Monday, December 27, 2004

Indian movies & Tivo talk shows

Here's a little known fact about me. I like movies about Indian culture. Asian Indian culture; not native American Indian culture. I like the modernity mixed with historical culture; I like the music and how even the most manly character can just break into rhythmic song; I like the gorgeous women all adorned with glittering gold and jewels; the skimpy outfits; the emotional interplay through the movie; the laughing and family fun and the crying and family angst that are inevitably part of the storyline. Here are three movies that I recommend:


Monsoon Wedding


Well, I just finished watching a DVR'd copy of Bollywood/Hollywood and so it was on my mind.

Oh yeah. I forgot to add this little tidbit on, too. I was talking with a friend today and admitted to recording The Old Guy & Kelly (also known as Life with Regis & Kelly). I watch it every night when I get home. Granted there are often days worth of shows that I fast forward through and get little to nothing out of but they have a hit idea on their hands (as evidenced by the show's longevity). An older guy with a cute, young woman who hangs on him and panders to him. You get the female demographic 'cause they've watched Old Dude for years and are accustomed to his gruff mannerisms. They get male demographics from viewers like me who like to see how "Betty Boop" she'll play it up on any given day. Please don't mistake my reference for any facsimile of reference to authoritative commentary but I'm reminded of Saul and the young handmaid that warmed him in his old age. I know that any argument regarding what role the young woman played beyond literal "bedwarmer" would be an argument from ignorance and, therefore, specious. That doesn't take away from the validity (or perhaps illicit appeal) of having someone in your old age who is warm and vivacious and colorful.

I really can't speak to any valid socially redeeming qualities of either the TV show or the concept. All I can say is that I find it enjoyable and somewhat relaxing to watch when I get home from work. You just never know how "eye-candilicious" she's gonna be and he's liable to tear off on a rant at any time. Just thought you might be interested to know something useless about me.

Thanks for reading,


Christmas 2004

We made it through the holidays and everyone seems the better for wear. I think we're all gonna miss being around each other tomorrow but if we plan it right we should be able to spend more time together this year throughout the year with more vacation days (even if we stay around home).

We all got some nice presents and gave some nice presents.

I shot a very short photoshoot on Christmas day (photo folowing).

I hope you and your family had a blessed day and enjoyed sharing the time together.

Titans are out of the playoffs (have been for awhile); Peyton broke the passing TD record and UT is gearing up for their bowl game (I hate the BCS) on Saturday. I'm still looking for an inexpensive little place to put in a studio here in town.

Well, that shares few enough of my actual thoughts around Christmas time but perhaps keeps some people in the know. Here's the photo I promised:

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Development process

Anyone who's been a developer for any decent length of time (say 5+ years of nothing but development) can tell you that some things are the same no matter who your clients are and no matter what the project is that you are working on. I ran into something today that demonstrated that I haven't learned as much about managing a project as I might wish I had. You talk about these types of things with other developers and even make light of them when you're discussing things like business requirements and scope creep and deadlines and sign-offs but then you're in the middle of it with pressure (and even imagined pressures) to produce X, Y or Z functionality and next thing you know you've let a principle slip on managing a project and before you know it, the project is managing you. That's how I feel. I'm not mad at my clients (business users) nor my manager or co-workers. I'm disappointed that I feel like I should have known better and handled this situation better. I should have set some parameters through my own adherence to project management principles and put the burden of producing the necessary materials squarely into the demenses of other people with whom I interacted in this project. If I'd handled this differently I think I'd be at a different place in putting this into Production. As it stands we're looking at backing up the implementation date on the project I'm working on by 2-3 weeks now. That's not the end of the world but it does belie my beliefs that I had been through similar processes previously so I would know better next time. This time I was alone in the development so some portion of this falls totally on my shoulders and I hope I learn through my own disappointment and dissatisfaction (and concern for my continued employment) to follow a more disciplined approach in managing future projects. Most smaller places don't seem to have the luxuries of fitting themselves into such a structured project management cycle but at this level its more fitting to say that you don't have the luxury of not using a more structured project management cycle.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Catching up

Oddly enough I always thought that I'd use some of my time off during the holidays to catch up on stuff. Now that I'm older and feel beset sometimes by the obligations that I readily take on and the ones thrust upon me I seldom go into a period of time wherein I expect to "catch up" on anything that would further my career or aspirations (I just don't want to get completely worn out or overextended - I'm lazy I guess).

Suddenly I realize that I've finally installed Visual Studio .NET 1.1 on my computer along with purchasing and installing some anti-virus/anti-hacker ware and installing it. I also downloaded (via MSDN subscription) a copy of Office 2003 and installed it. I've printed photos for several people in the family so that we can drop them off when we see the intended recipients over the holidays. I even got the Christmas cards out the other evening and wrote several dozen (sorry if you didn't get one; its because I don't have your address - send it to me via e-mail and you'll get one next year).

Now I want to finish off my shopping with a couple of inexpensive but desired gifts (desired by the recipients) and then wrap them and place them under the tree.

We went to church to watch Cindee's parents sing in the choir. This church is a single story with no extra precautions/planning for children so we kept Katie in the back row (not because I'm closer to Baptist in my theology or anything, just to be considerate of others). She made it almost all the way through without becoming so restless that we had to sneak out and run around. We just missed the last song of the choral cantata and the closing prayer and statements. If you know me, you know about what I think of a choral cantata so what can I say. The experience lived up to my expectations but I was reminded again of immature believers as the speaker (apparently not the normal pastor of that group) reminded the congregation through both written message (in the bulletin) and via speech that "God loves a cheerful giver" and "you can't outgive God" "'cause what you give to God we give back in greater measure". Yep, you read that correctly. If you didn't notice the error or poor theology then reread the last quoted statement. ". . . what you give God, we give back in greater measure." The statement was also made the God doesn't "need" your money (with which I whole-heartedly agree) but that He wants your money (with which I disagree strongly). God wants your fellowship, He demands your Holiness, He expects sinful desires but is working at all times to equip you and empower you to live in Righteousness so that you can attain to the level to which He has already accounted you (He declared you the Righteousness of Christ and one day you will be glorified but until then you are expected to try and live at that level). Elevating financial gifts (which are woefully underdeveloped as a subject in the Bible commensurate with what pastors or youth directors or missions directors or anyone else who wants to live off your dollars will tell you) to the point of speaking about them in a group of people who purport to be believers when you don't preach openly against the unholy, godlessness that is current day building funds is one step away from blasphemy in my understanding of the Bible. Giving money is an outward sign of inward submission to Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Giving finances is an outward and visible (and in our society tax advantaged) way to demonstrate your own submission. Not every gift of money is a matter of submission. Many, many gifts are merely outward signs of something other than inward submission and faith in God. If a man can't provide for his family and take care of them then he is considered worse than a non-believer and an infidel in the New Testament. Did God require the lives of Ananias and Sapphira because they didn't give 100% of the proceeds of the sale of some land? Nope. He killed 'em because they lied about their donation/tithe/financial gift to the group of believers to whom they belonged. Ahhh, now I've torn off and started typing the message of God as most of your pastors won't share it ('cause it would mean that they need to get off their fat butts and go get a job to support their families). How often does your pastor spend 5 or 6 days a week not in the church building at all? How often does he get off his lazy ass and go speak to anyone that needs someone to speak to them including, but not limited to: infirm, elderly, prisoners, parishoners who are living lives of active disobedience, deacons who won't confront parishoners living lives of active disobedience, etc? Keep your money in your pocket. God doesn't want it; He doesn't need it and if you desire Holiness and Righteousness, then find some way to salve that tattered thing that you call a conscience without pulling out your checkbook. Don't give money to someone; go buy them the ham or clothes or pay their bill for them. In some cases, if they were good with money, they wouldn't be in the predicament that they're in. Its not that some people don't have times of hard luck but just enabling someone cause a lazy pastor tells you to doesn't make you Holy or Righteous. You can reach out to someone and help them through their time of trouble without having to take them to raise. In the Bible, the metaphor was a cup of cold water, not a room in my house and all the food that I can provide and everything I can possibly do until my own family suffers for it. The Bible is firmly in my camp on this one. The calling of a husband and also of a pastor is to be the husband of one wife and to love her and hold her up. Provide for your own family then you can reach outside your own household to help others. You are called to be a steward of your own self first, followed by your family and then, and only then, should you start reaching out to others. Get your pastor off your payroll and see where that money goes (unless the person leading you actually spends almost 100% of the time he wants to be paid for out seeing people and helping them and actively doing something with them).

'Course, that's just my opinion (but I bet if you read your Bible you might find that its a whole lot closer to God's opinion than your pastor wants you to believe).

Merry Christmas if I don't post again and thanks for reading,


PreScript Note

I bet that after reading the "Catching Up" blog post I'll get some comments from other believers who read my post and may be more "mainstream" than am I so I'll preface it with this:

When I go to a social meeting in which someone holds up the source of authority upon which I base my evaluations of myself and anyone else who claims to follow the same belief system that I follow, then I get pretty bent out of shape when those people who hold up that book then begin to espouse actions that are contrary to the precepts and principles of that book. The example would be how I go on in the other blog post from today about giving money to current day "churches". Do whatever your heart leads you to do (oh yeah and that lump of gray matter that God put into your head that makes you a little above the animals should just shrivel up and not be used at all). Believers are expected to test the words and direction given to them by their leaders (lookup Berea; all they are noted for is challenging an apostolic teaching to see if it fit the Bible). If my opinion misses the mark is isn't as wide to the side of caution as other people's is on the side of giving. Thanks again for reading and tell the church "leaders" to start making their own tents (yeah that's a Biblical reference, too).


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Evolution n stuff

Ya see, I'm a believer in the ol' "Seven Day" theory that purports that this planet upon which we stand was created from nothing over a period of seven days. I know it seems completely contrary to the datum that people discover and link together to form their theory of cosmic evolution. Its a difficult thing to relenquish. My faith affords me the ability to believe that an entity who is all powerful and whose knowledge is complete could easily have created a universe which appears consistent with extremely long periods of evolution. I have little problem believing that such an entity could or even would produce such a creation and then place rational, evaluating entities within that creation and expect them to overlook some things they see so that they could believe what they were told (I also believe that the Bible is the holy, infallible, inerrant in its autographs message from this entity to those of us on this planet so I think that entity is the one telling us things and not just the people who stand up on Sunday but couldn't find holiness with both hands, a flashlight and a map). I have no trouble believing in fiat creation. Now I take that theory that I've been taught and I pickup my Scientific American or Discover and read about discoveries that have occurred this year and I find that some of my beliefs are challenged. Evolution is an established fact. It happens at the cellular level in humans, it happens at a social level in humans, it happens both in micro and macro contexts. People in North America are growing in size. We're getting taller. We're also getting fatter but that's not evolution, that's a change in social diet and exercise. I'm talking about spontaneous changes in an organism in an attempt to become more successful at continuing the species. Virii and bacteria adapt and evolve at such a speed that we can actually notice it taking place over one human generation (say 20-30 years). I'm not saying that I'm ready to let go of the literal interpretation of the creation passage in Genesis (which fits poetical form so its difficult to actually hold that it is literal but I'm just as stubborn as the next guy); I am saying that I'm more open to other interpretations of creation given that creation isn't one of the basic tenets of my faith/belief system. I have faith that the entity in whom I believe could have made everything by His will with nothing else needed so really what is the difference. I'm secure in His ability, the only thing lacking is my own knowledge of how he chose to do it and I guess that kinda fits Job 38:1-11 (New American Standard Bible)

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
"Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell {Me,} if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or {who} enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop'?"

So for me, I believe that this entity could easily have created the world in which we live and the surrounding universe in seven 24-hour periods from nothing but if it really mattered, I think He would have been more adamant about sharing how He did it and then requiring people to know and understand that.

Again, none of this diminishes the astonishing things that scientists are finding such as virii that alter the DNA of humans so that humans pass on different DNA to their offspring (South American virus does this with heart or other vital organ tissue) or the cloning of a human embryo or the discovery in China of a dinosaur with its head tucked under a feathery, winglike appendage that also had scaly claws on the end (a fully intact example of evolving dinosaur) or any of a number of things that scientists found in this last 12 months. I don't think that we understand all of the things that we accomplish or find. I don't think that scientists generally get their predictions correct the first time or even the fiftieth time but I appreciate that they are working to learn more about their world and then share that information with each other and with we non-professional scientists.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 06, 2004

First weekend in Dec - lotta shooting

I shot a lot during the first weekend of Dec. The Winter Arts festival was held at work. That is where we invite employees to bring in their children or grandchildren and allow them to play and make crafts and even get their photo taken with Santa in front of a Christmas tree (that most Judeo-Christian of symbols, don't think I'm totally down on it, I sat there with my wife and daughter and Santa, too). We photographed about 250 kids in a 3 hour span of time. It went pretty good although we had one problem with focusing for about 15 photos that we had to retake (sorry if you were in that list).

UT (University of Tennessee) lost the SEC Championship game to Auburn Saturday evening but I'm wearing my UT shirt and my UT ballcap (cause its raining). While we got dominated the first half that was what everyone expected to happen. The second half was a different story. We came back out and handed out some Tiger ass-whippings (or WarEagle or Plainsmen or whatever they are today). We closed the deficit on a team that was supposed to pound us into the ground and that was against their A team. We weren't playing their 2nd stringers or cleanup guys. We were playing against their main players and we gave them a run for their money. Now like any good, decent football fan in the South I am all for winning but you have to learn that you can't win all the time and at least we lost to another SEC team. Not only that we bloodied the nose of the number 3 ranked team in the nation. We held "Cadillac" Williams under 100 yards and we put up better numbers on the board than anyone gave our team credit for. Congratulations to Auburn; ya better enjoy this one 'cause if this team can kick your butts after the dominating performance you put on in the first half . . . just wait until next year when we have a quarterback that has more than 3 or 4 starts under his belt. The Vols gave a good accounting of themselves; they sacked up and came out after having their asses handed to them and probably anyone that might have been watching the nationally televised game without having picked a favorite had probably already written them off. They really had nothing except pride in themselves to play for; a win wasn't going to get them into a BCS bowl but they man'd up and came back out of the locker room and busted Auburn right in the mouth and played them hard for the whole 2nd half. Congrats to UT. I'm wearing my Orange with pride even after the loss. You might whipped us in the first half but we didn't give up.

I also shot a session for an aspiring model on Sunday. You can find the images on my PBase account. I've included one photo from that session.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, December 03, 2004

Monitor calibration part of digital workflow

Depending on how serious or professional or perhaps anal you are it seems that calibrating your monitor and creating custom ICC profiles for your hardware is part of what people do in this heyday of digital photography. I took a stab at calibrating my monitor without any mathematical evaluation such as one might get by using the GretagMacbeth Eye One (tm) or ColorVision Spyder 2 Pro (tm). Several people remarked that the colors and brightness looked dead on but that the saturation was just a tad heavy-handed in the following photograph. This is a reworking from a photoshoot from over a year ago. I think its pretty close to dead on in colorspace based on the responses I've gotten but how does it look on your monitor?

BTW, I know its not a great composition, it was just a decently exposed frame from a winter beach shoot when I expected to have harsh lighting from late in the day for contrast.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

New monitor

Seems like I'm adding pieces here and there lately.

I'd just discussed with my wife the impending failure of my old, refurbished Gateway 19" CRT monitor the other day and told her that I'd been doing some research on some of the newer color accurate, wide viewing angle LCD panels. I told her how the bottom of the price range for a monitor that is supposedly acceptable for image editing is around $400 USD (based on several threads on I was trying to broach the subject of me "investing" in a new LCD panel sometime in the next six months. Now I wasn't suggesting one of the $6000 EIZO LCD's (and no, you won't find their prices online - call a dealer). I wasn't even looking at a $2000 Samsung or LaCie. I was down in the $400-600 range. The stuff that the pros say is the least acceptable equipment.

Fast forward to today and I got home to find what? Yep. You guessed it. The trusty old refurb that I've been using for about 4 years now just lost its gun or something. The text was so badly distorted that I couldn't even read what was on the screen. It was pretty bad. Ahhh . . . so much for my plans to just wait and get it later. I have an old CRT upstairs on the server but I think that it was manufactured with lead. The proposition of carrying that thing up and down the stairs to work or carrying it with me to an event shoot (such as the "Kids with Santa" at my employer's holiday party) put me in a bad frame of mind. It isn't as though I don't have a small fund where I save up a little at a time so that when something like this does go wrong I can deal with it.

I'm the proud owner of a Sony SDM-HS74P. It's a 17-inch LCD and its pretty impressive. 160 degrees of viewing, its sharp, has great contrast and seems to be accurate in its color rendition (I haven't calibrated it yet, though).

Well, just thought I'd blog it.

Thanks again for reading,