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Scientology Petition

I don’t normally post inflammatory things, but I think this is really important.

Long-time readers and friends will know that I have strong, and negative, feelings about Scientology.  Whatever Scientology started out as when L. Ron Hubbard first envisioned his “plan for living”, it has become, in my opinion, a dangerous cult-like organization that hides behind it’s religious status while actually being focused almost entirely on making money.  Based on documentaries and books and news stories of various kinds, I believe that they are, at the very least, indirectly responsible for more than one death and countless ruined lives.  In short, I think Scientology is dangerous and should lose its tax-free status and its protection as a religion.
As it turns out, not only is this not an original idea, but someone has already created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for the revocation of Scientology’s tax-exempt status.  I signed the petition, and you can, too, by following this link.

While I urge you to sign and share this, please note that my views on this subject are strictly my own and do not necessarily represent the views of any group or organization that I may be a part of and should not be construed as such.

Fast Workouts

No, seriously, modern science has given us a workout that can be done in 7 minutes.

Loyal readers will know that my weight has gone up and down several times over the years.  The heaviest I ever remember being is 238, which was just before I lost my job in 2001 and ended up being out of work for a year.  I took the weight off pretty quickly then, which was made easier by stress and fear and the occasional lack of groceries!  (Just kidding, Mom!  We always had plenty to eat!)  Usually, how I’ve done it every time was to just restrict my calories and work out regularly.

But, what I’ve noticed is that every time I restart my workout routine, it gets a little harder.  Recently, I was back up to 235 and I decided that I was tired of being fat.  So, I started with the calorie counting and restriction, like always, but restarting the exercise has proven more difficult than ever before.  I’m so desperate that I’m thinking about turning to Lifehacker for help!
In fact, specifically, I’m considering using a workout they shared in 2013 that they claim is based on research and only takes 7 minutes to do.  It seems like a miracle.  But, since I’m working super long hours and I’m always pressed for time, it may be my only option.

It’s also the only thing I’ve got for you this week in the way of a “fun” link.
So, you know, enjoy.

Secret Phone Menu

No, I’m not talking about ordering take-out.

Have you ever wanted to get to the hidden parts of your phone?  You know, those secret commands that technicians use to get your phone to give up its deepest, darkest secrets?  Well, if you’re an iPhone user, you’re in luck!  Yahoo recently shared all those with the world, and, now, I’m sharing that same information with you, dear readers:  How to Access the Hidden Menus on your iPhone, at Yahoo Tech.
If you’re an Android user, the article is a little less helpful.  And, there are so many Android phones that it’s hard to cover all the possible hidden features.  But, they do link to an old Reddit thread that has collected a lot of Android hidden codes.

Y’all have a great weekend and a happy Easter!

Independent SciFi Movies

I have two for you this week.

Yes, that’s right, two independent sci-fi movies. One is a short that you can watch in it’s entirety on your coffee break. The other is really just a trailer for the longer movie. Both come to us via IO9.com

First, I’ll give you the shorter of the two, but with the greater potential.  The movie is called “Dust” and it’s about a very unpleasant evolutionary explosion and the ramifications of that in a science-fictional future.  IO9 shared the trailer in July of 2013.  You can find out more about the whole movie at their Facebook page.  It’s worth hitting the Facebook page for all the footage that’s not in the trailer on IO9.

Back in June of 2012, IO9 shared the complete short film titled “The Gate”, in celebration of an alleged deal for a longer feature.  While they might have gotten the deal, I’ve never heard anything about the longer movie.  At least we can enjoy the slightly disturbing short film thanks to the magic of the Internet.

So, there you go.  Two quick films on a Friday for you.
Enjoy!

Does Luck Exist?

Or do we make our own luck?

Opinions vary.  But, I don’t think that it’s complete coincidence that just after Friday the Thirteenth, when I shared with my few, loyal blog readers the origins of that unluckiest day, an email newsletter I subscribe to brings me an article about luck and people who have studied luck.
The article, titled “Does Lady Luck exist or do you make your own?“, brought to us by Aeon, speculates on that very thing.  Since luck is such an elusive thing, and our perception of it varies with our cultural background, it’s a pretty slippery fish to grab hold of long enough to study, but, according to the article, a lot of our “luck” may come down to our mental attitude and belief in our own abilities.

Personally, I’ve always believed that we make our own luck.  At least, I certainly have always made my own.  And, as a good, Mid-Westerner of German descent, I’ve always believed that hard work and making the most of every opportunity was more reliable than luck any way.
But why don’t you read the article and decide for yourself?

The Luckiest Thing

That’s right, today is Friday the Thirteenth.

As I’ve said before, I’m not really a superstitious kind of guy. Not really. But, I’ve known a lot of people who are. When I worked in the hotel industry, I actually had sold room 666 to someone not from a Judeo-Christian background, until a co-worker saw it and made a face. Then, I had to explain to the nice gentleman that some people found 666 to be an “unlucky” number. But, man, if I had pulled that off, it would have been legendary.
I used to assume that Friday the Thirteenth was considered unlucky due to some Biblical association. You know, something like Judas being the Thirteenth Apostle or some such. But, I’ve since found out that nothing could be further from the truth. As it turns out, Friday the Thirteenth is considered unlucky because of its association with the plot to suppress the Knights Templar, according to this article on GlobalPsychics.com. No, seriously! And, I quote:

The modern basis for the Friday the 13th superstition stems from Friday October the 13th, 1307. On this date, the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant against “the Knights Templar”. The Templars were terminated as heretics, never again to hold the power that they had held for so long. There Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested and before he was killed, was tortured and crucified. A Black Friday indeed!

So, there you have it, Friday the Thirteenth is a global conspiracy, though, for a nice twist, the Knights Templar or Freemasons aren’t behind it, but, rather, the victims of it! Which I appreciate, incidentally, because I am both a Freemason and, via another Masonic body, a Knight Templar, ironically.
Personally, I usually have better luck on Friday the Thirteenth, but, then, I always have been a little out of step with the world. Oh, and if you’re not buying that story, here’s a link to some alternate ideas why everyone else is afraid of Friday the Thirteenth.

And, yes, I know I missed posting last week Friday, for the first time in many years.  What can I tell you?  I’ve been crazy busy at work and I didn’t realize I had missed Friday until sometime Saturday morning.  We’re moving offices, or, at least, the business unit I’m with is moving to a new location.  Which means, I’ve been super busy trying to get everything set up at the new location.  I’m pretty sure I have everything we really need ready to go for Monday, but, then again, I won’t know for sure until we actually move and things start to go wrong.
I’ll keep you posted.

Trivial Pursuits

Well, trivia about one of my many pursuits, anyway.

It’s been another one of those weeks, so I’m throwing something together at the last minute.  But, at least this is a fun one.  It was recycled recently on Facebook, but the original post is from last year about this time.
I love trivia almost as much as I love photography, so trivia about photography is definitely a little extra special for me.  So, how would you like to be able to surprise people with the origin of the name “Kodak”?  It’s not what you think!  Or how math determines some of the markings on your DSLR?  How about why somebody named “Kelvin” is responsible for how your camera and photography editing programs describe white balance?  All those questions and more, well, one more, are answered by Light Stalking in their article Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop into a Conversation.

Okay, not my absolute best effort, but still fun.
And, the next couple of weeks will be crazy at work, so don’t expect much better for a month or so!

 

How One Photographer Got Rich

His best investment was his studio.

No, seriously, Jay Maisel bought a 6-storey, 35,000-square-foot, 72-room building at 190 Bowery in Manhattan for $102,000 in 1966 and it was the best investment he could have made. Why? Because he sold it late last year for $55 million. Not a bad profit.
Personally, I think his setup is every photographer’s dream come true.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a large, multi-storey, live-in photography studio, complete with enough room to showcase your work?
According to the article at PetaPixel, the one big drawback is that the building apparently didn’t have heat.  That would be a problem.  But, I think that’s one that could be corrected.  Of course, for $55 million, he can buy another building somewhere with lower property taxes and have heat and central air!

Anyway, I thought this was super cool and thought I’d share.
Check out the photos and the, unfortunately, laughable video.  The photos of the interior are pretty spectacular.

 

Last Chance For Love

Or, a reasonable facsimile thereof.

No, seriously, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, in case you’d forgotten, but you still have time to do something romantic for your special someone. Of course, there’s always the last minute flowers. (My personal preference on flowers has been Rose Gallery Florist for more than 15 years.)  Or dinner.  Dinner is always a good choice.  Or, you could do something else more fun, like one of the suggestions from Esquire’s 15 Fun Last Minute Date Ideas.
In the end, I don’t think it matters, as long as you spend time and attention on the one you love.
Besides, if you really love someone, do you really need to wait for this one particular day to show it?  Wouldn’t it be better to let them know more regularly?

Personally, I’ve had my flower order in with plenty of time to spare.  And, all things being equal, I’ll take my blushing bride out to lunch, not dinner.  Then we’ll stay home for a romantic session of catching up on our DVR queue.
I love being married.  Seriously!

 

Endurance

I was talking with my wife the other day about blogging.

I’ve been blogging since at least May of 2000.  That means I’ve been blogging almost fifteen years at one of my several blogs; Diary of a Network Geek, The Fantasist’s Scroll, or this site.
I guess that’s kind of impressive.  At least, she seemed kind of impressed.
Granted, I haven’t been blogging here quite as regularly as I used to, but I have maintained that once-per-week schedule when many people I know who used to blog have given it up.  And, of course, I also have a host of other sites like HavePalmWillTravel, from the days when I was a minor-league road-warrior and used my Palm IIIc more than I did my laptop.  Or, my latest venture, FindMyPhotographer, which is still in progress and not quite read for “prime time” yet.

In that time, I’ve gone from hand-coding the individual HTML pages to using MoveableType and subsequently seen WordPress take dominance from them as the premier blogging/content management tool.
Things sure have changed in those almost fifteen years, but one constant has been my strange urge to share thoughts with the world at large.  Honestly, since I think of myself as a pretty private person, I can’t really explain it.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that she thought my persistence was a strength, not a sign of lunacy.
It’s one of the things I love about her.