Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thank You, Miley Cyrus

The other day, I checked for comments on my last blog post, only to find two pieces of spam. One advertised online gambling (I oppose all gambling), and the other was a series of links purportedly to nude photos of Miley Cyrus (I did not check them out).  After deleting the spam, I changed the settings for moderating comments on my posts. From now on, I'll have to approve comments before they appear on my blog.

I love receiving comments on my posts, and always tried to make it easy for my readers to leave them. I've always felt less eager to leave comments on other blogs if I knew they wouldn't appear instantly (so I could make sure they got published). But the thought of spammers using my blog to promote ungodly websites troubles me. My blog, while it's not exclusively about spiritual matters, is decidedly Christian, and I don't want it defaced. I hope my policy change won't deter legitimate readers from commenting.

While I was changing that setting, I decided to look at other settings options in Blogger. For quite some time, I'd been frustrated with the process of positioning images within my posts, so I wondered if Blogger might have changed anything along that line. Sure enough, I found a setting for "Updated Post Editor" near the bottom of the "Basics" page under "Settings." From there, I clicked the "Learn More" link, and found that, indeed, the Updated Post Editor will place my uploaded images wherever my cursor is placed, rather than at the top of the page (meaning I'd have to manually drag them into position.

Excuse me while I play with this new function by posting a photo from our December 13 blizzard.

Ah...much easier! This new post editor could make blogging easier, which may encourage me to blog more frequently. I'm finding other neat features in Blogger which may also help.

So, Miley Cyrus, I hope you didn't pose nude. But the scum that spammed your supposed photo links to my blog accidentally did me a favor! Praise God for once again using evil to work toward good. Comments, anyone?

Monday, December 28, 2009

God and Country on Canvas

I just saw this video on Youtube. If anything belongs in my virtual museum, this video does!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh Little Town

This week I looked at a Paint Shop Pro tutorial for painting Bethlehem. I didn't follow it exactly. In fact. I didn't even have it opened when I made my picture! Having a general idea of how to do it was enough. Besides I wanted to be sure what I created was mine! Of course, after finishing the basic painting, I had to embellish it! Here are three results:

Merry Christmas, and may you truly know the wonder of Bethlehem!

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Camera

Since John likes taking photos and I like editing them, we got each other an early Christmas gift--a Canon Powershot a1100! We got it early so we could take a photo for our Christmas Newsletter (which we've revived after two years of dormancy). Our attendant took several photos of us, one of which I used for the newsletter. The other became my Facebook Profile photo.

The camera did an excellent job by itself, b
ut I did some editing with Paint Shop Pro. This one for Facebook was cute in its original form. When my attendant took it, I felt good about it.

Cute, huh? But when I pulled it into Paint Shop Pro, I cropped it, adjusted the brightness, and gave it a Christmas frame. I loved tightening in on our faces, thus drawing attention to us as a couple.

When our attendant took this next photo, she liked it. And once I saw it, the obvious chemistry between us indeed appealed to me.

Again, however, our faces were too red, so I lowered the brightness. I also didn't like the position of my arms, so I cropped them off. Then I debated between grayscale or sepia, and decided a modest sepia (showing just a hint of our red and green clothing) would be more dramatic. Finally, I found the "Satin Romance" frame that I'd created a year or so ago, and...well, it couldn't have been more perfect!

The photo quality of our new camera is very easy to work with, and it inspires me to do some creative editing. I look forward to seeing what else John and I can create with it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lesson from a Box Turtle

Since Mom (who had been widowed when I was 10) was dating her first boyfriend since Daddy at the time, it must have been my 12th Christmas. She surprised me and my sister with a pair of box turtles (which, in 1965, were legal pets in California). I can remember going out to the tree and seeing that shallow, bright yellow tub that housed our new pets.

One turtle was very active, at least insofar as turtles can be active. I don't recall how we determined that it was meant for my sister, and speculation on that point would detract from this story. I do remember gently prodding the sedentary turtle--my turtle--thinking he just needed a wake-up nudge. When he failed to respond, I moved him a bit more forcefully.

My 9-year-old sister, skilled in diagnosis, said matter-of-factly, "I think he's dead."

We made a few more futile attempts at getting him to move before I agreed with her conclusion. At that point, my wails of lament began! Of course, my crying awakened Mom, who came flying down the hall to see what on earth was wrong!

I'm not sure what happened next. I just remember being in the bathroom, weeping inconsolably, when Mom's boyfriend arrived for Christmas breakfast. Seeing my pre-teenage dramatics, he looked inquiringly at Mom and grunted, "What's wrong with her now?"

Mom sighed, "Her turtle died."

"Is that all?" he bellowed with laughter. He turned to me and said, "Cheer up. A dead turtle is better than no turtle at all!" We all burst into laughter at his unique perspective, and enjoyed the rest of that Christmas.

Long after that boyfriend disappeared from our lives, Mom, my sister and I often comforted ourselves in minor disappointments with the mantra, "A dead turtle is better than no turtle at all." Despite its macabre tone, it taught us to be grateful, no matter what.


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