Friday, July 31, 2009

Michigan Vacation 2009

I won't be posting an entry for Photo Friday this week (or next) as their theme, 'Cameraphone Shot' runs for two weeks and I don't carry a cell phone and the cell phone that we do have doesn't have a camera. Feel free to go on over to the Photo Friday site and see what other folks are sharing, though.

Instead, I finally finished my post about a trip we made up to Michigan over the weekend of July 9-13.

Here are the photographic results:

Friday, we (Our family, Christy's Mom, Dad, and brother, Paul) all took the boat to South Manitou Island. The weather forecasts for Friday were not good. We actually noticed a few raindrops on the windshield as we approached Leland.

As time passed though, especially as we approached the island, the sky cleared and sun broke through and a nice breeze off the lake actually made for a beautiful day to be on the island.

In Leland before leaving for the island:

On the boat:

More on this interesting object in Lake Michigan here and here
North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse

Approaching South Manitou Island:

South Manitou Island
On South Manitou Island.

A lake on an island in the middle of Lake Michigan.

Our guide for the motor tour of the island reached into the lake with one hand and pulled out two baby turtles: a painted turtle and a snapping turtle.

At the schoolhouse

Our guide also managed to find several snakes under logs, etc. much to the amusement of Hannah and Harrison.

The lighthouse on South Manitou Island is operational and accessible to visitors. We were able to go to the top, but several members of our party were unable to deal with the heavy wind once we got up there.
South Manitou Island Lighthouse


Saturday, the prority of the day was to go see the new Michael Mann/Johnny Depp film,

Public Enemies (2009) dir. by Michael Mann
It was good. Not fantastic.

I don't know how authentic to the original historical events Mann was, but it seemed to me that when there were opportunites to go "all Hollywood" and over-the-top with production, he played it safe and stuck to the story and the characters.

Depp was subtle in his portrayal, but very good.

Nobody can shoot a gunfight like Michael Mann.

Grandma and Grandpa took the grandkids to a beach on Lake Cadillac while Christy, Paul, and I went to the movie.

Later that day we all took a walk:

The sun was sinking and I couldn't help but notice the difference in how the trees looked on one side of the trail verses the other side:

Woods looking West (dark side of the trees)

Woods looking East (light side of trees)

Hannah and Harrison had a good time on our walk:
The Chase
(three successive images taken within two seconds)


After attending church and grabbing lunch, we headed for Sand Lake.

The best ice cream in America, according to "Good Morning America."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SPC - 'Seven Deadly Sins' - #4


To me, it seems that all of the other six of the Seven Deadly Sins flow from this one, pride.

Defined by Dante as "love of self; perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor."

One of my favorite passages from the Bible is in Philippians, Chapter 2

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

If Jesus Christ himself did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, then who am I to do otherwise?

And yet, I do it. Over and over, I do it.

I want control.

I know better.

I am right. You are wrong.



On a lighter note, I have a bonus photo for you, still in the 'Seven Deadly Sins' challenge, but since this is the last week for the challenge, I thought I would just add it here.

My lovely wife spent a whopping $50.00 at GFS the other day and they awarded her a grand prize of 5 pounds of savory hot dogs.

We ended up using many of them at a little get together with some good friends from church this past Friday night, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a self portrait with these babies, especially when the SPC challenge theme is the Seven Deadly Sins which includes -- Gluttony.

MORE gluttony?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SPC - 'Seven Deadly Sins' - #3

George tells Peterman's Mother his secret code:

...and later,

Kramer figures out George's code:

Jerry: Oh, come on, just tell me your code already. What is it?

George: I am not giving you my code.

Kramer: I'll bet I can guess it.

George: Pssh. Yeah. Right.

Kramer: Oh, alright. Yeah. Uh, let's see. Um, well, we can throw out birthdays immediately. That's too obvious. And no numbers for you, you're a word man. Alright, let's go deeper. Uh, what kind of man are you? Well, you're weak, spineless, a man of temptations, but what tempts you?

George: Huh?

Kramer: You're a portly fellow, a bit long in the waistband. So what's your pleasure? Is it the salty snacks you crave? No no no no no, yours is a sweet tooth.

George: Get out of here.

Kramer: Oh you may stray, but you'll always return to your dark master, the cocoa bean.

George: I'm leaving.

Kramer (building up steam as George bolts for the door): No, and only the purest syrup nectar can satisfy you!

George: I gotta go.

Kramer: If you could you'd guzzle it by the gallon! Ovaltine! Hershey's!

George: Shut up!

Kramer: Nestlé's Quik!

George: Shut up!

('The Secret Code' - Season 7)

I didn't grow up with Bosco around, like George, but we sometimes had Hershey's syrup or Nestlé's Quik, so chocolate milk was sometimes an option. I can remember the time when I had a craving for chocolate milk and we didn't have either, but I found a box with "Hershey's" on it and chocolate-looking powder inside. I learned that day that stirring baking cocoa into cold milk doesn't make a very good chocolate drink.

It does seem ridiculously indulgent to put chocolate into that purest of substances which from the moment each of us is born sustains us; makes us strong. I don't know whether this should count as gluttony, or not....but it sure does taste good!

Gluttony with a Grimace

Friday, July 17, 2009

Photo Friday - 'My Favorite Spot'


Believe it or not, I intentionally shot this before the Photo Friday theme was announced! :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photo Friday - 'Eyes'

Missed the Photo Friday theme last week because we were in Michigan, visiting a lake on an island in the middle of Lake Michigan. I'm hoping to get a few pictures up from our trip soon.

The theme last week was 'Eyes' and this was immediately the photo that came to my mind.

Siberian Husky Eyes

I had never processed or posted it, so I finally got around to that.

This was from March of this year. I had dropped Hannah off at a rehearsal at church and had a few minutes to explore a local nature park. I saw this dog in the parking aria as I returned to my car. He didn't seem to belong to anybody. He just glanced over at me and then proceeded down the trail.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SPC - 'Seven Deadly Sins' - #2

Sloth - spiritual or actual apathy, putting off what God asks you to do, or not doing it or anything at all.

I'm posting this, but I'm not entirely happy with it. I think it's an OK portrayal of the concept that most people have when they think of 'Sloth' as one of the deadly sins, but to me, the couch potato visual is a bit cliché; overdone, etc.


I think the association of being a "couch potato" with the deadly sin of sloth is a dangerous one.

I think many in our society make this association and then presume that the converse must be true. "If being lazy is a deadly sin, then being insanely busy must be a virtue.

Not so.

As with all things, I find that it is the condition of one's heart as they seek to do good that is more important than being busy simply for busy's sake.

These verses help to define the difference between being "busy" and being a "busybody."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

SPC - 'Seven Deadly Sins' - #1

So it's the first Tuesday in July which means it's time to reveal the new challenge theme over at Self Portrait Challenge.

The Seven Deadly Sins.

I'll admit that I'm a fan of the David Fincher film, Se7en. The very first time I watched it, my girlfriend was not with me. After seeing it, I was so excited about it that I forced her to watch it with me. Not a good move. She hated it. Not because it wasn't well made, but because she found it utterly disturbing. For months afterward, she was still bothered by images from this movie. Lucky for me, she married me anyway. :-)

William Somerset as played by Morgan Freeman explains -- "There are seven deadly sins, Captain: Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Pride, Lust, and Envy. Seven."

Again, that's


Here's Wikipedia's article on the Seven Deadly Sins, if that's of interest.

I'm also hoping that some of our talented writers will see this as an opportunity to pursue these themes.

How does it affect you?
How does it affect those you love?
How does it affect society at large?


Here's my first shot:

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works."
--Gordon Gekko from 1987's Wall Street.

Several market bubbles later, are we ready to ReThink this yet?

The pastor at my church has emphasized several times recently that if you woke up this morning and had the opportunity to take a warm shower (whether you actually did or not!) and had to choose which clothes to wear, you are numbered among the wealthiest and most privileged of this world. Helps to put things into perspective.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day

We all decided to head out to the fireworks display in Alexandria Friday night.

We got there and got set up.

Harrison tried to be brave for the very first test shot (you know, the REALLY loud ones), but we could see the fear in his face. The subsequent test shots put him into tears and then nearly hysterics.

We tried to calm him. He went inside the van with Christy and closed the back hatch, but he'd have none of it.

We packed up and drove home. I dropped off Christy and Harrison and then Hannah and I went back to see if we could catch the end, which we just did. I don't know how long the show went on, but it was over nine minutes after we arrived the second time.

I was able to get a few photos of the fireworks, but in my hurry, I either forgot to set focus appropriately, or the focus slipped out when I was moving the camera around trying to get the right framing. Either way, these aren't too sharp:

Red White & Blue

Explosion of Blue

Pink & Orange

Photo Friday - 'Big and Small'

Interpret this however you like.



Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pixar's "Up"

In an effort not to have another ridiculously long film update, this will be a short one. Two films recently watched.

The impetus for this update is primarily my disappointment with Pixar's latest....

Up (2009) dir. by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson


Yes, I said "disappointment" and "Pixar" in the same sentence. Trust me, I'm as surprised as anybody.

Basic plot: A young boy scout, Russell, in pursuit of his "Assisting the Elderly" badge befriends an elderly widower, Carl, and they set off (via Carl's house suspended by thousands of helium balloons) to achieve their respective dreams of adventure.

[WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead]

The beginning is perfect. How Pixar can make you care deeply about a character even though she only has a precious few moments on screen, much of the time saying nothing.

The entire montage showing how the realities of life sometimes get in the way of our dreams is completely relatable and endearing. Absolutely classic Pixar filmmaking.

Everything was great until you realize that Russell and Carl have suddenly arrived in the vicinity of their destination only a few minutes (of film time) after their departure?


I really think that Pixar should have drawn out the flight of Carl and Russell. I mean, the house being suspended by balloons and taking flight was the hook of the entire ad campaign: the teaser trailer, the poster, everything...and then their flight is over -- almost as soon as it begins? And for what? An on-the-ground, jungle adventure that we've all seen countless times before?

Like Russell and Carl, I found myself in "uncharted territory" when I began questioning plot points that Pixar asks the viewer to simply accept.

In some ways, for Pixar, this is nothing new:
I know that toys can't talk and move independently.
I know that monsters do not pass from one dimension into another using children's closet doors as portals.
I know that sharks don't join 12-step programs.
I know that rats can't cook, let alone control the actions of a human by pulling on their hair.

...but Pixar tells me these things and I believe them. I'm along for the ride, wherever they want to take me.

But with Up, this time, was different.

I found myself thinking about Russell's parents/caretakers. They never wondered where he went? It must have taken days to get where they were going. And with Carl's recent run-in with the authorities, you think he isn't going to have serious charges waiting for him when he gets back?

And Charles Muntz, the explorer who inspires the very young Carl to seek out adventure in the first place? How old is this dude at the end of the movie? 95? 100? Older? And yet, we see him running jumping and fighting like a teenager? Even if I force myself to somehow buy that, Carl is presented as a slow-moving, cane-using, feeble old man. While all of that adds to his charm as he is introduced, Pixar casts aside many of his physical limitations when it suits them to do so. To this, I think even Carl himself would say, "Bahhh!"

Dogs play an important role in the second half of this movie. I know many dog owners who seem to enjoy nothing more than anthropomorphizing their canine companions. Some pretend to "understand" what their pets are "saying." Okay. So maybe it's not too much of a leap to pretend that a technology could be developed to interpret and vocalize the communications of dogs. But now they're flying planes? In formation???

I SHOULD NOT BE ASKING THESE QUESTIONS, EVEN NOW. Let alone while sitting in the theater watching the movie. A PIXAR movie!

And yet...there I was...trying to figure out what was happening.

Don't get me wrong. Up is hardly a bad movie.

I have extremely high expectations when it comes to Pixar films which have always been met or exceeded. So I found myself shocked to come away feeling otherwise. Frankly, I think that if this movie had been made by Dreamworks Animation or Fox, I would have been thrilled with it.

So I guess it has as much to do with me and my expectations as anything, which often turns out to be the case, I find.

Regardless, I have no regrets that this was Harrison's first movie in the theater.

He did great. One much-needed potty break about halfway through for both kids, but otherwise they sat and behaved and watched the movie.

Also seen:

There Will Be Blood (2007) dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson