More Mark and Indonesia

I keep wanting to write an e-mail about the Oscars and my awesome weekend, but I keep putting it off. Hopefully for the sake of my sanity I will be able to do that tonight during the Iowa State victory.

I am taking a couple minutes to drop a few more pictures about Mark. This morning when I got to work there was another message from him with more pictures from his trip to Indonesia. I would just like to share some of those with you.

The above picture is to give you an idea of the height of the wave. The wave was about the height of this tree when it hit.

The above picture is to give you an idea of the power of the wave. This boat is so large that Mark couldn’t get far enough back to get the full boat in the picture. The boat is so large that it can not be moved. This boat was out at sea when the tsunami hit. It is now 3 miles inland.

The above picture is of Mark with one of the classes with which he got to interact. For those of you who don’t know Mark, he is the guy flashing the peace symbol. I believe it is one of his trademark photo poses.

Random Notes, Nothing on a Scandal

I was saddened on Wednesday by the passing of the founder of Hilton Magic. I have one quick story about Barry Stevens I wish to share.

Back when Barry Stevens used to play for the Cyclones my mom worked the training table. After wins they would prepare a victory dinner. The dining staff prepared lobster after what was a milestone win for Johnny Orr. As the players got their lobsters, Barry Stevens asked for ketchup. Johnny Orr heard him ask for ketchup to put on his lobster and raised quite the ruckus

Today is a milestone even for all old Campusites. Today is the last day for James with DM. He is working a 3-10 shift if you want to go into West and slap him on the back and congratulate him. That leaves only 6 Campusites left in the employ of DM. The cleansing has almost been completed.

Today when I got to work I got a surprise in my mailbox. Mark’s newletter from Taiwan was waiting for me. This is always good reading and I would just like to share a portion of it with you today. Mark recently spent some time working in Indonesia. I would like to share a little bit of that part of the newsletter:

With all of this damage, many organizations came to Aceh to offer assistance.

Two of these organizations are World Harvest and LCMS World Relief. It was with these two Christian organizations that I worked in Aceh.

The tsunami was a devastating event that brought more questions than answers, but it has allowed more Christian organizations to work in this strongly Islamic community.

Aceh is nearly entirely Muslim, and this can be seen in the presence of many mosques, sound of daily Arabic prayer calls, and the site of women wearing head scarves.

Christianity is not common, and while it is legal to be a Christian in Aceh, it is illegal to evangelize.

The mission work being done in Aceh then is not direct evangelizing, but rather sharing God’s love through action and building relationships with people.

While I was there I helped lead an Internet seminar to introduce teachers to email, the Internet and how to use these tools to make them more effective English teachers.

The teachers were a joy to work with, and the workshop will hopefully empower them to improve their English instruction on their own.

Another part of my service involved traveling to schools. I went to four different Junior High Schools. At these schools I helped student practice their English conversation. Many of them have never had the chance to speak with a native English speaker, so this opportunity was exciting and educational for the students. They had real and practical application of these skills they have been learning about in their textbooks.

In the end, this trip was very educational and a blessing from God. On the trip I was not speaking boldly about Jesus, but I was sharing God’s love and helping LCMS World Relief and World Harvest in their continued attempts to build relationships with the people of Aceh.

The coordinator for LCMS in Aceh, Dennis Dennow, often describes the work in Aceh as moving rocks. I think this really fits the current situation there. I like to think about it like the Parable of the Sower. Jesus talks about the Gospel being like a seed that is thrown on four different types of soil: the path, the rocks, the thorns, and the good soil. It is only on the good soil that the seed grows and produces a harvest. People are the soil, and just like the parable, there are many rocks, thorns, and birds that prevent the seed of God’s word from growing in their lives.

In the Islamic community of Aceh, the Gospel cannot be openly preached and spread. There are many preconceived notions and fears about Christians that prevent this. But love can be shown. Fears and stereotypes can be taken away. Relationships can be built, and individual conversations can take place. Rocks and thorns can be removed, and it is my prayer that one-day God’s word can be openly preached. Then those relationships that have been formed and all of the love that has been shared will be the foundation for continued preaching of Jesus as Savior. God’s Spirit is definitely at work in Aceh, Indonesia.

Mark also sent along a copy of this picture of a boat sitting on top of this house. The tsunami hit the day after Christmas in 2005 and the boat is still there. I would wonder how that could still be, then I remind myself that we haven’t done much better helping the victims of Katrina in our country.

A Tale of Grotesque Proportions

I know that the deer story did not have the happy ending that we were hoping for, so let me throw this out there. Did I mention that there are also squirrels back there.

So I have mentioned that I have this formal American Cancer Society Fundraiser/Oscar Party coming up this week. On a Saturday I went down to Des Moines to pickup a new dress shirt. This seems to be a fairly simple task.

Within that assumption lies the problem. You see I am a person of strange proportions. I have the neck of a much fatter man. I have the arms of a much taller man. The shorthand version of this tale is that even the Big and Tall store did not posses a shirt in stock that perfectly conformed to my dimensions. On Sunday I shall arrive in a shirt that is freakishly long and a button extender so that I can look stylish and be comfortable.

One last factoid. I am hesitant to admit this fact. I let them talk me into buying a zipper tie. Oh the humanity!!

You may recall that whenever somebody pursues acquiring a picture of mine it always ends up in the bathroom. My eldest sister is redecorating her bathroom. Who do you think she called looking for black and white photos of flowers?

I didn’t take many flower pictures last year. Although B&W is my favorite photographic medium I don’t think I took any B&W flower pictures. So I had to do a little post production work.

Below would be the options I gave her.

Flower Proposal
Flower #1

Flower Proposal
Flower #2

Flower Proposal
Flower #3

Flower Proposal
Flower #4

Flower Proposal
Flower #5

Flower Proposal
Flower #6

Flower Proposal
Flower #7

Flower Proposal
Flower #8

Flower Proposal
Flower #9

Flower Proposal
Flower #10

Flower Proposal
Flower #11

If you are the curious sort, she choose #2, #4, #9, & #10. She also wants a copy of #7, but it won’t be in the bathroom because it isn’t consistent with her theme.

So where will #7 end up? My guess is the guest bathroom.

Deer Update

So I went for a walk through the woods on Friday during my lunch break again and took these pictures.



These are pictures of 3 different deer. The last one is a picture of the deer from Thursday with the broken leg.

Today I went out on my break to see how he was doing. I didn’t get very far. I found him lying dead next to a tree.

Some Photos

I’ll keep this brief because I have a big afternoon at work scheduled. Just thought I would throw up a few pictures that I came across yesterday while I was toiling in the computer mines.

The first image comes from the David Letterman show. I don’t watch the David Letterman show because it is head to head with the Colbert Report, and quite frankly that is not even a tough decision. On Monday, in a segment called “Small Town News”, somebody I actually know was featured: Jen’s dad. See the picture below:

Yesterday a co-worker brought in Venison Stroganoff for the department to eat for lunch. This gave me a little extra time, so I went for a walk in the woods behind our building. Although I was just there for a walk and to find decent lighting to take my new profile picture, I stumbled upon this little guy:



I have seen as many as 12 deer out there at once, but this fellow is the only one I’ve seen lately. He has a broken back leg that makes it difficult for him to get around, but he is still hanging in there for right now.

An Accomplished Mission

Let me start out by saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” to the people who are celebrating it. Let me say “Happy Wednesday” for those of you who are not.

“>Willy’s birthday was over 2 months ago. I am a timely person. So, I am glad to report that I have finally finished Willy’s birthday present and handed it over to him. Unfortunately, I have no clue where he is going to put this in his apartment. You see Willy’s walls are made out of either concrete or pixie dust. Neither one is good for hanging things. At least I know it won’t end up in the bathroom. No wall space. For reasons I haven’t been able to make right in my head, whenever anybody actually requests a piece it always ends up in their bathroom. I’m not quite sure what to make of this phenomenon. Below is a photo of the gift. This picture is entitled “Grizzly McAlpine”. The subject named the picture himself. This is the only time I have ever allowed such a thing to occur. The mat was originally an orange-brown color. I painted it silver, but allowed some of the original color to bleed through. The frame is black. I was originally going to put a coat of silver underneath the black and then distress the black paint to allow the silver to come through. I decided just to keep it simple and leave it one color and let the stress come to it in its own due course.

Grizzly McAlpine - Framed
“Grizzly McAlpine”

Why I Need a New Dress Shirt

There is so much I feel like I need to write about Not about me I am a man of no great consequence and my “adventures” are not the kind that are interesting for other people to read.

Yet, I feel compelled to write I feel the need to write So write I shall I have plans this week for three separate blogs This is the first of those blogs The other two will most certainly be blogs that most people will not be interested in reading Those two blogs are about two topics that the grand majority of people feel either completely ill equipped or completely uneasy discussing Those two topics are of course: religion and politics.

Good, you are still here You didn’t close the web browser in a disgusted or haughty manner You were able to deduct that this blog is not about religion It isn’t even about politics In fact, it isn’t even about photography, unless you want it to be.

I assure you that when I do publish the two blogs about the uncomfortable subjects I will give you ample warning You will be able to click away quickly and find a blog that is more to your liking At least it will be comfortable and comfort is all that most people really desire.

So now I have written a full four paragraphs and haven’t come to the point The point is related to movies If you know me at all, you know that I am a fan of the moving picture On Sunday I completed a phase of my quest I went to see “Letters from Iwo Jima” with Nader Now I have seen all 5 Best Picture Nominees Now I just need to pick off some of the other categories here and there It might involve a trip to the Fleur Cinema in on Des Moines Although there isn’t much out there left for me to see, I would still like to see “Notes on a Scandal” and “Little Children” before Oscar Night If you are a fan of the Academy Awards, then this is a big DVD day “The Departed” is released today I would say that it is a good bet for “Best Picture” and nearly a mortal lock for “Best Director” I have already seen the movie, so it doesn’t matter much to me More interesting for me is the release of “Half Nelson” Ryan Gosling is nominated for “Best Actor” for his work in this movie Also coming out on DVD today is “Water”. It is nominated for “Best Foreign Language Picture”. If you don’t know what “Water” is about I will now include a brief plotline I have snagged from the IMDB:

The year is 1938, India is ruled by the British, and it is around this time that Mohandas K. Gandhi has arrived from Africa Banaras and left in the care of a wide assortment of widows who live at “the widows’ house,” shunned by the rest of the community. Chuyia believes that her mother will come to take her home. Here she meets several elderly women, including the head of the house, Madhumati; a quiet, confident woman named Shakuntala; and a gorgeous young woman named Kalyani — all widows. Chuyia does not know that according to Holy Hindu Scriptures she has been destined to live here for the rest of her life, for when a woman’s husband dies’, she has three options: One, to marry her husband’s younger brother, if his family permits; two, to kill herself on his funeral pyre; three, to live a life of celibacy, discipline, and solitude amongst her own kind. A new law in India which permits a widow to re-marry is not popular, and it is these customs and openly welcoming the lower castes that will pit Gandhiji against his very own people, apart from struggling with the British to leave India. Kalyani meets and falls in love with young Narayan, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who wants to marry her, despite his mother’s protests. But on the day he comes to take her to his home, as they are crossing the river to his family estate, Kalyani recognizes the house, the very same house she had been forced to visit as a “prostitute,” to be with Narayan’s father. The question remains, can Kalyani marry the man she loves? Will he want to marry her when he knows what has passed between her and his father? And Chuia really destined to live the rest of her life as a widow among shunned widows?

Although I am quite intrigued by this movie, I don’t think that it can possibly be as good as “Pan’s Labyrinth”, which is my second favorite movie to come out last year Either way, I’m quite excited to see it.

The final Oscar nominated movie to be released on DVD today is “Marie Antoinette” However, I might skip this movie It kind of hurts me to say that because it is directed by Sofia Coppola who directed “The Virgin Suicides” which is one of the best movies of the last ten years That being said, it is only nominated for one Oscar in the minor category of “Costume Design” Plus it looks really bad When I first saw the trailer for this movie I was shocked out how incredibly dreadful this movie looked I instantly had a desire to avoid this film I haven’t had such a strong negative reaction to a trailer since I saw the trailer to “Domino” The reaction was so strong that you could have sworn that the words “Directed by Michael Bay” had just come across the screen.

That being said, I will still probably give it a chance even though it goes against my basest instincts.

So why all of this Oscar talk? I alluded to a formal Oscar Party a few weeks ago This year I will be attending a formal Oscar party The party takes place at Legend’s in Ames.

The exciting thing about this year’s party is that it is doubling as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society I don’t believe it is necessary to point out to you that the American Cancer Society is a very good cause So much so that I’m willing to make the following deal to anybody:

“If you make a contribution to the American Cancer Society through me to this event . . . I will match your donation.*”

There it is You will not find a much better cause You will not find a much better deal. However, I will throw in the following tidbit For the proper sized donation, I’m willing to throw in a framed and matted picture from the Photography 139 photo galleries. The frame will even be hand painted by our skilled craftsman (namely me).

Just something for you to think about . . . but if you are interested in taking me up on this deal, write to the following e-mail address: E-mail address deleted

*Up to $500.00 I’m a nice guy, but I’m not a cashbox.

This Joke Made Me Smile

A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa, taking her poodle along for company.

One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, discovers that he’s lost. Wandering about, he notices a hungry-looking leopard heading rapidly in his direction.

The poodle thinks, “Oh, oh!” Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the poodle exclaims loudly, “Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?”

Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. “Whew!”, says the leopard, “That was close! That poodle nearly had me!”

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, “Here, monkey, hop on my back so you can watch me chew that poodle to bits!”

Now, the poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, “What am I going to do now?”, but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn’t seen them yet, and waits until they get just close enough to hear.

“Where’s that damn monkey?” the poodle says, “I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!”