Nikon 3300 and Zoom Lens

Just a quick note. I bought a Nikon 3300 camera (the red one – because it’s red 🙂 ) and zoom lens (Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus)  last year. With working, writing, and family life I’ve had little time to play with it. A few weeks ago my husband and I took a few days off to go to Galveston and I gave it a try.

It turned out better than I expected. I used the automatic settings and a tripod (I’m not as steady as I used to be).  The image on the left above is a cropped version of the image on the right. I am so pleased with the clarity of this image. Now, it’s my header image on this webpage.

Hopefully, I’ll get some time to play with it some more. It’s just a wonderful camera. And a side benefit of taking on a dull job. Pay the bills, but find some time to create. It does the soul good.

 

Simplify: The Art of Making Room for Art

meal2We only have 24 hours in a day. If we want to make room for art – we have to free up time (and money) to do it. One way is to simplify our meals and clean-up as much as possible.

Many of the recipes I use have changed over the years. I don’t have a lot of them written down the way I make them now or how I change them according to what I have one hand. Most of my children have moved away, but they are always asking me to tell them how to make their favorite meals.

I used to make meals for eight – and I think I did a pretty good job of it. But now I have to re-think meals for one or two people who are adults now. And, because I am working often at dinnertime, many nights they have to fend for themselves. So, I am converting many of my meals to simpler, easy-to-cleanup, fast meals.

Another plus, is that converting these recipes frees me from the worry of cooking every night for those who are still at home – giving me more time and energy to devote to my art work.

There are still special times (days off and holidays) where I can cook larger meals for our growing family, but I also know there will come a time when I can’t do it all.  As I grow older, it makes me feel better that they will know how to take care of themselves instead of eating out all the time. And, for now, it will help them spend less and live healthier lives.

Where to start: I recently saw a video for “dorm-friendly” meals and decided to try them. It’s here below:

 

I must say some of the recipes are very good. However, there were a few problems. For example – cooking rice or macaroni in a small mug in the microwave guarantees that it boil over. It makes a terrible mess. Another minor problem is that shredded cheese and milk is probably better for you, but mac and cheese is usually made with a processed cheese food. A third problem was that I found the frozen meatballs I bought disgusting (that may be a brand problem, but I do know how to make and freeze meatballs.) The point is this: if you are going to get people to change over to good habits you have to do it gradually.

Continue reading “Simplify: The Art of Making Room for Art”

The Day Job: Shift Happens

Previously, I spoke about the challenges of working and writing.(The Writing Life: Keep the Day Job)

Today I want to say that I now understand why Millenials are having such a difficult time balancing their lives. Not only is it hard to find a full time jobs, the shift changes from day to day make it almost impossible to have a life outside of work.

Last year I worked as a waitress and, as hard as that was, I loved it. The hours were late and long, but consistent. The job I have now is also hard work, but my hours have no rhyme or reason to them. I work late several nights (past 11 pm) and then have to be in very early in the morning on other days. Shift changes like this make it difficult to get enough sleep every day. I felt young at my old job and now I feel old at my new job.
Millenials suffer the most, I believe, as they never knew a time when this kind of scheduling was frowned on. When I ask co-workers why the scheduling is like this they don’t seem to see it as a problem that can be overcome. They seem to be unaware that they should have better options and that means the job shouldn’t infringe on every waking moment of one’s life.

I’m sure that this sad situation arose out of a need for “flexible scheduling,” but it’s morphed over the years into a chaotic monster that shatters any ability to make plans off company time.  I often find I have no idea whether its morning or night while I’m at work – there’s no frame of reference if one starts work at 6pm one day and 8am the next. The hours blend together – endlessly in some grotesque cycle of work and sleep.

The paranoid in me wonders if it’s not a master plot by some evil HR head. To keep from having to listen to employees complain that they don’t want to work late shifts or they don’t want morning shifts – some genius decided to give everyone bizarre schedules . Then the misery is shared and no one can complain their schedule is the worst. They’re all equally bad.

Continue reading “The Day Job: Shift Happens”

The Cosmic Flower of Faith

 

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Is there a transcendent reality to our existence? Is belief in such a reality an illusion?

We live in an age where people find it difficult to discuss the supernatural at all. One of the reasons for this is that our words are changing. Definitions are being shorn of their supernatural meanings.

Take, for example, the word “cosmic“. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) gives us the following:

Definition of cosmic
1 a :  of or relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness, or the universe in contrast to the earth alone  – cosmic radiation
b :  of, relating to, or concerned with abstract spiritual or metaphysical ideas – cosmic wisdom
2 :  characterized by greatness especially in extent, intensity, or comprehensiveness – a cosmic thinker – a book of cosmic significance

However, the Bing (search engine) gives us this:

cos·mic
[ˈkäzmik]
ADJECTIVE
of or relating to the universe or cosmos, especially as distinct from the earth:
“cosmic matter”

synonyms: extraterrestrial · in space · from space

inconceivably vast:
“the song is a masterpiece of cosmic proportions”

Notice the supernatural meaning is stripped from the definition. And it’s happening in other words, too. Some people think “soul” is now a person’s personality or character. The word “mind” is preferred over “psyche” as people accept that there is nothing more inside us than a mechanical brain that responds to external stimuli due to evolutionary conditioning.

For many people there is no God, no heaven or hell, no angels, no spirits at all – just the mud of the earth we are made of. When we die we decay into lifeless molecules and are absorbed back into that same Earth. It’s no wonder that the atomizing of society follows this philosophy of the atomizing of the individual. What point is there to family, religion, community if it all ends in dust? Why should we adhere to bonds between souls when the soul is a figment of the human imagination?

There is no proof we can offer that we will exist beyond death or that there is more to us than our physical bodies. However, there are arguments that point to something beyond this material universe. And this is what we call “faith.”  But, it is difficult to hold onto that faith. We may study the best arguments of humanity’s finest philosophers, but the dominate culture of this age rejects these arguments summarily.  And yet, isn’t the possibility of life after death appealing? Should it be rejected simply because it can’t be put to scientific analysis?

Faith is fragile – even for those who feel certain that God exists. First, it is hard to maintain faith in a vacuum.  Secondly, it may be that whether one believes or not in the supernatural depends on one’s personality and circumstances.

But my point is that whether one is a believer or not, the transcendent is worth spending some time studying and discussing. All references to  this (potential) aspect of our existence should not be wiped out of our vocabulary.  The difficult truth is that we will not know the truth of our existence until the moment of death. Like Schrödinger’s Cat, we will not know whether the fragile flower of faith is based on reality or not until that moment. It will be the most critical moment of our existence.

So, isn’t it worth spending a little time, while we’re alive, contemplating what our flower looks like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.

 

 

 

 

 

Texas – Eclipse on Monday, Hurricane on Friday…

We’ve been preoccupied with the sky lately. Slowly, things are returning to normal around here.

Fortunately, we’re safe. My family is safe. Most people I know are okay. Still, so many are not tonight. Pray for Texas!