Game of Thrones Season 7 Poster

So I probably was a bit late to the party for game of thrones.  I heard a lot of the hoopla, but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to commit.  I watch too many shows and at times it gets overwhelming trying to keep up.  My DVR is loaded and I feel like I am always trying to play catch up.  It is actually kind of stressful.  Add into that, the fact that I am addicted to reality shows, do-it-yourself shows, survival shows, and many sports.  It probably took me until season three of GOT to actually start watching.  I like this better because if you want you don’t have to wait a whole week, or months between seasons to get onto the next episode if the cliffhanger is too much to bear.  LOL!

In the past I followed a tutorial and made my own game of thrones poster art based on the year’s poster and I think it came out OK.  Check it out.

I followed a tutorial online.  It took forever to get the lettering and I had to play with the bevel and emboss for a long time.  I think I finally gave up and used a version of the font online to create this.

This year the poster appealed to me again.   I love the simplicity and power of the main character’s faces up close and the blue color.  I decided right away that I wanted to recreate it and so I did.  Here is a look at the current poster of Tyrion.  My favorite is Sansa, don’t know why but I used Tyrion as a model for creating my own.

I decided to attempt a recreation myself.  My photoshop skills are a bit rusty because I have been spending most of my time taking and editing photographs.  But here is the steps I took to create my image.

1-  The first step I took is very important.  Make sure you get a good starting image!  I had my wife quickly take a photo of me looking serious.  My lighting sucked and the picture was blurry.   I decided to go on anyway and try to make the best of it by doing my own shadows and highlights and sharpening.  No matter what I did the image was going to look like shit.  Here is my original starting image:

This is actually slightly edited.  I wasn’t planning on doing a tutorial and tossed out the original and untouched image.  This one has been sharpened as much as possible and it looks terrible.  When my wife walked in I showed her how bad it looked.  I was kind of concerned that my new camera was taking crappy shots and so she insisted we try again.  I was lazy but we finally opted to use the soft box to get some decent lighting on the side of my face and go to the old faithful 50mm lens.

The above is the image we ended up with.  At first we shot it with the Gary Fong Lightsphere on but then turned it off to get a more dramatic lighting effect like the original poster.  I was very happy with the improvement and proceeded to knock out the image.

The next step I did was to get rid of some of the blemishes.  I even got rid of the mole because even though it isn’t a big deal it is a bit distracting and then I decided to add the blue hue to the image.  This step was a challenge because it didn’t look right or natural, in fact here is how it looked.

I just didn’t like how unnatural it looked.   To fix this I decided to add a black and white adjustment layer over the original to accentuate the darks and lights and to more seemlessly blend the blue with the image.  I added a black and white adjustment and adjusted the sliders on the red to -41 and then tweaked the others until I was happy.  The result was much better then simply adding a blue color layer over the top with a blending mode.  Here is the result of that:

You can tell that the result is a bit more organic and the image jumps out at you a bit more.  There really wasn’t much more to do to the image.  I looked online for falling snow and found an image to slap over the top and I set it to screen.  I masked out the snow flakes that were distracting to the image over the eyes and other parts of the face.  I then took added the words “WINTER IS HERE” as well as the showtime logo and the starting date to make it look official:

The only thing I had left was to make the dynamic blue eye that is prominent in the GOT posters.  They all seemed to have the same reflection, which probably means something but I am not quite sure what.  After playing with the pupil and trying to match the blue color and reflection I decided to be lazy and just directly copy and paste the eye from Tyrion onto my own.  Here is the final result of my work:

I hope you enjoyed this mini tutorial and please feel free to leave me any questions or comments.

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How to start your daughter playing volleyball

Of all the sports I find that I love watching women’s/girl’s Volleyball.  The men’s is OK but a little fast paced.  I like girls because more technique is required and less hard spiking the ball out of the gym.  I knew my kid was going to be athletic because me and her mom are.  I wanted to get her into volleyball and had no idea where to start.  Please excuse the fact I mentioned this in my last post title “Volleyball Dreams”.

I started googling ways to get your kid into volleyball and there were no good resources out there.  I found a lot about other sports, but hardly any about this great sport?  So I was at work talking to my co-worker and she mentioned her going to her daughter’s game that night and so I started asking a lot of questions.  My girl was quite young but I wanted to start early.  She mentioned getting balloons and practicing fundamentals, which I thought was a great idea.  I went home and we played around in the living room for hours and it was quite fun but there was not much else I could teach her.

After making numerous calls I found out that Sportscom in Murfreesboro does a clinic every Thursday for girls and it only cost $3.  I happened to be off on Thursdays and so I took her.  When I got there she was the smallest one because she was honestly too young to start.  You were supposed to be at least 8 and she was 6 years old.  The instructor Miche, was really nice and embraced her and was patient and she helped to get Yasmine into the game.  We would get there early often and I would work with her on passing.  One day Miche asked if I played and I said I did in the past.   She immediately signed me onto her Thursday night league team and I began to help her coach the girls.  Eventually she would have to stop coming for her job as a teacher and I would take over the beginner’s side.

So, my advise if you want to get your daughter in volleyball is to start young.  Do the balloon thing.  I also set up a ghetto net in my yard and played with her on that.  Finally I found the perfect setting at Sportscom, which I am sure you can find in other towns.

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The 2016 Election Fiasco

This year’s election has been insane to say the least.  I am not a political person at all.  I really don’t care about politics a bit.  I remember when I was about 13 and the election was going on and the original George Bush won.  My neighbors were watching the news where it shows the results state to state and they declare a winner.  Just to be different I was routing for Bush to win just because back then I thought it was cool to say “Bush” and to be different.  The amount of hatred I got from my neighbors was crazy.  They were so mad and questioned how someone like me could vote for a republican.  I really didn’t understand back then and my parents never spoke about politics at all.

It doesn’t take long when you grow up in California to understand that being a liberal is pretty normal life.  I pretty much identified with the liberals because I do believe that everyone should have the right to pursue happiness as long as it does not impede with someone else’s pursuit of happiness.  I do support the progressive platform that will allow women to have control of their own bodies, separation of church and state, legalization of marijuana, the right to same sex marriage.  In fact I am dumbfounded that these issues are even still discussed.  When will our society move on?  It sickened me when I worked at a job and posted in the break room was the 10 commandments.  What in the actual fuck???

I was super excited when Obama won the election because of the great step our country had made in having a minority president.  Even though I did vote for Hillary to be our democratic candidate.  I actually really like Obama despite what people say about him.  I think he has done a fine job in office and has represented us well.  If you don’t believe me, ask other people in other countries what they think of Obama and it is an overwhelming thumbs up.  The people in this country are just so dumb and brainwashed by media like a bunch of sheep.  They will never admit that Obama’s failures are actually directly tied into the GOP and the poor job they did in congress to support our president.  I think the Obama family has made us proud and steered clear of controversy and made us a nation that doesn’t look as bad as past presidents have.

Anyway, there has been a lot of hatred and negativity all over the social media about the election.  I bite my tongue and try not to get into these arguments with Trump supporters or Hillary haters.  I get it from both sides.  Hillary did some shady things in the past (NEWS FLASH!!!  ALL POLITICIANS DO SHADY ASS SHIT), people have doubts in her because of it.  Haters of her should realize that her husband Bill did a pretty good job in office and the country did really good while he was at the helm.  Sadly all they can talk about is his wife cheating.  I hate to say it but his infidelity has nothing to do with his leadership and his ability to work with other countries and he did a fine job.  If you are going to tie in the negative about Bill you also have to tie in the positive because he did a good job and she was right there the whole time to support him in running the office.

I also get the Trump thing.  Our country is tired of the same old shit. Lying politicians not getting things done.  But having Trump would be disastrous because the house would not support him.  He would not only get blocked from the democrats, but he lacks support with the republicans.  Things would only get worse than they are now.  Also the stuff people like about him(his straight forward mouth) would offend many Americans and cause even more countrywide division.  He would also piss off other foreign leaders no doubt and lead us to a war we don’t need to be involved in.

trump-and-hillary-exlarge-169

Before this election started I had a discussion with a friend of ours, who is a republican by the way, about the candidates.  There were still many people in the running.  We talked about how much of a no-brainer it was because Hillary Clinton is clearly the most qualified to run the country.  I cannot wait for the election to be over and Hillary to be in office so I can get away from all this negativity.  If Trump happens to win, God help us all. . . .

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Volleyball Dreams

I have always loved sports.  I never realized the importance of them in regards to transitioning in life in terms of team work and competition and hard work resulting in good results.  But I loved to compete and do good and be a part of a team.  I played a lot of sports and have always been pretty good at whatever I try.

Volleyball came into my life just by pure chance.  I remember in high school when they had a tournament in the gym at lunch time.  I had never really played but a few of my friends and I decided to throw together our rag tag team of dudes and play for fun with no intentions of winning anything.  This tournament lasted days in the gym.  In my high school day we didn’t shower with other dudes so we played in our jeans and spent the remainder of the day gross and sweaty.  Ha ha!  I don’t remember all of the teams that were in that tourney except one.  They had a couple of dudes on the team who were really good and a girl named Katie that was taller than all of us and was a great player.  Basically we were, on paper, the worst team on the court.  Long story short, we somehow someway defied all the odds and made it to the championship game against Katie and her loaded crew of vballers.  We played in an epic matchup that went to the wire and we won an emotional match and screamed like we had won the state championship.  We piled up on center court like we had hit a buzzer beater in the NCAA tournament.

That was really the moment I realized how much I loved volleyball.  I wouldn’t really play again competitively for years until I worked at Food 4 Less and was asked to play on their co-ed volleyball team in a tournament.  They would later invite me to play on the Food 4 Less team for the city league and I pretty much made that team my own and we had some really good years.

Once that league ended I did not play again for a few years.  When Yasmine was little I began to think that volleyball could be a great sport for her.  She is athletic but not the real aggressive brut that some sports require girls to be.  She tried baseball but really did not like it.  I wanted her to be a basketball lover like me but that wasn’t going to happen.  So one day at work I started talking to my co-worker Corey about her daughter playing volleyball for Blackman highschool.  I told her I love volleyball but wasn’t sure how to start my young daughter learning the sport. She suggested maybe I use a balloon and just teach her the basics of bumping and setting with that because it is light and slow.  I tried it once and she seemed to like it.  I called around and found out that Sportscom in town had a beginner volleyball clinic that happened every Thursday from 430-6 (little did I know that I would end up taking over and be the main coach!).  I took Yasmine to learn.  She was super little out there and was the smallest girl on the floor.  In fact she was a couple of years below the age minimum of 8 years old when I started her.

I met Coach Miche, who is one of the nicest women out there.  She is a true lover of volleyball and has a passion for the sport which is apparent in the way she teaches kids.  With her help and my work at home Yasmine became a really good player by the time she got to 6th grade.  She tried out for the Oakland Middle School volleyball team and despite her small size and being a 6th grader she defied the odds and was only one of the two 6th graders to make the team.  She did really well on JV and played the right side hitter often subbing in on varsity.  She came a long way her 2nd year and was moved to the setter position where she started and did excellent.  Along the course of the year she not only improved technique wise but also began to make really smart decisions in her passes and court awareness that really did impact a lot of her team’s games in a positive way.  All throughout middle school she has been a super good server and powers her overhand serve better than most girls her size.  In fact, a bunch of times at matches last year I would sit in the stands and hear parents from the opposing team commenting on how great her serve was and how much power she had for her size.  Truly a serving machine.

Here is a short video of her serving at the last tournament:

Last year while she was in 7th grade she won the all tourney player for the Blue Devil tournament in Lebanon, Tennessee despite being the one of the only non 8th graders.

I keep mentioning her tiny size but here you can really tell. She is in the front row and is #3

I keep mentioning her tiny size but here you can really tell. She is in the front row and is #3

When she was at camp the camp leaders nicknamed her buns because they said she was so small she could fit in a hotdog bun!

So the 8th grade season just wrapped up for my daughter’s team.  Despite the fact that they only had three 8th graders (one of them being a brand new player), and one of them quitting near the end of the season the team did pretty well.  They also had a coach that just didn’t care too much and really is not a great motivational coach.  They managed to finish 4th overall out of 11 teams.  I think that with the right coaching we could have beaten the best teams in our division. In fact one night we were able to upset Blackman who ended up in the championships against Siegel (Siegel was undefeated all season).  Blackman nearly beat Siegel in the last match.

Yasmine got awarded a big trophy at the end of the season and was named onto the all-conference team with a select group of girlsall-conference-team

So now I get to sit back and see what she decides she wants to do.  I really want her to play in high school because her talent is amazing and I would love to see her on a good team with a good coach.  However, she is at the stubborn age where she really doesn’t want to do what makes us happy.  She wants to do other things as of now, but believe me if she goes out for the team I will be smiling ear to ear and writing about it to you guys!

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Dent in the bumper- A Dummy’s Guide

So a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I did a senior photo shoot for a very beautiful young lady out in Smithville, Tennessee.  To see our work you can visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NathanGrantPhotography/

We stopped by Dollar General in Lascassas to grab a couple of items on our way back into town.  There was a questionable old truck parked beside me with a shady looking redneck in the driver’s seat.  Considering the value of my camera equipment I decided to check twice to make sure I had armed the alarm before leaving.  Because it was dark I noticed nothing at that moment and we went home.  The next day I discovered this huge dent in our bumper which had to have happened in the DG parking lot.  Believe me, I will have my eyes open because Lascassas is not that big.  It was apparent that it was red vehicle that hit me and the dent on their car will probably be on the front right bumper.  Have your camera rolling if I happen upon this low life bastard.

Here is what I discovered on our back bumper.

Here is what I discovered on our back bumper.

Anyhow, I had read that if you pour hot water onto the dent it will pop back out.  However, this dent was really deep.  We tried to pour hot water on the bumper twice and push it out but the clearance in the back was too small to really fit anything into to get the leverage to push the bumper out.  We decided to stop by Harbor freight in town the next time we were there and purchase a heat gun.  I also bought a suction cup that could help to pull it out.  The suction cup did not work because the dent was too deep and there was no surface to grab onto.  My only choice was to remove the tire and take off the bumper so I could get to the back of the dent.

The only way to get to this sadly was to remove the bumper.

The only way to get to this sadly was to remove the bumper.

Prying The underneathHeat gun from Harbor Freight

Not perfect by any means but still an improvement

Not perfect by any means but still an improvement

I removed the tire and began to unscrew the bumper and got it to the point where I could pull the bumper out far enough to safely get my hand in the back.  I got the heat gun plugged in and began to heat up the bumper until the paint started to bubble and the plastic could be moved.  With a gloved hand I reached behind and successfully pushed the dent out.  You can tell that the dent isn’t perfect but it is so much better.

 

 

 

 

 

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P90X2 Take 3

Actual conversation with my 12 year old daugher:

Me-  So tomorrow I am making big changes!  I plan on working out and by the time it is summer I will look like The Rock, you know, Duane Johnson from The Fast and the Furious.

Yasmine-  Yeah, The Rock, I know him.

Me-  OK, never mind, by summer I will look like 1/2 of The Rock.

Yasmine-  Ha, Ha!!

Me-  Alright, never mind, by summer I will look like The Rock’s leg……..

Yasmine just started laughing uncontrollably!

 

So, I have been slowly letting myself go.  My only saving grace is that I work a physical job in grocery throwing stock that keeps me in a tiny bit of shape.  But sadly, I am 40 and I won’t always stay in shape.  I like good food and beer and I think life is too short to deprive yourself.   My recent visit to the doctor had me weighed in heavier than I have ever been.  I started to think about my kids and our next vacation to the beach or swimming pool.  I simply don’t want to be that dad that is disgusting and my kids are embarrassed by me, plus health is important and I want to be there for them.  Above is the shame pictures of my front and side view, I am embarrassed to share this, but screw it!

I am starting P90X3 again, the Mass schedule.  I know it won’t really help my weight because of the muscle gain but it’s the route I decided to go.  I will post periodic updates throughout the period to let you know how it is going but won’t bore you to death with too many details.  I like P90X3 because it is tough and it is only about 35 minutes if you include the cool down.  After I get off work I don’t have much more energy to do much so the 30 minute is something I can squeeze in.  If I play basketball or volleyball recreationally or a pickup game I usually skip the workout.  I also don’t do the Sunday Dynamix, it’s a stretch day, because I need the day off.  During the work out I drink water and after I drink a cup of chocolate milk with a spoonful of Agave Nectar in it for better recovery(it really helps!).  So without further ado, LET’S DO THIS!

DAY 2-

I was really anxious to start and get some results and starting this time wasn’t as hard as other times.  I knew it would be hard because a couple of weeks ago I was playing full court basketball and I was sucking wind hard.  I usually get up and down the court, game after game, ahead of all the other guys (even the younger ones).  But I struggled, and then I broke my pinkie.

So tonight I did the AgilityX workout.  I remember this workout being a tough one but it really kicked my ass tonight.  I could feel my legs burning and I had to slow down a few times.  The end when you get down and do crawly plyo pushups almost killed me!  But I got through and am so glad I toughed it out.  I am still sore from yesterday’s Total Synergistics but you got to fight through the soreness because it does get easier.

DAY 10-

I got through week 1!  It was hard to say the least.  I am fighting various injuries which make working out a challenge.  My latest is my back from working too much and the constant lifting and strain.  I also have my broken pinkie which makes the dumb bells challenging.  Today I did YogaX.  I love doing yoga, I always feel so great afterwards but it is something I just have a hard time doing.  I think as a dude you are conditioned to want to do a bulk workout and get buffer, however I feel like at least once every couple of weeks I am recommending yoga to someone.  Not only does it help to clear your mind, it helps to strengthen your core and keep you from pulling muscles.  Once again I got destroyed by agilityX but it went a little better than the first time.  I am also happy to announce that Natalie (my wife) started doing P90X3 a few days ago.   I am so happy that someone is suffering with me, now when she walks in the room and complains about how sore she is I just giggle.

So I have been going a it for a while now.  This round of P90X has been way better than previous rounds.  I love that I am taking a break from my volleyball league to really focus.  I have only missed one day for pilates and I had a good reason.  Sure, there are days I don’t want to do it but I can remember a conversation I had with a dude that was very obviously a gym rat.  We talked about fitness and working out.  He said his secret is to always do the workout even on days you don’t want to.  Not groundbreaking but on days I am tired or sore from work and I just want to sit and watch the NBA and enjoy a shocktop I hear his simple words and it motivates me.  Besides, what is 30 minutes going to hurt???

So after the first 30 days I feel way stronger, I can see obvious measurement improvements in my arms.  The workouts have been getting easier.  Here are the pictures after the first 30 days.

The cell phone photo doesnt really show the results justice but there are more muscles (Your welcome!!)

The cell phone photo doesnt really show the results justice but there are more muscles (Your welcome!!)

I have had a hard time also because of the broken finger I got.  It made it hard to lift the dumbbells but I pushed on through.  I was really excited because I weighed myself and had lost 5 pounds.  I was so happy but then a few days later my weight was back to where it was.  My wife assured me that the results were there and not to weigh myself.  I know I did the mass but I was hoping to go down a bit.  A couple of days later I spoke with one of my favorite customers, she is a physical trainer at Patterson park here in Murfreesboro.  She talked about the weight thing and told me that I should have measured my biceps or done body fat percentage and not to look at the scale.  It was nice to hear from someone other that my wife because I worry she only tells me what I want to hear.

So the 2nd phase was harder for sure.  There is a lot of arm work and legwork, plus MMA is a workout that will kick your ass every time.  After doing eccentric lower I decided I was going to substitute something in it’s place because it was extremely hard on my knees.  So for the month I did total synergistics instead.  It was hard because it’s like doing arms twice in a row but I powered through it.

So today I start phase 3 and I am happy to say that in total I have only missed 2 workouts.  I make it a priority to squeeze it in and I couldn’t be happier.  I feel way better about myself, even though I know I still have a ways to go.  I can’t wait to get back to the basketball court or back into volleyball to see how it translate into athletics.  I am still on my break but I should be returning to basketball in a week since I broke my pinkie.  Volleyball will start if I can find a new team to join since leaving mine a few months ago.  So hear are the 60 day result photos.  Sorry so awkward but I hate posing for these.  Lol!

p90x month 2

So here we go, I will post results and stories as soon as something happens.

 

FLASH FORWARD—-

I officially did not make it through the last 2 weeks of this bout of P90X3.  My hectic work schedule and bad luck physically with my back and wrist really hurt my ability to do the workouts correct.  I can truly say that the workout did me well because even though my weight did not drop I had tons of comments by customers at my work about how I look thinner and that “I must be working out”

So, after a couple of months off I decided to start the workout again.  I will post the pictures and the results in my next P903 entry.

 

Thanks for stopping by to check out my post!

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Black and White

So the past few weeks has been insane in our country.  I heard on the radio today, one of the hosts read a twitter comment that said “Is the past few weeks a Quentin Tarantino script?”  The amount of violence around the country, well actually the world has been unthinkable.

So I have a friend.  I met him playing basketball and immediately liked him.  He has a hard work ethic on the basketball court and is a generally nice dude.  He happens to enjoy golf too, so we get along pretty good.  A couple of months after I met him he started to talk to me about his ongoing court battle against the city of Murfreesboro.  Now I know that there is two sides to every story.  The short version is that he and some friends were hanging out on the square in the Boro and they went outside of the bar they were at to smoke and some random drunk was taking a piss on the sidewalk.  The dude after peeing left.  Shortly after the MPD came up to my friend and said they were the ones peeing outside and someone had called to complain.  I can’t go into to many details because I do not want to leave out anything or mistake any facts.  Basically he was surrounded and wrongfully beaten by the cops.  I forgot to mention he is a white guy.

When he told me the story I was pretty floored but also not really surprised.  The pictures he showed me were brutal.  Over the past couple of years of being in court and him trying to sue the city, he lost.  As his friend on facebook I see his comments about his distrust in the law enforcement, he also would like and comment on a page called free will project where they highlight the police corruption and abuse in our country.  I clicked on the video I saw and was sickened.  Even worst was the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of videos of crazed cops wrongfully beating, killing, harassing, and downtalking people.  I even saw a video where a police officer shot and killed a woman’s dog on her property (he had no reason to even be there) It was too sad.

Well recently the corruption has continued.  I have watched so many videos of innocent people (white and black) being bullied and beaten and killed by the police.  The videos I mention are the ones where the police had no reason to even pull the person over in the first place and no reason to detain, they definitely had no reason to murder the people.  I understand that there are times that police need to shoot people, I get that there are times when a mistake can happen in the heat of the moment.  However the state of the police in our country is getting ridiculous.  I told my wife a couple of years ago that on day it is going to boil over if the American justice system is not fixed.  Instead things have gotten worse and now we have rioting and police being ambushed by snipers.  I am sure that there is more to come.

The problem is bigger then just corrupt cops, or black people being profiled.  It comes down to our broken ass world.  People think they are better than others and fear what they do not know.  Couple that with the fact that there really isn’t consequences for the actions of the bad cops and now we have a country on the brink of civil war.  It really bothers me that it has come to this.  When I go online I can’t help but click on articles on facebook and I read the comments and I just see so much ignorance and hatred and it is hard to believe that people are really like that out there.  I try to stay out of the discussions because it is hard to argue with stupid.  That is why I am writing it on my own blog, I had to express my opinion about this on my own forum.

I just want my kids to understand that life isn’t black and white.  It is important to live in the grey areas.  You can’t just point at the police and blame them, or black people, or the government, it is a collection of things and I hope they will do whatever they can to make the world a better place and those around them better people.

 

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