Sharp Tutor

Like Sharp Shooter, get it? Moving on. A few random updates, with a few random photos thrown in for good measure.


First of all, WTF with WordPress all of a sudden wanting to SCHEDULE all my blog posts instead of just PUBLISHING them? It’s annoying as hell, and it’s something that keeps happening randomly and I always have to go dig through the help forums to figure out how to correct the damn problem. I tried to un-schedule it just now, and ended up publishing it instead when the post only had two sentences written. So if you got an email update that I’d published something earlier, well, I hadn’t. I was just trying to un-schedule it. Thanks, WordPress.

U.S. Air Force, 93-0604, Boeing C-17A Globemaster III

The Wings Over Houston airshow was this past weekend, and as usual my father and I were front row for the whole show. It’s a lovely little bonding experience we get to have every year, and I really enjoy it. The weather was perfect – not too hot, not yet cold – and there were a lot of unique planes I hadn’t seen before. I haven’t yet heard any estimates about the crowd size, but it was massive. There were people everywhere; we stood in line for an hour to get onto a shuttle bus after the Blue Angels finished their demonstration, then it took another hour for the bus to push through the traffic back to the parking lot. Then, since I live on the opposite side of town from Ellington Field, it took me another hour to drive home (my dad lives much closer). I’d left my house at 6:30 AM that morning, and didn’t get back home until almost 8 PM, so it was, to put it mildly, a long-ass day. But it was worth it, as it always is. Even if you’re not as into airplanes as we are, it’s really amazing to see what some of these planes can do. The aerobatic planes are always a thrill, and the powerful jets on display are awe-inspiring to see. I think only the diehards like my father and I get there as soon as the gates open and stay until the whole thing is over (and honestly, with the way the crowds have grown over the years, I think I’m going to have to start insisting we leave early to beat some of the throngs to the shuttles) but even to just show up for the main events and hang out a few hours, it’s a fun thing to experience at least once in your life.


For something different, I took my wide-angle lens this year and just shot photos of the planes when they were on display before the air show began. I figured two years’ worth of photos of the (mostly) same planes in the air doing (mostly) the same things they do every year was enough, and that it would provide me some different material if I got shots of the planes on the ground instead. With my 17mm I was able to easily get full shots of the planes in the frame, and it’s a lens that shoots lovely color, too. At first I thought these photos would be pretty boring, but then I remembered I could use my Landscape Pro plugin to jazz them up, and it was off to the races.


There wasn’t one cloud in the sky this time around, and even though that’s great for the show in general, it doesn’t make for very interesting photos, so I’m really thankful that I can use the plugin to add such details. I also used to it to spruce up some of the people photos I took, like this one of my dad talking to a pilot:


These are the only shots I’ve had time to edit so far, but I’m sure there will be more later, because I’m really having fun playing around with them in Photoshop. And because you all know how much I love a good before-and-after, here’s some collages of all these photos as they came out of the camera vs. after my treatment with Landscape Pro. I also discovered that the new Topaz Glow software I purchased comes in quite handy with these as well; by reducing the opacity of some of its dramatic effects I can add a painterly quality to the photos. I think you’ll see how much I actually did to them in the B&A’s below:


In the top shot, I didn’t do a whole lot of alteration beyond adding clouds (I think you can really see how much better a plane shot looks when there are clouds in the sky there) and added a slight glow effect to get it more drama. Landscape Pro also added nice detail to the concrete; I believe I used an effect that creates the look of wet pavement, but again I reduced the opacity of it so that instead of looking wet it just showed a lot more detail. Then of course, there’s the bottom shot – the original wasn’t very interesting to me, but I liked how the nose of the smaller plane was pointing right at the nose of the larger one, and I got the idea to try and edit the people you can see in the original out of the shot so that it might kinda look like they were in the air (which would actually mean they were about to crash, so I guess that’s actually kinda morbid). It was just an experiment to use a night sky here, but I liked the effect enough to keep working with it. I’m not sure it’s totally successful on its own, but I do like showing the B&A of it as an example of what the software can do. It’s pretty fun stuff.


I struggled to decide how to edit the photo of my dad (he’s the one in the big brown hat), but when I found the right sky, the rest of it came easy – it needed some retro tones to work, and then I used a pretty heavy glow filter to give it an oil-painting quality. I still reduced the opacity of it, but I kept the effect pretty heavy here, as it seemed to work better that way. The bottom photo is a good example of how to use all these effects in a more subtle way – although you can see a dramatic difference in the concrete, where I used the ‘wet’ filter again for added detail.

Sprocket is glad there’s no “wet dog” filter

But about the title of this post: I wanted to talk briefly about the whole tutoring business-thing, because it’s finally starting to take shape for me. I am taking a certification course for Academic Coaching, and along with the course comes a lot of great materials I can use when I’m ready to get started. I’ve completely re-structured my pricing model and parts of my professional website to reflect the things I’ve learned in my class, and am really enjoying going through the class and learning how to apply these tools to students’ needs. I even had an interview with one potential client, but it didn’t go so well – no big deal, I just hadn’t ever had a consultation before and was still quite unfamiliar with the program I’m learning about, so I didn’t do as good of a job as I think I’ll do next time, and the student didn’t sign up in the end. I’ve also been attending some online conferences about online tutoring, and am really excited by this idea – my goal is to be doing 100% coaching, with all of it being online, within a year. Working from home and using something like Skype or Zoom to coach students would be the perfect solution for me, and I’m excited that it is actually starting to feel feasible for me.


But for now, I am still offering English tutoring services as well, since that is actually something I’m in a position to do right away. I’ve had one consultation so far for that, and I have to say, it didn’t go well either. But this one was not my fault; I don’t want to say too much about it at the risk of being unprofessional, but let’s just say the student was less than ideal for me to work with. Even though the kid’s mother was sitting right next to him while we met to discuss his situation, that did NOT stop this boy from being completely rude and disrespectful – rolling his eyes, shrugging his shoulders instead of actually using words to answer my questions, and pretending like he had no idea what I was talking about  when I asked him what his struggles were in English class, just to be difficult. About halfway through our consultation, I just stopped and said to him, look. It appears to me you really do not want to do this (for most of the conversation he literally had his head down on the kitchen table) and if you aren’t into it, it isn’t going to work. Then I told him to think about what he wanted to do over the weekend, and let me know by Sunday if he wanted to work with me. At the time, I only did this because he was making it so obvious that he could have cared less about getting a tutor, and the fact that his mother wasn’t even trying to get him to be polite was also a concern; clearly this kid is allowed to act that way all the time, so what made Mom think I was going to be able to get more work out of him than she could is beyond me. It was later that I realized I may have come across as bitchy, but ultimately I decided I was OK with that. If the kid HAD agreed to work with me, he would have done so with the understanding that he would have to take me seriously and treat me with respect, and I think it would have been fine. But since I didn’t hear from him after our first meeting, I figure I dodged a bullet, and have come up with some new ideas and approaches to try and cut to the chase with the next potential client sooner rather than waste too much of anyone’s time. I didn’t leave the full-time working world to get myself back into a situation where I don’t have choices about who I work with, after all, and part of the reason for having a consultation with a student before starting to work with them is so I can be sure I want to work with them, just as much as to see if they want to work with me.

Do I really want to stare at this every week for an hour? No, I do not.

One other thing I thought I’d mention: I finally starting tracking my daily calorie intake and exercising every day, as well as kicking the Coca Cola habit (which I’ve done several times in my life already – I’ll go for years drinking nothing but water, then fall off the wagon and get back on the soda train). When I’m teaching, my weight tends to dip really low due to all the constant activity and the complete lack of time to eat all day; when I quite working last May, i was down to about 112 pounds, which is actually a little light for me. The last time I quit working was when I was in graduate school back in 2010, and I was about 112 back then, too. It took two years, but by the time I went back to work in 2012 I’d gotten up to 130 and gone from a pant size 0 to a size 6 – and that’s a bit too much for me. I’m a skinny bitch by nature, and once I start to get past 120 I start to get uncomfortable; a few weeks ago I started to notice my fairly new size 4 pants I’d had to buy to replace all the zeroes that no longer fit were starting to get a little snug, and when I stepped on the scale I was up to 122 with no signs of stopping. So, I finally downloaded an app (My Fitness Pal) and started counting calories. The app recommends I consume about 1260 calories a day, which felt RIDICULOUS at first, but I’ve now found ways to do it most days without being uncomfortable or unhappy at all (although there are days where it goes out the window, like today when I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, but I am fine allowing that every once in a while as long as overall I’m eating better). To be honest, I don’t see any difference when I step on the scale yet, but when you’re only trying to lost about 5 pounds it’s slow going, and honestly I would be OK if I never lost any weight and just stopped gaining. I have clothes that fit and I definitely feel much better, so that’s the main thing. Oh, and I also discovered that swimming burns way more calories than walking or riding a stationary bike, so I am taking advantage of the fact that it’s still summer weather here right now and swimming for 30 minutes every day to burn some calories off (which I put back on when I eat my 4 gluten-free Oreos every night, but whatever).

I’m only supposed to consume 1260 calories a day. Cheesecake Factory Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes have 1750. I ordered them anyway.

Oh and next week I plan to do this color to my hair, because why not? It’s something else I could never do because of my job, but now my job is my own so why not do something a little different:


It’s actually fairly subtle, so I think it will work. I also like this, but my hair is really too dark for it:

I just like the color here, not the cut. Those bangs are not for me.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

6 thoughts on “Sharp Tutor

  1. I’d love to visit our local airshow one day and see all the planes do their acrobatics! Unfortunately this year the Blue Angels cancelled after one of the pilots crashed in a field near an apartment complex and passed away. (I mean unfortunate that he was killed not that it was cancelled of course) The reports said he made the decision to go down with the plane so he would avoid crashing into the apartments. Very tragic!

    They called off the show so his fellow pilots could grieve and go through counseling. Maybe in the future I’ll attend but it’s too soon right now.

    Anyway, glad to hear everything seems to be going well for the most part ❤ Rachel

  2. Your photography is so good! We love airshows too, our closest large airshow in Australia is at Avalon in Victoria (about a 2 hour commercial flight and then drive). We have also flown to New Zealand, to watch Wings over Wanaka more than once. Love the look of your new hair color, hope it turns out well for you.

      • Yes, ours are as well. Our air shows are every two years, we purchase our tickets almost one year in advance. Like you, we start the drive part of the trip in the dark, and return the same way – a huge day, so rewarding!

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