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Friday, April 28th, 2006 - 11:51 PM

"Counting Sesame Street Style"

Count von Count Who was (is?) your favorite Sesame Street character?

What a wonderful day was today. Or better yet: Today was a wonderful day! The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing. Simply marvelous. Too bad I had to work! Today was a somewhat relaxing day compared to most because I went to another warehouse to help with inventory. I mostly just entered the counts into the system - the non-dirty work.

I have a challenge for those of you who have inventories coming up. Count as if you were Count von Count from Sesame Street. Whatever item you are counting, you must toss carelessly in the air, spinning it as it goes. And after each prolonged count, you must yell with much thunderous exclamation (and lightning bolts), "AHA!" (ie "One, AHA! Two, AHA! Three, AHA!" and so on). Don't blame me if you get reprimanded or fired. At least you'd have ten or twelve seconds of fun and instant fame. Count von Count was always one of my favorite characters on Sesame Street. Ernie was another of my pupilage preferred puppet personages.

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Monday, April 24th, 2006 - 9:58 PM

"A Whale of a Project"

Jonah Ministries

After a group of men from our church made a wintery visit (see the EsoShow) to Camp Jonah in Trout Lake, Washington, I offered to redesign the camp's website. A time of busy-ness passed on both sides, and now it looks like I will give the project a go. I am hoping and trusting it will be a rewarding experience.

The site is currently maintained by a nice young lady who has been serving the camp for a number of years. She has been blessed with three children and felt the need to devote her attention to her growing family. Apparently my offer was God's timing and provision. I am happy to be a part of that, and it is fun to share in writing what God is doing. I encourage each person to pay attention to God working in your life and in others around you. Like the Israelites, we all have stories to share of God's past and present provision. Don't let yourself forget. He is faithful!

I was incredibly surprised when I did the initial FTP download of the Jonah Ministries website this evening. There are over 3000 files! WOW! It looks like I have my work cut out for me. I am envisioning a robust site with a new look and several dynamic features. It will be both challenging and an opportunity for growth. Camp Jonah is a great place for fun activity, spiritual growth, retreat and relaxation. Visitors are blessed with charming facilities, gorgeous surroundings and a staff so hospitable, you might think you are in a seventeen star hotel - with slightly more rustic and outdoor amenities ;)

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Monday, April 24th, 2006 - 9:11 PM

"First Professional Presentation"

I have accumulated considerable man-hours working in various versions of Microsoft Powerpoint. I run the video ministry at my church from week to week, so it is an application of familiarity for me. I can't say I know it inside and out because I don't use every feature to the full. The presentations I create for worship services are not all that complicated. However, I feel pretty comfortable throwing together presentations of varying complexity and don't consider Powerpoint to have any features beyond the grasp of simple understanding. I know the programs' strengths and its limitations. I have been familiar with the concept and operation of presentation software for a long time, going back as far as memories of using a program called "Action 2.5" in the early 90s. About a year ago our church bought MediaShout, a program designed specifically for church use. I use MediaShout almost exclusively now for services but often combine the use of several other programs, including Powerpoint. If someone else prepares something for inclusion in the service, they invariably use Powerpoint (especially sermon notes and slides), so the program is in constant use.

Last week I had my first chance to utilize my presentation skills in a professional environment. My responsibilities at work are quite diverse, and I am often called on for a variety of tasks due to my gifts in media and arts. Our company had a sales conference last week on the East Coast, and my boss requested assistance in finalizing a Powerpoint presentation she prepared for display in a convention booth. She did most of the work in preparing the order and content of the slides. I simply re-arranged things graphically, added some verbage and formulated sleek transitions and animations to give the presentation a little extra zip.

The entire week beforehand I fed various photos and graphics to my boss as she requested them for the project. Most of the photos I shot myself with the company camera (suicide by camera). The most challenging task was to gather pictures that represent the company. I photographed the building and as many employees as I could. This is always a slightly under-enjoyed task because virtually no one wants to get their picture taken! One picture was really bad because I caught someone off-guard - kind of like a deer in the headlights syndrome. I fiddled with layers, cloning and liquefy in Adobe Photoshop and made it half look like he is smiling... it ended up in the presentation with no one the wiser! HA! Probably the most interesting picture I took was a group shot of everyone standing outside under the company logo. The event was arranged a day in advance. I picked an angle and stood on a tall, rickety wooden ladder to get the shot. It turned out surprisingly well - very professional, minus a few people who purposefully hid behind their coworkers (including me - behind the camera)!

My boss' final presentation definitely had my stamp on it, and I think it turned out great. Included were some slides presenting my recent redesign of the C2F website, as well as the version for schools. This was the first time my new designes had been revealed to the company by large, and I hear they were well-received. Our website in general is praised among our customers for its simple and effective interface and thoughtful featureset - something developed long before my involvement.

While the C2F Powerpoint presentation was originally designed solely for display in a convention, it wouldn't be surprise me to see it in use at other future functions as well. It was an enjoyable project and a rewarding experience. Of course, if I had more time, I would have produced a video using Blender particle effects and Serif Movie Plus! ;)

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Friday, April 21st, 2006 - 7:08 PM

"Hosanna-Berries!"

Adobe-Macromedia takeover EsoBlog entry Adobe buys out Macromedia.

After many moons just putting up with Dreamweaver's horrible FTPing, I finally decided to look into it. I don't know why I didn't search about it before or generally try a bunch of different settings. It would have saved me grief in the long-run. Oh well.

Basically, Dreamweaver is pretty horrible for FTP transfers. Well, at least it was doing a horrible job for me on my projects while working from home. It had incredible amounts of errors and inconsistent results. I would run the Synchronize feature once and get a list of every single file on my site - meaning that all files supposedly had changed and needed to be transferred. I would cancel the process, run the Synchronize again and get a list of about half my files. Run it again and it would say, "No synchronization necessary". Run it again and go back to a full list of all my files! Horrible. No consistency. And once the queue of files started transferring, it would fail to transfer about every 7th or 10th file - the interval of failure seemed pretty consistently spaced. So after the whole list was finished, I'd still have to synchronize a second or third time to get all the files properly transferred.

CoreFTP LE CoreFTP LE is a great freeware FTP solution for designers on a shoestring budget.

Dreamweaver's FTP was so painstaking and unreliable that I eventually started looking for freeware FTP options. I found CoreFTP LE, which is a fantastic program: free, extremely fast and 99.9999999% reliable. I don't remember ever seeing it fail on a file transfer. Unfortunately, however, it does not have a synchronize feature. So I had to remember which files I had changed so they could be transferred to my various working computers. If you are looking for a way to transfer files to and from your design projects and don't want to waste a ton of cash, CoreFTP LE is a good solution. If it had a synchronize feature, I would use it constantly because it is lightning fast compared to Dreamweaver or web folders (using IE - ew - as an FTP drag-and-drop application).

Google Logo

Just this evening I decided to look into the Dreamweaver FTP problem. I did a basic Google search and found a number of decent documents. None of them were overly profound, and the FTP settings within Dreamweaver are pretty limited. However, the search led me to realize I could simply try fooling around with all the options to see if any of them improved the situation. After a couple tries, I found that by switching the FTP method to passive FTP, my woes disappeared. I just completed my first ever reliable one-step Synchronize in Dreamweaver. No failed files, no innaccurate list of changed files, etc. Fantastic!

So let that be a lesson - mostly to myself - but perhaps others can learn. If you are having any sort of question or problem, especially related to computers, and you have internet access, simply search on Google, and you will probably save yourself some trouble. This sounds pretty obvious, I know. And in reality, I normally am the first one to think of searching for an answer on the internet. I have no idea why I waited so long to look for a problem to my FTP struggle. I guess I just assumed Dreamweaver was junk.... because all the other FTP solutions were working fine. Oh well, live and learn.

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Wednesday, April 19th, 2006 - 11:07 AM

"A Special Announcement"

Happy Birthday, Mom

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Wednesday, April 19th, 2006 - 2:30 AM

"New C2F Site Coming Along"

I recently shared my progress on the C2F School Site which is live and visible to customers on the web. I was instantly given the go ahead to redesign the look and general structure of the flagship C2F site from the ground up. This is a considerable privilege and definitely my most significant and widely visible project to date. A vast number of customers, prospective customers, our employees, and the world will directly see the results of my work.

C2F is about to get a face-lift The large majority of the C2F site redesign has been finished, though it is not yet visible on the web. Here is a preview of the layout, images and colors as they will appear.

I designed this layout using strategic CSS - by far my most detail-oriented achievement so far in that all the visual styles are externally controlled by CSS. Not a single visible image appears in the XHTML itself. Here's an unstyled rendering of the same XHTML to show that all visible styling is controlled by the externally linked CSS file. I took special time and attention to write the XHTML in a manner that would allow entire theme changes to be applied by simply linking a different CSS file. This functionality has been desired by the company for a long time now. This sort of easy color and style changing is something I planned for Esotropiart from the beginning. It was fun to actually put it into practice with C2F. Each time I finish another design project I learn at least one new trick. This time I made use of a couple creative solutions that make possible a more complete separation of structure (XHTML) and presentation (CSS).

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Tuesday, April 18th, 2006 - 1:49 AM

"Jack Climbed the Beanstalk"

Here I am sitting at my computer in the dark, listening to "He Leadeth Me", as sung by Terry McGlasson. My mind is stirred toward thoughts of one Jack Marrs. What a man. He was a pillar of our church. He passed on just after the Easter service this past Sunday. What a day to go. The angels must be rejoicing. Tears flood my eyes this moment simply because the man will be missed. Yet at the same time I cannot help but have a vision of extreme joy and assurance unrivaled by any in recent memory - that I know this man is in heaven with Jesus, my Lord. Recently I have been longing and thirsting to see the face of my King. This distance and "blindness" to His constant presence so frustrates me. I want more. I will be satisfied with nothing less than looking into His eyes and feeling His hand on my face. So little separates us and our frail bodies from this short life and the next. So foolish I am sometimes to get so distracted and not to give my all for Christ. Thank you Jack. You are severely blessed where you are now, and we were privileged just as much to have had you with us for a time. I will miss you, my brother. And I look forward to heaven where I will have infinite time to listen to your wisdom, jokes and stories. Your "graduation" has greatly blessed me in this hour. I feel so close to Jesus. My passing is but a breath away as well. Praise God. Bless His holy name.

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Tuesday, April 18th, 2006 - 12:09 AM

"Eboid Radicoil 2"

Smokey Bliss Here is one of the particle effects I developed specifically for the Good Friday project. It is a combination of two effects created in Blender, layered in Serif MoviePlus

This Easter season I took on my first significant video production project (okay, second to "Come"). Pastor asked me to come up with some slides for the Good Friday service. Of course I took that to mean he wanted a video montage with overlaying particle effects! It will take me some time, but my hope is to get the entire video (just 3-1/2 minutes) on Esotropiart so I can share what I feel is a meaningful, inspired project. There is a story that goes along with the video, as I am convinced the Holy Spirit was helping me along.

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Monday, April 17th, 2006 - 11:08 PM

"Success and Seizure"

Two-Face, with coin a flippin

Ever since I learned of its existence, I have been trying off-and-on to post to my Blogger mirror using PHP and the Blogger API. I expressed some frustration after trying every solution (not many) the web had to offer to no avail. I determined that it had something to do with SSL, a feature not offered by my previous web host. Now that I have simple SSL functionality, getting the PHP script to work was almost instantaneous. I have successfully posted to my Blogger account using PHP. Woo hoo!

No sooner than achieving this fantastic victory has the whole process seized up. Apparently Blogger is quite strict with how a person posts to its API. I guess if you post too often, it puts a block on your account, assuming you are creating a spamming account of some sort. Needless to say, this is REALLY annoying. If they are going to offer a secure way to post to their API using scripts it's really dumb to pick and choose who they will allow. Now I am limited to transferring one archived blog entry at a time from Esotropiart. Sometimes the SPAM warnings don't even allow that. Shortly, I might not be able to post at all, simply because I am following the correct, documented procedure to post to their system. Ultimate dumbness!... rhymes with Mr. Tumnus, except Mr. Tumnus is infinitely more interesting and less annoying.

I probably look quite exactly like Two-Face, with one side smiling in glee after successfully posting to Blogger, while in reality I am grotesquely annoyed at their indiscriminate blockage, aka Factor X-12 Simpson Hyperbind.

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Monday, April 17th, 2006 - 10:38 PM

"Diversify Your Options"

Cool! Suddenly my audience has not only expanded, but I am also receiving hits from servers in a wide variety of countries. I don't completely trust these stats because the internet is such a tangled web, yet it is certainly a significant jump in the diversity of my audience.

The first graph represents Esotropiart's last 100 unique visitors. In that 100, at least 12 nations chimed in. That's pretty significant for my humble site. Obviously most of those hits were probably one hit for one second wonders, but hey, I'll take what I can get!

Twelve countries out of the last 100 unique visits

The second graph shows a supposed "full" list of countries who have visited my site in recent history - actually quite recently because my stats reset when I changed web hosts a month ago.

A full list of visiting countries since my recent host change

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Sunday, April 9th, 2006 - 8:25 PM

"Go to School, Scientists"

All right... I guess I'll chime in on this whole "gospel of Judas thing". Obviously someone didn't want me writing it because the session timed out on my blog entry script, and I lost everything. I'll rewrite it anyway! Trusty notepad and cut & paste for sake of sanity :)

I won't bore people too much, and I don't address this story simply because I'm trendy and only write what others have already written. Such is not the case. In fact, I haven't read up much on the details. So this is pretty much a gut personal reaction to the ridiculous distortion of truth - with a little bit of basic logic mixed in.

First of all, this Judas thing is nothing new. For several years (say, 2000), Satan has been trying to prove that Jesus was just a man, a teacher. Satan would say that certainly Jesus was no "God", "Son of God", "Divine One", "Prophet" or the like. Well, let me tell you, Lucipher-dope: You aint got nothing on Jesus. Before you were, Jesus IS. Jesus is in His very nature, God - and worthy of all worship and praise. Not to mention that He defeated the grave, and Satan is absolutely powerless.

I've always held a deep fascination of the infinite. God, as I understand and believe, is the only real source of infinity. He has always been and always will be. Perhaps He can create something that is also infinite (infinitely big, infinitely small), but in comparison to He, they are all the same size. Such is the mystery of the infinite, and perhaps where creation ends and God starts. All that God has created can be described, while no description can hold Him. Words are a container He does not fit inside, and thoughts as well. Even higher levels of creation, such as angels are specks to Him. In fact, as angels hold far more lasting power than humans, God has the same superiority over the highest of them. Let's say God created a hierarchy of one trillion powerful beings, each level being one million times more powerful than the previous level's leader, the strongest member of the highest power would still be a speck to Him - for He is infinite. Infinity cannot be defined as a number with a large number of zeroes at the end. Nor can God's power or love or grace or truth or justice be defined by words or measurements. Let's draw a bar graph on a monitor screen where the vertical axis represents a combination of power, holiness, goodness, and whatever other attributes we want to include that are good and of God... The two members for analysis in figure 1 are a typical angel and a natural born man. Let's ignore the fact that some angels are fallen and that man is completely born of sin nature and utterly bad from birth. Let's assume angels have eighty times the everlasting power/influence and good attributes of an average man. So here's our graph:

Comparing Men and Angels

Okay, that's all well and good. So angels are on a higher level than man - perhaps. Just speculating and throwing out random numbers, but probably true. It seems God created angels higher than men... though we have the potential of becoming Sons of God! Craziness that He would stoop so seemingly low and love us... but that another issue! Let's see another graph that compares God, men and angels together. I'm not absolutely certain, but I believe this graph is pretty theologically and mathematically accurate. The first one was just speculation, of course.

Comparing Men and Angels

In this case, the top of the scale is infinity, and the bottom is zero. God obviously has all his perfect, holiness and other "attributes" to the full, because He is God. He is equal to Himself. He is One (yet infinitely so). Therefore He fills the charts. However, man and angel are alike - nothing. Because the graph must represent an infinite "value", there can be no lines on the side representing some sort of breakup or measurement. Not only that, but any values that can be measured cannot even appear on the graph. Literally men and angels are the same on the graph because even a pixel of height on their graphs would mean God is not infinite. Something or someone is either infinite or it isn't. The childish saying, "infinity times infinity" bears no meaning, nor does it impose an increase. According to this model, the numbers 80 and 1 have the exact same value from God's eyes. They are less than He, and equally so. Perhaps that is why His ways and thoughts are so higher than ours. We must measure and size things up. Perhaps He has no need to do so (2 Peter 3:8,9).

It is quite possible that these recent attempts to discredit Jesus Christ are a concentration of what has been taking place since He rose from the grave (and yes, He did - don't try to explain the infinite God with finite science). This concentration includes junk like "Jesus married Mary Magdalene and has descendants", "Jesus told Judas to betray Him so that He could complete His checklist of fulfilling prophecies and deceive the world into believing in Him", and "Jesus walked on ice, not water". Such jewels these are. Let's shatter them with a dose of easy, 1st grade logic.

Judas' Word is Junk: I'm sorry, but all that needs to be said is this: "The word of Judas cannot be trusted". Judas was possessed by Satan, so even if he wrote something that hints that Jesus told Judas to betray Him with a kiss, it's just something Judas wrote. Perhaps he wrote it in guilt, or perhaps he wrote it under Satan's influence - planning for such a future deception as we see now. Either way, by God's divine providence, the gospel of Judas didn't make it into the canon of scripture, and it is ridiculous to consider anything written in it as authoritative. Satan is the father of lies, and Judas literally kept him company, or vice versa. No need for further logical or physical evidence. That's all that is really needed. Simple. Sweet. Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is a Kung Fu Master: Jesus walked on water as an amazing miraculous feat ("feet" - no pun intended - okay, so it was!). Just as Jet Li is able to bounce on water by piercing it with a sword in Hero, Jesus can do amazing things. Besides, um, duh... why would it be cold enough for ice there, and why would those pieces float so fast and nicely, directly to the boat where the disciples were... did Jesus have an oar? How could He navigate on ice without using miraculous power anyway? Clearly there was no sheet of ice vastly covering the lake because the disciples were in a boat, crossing the lake without obstruction. Clearly no significant ice could exist because the waves were tossing and turning, and the wind was blowing. It probably wasn't even cold there because this event follows the feeding of the 5000. Imagine, 5000 plus people sitting on snowy buffs instead of in their warm homes (not even the 12 would be that dedicated!). Yeah, right. Next, Peter would have also needed a magical icey shadow under him (like the boat that you can't jump off of in Super Ghouls and Ghosts just before the squid boss) because Jesus called to Peter, and he too walked on the water until his faith and eyes failed him. I guess he must have slipped on the slippery ice. Good thing Jesus was wearing his gold shoes! He is a masterful surfer with amazing self-propelling properties to boot! He must have actually been wind-ice-surfing because the Bible mentions wind in the passage. Good grief! Read the passage, scientists! If you want to discredit Jesus, just claim He didn't even enter the water, that He never existed to begin with, etc. Don't try to explain to me "from the text" that He found a frozen skiff. You may as well "read into it" and say He walked on a rare reef of super-buoyant, bloated tropical bananas. That is just as likely.

Honestly, I believe these stupid stories are a disgrace to science. God created science. Honestly, there should be another step added to the scientific method. If any hypothesis or theory seems to say God doesn't exist (Psalm 14) or isn't as great, magical, powerful and awesome as He says He is, trash that theory or idea. It's just a waste of time.

Now, these little news tidbits are most likely marketing schemes. Since the original, DaVinci Code did so well, people might be trying to cash in, selling their souls, so to speak. On the other hand, sadly, Satan might use these grand deceptions to build an environment ripe for his arrival as the anti-Christ. If he is able to make mankind doubt (even the elect, if that were possible) Jesus' divinity, purity or word, he can step in and claim the role of Messiah quite easily - and all will forget the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. In fact, he might even claim Jesus was a false Messiah, even the anti-Christ! Then he could further claim to be ushering in and fulfilling the prophecies of the old testament. Sick, but I can totally see that happening. But it will be short-lived. That, we know. Don't fall for his stupid schemes, people. Use your minds. I know, I'm a fool too and often fall for his tricks. But this one is just dumb! It sounds like a joke, but if 10,000,000 copies of The DaVinci Code sell in a short amount of time, this grand deception might be easier than one might think. On that issue, I have no idea if Jesus had any marital relationship while on earth. I tend to think not, since it was never mentioned, and He was so transient and "other-wordly", but it wouldn't break my faith to find out He had been with a woman. All I can say about that is Jesus is without sin, so whatever He did on earth couldn't have broken His relationship and union with God the Father. It seems to me that it is more likely He considered the short time He had on earth and kept "on task" and away from time-consuming distractions. And if He married, why (and how) would He keep it such a "dark" secret for thousands of years? It would have leaked early on and spilled down throuh the centuries as a known occurrence.

There's my bit on the subject. Save the details for apologists. I prefer to live and face my own struggles. Closeness to God is struggle enough. Jesus is God. He is my only hope. And it is all by faith, not scientific evidence. I believe.

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Monday, April 3rd, 2006 - 11:01 AM

"I Hate Saving Daylight"

I will never remember which day of the year Daylight Savings falls on, and I will probably always get confused, not knowing whether to Spring forward or Fall back. This particular changeover, I flubbed entirely. I guess it was all the moving process and inventory at work that caused me to completely forget about it. Anyway, I woke up horribly late, forgetting to set my clocks ahead. It was too late to get to church, and this is for me a horrible problem. I do the video ministry on Sundays. I had to call everyone in the church directory to find a soul that could help me out.

I think we should abolish Daylight Savings. It is so ridiculous that we think we can control the time. The planet keeps on rolling. Why fool with the hour? It's absolute dopery! Summer afternoons are long enough as it is and those in winter, ridiculously short. There's no reason to tamper with them and make it a ridiculous, unnatural contrast. If anything it would make more sense to make the opposite seasonal hour changes so that summer and winter days are more similar in length. Oh well, I'm no world conquerer, so I have no power to change such things. If I was, however, this would be one of the first things to go! No more Daylight Savings! Greedy buckaroos that dreamed up such an annoying concept!

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