"For us let it be enough to know ourselves to be in the place where God wants us, and carry on our work, even though it be no more than the work of an ant, infinitesimally small, and with unforeseeable results."
-- Abbé Monchanin

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

In The Beginning - Chaim Potok


I recently reread In The Beginning by Chaim Potok.  [If you haven't read all of Potok's books, you're missing immeasurable treasures.]  In the book one of the characters makes the following statement:

People exist by virtue of the help they give to one another.  That's what I believe.  Helping people improves the helped person's life and keeps the helping person human.  I know how much rottenness there is in people.  If I though only of the ugliness inhuman beings, I would despair.  So I try also to remind myself of the many people in this world who help one another.

That's something we need to hear and heed in the messed up world we're experiencing these days.  With the current election shenanigans we really need to remind ourselves of the many people who help one another.  And we need to be among that cohort.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Road Worst Traveled


Jesus calls us to choose between His straight and narrow way or the broad path of the world.  

Most of us try to keep a foot in each path.  At first the going is easy.  But as the paths diverge more and more it becomes harder and harder to proceed. 

It's difficult to walk while doing the splits.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Photoshop Action from PanosFX


Just playing with an action from the new Photoshop action set from panosfx.com.  Couldn't resist a few bad puns in the final image.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Unbelievable 3D Art

A friend of mine e-mailed me the following:

Artist John Pugh does it again and again!
3D murals painted on the sides of buildings by Trompe L'oeil (trick-of-the-eye) artist John Pugh:
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Main Street , Los Gatos , California . Even the woman peering into the ruin is part of the mural.
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Taylor Hall, California State University , Chico , California . The Doric-style columns are actually nothing but paint.
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Honolulu , Hawaii . This mural took two months of studio work to plan and another six months to execute with the help of 11 other artists. Featured are Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian Islands , and Duke Kahanamoku, the ultimate father of surfing. Even the stairs and of course, the sightseers, are part of the mural. Hard to believe this isn't 3-D. Check out the wave at the top. The fake skylight. Wow!
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This mural at the Cafe Trompe L'oeil, San Jose , California , is entitled "Art Imitating Life Imitating Art Imitating Life."This customer doesn't leave at closing time. And, there is no doorway or stairs to go through or climb... and the statue never needs dusting.
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Twenty-nine Palms, California . Valentine the bull and a patient buzzard are waiting for the artist to awake. No way... yep, way. This is all painting. Check along the base of the wall and you can see the seam between the vertical wall and the paved parking lot. How real can it get. Just outstanding. 
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Looks like a nice spot to rest your weary feet on a sidewalk in front of the Sarasota County Health Center, Florida.
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Bay in a Bottle, Santa Cruz , California .. The passerby is part of the mural.
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"Slowing Down to Take a Look" in Winslow , Arizona .. Included, of course, is "a girl, my lord, in a flat bed Ford slowing down to take a look at me." 
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Artist John Pugh 
Some say he has a screw loose-don't you wish you did too.

I don't know about you, but I'm impressed.  I would love to see these in real life.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

New Action from Panos

Panos has a new photoshop action set that makes vinyl records (45 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm) as well as CDs.  Here is a CD example done as a test.


Friday, May 15, 2015

New FREE Actions From PanosFX.com

Panos over at PanosFX.com has a couple of new FREE Photoshop actions.  I've just tested them quickly on a couple photos and they're rather interesting.




If you play with Photoshop, rush over to his free actions page and grab these, among others.


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Spiral Experiment

Here's an introductory experiment with an idea from Panos at Panosfx.com


Friday, August 15, 2014

Experiment with new PanosFX Photoshop Action

Panos just released an upgraded version of his free curled page Photoshop action.  I combined it with an action from his Book and Box set of actions to get the following result.  I really like the actions Panos produces.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Experiment with Fractalius

Experimenting with a Photoshop plug-in called Fractalius. It has more potential than the examples on the web site show (http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterFractalius.htm) but can be a bit tricky at first.  Some good examples of what it can do are on the PanosFX Forum together with a short tutorial showing how Fractalius is used with one of the PanosFX actions to create a very nice image.

This was done using two versions of the image modified in Factalius that were blended together with the original image using layer blend modes.  Interesting?


After


Before



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trying out new Actions from Panoxfx.com


Here is my first experiment with the new Photoshop Action set from Panosfx.com

These have a lot of potential for creating interesting ways of displaying pictures.



Be sure to click on the image above to see a larger version.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Toolmaker

Traditionally people take stock of their lives at New Year's day.  This year I offer the following short story as a stimulus for evaluating what we are doing with our lives. 

THE TOOLMAKER

The old man sat quietly looking at the intricate piece of equipment in his hand.  A toolmaker.

"My life?" he said with  shake of his head.  "What can I tell you of my life?"  He paused, lost in the thoughts and memories.

"I guess you could say this life began when I got my job.  I wanted a job I could devote a lifetime to.  Something useful. Something I could find satisfaction in doing.  Money wasn't that important.

"One day I saw a sign at the factory."  His eyes glowed mistily at the memory.  "It said 'Trainees wanted.  Rewarding career and secure future.'  That was just what I was looking for.  A life of satisfying work.  So I went into the office and filled out the forms.  The competition for jobs must have been stiff because I saw a sign that said, 'Many are called but few are chosen.'

"I guess I'm one of the few 'cause a week later I was 'called' and 'chosen' both."  He snorted a laugh.  "I still didn't know exactly what my job would be but I knew anything in the factory would suit me.  I guess you could say I thought that working in the factory was a calling and that the particular job didn't matter much.  Everything was a part of the factory's operation."

The old man sat lost in thought as if trying to sort out how everything fit together in the functioning of the factory.

"I remember the first day I went to work.  My supervisor wore a badge stuck proudly on the lapel of his work jacket.  It was shaped like a strange piece of equipment.  A tool of some kind. Underneath it was the word 'INSTRUCTOR.'  He sure seemed proud of that pin.

"He led me into the factory to my work station.  There on the table was something that his badge must have been modeled after.  He said, 'That's your toolmaker.'

"At last I knew my job.  I was to be a maker of tools.  Tools. What would our world be without them?  Everything's made with tools.  Well, maybe not plants and babies.  But farmers use tools for planting and doctors use tools for delivering.  And I was to make tools for the factory.  Why, what could the factory do without the tools I would make?  My job was important.  It was basic.  It had meaning.  And, the pay wasn't bad."

A smile broke through the moisture in the old man's eyes as a rainbow breaks through the mists of the air.  And faded just as quickly.

"My supervisor was patient with me.  He taught me step by step how to use the piece of equipment I had been given to make the most extraordinary toolmakers.  He told me how he had started by responding to a sign, just as I had.  He, too, had started work in this very department making toolmakers.  We laughed together when I made mistakes and he told stories about how he had done the same thing, or something more outrageous.  He always showed me where to find help in the instruction manual so as to avoid repeating my mistakes or making other similar ones.

"After my initial training I became my own supervisor.  I was certified 'RESPONSIBLE AND COMPETENT.'  I got a badge with those words written under what looked like one of my tools.  I was so proud of that badge."

The old man absent-mindedly rubbed his sleeve against an imaginary badge on his lapel.

"That badge was the beginning of my advancement at the factory.  That badge created ambition in my life.  It made me dissatisfied with only making tools.  I wanted to understand the workings of the factory and wear one of the rarer badges.

"I worked extra hard making tools.  I was always above quota even though I was extra careful to assemble them perfectly.  I always told the folks in town what a good factory I worked at. I guess I bragged a bit about how good our tools were.  I was really proud of my work.  Other fellows came to work at the factory because of the things I had told them about it.

"After a while my former supervisor asked me to help him train a new worker.  It was easy for me to do.  I just helped him like my instructor had helped me.  I really enjoyed that.  I gave this new guy on of the tools I had made.  I felt like a grandpa watching him use a tool made by my tool to produce more tools. Sorta like the Bible with its 'begats' come to life.  'Some tool begat my tool.  My tool begat his tool.  His tool begat some other tool.'"  A grin sneaked across the old man's face.

"Somebody must have liked the way I trained this guy 'cause I got called into the office and given a promotion.  My new badge said 'INSTRUCTOR.'  I guess that idea of the 'begats' did something to me.  I'd think of that and find myself enjoying being an instructor even more than I enjoyed making tools.  I got to thinkin' that someday one of the guys I had trained might become an instructor.  I'd become not only an industrial grandpa but an instructional grandpa, too.

"I guess you can't expect only good times and success.  One of my trainees walked off the job one day.  He just threw down his tool and left.  He said there weren't no point in makin' these darn fool tools!  And he left.

"I never hurt so bad before.  I hadn't ever imagined that anyone could just up and quit.  I couldn't see why anyone would want to quit.  I mean we were making good tools.  The best tools. Our working conditions were good.  Our tools created jobs.  How could anyone say, "There weren't no point?'"  The old man sat pondering that statement as if hearing it for the first time.  He took a deep breath and continued talking.

"Somehow I got on with things.  I tried not to think of my failure.  That's what I called him.  MY failure.  He was a failure if he couldn't become a toolmaker under my instruction.  I just worked a little harder and did a little better with my other trainees.  I learned how to point them in the right direction.  I helped them find satisfaction in a job well done.  I showed them the joy of seeing their tools 'beget' more tools.  "Even unto the third and fourth generation.'"  The old man smiled at the phrase. "Most important I taught them to be content.  Not to question their job.

"The inevitable happened.  I was called into the office again.  I was made a plant manager.  I was in charge of recruiting, training and production.  The factory was expanding.  I was contributing to that expansion.  Success.  That was the word I heard.  I liked it.  I worked hard and gave my best.

"And so that's the story of my life.  It's been a good life.  I worked hard.  I did a satisfying, useful job.  I contributed something.  I made toolmakers.  And taught others to use those toolmakers to make more toolmakers.  And trained others to teach others to use those toolmakers to make more toolmakers. And recruited others to be trained by those I had trained to train others to train still others to use toolmakers to make more toolmakers to make more toolmakers to make more toolmakers . . .

"OH, my God!"

The old man sat silently in the witness chair staring at the toolmaker in his hand as the Judge passed sentence.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Poem for Christmas


For God So Loved The World

For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son . . . 
How, then, can I sow hatred?

For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son . . .
Whom, then, can I not love?

For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son . . .
What, then, can I withhold?

For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son . . .
Where, then, is His love not found?

For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son . . .
When, then, will we understand?

For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son . . .
Why, then, do we not care?





Saturday, December 07, 2013

A Close Shave


I recently had a rather unnerving experience.

While ambling down a street in an unfamiliar part of town, I inadvertently bumped into a man who turned out to be a rather unsavory person.  He took great offence at my carelessness and was aggrieved by the contact that ensued with my person.

"I don't like the look of your face!"  he shouted.

"I don't either," I replied, hoping to relieve the tension of the encounter.

Rather than being mollified by my agreeable response, he became more incensed.

"Don't get smart with me!" he bellowed, whipping a razor out of his pocket and waving it in my face.

At that point, I figured I should remove myself from the premises.  I shall flee, I thought.  Let us fly, tapped my feet in Morse Code as I flew down the street.

Close on my heels came the enraged ruffian waving his razor wildly as he pursued me with every intention of changing the looks of my face.

I zigged and zagged through streets and alleys gaining distance between us as I tried to find a way to my car and safety.  At last I turned down an alley that I thought was a shortcut to where I was parked.  It was a dead end.

I started toward the entrance of the alley, hoping that I could get out and away before the razor wielding maniac caught me.  Alas, I met him at the entrance.  I retreated, looking around for a door to enter or some place of refuge.  I reached the end of the alley without finding an escape just as the man caught up with me.

I would really have had a close shave if the battery in his razor hadn't died just as he caught me.


The Problem of Inclusive Language


I've been pondering the trend toward inclusive language. And I've become a bit puzzled. It seems that things may be backfiring. 

For example, it's OK to refer to someone as human. Why don't we use human and huwoman? We've taken human as a generic term that is inclusive rather than gender specific. 

Then we use chairman and chairwoman when we know the gender of the chairperson. But that final word presents a problem. We treat it as generic rather than distinguishing a person from a perdaughter. Why? 

Maybe it would be easier to just define some words as generic and no longer gender specific. It seems that when we try to fight the way languages are structured, we're emphasizing gender specific issues rather than removing them. 

Which brings me to the old joke (best told orally but I'll attempt it in print): 

Why do we sing AMEN at the end of the songs at church rather than AWOMEN? Because they're HYMNS and not HYRS. (Hiss! Boo! Go away! NOW!)



Friday, November 22, 2013

Virtual Darkroom Capers


I headed to my virtual darkroom (Photoshop) and processed this shot with Nik Analog Effects Pro and OnOne Suite 8 then washed the print with Panos' Water drops action and hung it on the line to dry.  That's what you see below. Oh, yeah, I built the wall with Filter Forge.





More Photoshop Fun



Playing around with the newest addition to the Nik (Google) plug-in set with some PanosFx.com actions and background elements from Filter Forge.