SignEdge: Astronomy Day – Get Your Space

I Need My Space
“I Need My Space – Celebrating Astronomy Day”

Astronomy Day is celebrated twice a year, spring and fall. The spring holiday occurs between April and May each year. This year it will take place on May 14th. Be sure to get your celebratory garb such as the T-Shirt above!

Learn more about Astronomy Day by clicking the link <-- Picture Via originally published this post

See previous SignEdge posts HERE
Just for SignEdge wine or beer labels HERE

STATUS QUOtes — 20160430

“To be original you don’t have to be first. You just have to be different and better.” — Adam Grant

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” — C. S. Lewis

“They say money won’t buy you happiness, but it will pay for the search.” — Prince

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” — Franklin P. Jones originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

STATUS QUOtes — 20160429

“The heart is forever inexperienced.” — Henry David Thoreau

“As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.” — Julius Caesar

“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” — Paul Tillich

“Nothing lasts as long as a suit you don’t like.” — Unknown originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

STATUS QUOtes — 20160428

“It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.” — Claude Bernard

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.” ― Lou Holtz

“No great artist ever sees things they way they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.” ― Oscar Wilde

“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” ― Bill Watterson originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

Modern Day Photographs in Artistic Styles

There are many cultures around the world that accept domestic animals as non-human members of the family group. These connections often grow strong even when the pet is a bird, gerbil, etc. Dogs and cats, however seem to form a deeper connection with their human family members and often are treated anthropomorphically.

Artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge touched upon this relationship when he painted dogs in parlor scenes and other human situations. These originated as an advertising tool before they were soon elevated to an art their own.

Today I believe we have a modern-day practitioner of this fine art with a bit of a twist. Tracy Willis is an exquisitely talented photographer. It is easy, when looking at these works, to be captivated without realizing the painstaking effort it takes to create them. Accept my word for it because I have tried (to some degree).

Let’s look at one image that reminded me of Coolidge’s work:

Dogs Playing Poker by Tracy Willis ala Coolidge

“Dogs Playing Poker by Tracy Willis reminiscent of Cassius Marcellus Coolidge”

Look at the attention to detail! The dogs aren’t just sitting there like dogs, they are like people. The one on the right is wearing a sport cap, the pooch in the middle has a tie while the leftmost pup appears to have britches. Did you notice the painting on the wall? A lady dog! This is very clever indeed.

Praying Bedtime Bunny with Teddy Bear
“Praying Bedtime Bunny with Teddy Bear by Tracy Willis”

This is an “Ahhh moment” picture of a bunny praying. It is emotional fantasy at its best. What bunny wouldn’t also want to have a Teddy Bear? Using books as the platform for reaching the bed is just the right touch!

Bedtime Hamster with Book and Cookie

“Bedtime Hamster with Book and Cookie by Tracy Willis”

This (above) is an adorable picture. Once again, the seemingly small details add so much. The cookie and crumbs close the circle of composition by leading the eye back toward the middle of the photograph. When looking at these works of art, we are drawn to examine all items including the upside down cup/table and thus the cookie easily draws the eye back to the middle.

There is more here than meets the eye. This is an excerpted photograph of a live hamster; not a drawing. All of the animals in these pictures were part of a photograph and not artistically recreated. Thus the hamster was composited into the picture,i.e. the hamster was isolated from a photograph and inserted into another picture with the other elements already there or also composited.

Can we imagine what is involved? If you have ever tried to isolate and remove an element from a picture, even with today’s advanced software, you will understand that it is far from easy; especially to achieve such clean edges and superb blending.

It is one thing to think of the idea for such a picture which is clever and creative in and of itself. Then the creator needs to decide which elements to include. What will make this a great picture rather than just a good one? Lastly, but not least, is the execution, ergo artistry. Tracy Willis has done all of the above and done it with flare!

Dogs in a Vespa on a First Date

“Dogs in a Vespa on a First Date by Tracy Willis”

In the picture above, the motion of the Vespa is totally believable because of the positioning of the dog’s ears, their posture and the blending of the roadway and grassy areas to give the appearance of motion.

I need to point out that Tracy is not best known for this type of work and when you visit her website and check out her About Page you will realize that she has garnered many awards and is noted for her newborn photography. As you have witnessed here, however, she is far from one dimensional.

Let’s just take a quick look at two other pieces of her work that I found both beautiful and representative of her craftsmanship.

This photograph of a boy and girl reading a book could have been from the Renaissance era. It is done in the style of a chiaroscuro painting with the strong contrast of light and dark and with the light coming predominantly from one direction.

Boy and Girl Reading done in a Renaissance Style
“Boy and Girl Reading done in a Renaissance Style by Tracy Willis”

And this picture…just look at those eyes! They eyes are the doorway to the soul. If you were the parent of this boy wouldn’t you just love to have this picture?

Soulful Boy with Toy Trunk
“Soulful Boy with Toy Trunk by Tracy Willis”

You can see more of Tracy’s Animal Antics pictures by checking out that gallery after clicking the link, but while you are at it, look at the other galleries as well. You won’t be disappointed!

We don’t want to spoil the illusion here, but this is art we are speaking of and on her blog, Tracy Willis provides some clues about how she creates these masterpieces of composite photographic artistry.

‘First Date’ a look behind the scenes at how I create my art


‘Bedtime Story’ a look behind the scenes of my latest hamster picture

PS – If, by any chance, you are a struggling photographer or a photographer ‘wannabe,’ read Tracy’s inspirational article: Don’t ever give up…..


Full Disclosure:

I first heard about Tracy Willis via this article – I Make Photos of Dogs Being Humans

The titles under the pictures are mine and not that of Tracy Willis. (I use them as tags so photographs can be easily found on the Internet.)

NOTE – All photographs are used with permission of photographer Tracy Willis. They are Copyrighted with All Rights Reserved.

Special Thanks to Tracy for allowing me to share her work and enjoy her creativity! originally published this post

See previous posts about talented and extraordinary photographers HERE

Pickleball – You Make the Call – 20160427- Q& A

The Question:

Player A and B are involved in a rally against opponents C and D and the ball is coming their way. Player B notices that the ball is going to be short and he starts to run toward the net. He gets to the ball about halfway between the baseline and the NVZ and moving forward is able to drop the ball over the net.

The ball lands on the other side where neither player (C or D) can return it before it bounces twice. After the second bounce, however, player B’s momentum carries him into the net where he touches it.

Is this a fault on the part of player B?


The Answer according to USAPA Rules:

Below is the pertinent section from the The International Federation of Pickleball Rule Book (p. 28, Revision April 15. 2016)


7.E. A player, player’s clothing, or any part of a player’s paddle touches the net or the net post when the ball is in play.”

The operative words in the scenario described above are “before it bounces twice.” Which, according to rule 7.E., the ball was then dead and not in play so this would NOT BE A FAULT.

NOTE: This is NOT THE SAME as the NVZ where momentum cannot bring a player into the NVZ even after the ball has bounced twice, i.e. dead.


To See Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here

Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos!

STATUS QUOtes — 20160427

“Every night we go to bed,without any assurance of being alive the next morning but still we set the alarm to wake up ..That’s called HOPE!” — Unknown

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein

“Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble.” — Carl Jung

“A dialogue is a good monologue spoiled by somebody else talking.” — Peter Ustinov originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

Muster Stations Everyone – Off to Nagasaki, Japan

After a bit more than three days in Tokyo, we boarded a cruise ship to head to other interesting Japanese ports. Whoever coined the phrase,“Getting there is half the fun”, must have had cruising in mind. We certainly enjoy the restful days and evenings at sea while reliving the novelties of the day and anticipating those to be next.

Here is a panorama from the deck of our ship soon after boarding. It was a very nice, sunny day at the pier.

Panorama from the deck of the Diamond Princess in Tokyo

As we strolled the deck to review the location of important ship venues, we found this beleaguered Noctuid moth (perhaps a positive omen of some sort!).

An interesting Noctuid moth resting on the deck of the ship

The first port of call was Nagasaki and the day was appropriately bleak for visiting this somber, historic site. The grayness and drizzle lent to the solemnity of the occasion. For those too young to know or remember, Nagasaki was the site of the second atomic bomb detonation by the US during WWII.

We were brought to the Nagasaki Peace Park and one of the very first things that grabbed my attention was this large statue known as The Prayer Monument for Peace created by Nishimo Kitamura.

The Prayer Monument for Peace, Nagasaki

Among the symbolism

  • The right arm (pointing to the) sky means the threat of (an) A-bomb.
  • The left arm stretching horizontally means the peace.
  • And the closed eyes means praying for the victims of A-bomb.

The Prayer Monument for Peace, Nagasaki

As we continued to walk south, we noticed what appeared to be an old foundation which we later learned was the ruins of the Urakami Branch of Nagasaki Prison that was located at the site. All of the 134 prisoners reportedly remanded there at the time were killed.

ruins of the Urakami Branch of Nagasaki Prison

As one might expect, the peace theme predominates. The Peace Bell statue depicts small children holding up a bell similar to the bell of the Urakami Cathedral which was destroyed in the blast.

The Peace Bell<

The Peace Bell Closeup

Fortunate visitors can find Iinosuke Hayazaki, member of the Nagasaki Peace Movement Association, at the park explaining how he experienced the blast as a fourteen year old. His life was spared because his supervisor changed his working location at the weapons factory that day. (Read more here)

Iinosuke Hayazak atomic bomb survivor, Nagasaki

As part of a ritual “cleansing,” people can water flowers and plants that are near the peace bell where Iinosuke Hayazaki sometimes stands.
Watering flowers as a ritual cleansing

A distance away from this statue, at the south end of the park, is the circular Fountain of Peace.

Fountain of Peace, Nagasaki

The fountain was constructed for the souls of Atomic bomb victims who died searching for water.

Fountain of Peace, Nagasaki

Near the Fountain of Peace is a brick walled staircase which is an entryway and exit for those walking to the park. It was festooned with a beautifully juxtaposed wave of flowers.

Beautiful flower garden stairway, Nagasaki Peace Park

Part of the walkway near the fountain was constructed of red and grey bricks to symbolize flames, heat and explosion.

Symbolic walkway symbolizing explosion, Nagasaki

A Peace Symbols Zone was established in the park and other nations, states, etc., from around the world have contributed monuments in support of peace and against nuclear proliferation.

“‘Constellation Earth’ from St. Paul, Minnesota, USA (Nagasaki’s sister city), 1992; the plaque reads: ‘The seven human figures represent continents. The interdependence of the figures symbolizes global peace and solidarity.'”
Via Wikipedia

Peace Park Statue from Minnesota, USA

and Brasil

Peace Park Statue from Brasil

Yet another solemn memorial was a black cenotaph which marked the hypocenter of the explosion.

Cenotaph marking the hypocenter of the Nagasaki bomb explosion

Cenotaph marking the hypocenter of the Nagasaki bomb explosion

There are signs and statistics detailing the explosion.

“More than 2.5 square miles of land were leveled. Tens of thousands of homes were either entirely burnt, reduced to rubble or partially destroyed. With an estimated population of 240,000 close to 74,000 perished and nearly 75,000 were injured.”

Not wanting the world to forget, and perhaps to serve as a warning, there were other statues portraying the horror of the event.

Monument to mothers and children killed by the atomic bomb, Nagasaki

“The mother’s plea for peace and prayers as she shelters her child. This statue by Naoki Tominaga commemorated the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing at its hypocenter in Nagasaki.”

A mother's prayer for peace statue by Naoki Tominaga, Nagasaki

As we made our way to the Atomic Bomb Museum we passed the decorative tower which, by special permission from Greece, temporarily held the Olympic flame.

“Received by the City of Nagasaki from Greece in 1983, the Flame of Commitment burns to symbolize the pledge that Nagasaki shall remain the last city on Earth to experience nuclear devastation, that nuclear war shall never again be waged, and that there shall be no more bomb victims. The construction of the monument was undertaken to promote this pledge and commitment, and the flame of peace continues to burn.”


The Atomic Bomb Museum housed much of the history and artifacts related to the Nagasaki bombing.

Among the items was a replica of the A-bomb, code named Fat Man, which was dropped over Nagasaki.

Replica of the Atomic Bomb dropped on Nagasaki

There was a display of glass bottles that melted from the heat of the blast.

Glass bottles melted by the heat of the Nagasaki A-Bomb

Shards of stained glass shown below were displayed and some were so strongly heated, they formed balls.

Shards of melted stained glass, Nagasaki

Perhaps most poignant was this metal helmet containing remains of a human skull.

Metal helmet with remains of a human skull, Nagasaki

On the way back to our tour bus, we passed the Gold Peace Statue constructed to commemorate the lives of students and teachers lost in the bomb blast.

Statue in Memory of School children & Teachers, in front of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

While this was a “heavy” visit, it was an interesting part of history. On the way out of town, I couldn’t help but notice all of the criss-crossed wires and cables along the side streets which reminded me of a long ago era.

Cables and wires across a street in Nagasaki, Japan

Read more about our trip to Japan in 2015:

STATUS QUOtes — 20160426

“At the feast of ego, everyone leaves hungry.” — Confucius

“Life isn’t always the way it’s suppose to be, it’s the way it is.” — Tom Zegan

“The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” — Benjamin Franklin

“What my mother believed about cooking is that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you.” — Nora Ephron originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE