"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

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.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Playing Around in Photoshop Some More


I've been playing around in Photoshop with some scans of old photos of my daughter Malaika from when she was small. Kinda fun to see what comes out.






Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to Hawaii: 15 - 28 August 2013



Here are some looks at our visit in Hawaii last month.  We're already homesick again.  Gotta save up quick for a return trip.

Back to Hawaii: 15 - 28 August 2013

Some panos that you can zoom in on for close ups and pan to see the wide spaces:

Honolulu

Ocean View near Hawaii Kai

Large Temple in The Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe, HI



Tuesday, September 03, 2013

First Photos from Hawaii Trip



Beginning to process photos from our Hawaii trip.  Lot's to do, but here are a couple early efforts enhanced by some PanosFX.com Photoshop Actions.


Hanauma Bay Pano with individual shots shown


Our nephew and his new wife
(their wedding was our excuse to go home for a visit)




Wednesday, August 07, 2013

3D In Photoshop Continued



Another variation of the Fan Puzzle image.  This one ads a heart shaped puzzle to the scene.


And an animation of that scene.


video

There are a few funny things going on as Photoshop renders the animation.  You'll see them on the ground.



Monday, August 05, 2013

3D in Photoshop CC and Panos Actions


Playing around with 3D in Photoshop CC and using Photoshop Actions from www.panos.com
Still a lot to learn, but the effects are getting interesting.





Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Problem of Systematic Theology


More and more I am driven to the conclusion that systematic theology is one of the major impediments to authentic Christian faith today.

Systematic theology seeks to organize knowledge about God in such a way that we have encompassed God within our own understanding.  God becomes reasonable.  God is defined.  God is comprehended.  God is under control.

However, God in His wisdom did not provide us with a theological text book. He gave us the Bible, a compilation of stories and poetry.  That is because authentic theology is acquired by osmosis rather than by reason and logic. We come to know God by repeatedly encountering Him in the stories of the Bible and the stories of our own lives.  We come to know God separately from, maybe even before, our coming to know about God.

An example of the problem:  In my youth Southern Baptists were aware of the difference between a personal relationship with God and an objective understanding about God.  That awareness affected Baptist practices. Baptists insisted that a personal experience with Jesus was the prerequisite for baptism and church membership, not rote recitation of an approved creed.  For that reason, Baptists were uncomfortable with and even suspicious of those who practiced confirmation, insisting upon a personal confession of faith rather than knowledge of a catechism.

In recent decades things have changed among Southern Baptists.  A person's personal faith and relationship with God is now decried as emotional subjectivism, lacking the substance and validity of intellectual acceptance  of systematic theological statements concerning the nature of God. Commitment to correct propositional statements about God is now seen as what defines a Christian.  The result is that the emphasis has come to be centered upon an intellectual affirmation of theological pronouncements formulated by a few and voted upon and approved by a majority of the representatives from local congregations, a majority of whom have limited understanding of the implications of the actions they have taken. Propositional statements have superseded personal relationships.

The sad result is that now Southern Baptists are more confident in their knowledge about God while knowing God, Himself, less and less.

Where we once looked to God to define who we are to be, we now look to systematic theology, and it's derivative Baptist Faith and Message, to define who God must be.

The servant seeks to rule the Master.

Sadly, this rebellion is not limited to Southern Baptists.



Monday, June 03, 2013

Experience the Chi


Been playing around with Photoshop and came up with this montage of my Tai Chi instructor.





Monday, May 27, 2013

The Historical District of Hot Springs, AR


I finally got around to processing some test shots using my new Nikon 7100 in downtown Hot Springs.  I seldom go downtown.  I should change that now that I have more time.  There are a lot of things to take pictures of in this tourist center.















Wednesday, May 08, 2013

If Not Higher



I recently ran across a reference to a story by Isaac Loeb Peretz called If Not Higher.  I hope to someday find this story and read it in its entirety.

The story can be summarized something like this:

On every Day of Atonement a certain rabbi always disappears from the synagogue for a few hours.  People wonder where he is going.  One of his followers suspects that he has an appointment with God.  To satisfy his curiosity, he follows the rabbi one Day of Atonement.  He discovers the rabbi taking off his fine clothes and putting on the clothes of a poor person.  The rabbi then goes to the shack of a crippled woman and cleans her room, prepares her meals and generally serves her for a period of time.  

When the follower is satisfied that he knows the rabbi's secret, he returns to the synagogue.  The people ask him if the rabbi ascended to heaven and he replies, "If not higher."

Maybe we should strive for heaven, if not higher.



Monday, May 06, 2013

Quote for the Day


God in heaven, I thank Thee that Thou hast not required it of man that he should comprehend Christianity; for if that were required, I should be of all men the most miserable.  The more I seek to comprehend it, the more incomprehensible it appears to me, and the more I discover merely the possibility of offense.  Therefore, I thank Thee that Thou dost only require faith, and I pray Thee to increase it more and more.
Amen.

-- Soren Kierkegaard.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tai Chi in the Park


Last Saturday some members of our Tai Chi class did a demo as part of the Park Palooza in Arlington Park here in Hot Springs, AR.  This is a class to improve the health of old-timers and not training for a group of warriors.  The pictures and video will make that quite clear.

To see a photo album of the demo visit:  Tai Chi Park Palooza

Here is the video of the Tai Chi for Arthritis routine.





Friday, April 19, 2013

What Creates Such Hatred?



Watching the unfolding identification of the Boston bombers, I can't help but wonder what it is that is causing so many people who came to this country at a youngish age as their families fled dangers in their homelands to become so embittered against the USA that they join terrorists groups. There have been numerous Somali youth recruited and others from middle eastern countries. I find it hard to believe that they came with their families intentionally planning to become terrorists. Something happened. 

 Could it be that we have been to unloving to them? Have we alienated them by the way we speak about other countries, ethnic groups or religious groups? Shouldn't the way we live our lives and relate to them be creating a sense of acceptance and a growing love for their new homeland instead? Many come to this country and become even more devoted to it than masses of people who were born here and never develop an appreciation for the treasure they have. 

We need to prevent future terrorist events, not simply by increased security and restrictions on immigration, but by winning the hearts of our neighbours.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston and the World



The pouring rain and the wind blowing so hard this morning inspired Kathy and me to decide not to go out to our Tai Chi class.  Instead we watched the memorial service in Boston.  I'm glad I did.  It was very inspirational over all.  I especially appreciated the youth choir and some of the scripture passages used.  The tributes to the brave heroes who rushed to the aid of others were uplifting.

The most significant insight for me came when I heard the Muslim leader speak.  He told of having just received his US citizenship and the pledge to service all new citizens make when they swear the oath of allegiance to their new nation.  He challenged all citizens to join in service to their communities.  But more importantly, he told how as a 7 year old student, long before he came to America, he encountered a car bomb on his walk home from school one day. Monday brought those memories back to him.  It struck me that we  as Americans are feeling so unique in our tragedy and feeling especially targeted by this rare attack.  Yet, for many in our world, bombings and terrorist attacks are a regular part of their lives.  Car bombs.  Suicide bombers.  Attacks of other kinds upon innocent non-combatants who are directly targeted or happen to be near targeted individuals.  It's the life they have to live.  Day in.  Day out.  It's their normal.

The attack in Boston could have been much worse.  Not every bomb attack in our world happens near some of the best medical facilities in existence. Most happen away from trained medical people or where there are no brave volunteers rushing to give immediate assistance.  It is a truly blessing that the bombings in Boston did not kill more people.  Give thanks for the resources that were readily available on Monday.  Remember, others are seldom so blessed in resources.

My prayer is that as we work our ways through the anger and pain, sorrow and grief of our national experience of terror, as we raise ourselves to the determination to overcome our fears and defeat the bomber's effort to demoralize us, my prayer is that we will remember those around our world who also live in danger of terror strikes and join in solidarity with them in striving to overcome evil with good.

Let us look beyond ourselves and pay tribute to those other victims of terror in our world.  Let us work with more diligence to eliminate the specter of terror that is so common in our world today.

And, rather than being instruments of revenge, let us join our souls in St. Francis of Assisi's prayer, "LORD, make me an instrument of Thy peace. . . ."


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Will it give you more time to pray?"



In his book Rediscovering Values, Jim Wallis recounts an interaction with an agnostic friend.  His friend was interested in the virtual religious experience available through contemporary technologies.  His friend asks this insightful question, "Will it give you more time to pray?"

Shouldn't we be asking ourselves that same question regarding all our "time saving" conveniences?  I'm not sure we'll like our answers.



Monday, April 15, 2013

The Cock Crows


To the extent that we are comfortable in contemporary American culture, we deny Christ.  This is a warning to those of us audacious enough to appropriate the name "Christian" and a rebuff to those of us who make claim to any degree of spiritual maturity.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nikon D7100 HDR Test



This is a test of using the D7100 bracketing capabilities for HDR.  I shot 5 shots at 1 stop intervals.  Since I can't get the RAW files into Lightroom and Photoshop, I converted to TIFF format.  I ran these through HDR Pro in Photoshop and saved as a 32 bit TIFF with no adjustments.  I imported this into Lightroom and made adjustments there.  Then I took it into Photoshop and finished it off with some adjustments with NIK Color Effects 4.


The D7100 has the capability of doing internal HDR on its own.  I haven't tried this out yet.



Testing My New Camera


Just got the new Nikon D7100 Digital SLR camera.  Did a few test shots Thursday at Garvin Woodland Gardens here in Hot Springs, AR.  Discovered something I should have anticipated but forgot when I tried to import my photos into Lightroom.  Every new camera has a new variation on camera RAW.  Therefore, I can't import my RAW (I always shoot RAW to preserve maximum photo data) into Lightroom or Photoshop!  I've saved my RAW files to disk so I'll have them when Adobe updates Camera RAW to read this new file format. Until then, I have to use the ViewNX 2 software that came with the camera and convert to TIFF for importing into Lightroom and Photoshop.  This means that, for now, I can't fine tune things as well as if I were importing RAW files.  But the results are promising.  Must improve the skills of the photographer as the first task.

Here's a look at some things that were quickly run through Lightroom and Photoshop using the TIFF files.





The D7100 also does good video.

video

Blogger's video quality isn't so great.  Go to:


on Youtube and choose one of the HD options for a better idea of how the D7100 performs.




Sunday, March 17, 2013

Photoshop and Filter Forge 3D



Just a bit of fun experimenting with Filter Forge plug-in for Photoshop and the 3D features of Photoshop CS6 Extended.  No real significance to this picture other than trying out some features.  (Also a bit of clip art used to add interest.)




Monday, January 28, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Experiments with Photo Album Backgrounds



I'm playing around with creating page backgrounds for photo albums.  I'm experimenting with blending different things together to see what effects result.  Here are some examples of backgrounds for Oriental photos.