Friday, August 31, 2007


I ♥ people with the time to put together stuff like this: Digital Image Manipulation Tutorials

Thursday, August 30, 2007


My 2x teleconverter that I got on eBay came today - put it between the lens and the camera, and double the size (at the expense of the amount of light you allow). So of course I had to play with it. Thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Dean, we had clouds (and RAIN!) today for the first time in about 3 months, so my roommate and I trekked to the TMCC campus to take some pictures on a hill. Two of my favorites follow:

On the need for heretics

An interesting article...

My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.

There is no doubt that parts of the world are getting warmer, but the warming is not global. I am not saying that the warming does not cause problems. Obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it better. I am saying that the problems are grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are more urgent and more important, such as poverty and infectious disease and public education and public health, and the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans, not to mention easy problems such as the timely construction of adequate dikes around the city of New Orleans.

Enemy Territory

Looking back on our participation in the Reno AIDS Walk, one person said "Wow. We were really in enemy territory today." He was referring to the fact that there was a statistically high concerntration of homosexuals and homosexual rights groups supporting the AIDS walk. Something about that has sat at the back of my mind for a few days, and I just nailed it down.

The truth is that every time we set foot in the world, we are entering enemy territory. It is easy to think of the world as a safe, neutral place. But he was jarred out of this by realizing that we were standing side-by-side with people advocating a sinful lifestyle - all the more obvious because it's one that creates a lot of divisions in the church and in the world today.

But if we want to be the church - to represent Jesus in a world run by Satan's rules, scemes, and devices, then we will ALWAYS be in enemy territory, whether in a car wash, the AIDS walk, or at the laundromat. That is truth #1. But truth #2 is that we're also promised that the bastions of hell will not stand before Christ's church. We live to assault those strongholds, not with anger, WMDs or protests, but the same way Jesus did - love, forgiveness, and grace. To follow the Son of Man who came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.

The Emergent / Emerging / Postmodern / ... / Church

I don't like labels, especially when applied to something so wondrously diverse that the label stands no hope of well-defining the labeled thing. That said, it's certainly true that Coram Deo has some things in common with the "Emerging/ent Church," most notably the idea of sharing Christ largely through our actions.

As humans with blind spots like everyone else, I want to know what the criticisms and weaknesses of the EC are, because like any group it has its weaknesses, too. In teh course of my looking, I came across this collection of articles, seemingly existing to take on the evils of the EC movement.

It'll be interesting to look through them, hopefully without too much of a defensive spirit, and see what the criticisms are, whether they are true of us, whether they are valid points of contention, and how we might change to better conform to the person of Christ.

'Tis the Season

Where the Truckee's snow-fed waters
Drop from the mountain's crest
And the meadows meet the sagebrush
By the sun caressed
Cradled by the silver mountains
'Neath the Western Blue
Stands our noble alma mater
Our Nevada U

As the miner on the desert
Prospects every place
So Nevada seeks the future
With an upturned face
Everywhere she gathers knowledge
All that's good and true
Gives she to her sons and daughters
Of Nevada U

We will ever live to serve her
Live to give our best
Live to make our alma mater
Pride of all the West
Let her praises wake the echoes
While we pledge anew
Hearts and minds and hands and voices
To Nevada U


2 days, 3 hours, 23 minutes to football season!

Incompatible goals

There are rumblings in Congress about "doing something" about the current housing situation - usually something along the lines of making sure people can keep the houses they have "bought" and/or propping up the market to keep housing prices from falling.

The housing market is overvalued. Prices went up too high, and people were making gambles that their houses would appreciate enough before their exotic mortgages reset and blasted them with higher payments. Now, the gamble has not paid off and people stand to lose the houses they have put little or no equity in to (paying interest-only mortgages means you haven't paid off a dime of the house).

But I have also heard rumblings from Congress that "the American Dream is slipping out of reach," namely that housing is getting so expensive that the average worker can no longer buy a house. This is a direct result of the housing price boom. When things get very expensive, fewer people can afford it.

So Congress is in a pickle. If they work to keep people in homes they could not afford and prop up the housing market, they keep prices from falling and perpetuate the fact that people can't afford their houses. If they let housing prices fall, people WILL lose their homes, and it will get worse if, as some analysts believe, the market is 10-15% overpriced nationwide. If they create new and exotic programs to help people buy houses that are too expensive, housing will just continue to get MORE expensive as people are able to buy. If they just artificially push all wages up across the board, they introduce inflation and likely recession with a lot of sound and fury and accomplish nothing.

But Congress hates to appear as though it is doing nothing. And so it will meddle somewhere, and it will make things worse. But you won't see them talking about the invisible people harmed by their actions. And in 2-6 years, you will hear them decrying the plight of the individuals they caused incidental harm to by their previous meddling, and promising to fix that, too. And so the cycle perpetuates itself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Do you Doubt?

Do you doubt God? That God is good, sometimes that God even exists? Do you think that somehow disables you, or makes you useless for God's work?

You couldn't be more wrong.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Eclipsed Moon


The source photo for the nebula picture. The first clear constellation I've gotten with my tracking mount. Just took me a little practice to get the hang of it..

Little Truckee River by Moonlight

The river looks a little surreal to me here, as this is roughly a 3 minute exposure under a full moon, so instead of crisp ripples of water, you get a sense of flowing, smooth water. Another of my favorites.

Jupiter Sets over Boca

An example of using the moonlight to photograph a landscape.

The Orion Nebula

The stars aren't totally sharp, because the telephoto lens I'm using tends to "slip" a little in its zooming. But you can still see here that the middle star of the "Sword" on the belt of Orion isn't a star at all. It is, instead, one of the most photogenic nebulae in the sky, because it is so very bright.

Camera Update

I've been slow to share the wealth from my new camera, partly because my computer's video card has been noisy, so I haven't had my computer on as often of late. But tired though I am from my lunar eclipse viewing adventure last night, I wanted to share some of the pictures I've taken this past month.

So, being tired, I uploaded them on Flickr. The link's on the left. I'll put individual pictures up in a bit. I learned some interesting things about moonlight landscapes, and I got my first pictures of a deep space object that is neither star, planet, or moon. The Orion Nebula isn't shown in in excuisite detail, but I think it's pretty nevertheless.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Football Season!

Football Season is upon us. This Saturday, the Nevada Wolf Pack travels to Lincoln, Nebraska. At about 80,000, it will be the largest crowd ever to see the Wolf Pack play live, passing the 70,000 that watched Nevada upset Washington State a few years ago. So, with all due deference to friends with ties to the Huskers (I'm watching you, Mr. Slagle)...

Go Pack!

Lunar Eclipse!

Tonight, the moon will turn the color of blood. Or copper. Or a peach. Or any other description of red/orange you care to use. I intend to go somewhere to photograph it, but "where" is an crucial question. I need a good view to the South and West, because this eclipse is happening between midnight and dawn. I need somewhere where I can unabashedly set up "camp." If there was something interesting in the foreground, that would be nice - part of the joy of a lunar eclipse is that it takes place during a full moon, and I've been meaning to try shooting some full moon landscapes.

As a side note, if you find yourself awake at the hideous hours of the night, go take a look at the moon. If not, hope that my pictures turn out as well as I hope.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm Proud to Say

That I think the Reno Aids Walk was probably our best-attended service project to date. Between the volunteers who showed up and the extra few that did the walk, I'm pretty sure we passed 20. In a church of, roughly, 60 that means we had 33% of the church show up at once to serve the community.

We didn't get named as a sponsor (because those are the companies who gave $5,000 to get their name and logo plastered about), but we got to represent Christ with what we have - hands to tie balloons and hand out water, feet to move things around, smiles to brighten the day of the walkers, and a practical demonstration that the love of Christ extends beyond the church walls.

Up Next: Dropping Quarters at the Laundromat.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The best movie no one saw

Stardust is in theaters now. It's a fantasy/adventure movie. I think it's like what The Princess Bride would be if it were a seriouser movie, with a much bigger CGI budget. I thought it would be okay, but I ended up getting choked up at times.

One of the most happy side-effects of the astounding success of The Lord of the Rings is that fantasy adventure is suddenly attracting big cinema dollars. For once, the chasing-after-someone-else's-success attitude of Hollywood is playing in my favor.

Lost in Translation?

I hope so.

"We are afraid the monkeys will sexually harass us."

What a world we live in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Boasting in our Weakness

We don't like being weak. We want to hide our flaws, and emphasize our strengths. It's only natural in a world where "only the strong survive." But Christians are not called to live by that law. Christians are called to live by the law of love, and a shell of false invulnerability holds love at arm's length.

We all pray for God to remove our weaknesses, to make us stronger and better. But Paul had a different approach - that when God denied those requests (for he himself made them), he decided to boast in his weaknesses, because it was in his weakness that the strength and power of God was revealed.

It got me thinking - what, then are the weaknesses that I can boast in?

The most obvious for me is that I'm really, really lonely. I've moaned about it at length in the archives of this blog, and the feeling doesn't go away with time. I may be learning to cope with it, or I may be trying to fill enough of my time that I don't have a chance to think about it as much. But it's always there. In lieu of a spouse, it is what is with me when I wake up in the morning, and I go to bed with it every night.

It's the gateway to many forms of sin in my life. When I begin to dwell on it, I am much faster to turn to bitterness, anger, lust, covetousness, and other forms of soul-tainting filth. It is the foundation of my deepest doubts concerning God. The disappointment and frustration I have experienced as I prayed for many forms of deliverance from it are always on my mind when I pray for anything.

When I think of debilitating things in life, it's #1 with a bullet. If I had to name my greatest weakness - that would be it.

So how do I boast in that? There's a number of things, I could say. But they all sound hollow if I try. The only one that really holds weight is this:

It's in my weakness that I am forced to look to God. In my strength, I look to myself and any work of God is buried too deep to see. It's only through the dark hole in my heart that I can say from experience that in the darkest parts of my life God is still there, and God is still good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Curious What We're Being Taught?

Now you, too can listen in as Dawson teaches on Sunday nights. If you've been curious to know whether Coram Deo is a bunch of boogeley-eyed crazy people, now you can discover for yourself.

If you're like me, you'll generally agree, occasionally get hung up on a minor point, and be glad when the message comes back to how to live like Christ and love others in inconvinient ways.

By the Power of Cyberspace... You Have the Sermons!
(continue with He-Man themed music)

Bears, Beer, and a Dead Drunk

I suppose I should be sad that someone died. I do find the circumstances... interesting.

In a World

In a world where some Christians have been known for dismissing those with AIDS as reaping the due punishment of unrighteous behavior,Coram Deo's going to be representing the love of Christ by volunteering at the Reno AIDS Walk. There's no question which group of Christians I'd rather associate with.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Picture of Me Watching Fazekas

From a basketball exhibition game...

It's me in the background!

And here's my brother and sister, again in the background.

Me and my sister, closer up. My beard looks surprisingly full to me in the photo.

Because you want to know me

The Internet hath decreed my personality. The truth is, I tend to test differently on these a lot. It's obvious I'm an Introverted perciever, but with my other two scores so close to 50%, I tend to waffle there. Having it cast me as the iconoclastic artist, I doubt this is quite accurate, though it remains amusing.

What I was really interested in was the "Different Inteligences." What was surprising to me was how high it rated my "Naturalist" intelligence. Then again, maybe looking at the pictures I like to take, it's not so surprising.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Because.... Aw... Who needs a reason?

Because Satire is Funny, Too!

Because Manatees are Funny!

It's time for another "Good Idea, Bad Idea"

Good idea:
Acting in such a way that the name of Jesus is associated with selfless, sacrificial love for others.

Bad idea:
Acting in such a way that the name of Jesus is associated with dragging girls behind a car.


Evidently the United Nations' website was hacked, displaying a message about how the United States and Israel are baby-killing war mongers. This was also called "a message of peace."

This act was called "cyber-terrorism." And I can't help but think "really?" It was intended to be insulting, surely. It's probably what the perpetrator believes. But Terrorism? Using a word improperly devalues it. The "War on Drugs" distorts what real war is, and encourages other use of the word improperly, causing further distortion. Eventually you get to "The War on Poverty," which in no way except financial expenditure resembles what a real war is.

To misuse the word "Terrorism" to describe malicious vandalism that's nevertheless not really meant to inspire terror robs that word of its value. Terrorism is very real, but it's also astonishingly rare (at least, in the US... but also in most, if not all, other countries). If we start to see terrorists everywhere, we panic ourselves and unleash on ourselves the very terror we are meant to feel.

Jesus had it right. The best response to hatred is love, not because it makes you invulnerable to harm, but because it renders your heart - your very self - invulnerable to the effects of hate. When we live in fear of hate and terror, we hand the victory away. When we love and live in the face of difficulty, nothing they do can take our victory away.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Global Warming

I've so far read this in an editorial, and on a site with a clear bone to pick against Global Warming. I'm interested to see if I can find this in an independent or hostile source, because it would be pretty noteworthy if it's true:

Data, though, is often refined and recalibrated. When NASA retooled its yearly temperature figures recently, it was discovered that 1998 wasn’t the warmest year in the millennium. That dubious title now belongs to 1934.

The year 1998 only dropped one place though. It was the second hottest year during the past century. Third place belongs to 1921

Now it appears that four of the top 10 years in temperatures were from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939. Three of the top 10 warming years were from the last 10: 1998, 2006 and 1999. But four of the past six years fell well below average in warming, ranking lower than the year 1900.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Manamana, Redux.

In Case Anyone Worried...

We made it back fine from the Black Rock Desert. I took less pictures than I'd have liked, as it was rather windy and dusty at times during the night. The set-up for Burning Man has begun, and obnoxiously bright lights at the construction site made the night-vision much weaker than is normal up there (as well as stirring up more dust for the wind to hurl at us. But having two cars this time (only one before) let us park them in a way that gave us some shelter.

We spent much more of the night huddled under sleeping bags and blankets, occasionally peeking out at the sky, and much less time taking pictures. But it was still fun. The Black Rock Desert is wondrous desolation. I can't describe it better.

On the list for the next trip out there - breathing masks. Waking up with an incredibly irritated uvula (that's feeling better, but still lets me know that it doesn't like me breathing fine alkali dust all night) is something I'd like to avoid in the future.

I'll post pictures when I get around to taking them off my camera. I'm still tired (despite a few hours sleep overnight, and more once I got home), and need to get going to church.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What You Can't Buy

I found something you can't buy at It's impressive, because between direct products and 3rd party products, they have quite the selection.

You can't buy a donation to a charity on there - at least, not that I could find. I can't go on to give water to the thirsty, or clothes to the naked, or food to the hungry. I could buy the food, water, and clothes, but I'd have to find the thirsty, hungry, naked people on my own time.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Emminently singable YouTube Fodder.


Today is my 10,589th day of life.

It is 2,431 days since I graduated from college.

4,078 days have passed since I graduated from high school.

It has been 4,745 days sicne I first got my driver's license.

And 6,937 days ago, I first remember specifically thinking about what the numerical date was. Bonus points to you if you can tell me what day that was.

You might not think...

In a land of such technological marvels as television, cable, the xBox, computers, and the like that the single most enjoyable thing I did with some friends who came over Saturday was to spend 30-60 minutes pelting each other with a small beach ball (8 inches in diameter, or so). Or singing the Tetris song ("do do-de-do do-de-do do-de-do do-de-do do-de-do-do-do-do-do") while tossing vaguely rectangular pillows at each other.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Reflecting on the Basketball Year

They may be tone-deaf, but it was an exciting moment, capping the WAC regular season championship at home against the #2 team, on senior night, on the last game of the season. Fun times.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

You know you're old when...

You know you are getting old when you use your days off to clean. I took Friday off (because a late Thursday would have done a number on me), and the biggest thing I did was to clean up the living room. This was not an insignificant thing, with a difficulty rating of "Wrestling a Lethargic Zebra."

Whatever happened to the carefree days of playing baseball with a car-washing sponge soaked in water in lieu of a ball?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

You Don't Win Friends With Salad

There's a Simpsons episode where Lisa decides to become a vegitarian. Homer, in a predictable plot conflict, is hosting a barbeque. Lisa tries to convince him to just serve salad. Homer and Bart then begin a conga chanting "You don't win friends with salad! You don't win friends with salad!"

This spring to mind when I was contemplating Bush's opposition to a health care bill. One reason I don't like expanding government's reach is because what it extends in times of need it will not withdraw when the need passes. Another is that even if you expand a program to monstrous proportions, there is always a push to expand it still further in the next election cycle.

The reason is that "You don't win friends with salad." Politicians don't like to trumpet fiscal restraint and how they refrained from spending money. They do like to trumpet new spending programs. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are rare. Fiscal restraint is to salad as pork spending is to, well, well-marinated pork ribs.

Next time you hear Politician X talking about the programs they want to put in place to help people, just remember - "You don't win friends with salad..." but the alternative is a diet of pure pork.


Today's delicious irony:

President Bush opposing a proposal in Congress because it "increases government involvement in health care."

That he's making such a "principled" stand over a $35 million bill despite pushing through a pet proposal (Medicare Drug Benefit) with a 10-year projected cost of around $1.2 Trillion is two-faced, even by Washington D.C. standards. Just for kicks, $35 million is 0.0029% of $1.2 trillion.

If the Democrats had put forward a decent candidate, I may have voted for him. I wish I had voted for someone else, though. This is embarassing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Secret

We live in a very logicentric world. We want to understand, label, and compartmentalize everything. In the circles I have always run in, when someone is feeling far from God, the solution is always "Study More." That can be a solution, but I fear it is incomplete.

If I had to provide one answer to someone that feels that way, it would be "Serve More." There are few things quite as effective at cutting away your self-love than making a concerted effort to put others first. And I think it is our self-infatuation that most often pulls us away from God.

Serving others is the heart of love. And without love, being able to fathom great mysteries and proclaim great truth is the most hollow and meaningless sound there is.

I went ahead

And bought the Pentax K10D camera. The $50 rebate expired yesterday, and I wanted to make sure to get that. It should arrive today (hooray for Amazon.Com items that ship from Fernley). That'll give me a chance to get a feel for it, and get some use out of it at a church BBQ and a couple softball games tomorrow night. And, of course, I'll have it for the upcoming jaunt to the Black Rock.