was a little stressful as I over think things so a time limit was helpful.

So why did I choose the photos I did? I chose my photo of the sky because it was almost perfectly uniform, something that rarely occurs. I took another one a few minutes later and it had changed again and had purple edges. I chose the photo of my face because it was a happy accident. I just turned the camera around, clicked and voila! It actually is a fairly good photo. I liked that it showed only half my face so that only my eyes are conveying emotion. I would have been better to leave the title blank and let someone else fill in the emotion though, so they could try and guess what was going through my mind at that time. The photo of the plant turned out nicely, with the leaves nice and crisp. And I love my upside down camera shot, another happy accident. Finally, I wanted a strong shadow picture and the chair created a nice contrast, though I wouldn't say it was an interesting shadow.

I think the best photos I took were the ones where I didn't think too much. I have an unfortunate tendency as an artist to overwork my pieces and am still learning to leave paintings alone! Perfectionism can kill a great painting or pot. I think it has to do with not trusting my judgement. Still learning to do that!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Headless Horseman

It's amazing what publishing your first sound does for you. It's gone right to my head and I am feeling downright cocky. So, this time when creating a sound, understanding the program was not as much of an issue as finding the right sound to do the Sound Story Project. Originally, I was thinking of the shower scene from Psycho, which gets so much of it's power from sound but I thought to myself this is a headless course. So instead, I chose Disney's version of the Headless Horseman. If you close your eyes, you can hear how frightening it is. Disney is a master at that. A childish image with frightening music and sounds. So I chose that as the framework for my piece, greatly reduced.
I used 6 different sounds to create my story: This one for the horse neigh, this one for splat at the end, this one for the wind, this one for the galloping horse (very crisp!), this for the sound of the sound of the sword and this for the maniacal laugh (quite frightening I thought.)
I imported the sounds into audacity, ordered them from first sound to last and cut some of them down to size. I used the wind sound first and used the envelop tool so I could overlay the galloping horse over top, but still hear the wind in the background for a portion of the horse galloping. I am wondering if I should have had the wind play longer. I may play with it a bit more later and try and duplicate the wind sound so it plays until the laughter begins. All of the other sounds began at the end of the others. A fun project!

Sunday, 22 September 2013


So  I've been playing with sound over the last few days. It has been a little frustrating partially because tools and devices that worked when a tutorial was built in 2008 or 2010 or 2012 may not be as useful as they once were due to the ever changing nature of software. It seems if you don't use a program regularly it may be completely unfamiliar when you open it again. So I have used Audacity before, but it has changed a bit so I did have to play around with it a little. Soundcloud was an issue because I needed to redo my password. And stripping an existing video of an image but keeping the sound will have to wait until later tonight. (Thanks everyone for the help and suggestions!)

I am very pleased to have gotten my DS106 Radio Bumper done. I do like this song by the Heifervescents. I've used it before. I like the beat, the lyrics and the ahahahah. I did use a tutorial to help with the process. Originally I thought I would have to do an overdub but instead I used a narration tutorial which was a much easier process. I recorded my voice, trimmed it using the cut tool, amplified it and then added the track after I had cut it down too. I ended up cutting out the ahahahahs. I then used the time shift key to move my voice track to where I wanted it and then used the envelope key to soften the background music. I may have softened it too much. I also don't like the way I said asleep but I can live with it for now. Off to strip a video!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Storytelling, TVSZ and what I learned this week by being a zombie.

This past week on Headless 2013 we've been discussing storytelling,the arc of stories and Kurt Vonnegut's idea that stories have a shape. Well, I loved both the infographic and the video of Kurt Vonnegut discussing the shapes of stories. I had never thought of it that way but as soon as you do, you can completely see it. It is said that the gift of genius is the ability to see what others don't and then be able to explain it. Lovely to see it in action. What a great sense of humour Kurt Vonnegut had. The infographic helped solidify my understanding and was very helpful.

Now over the weekend, I succumbed to the lure of #TvsZ. Twitter vs. Zombies 3.0 is the brain child of Jesse Stommel and Pete Rorabaugh from Hybrid Pedagogy. The game is played by members of different university classes or online education groups such as OOE13. I'd played before and was very happy to play again. What's not to like about a story/game that unfolds and changes every 12 hours with new rules? As always, I started as human (I think the organizers are afraid of letting me start as Patient Zero-everyone would be a zombie by the end of the day. I am a very dedicated zombie.) and was turned within the first two to three hours of the game. Once again I became a zombie. But this time I had a #zombiegirlfriend  @barbiez2013. Now @barbiez2013 was a Twitter newbie, didn't have a blog and was, at the beginning, upset about being turned into a zombie (she was zombified before me.) We started direct messaging each other and we became a team, deciding on a target and pursuing them until we were successful. She quickly began understanding the nuances of twitter (much faster than I had) and within the game time period started a blog, uploaded video and pictures (a very similar learning curve of my own experience with TvsZ 2.0.) Together we turned Mariana Funes. Now Mariana struggled mightily with the whole idea of being a zombie, and she decided she was going to be a compassionate zombie, similar to the zombie character of Warm Bodies (new to me). She quickly got over that, but the idea she presented, that of a zombie who was able to absorb memories, stayed with me. And I began to write my blog posts as if zombies were driven not just by hunger, but by the desire to know people. To really understand their fellow human at the point of their demise. And lo and behold, a story emerged. Even though my blog posts were designed as #overrun attempts to destroy human #safezones while a zombie, a story emerged of a creature who lived not only for flesh but the sweetness and addiction to the memories of others. So when you destroy a zombie, do the dead finally, utterly die?

So what type of story curve is my human/zombie/human/zombie narrative that is found on Twitter and my blog and others during TvsZ? I started human, but was a happy killer as a zombie, I was reluctantly converted to a superhuman because of the wrench of leaving my zombie horde (we all feed together) and then in mid post let my inner zombie out again. I am wondering is this curve a Cinderella story? Or because of its ambiguity is it a Which Way is Up story line? I waver between the two but lean more to the Which Way is Up camp.

Now this time around, what did I gain from playing TvsZ? Well for one thing, I have finally wrestled Windows 8 into submission (enough that I should be able to participate fully in Headless DS106 I hope, though I am having issues with Soundcloud for some reason.) I have Movie Maker on my computer now, I can take photos with the webcam and I latched onto AudioBoo to make sounds to share on Twitter. It also was a great vehicle for promoting writing, both on Twitter and on my blog. I was very surprised at how attached I became to my alter zombie ego as a writer. And as always, I gain immeasurably from the interaction with others. I've gained some new friends, been delighted by the creativity of others and played a great game of hide and go seek/tag.

And when Twitter vs. Zombies 4.0 comes out? I'll be there!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Superhuman! My return from the dead, maybe.

I've been rendered a human again,  a gift of love from @JLVala. It's been odd to return to my human form, especially since I was a zombie almost from the beginning of the plague. As a zombie, I was a ruthless killer, hunting down unsuspecting prey, trapping them, relentlessly stalking humans. I was at the whim of my all consuming hunger. And it is all consuming. It is surprisingly hard to let go of that drive to eat, maim and hunt.

To be honest, I still feel disconcerted by my rapid transformation from zombie to human. I still have the memories of that time, and they are disconcerting. Sometimes I wonder if the antidote really worked? Am I fully human again? I see the writing of my fellow humans as they flee in terror and secretly, am I cheering on the zombies? And yet, how can that be? Before I was turned by @barbiez2013, I was a regular everyday person, went to work, cooked, walked the dog, regular.

Now as I gaze upon my husband I wonder how his heart and brains would taste, what would it be like to KNOW what he really thinks. And I know this is wrong but there is still a portion of me that is NOT disgusted by this. But already my zombie memories are fading and perhaps in time, I may be able to recover my sense of self.

Yet I know that because I am superhuman now, that because I am able to walk among the dead with immunity that my home is really the last, best, safest place to store the last dregs of humanity as I leave my safe haven to fight the zombie hordes. Come to my house where you can be safe for a little while. I'll provide the food:

And a deck with a view:
Don't fear me, just because I still have the sweet taste of flesh seared into my brain, that I want to twine my hands around your neck and pull your head close to mine and suck your brains out of your nose. Think of this as my love song to you, to release you from your pain and share your life story. And I now carry so many life stories.....

I crave, I hunger, I want to bless you with my kiss of death and the bliss of warm human flesh. I go to feed because it is what I do. I cannot resist the lure any longer. Come to my house, where you'll be safe.....

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Out of gas

Let me sing you a lullaby as we lull you to sleep.

Life is short and painful
but death is long and deep.
In life, friends are fleeting,
in death they're the ones you eat.
Slip the chains of your mortality,
Enter the depths of calm,
Being undead is so moving,
you'll wonder why you waited so long.

much love and kisses


It is lonely where you are.

You are alone.

No human can rescue you.

But we offer love and companionship, friendship and food sharing.

Embrace the zombie horde.

We love you, we will cherish you, we will savour you.

Come into the light so we might welcome you.

On Behalf of @barbiez2013 (who needs to start a blog for the good of humanity!)


(POSTERS NOTE:  I am posting this on behalf of my girl @barbiez2013 because she can't figure out how to use this "computer dolly thingy" -- her words, not mine.)

As I sat and read @rljessen's bloggy thingy, tears welled up in my once almond shaped eye.  (I'm down one eye -- I think it's somewhere in Piedmont Park, reward for safe return.) 

@rljessen makes it clear that she is not only anti-Zombie, which can be excused as necessary for survival, but she is also an elitist who regards blondes, and other non-academics, as worthless.  This stance ultimately makes her dangerous to all of us as Americans, whether Zombie or human.

Her prejudice is illustrated by the following:

1.  She makes the ridiculous suggestion that ALL Zombies are headless.  This is totally untrue!!!  I, and all my Zombie girlfriends (including, but not limited to, @karenatsharon and @ATLSockMonkey), still have heads that are very intact, thank you very much.  Sure an eye has been lost here and there.  An ear perhaps  . . . but heads are all accounted for.

Don't think we don't recognize this thinly veiled attempt to associate headlessness with terror and fear from childhood.  We all read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  You are quite simply pandering to baser instincts and should be ashamed.  Just because I don't have a PhD, doesn't mean I can't read, Ms. Jessen, or Dr. Jessen.  Whatever!

2.  Your suggestion that your fellow professors have lost their value because they are now Zombie is equally insensitive.  Have you been playing this game? Have you even been watching?  Have you seen how we have banded together?  #girlpower  How family bonds have traveled through to the undead lifestyle? @allistelling and @ATLSockMonkey.

Maybe you haven't been reading, but you should.  You should read before you speak -- especially when you have young, innocent, yummy brain-filled, warm blooded, yummy, young, nubile, yummy   . . .  students who look up to you.

3.  I'm too emotional to speak about your comments relating to my zombie, sister-girl @karenatsharon.  Suffice to say, she continues to live a full and vital life and is valued by her new Zombie family.  In fact, she is standing up for me at my wedding tonight.

4.  You encourage cowardice.  How can you feed into such Zombie stereotypes?  You know,  we are not in a 1940s horror movie!

Are we watching?  Yes.  As you sleep in your beds at night?  Maybe.  While you cook dinner for your yummy little human children?  Perahps.  That's all beside the point.  I haven't eaten you yet, have I?  Not yet . . .

All of these points clearly demonstrate that you have no regard for anyone that is different from you, whether they be blonde, or Zombie, or non-professor types.  Your continued use of this vibrant forum to attempt to turn humans (both American AND even Canadian I am now told) against Zombies is just plain wrong, Madame.  Left unchecked, who knows what you can do.

Consider yourself checked AND #overrun.


Ms.  Millicent Udeceased a/k/a @barbiez2013

You can run but you can't hide...

I don't think it is right that I am being made to feel like I am the Big Bad Wolf chasing down the Three Little Pigs.

A zombie girl has got to eat.

And I love chocolate. So please eat lot's of chocolate. And then you'll be a lovely sweet treat. Look @barbiez2013 loves chocolate too!

So come out, come out, come out
Wherever you are!


Eating educators for Supper

My dear friends,
How sad that you mourn my passing to the undead. I feel your pain and would love to alleviate it. And I will. I realize you have fled to a #safezone in a feeble attempt to hide from the growing zombie horde but you will be assimilated. Yes, you will experience a brief moment of pain, but the joy of consuming the flesh , memories and experiences of others actually enhances the zombie bond.

Here in the land of the zombies I have witnessed true love, love for each other and for the love of human flesh. Our needs are simple. We need to feed.

While Pete Rorabaugh fled from @barbiez2013 now they work as willing partners. Where Brendan once fled from us in horror he now willing embraces the task. We work as a team, we provide for each other, we share our kill. JR Dingwall and Christina Hendricks now happily hunt together.

We even sing to each other to give each other solace and understanding.

And even though you deride us for our never ending hunger for brains, are you not constantly working on improving yours? And if not to give it to us, what is the purpose? Your hard work should be rewarded. Bigger brains means better food for us! So you'll not have studied in vain.

We will love you. We will cherish your sweet flesh. To us you are precious and tasty, as sweet as the first succulent strawberries of spring. Just a little bigger (and a little bloodier.)

Welcome to the Zombie Horde.
We love you.

Renovations made easy

The beautiful thing about being a zombie is that we're not house proud. We'll live in anything and anywhere.
We'll live down here quite happily, as long as we're fed regularly. And we're equal opportunity eaters. We'll eat everyone. Hoping to make your renovations part of my memories!

Zombie Living

While most of you think of us as undead, zombies do have a sense of style. Since we require human flesh to survive we often find ourselves living on the edges of society.
In places like this:
Not very pretty is it? No wonder we want to move in with you. Nice home, good food, loving family. We welcome the opportunity to share space with you! Invite us in.

And death? Death comes to us all my friend.


Zombies think of little else than food. How to get food, where to get food and how to get food. We need the flesh of a living human to survive, but not only that, we need their souls. For a few brief minutes as we slowly suck on the warm fresh heart of our dinner, we feel the warmth and joy of life that we have surrendered unwillingly to the zombie horde flood back into our bodies. It is ecstasy.

We did not ask for this. We are the product of humanity's hubris in tinkering with the code of life. An aberrant mutation, improperly stored resulted in Patient Zero and from his slavering mouth spread the infection that threatens you. This is simply a re-balancing of nature.

I crave warmth, I crave your memories of laughter, kisses, chocolate and love. Open the door, so I may run my tongue over the sweetness of your flesh and let your blood coat my throat as your very essence is absorbed into mine. I love you. I hunger for you. Be mine.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Gravatars and Blogger

So now I know why DS106 wanted me to use Wordpress instead of Blogger. It's because of the gravatar, a relatively simple thing to set up for Wordpress (which I have done) but a horribly convoluted mess in Blogger. I was working my way through reading other Headless13 blogs, when I came across one of my posts. Why no gravatar? But I let it go because I was intent on reading a post by Christina Hendricks. As I was writing a response to Christina's post it hit me why my gravatar wasn't showing up. It's because Wordpress uses a different email account while I use a separate email address for this blog. So I have spent half of the day (off and on) reading far more than I would care too about how to add a gravatar to Blogger. Needless to say there was differing advice, some good and some bad.

Now this is why I love the ds106 community so much. I hopped on over to Twitter and asked my gravatar question and lo! verily! within 2 minutes there was an answer from Ben Rimes kindly sent me a website to help through the process. Much better resource than I had found.

Of course with typical luck, half way through the process we had a fire in the building and I had to vacate. I shut down the computer and hoped that this morning all would be well, and it was. I started the process from midpoint and then it got scary. Why? Because I goofed up the directions a bit (I downloaded my template instead of saving it) and I was replacing code. For some reason, I have an unreasoning fear of mucking about with html, probably because of my near legendary ability to inadvertently destroy programs. (Hard to believe I actually have a degree in Instructional Technology sometimes, which I achieved by being extremely persistent- some might say stubborn!) I have no idea if I was successful or not in moving my gravatar to this blog and won't until I publish this article (especially since Blogger kept saying that I had unsaved changes that I would lose if I left the page). And if I haven't attached my gravatar I guess I'll just start again (if I can!)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

What storytelling is to me.

So DS106 Headless has asked me to reflect on the idea of what I associate with the word storytelling? Um, that's tough because I basically tell stories all the time. Someone asks about my day and the next thing I'm doing is conveying a story. "Fine, how about you" rarely leaves my lips unless you're walking down the hall. If you're stationary I'll have you pinned against the wall and be weaving a story about something before you realize you've been ambushed. A little embellishment here, a little emphasis there and before you know it I've told you a tale. And guess what? I'm waiting for your tale back!
I usually associate storytelling with laughter because if you know me you'll know that most likely I'll be telling you about something I or a member of my family has done that I find humorous. I was lucky to be raised with a family with a sense of humour and aunts and uncles with a zest  for telling stories. And while I do not have the same brilliant way with words as some of them, I do, I believe, have a gift for recognizing the absurd. And because I do, perhaps I am lucky that it finds me. Regularly.

"So I went down to the Outer Banks for the first time last week. I hadn't been to the sea in over a year and last time it was along the north shore of Prince Edward Island, unfortunately during the time of the jelly fish. Lots and lots of jelly fish. Jelly fish bobbing along the shore, jelly fish in the small tidal pools, jelly fish dying on the shore. And it's not like you're going to pick them up and rescue them is it?

The Outer Banks are gorgeous with beautiful beaches and big waves, which means riptides (not something I had to worry about in Prince Edward Island!). There are pelicans and I was shouting out pelican! pelican! like a demented two year old for the first few days every time I saw one. And they were fishing off the shore and flying in formation. I didn't know pelicans flew in groups like that.

Now I was determined to get into the water everyday I was there because I don't often have a chance to swim in the ocean so even though there was a brisk wind and waves I coaxed my friend Cindy into the water. We're swimming and it was quite deep for the first few feet and then we hit a sandbar so we were walking in the water, first below our knees and then to our thighs and then above our heads. The swells were great, the water was warm and it was wonderful. As we headed back to the shore the waves became more forceful and I got hit and tumbled a few times before I made it back to the beach. Since I was wearing my glasses (yes I know! I took them off after that and didn't wear them into the ocean,) every time a wave crashed over my head, I had one hand on my glasses and one on my hat.

We climbed to shore and for some reason my swimsuit was tugging at my waist but I thought it was the wind. I grabbed at my swimsuit a few times and then proceeded to watch the waves, swim again and then finish off in the salt water swimming pool before heading up to change for dinner. I stepped into the shower, removed my swimsuit bottoms and out drops a silver fish about three and half inches long, quite, quite dead. Obviously the wind had not been tugging at my knickers to get out. Yes, while other people need to get a lure and a line, I can just catch fish with my pants."

Now how could this story have been improved? Digitally of course. I didn't even think of taking a picture and I don't have a waterproof camera, but wouldn't a picture have been awesome? I should have gotten dressed and grabbed my camera! That way I would have had proof!

Sometimes an image can stand alone, sometimes it needs words to put it into context. Images, because they require no translation, are very powerful. However, would the image of a dead fish laying beside my swimsuit bottoms really convey much of the story I just told? Not really. But they would have made my fish story even better. A picture with a caption helping define the context would also work. Maybe a caption like: New fishing method delivers startling results! But still, I do like my story. I think I am a much better writer than I am photographer.

But digital can mean any medium and we shouldn't be constrained by the idea of just words and images. It can be sounds, movies, drawn art, anything that conveys our ideas.

P.S. Look! Pelicans! Pelicans!