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I am still alive.

Very busy, though, and not managing my time with enough efficiency to allow for things like deviantArt or photography (or AIM, for that matter).  Besides school, which has been horrendous, there has been personal stuff aplenty going on, and the reworking of several of my basic assumptions, come in through a back door (and over several years) and now developed into a more serious matter.  I don't think I'd call myself emergent (though I identify with them in many ways), but I've certainly abandoned fundamentalism, and this for a variety of reasons.  It can be a bit difficult moving to a different worldview than the one you were raised in and that many of those you respect uphold.  But this is another matter for another time, as I am sure not all of you are interested in my spiritual and philosophical (and, one can but hope, Christological and Christ-seeking) ventures these days.

I have also acquired an internship that will be taking me to the west coast for the summer.  This is all to say that I have had more to do and more on my mind than photography and dA.  I have a series of submissions to go through, and I will - as always - look at every single one.  I just don't know when.

Blessings to you all!  I'll see you when I see you.
Because I'm a dork, I didn't realize until just now that I can apparently make prints.  So everyone can submit prints now?  What's the dealio with that?  D'oh, if only I'd noticed in time for Christmas.

Speaking of which, a merry/happy Christmas to all of you!  Now go be with your family and friends.  :)
I've finally gotten through all my built-up messages from my hiatus during the summer.  There were over a thousand deviations and hundreds of journal entries, and it took months (particularly done over the past few weeks), but I viewed and read them all.  My barrage of favs, and sometimes comments, can quit now, as there is a lot of really good work sitting in my favorites gallery.  The people and the art - that's the reason I came back to this place anyway.  Speaking of people, there are too many of you whom I know all too peripherally.  Hopefully I too will be doing some photography relatively soon - it has been far too long.

I always have much to say, but how much is relevant to dA et al, I don't know.  And plus, it is good to learn to listen (and get on with schoolwork, besides), so I'll put a stopper to the journal, rather than rambling on anymore.  Have a good one, everyone.
  • Listening to: Paul Colman - The One Thing
I've been slowly going through my built up stack of deviations (and still am - 829 to go, plus 217 journal entries... I will read and view them all), and I've come across a lot of really amazing work by JCNero.  I was rather surprised to find very few comments and favs because the man has simply amazing black and white photogrpahy, some of the best I've seen on dA, and just lacks popularity.  Not that I'm a popular photographer, but I can at least tell you.  :)

If you're reading this, you should stop right now and check out his awesome gallery:
Yes, I'm alive.  Sheesh, you leave dA for just a few months and you get 1000+ messages from the thing (mostly others' artwork).  I will get to it all, but it will be quite some time, as I am still quite busy.  In fact, I should be doing syntax homework right now, but a lack of photography for a while (and it has been a long while) drove me to think about dA and - oh my, it's been an awful long time since I logged on that thing.  Maybe I'll tackle all my messages in piecemeal, but I doubt I can look at them all even within a month.  Just wanted to put up a post letting you know I'm not dearly departed, didn't drop off the face of the earth, and haven't been abducted by space geckos (yet).  ;)
Back from Spring Break, and I had a huge number of dA messages.  So I took some time today and just went through all the deviations and journal entries (well, most of the journal entries, a couple I "saved" to read more fully later).  Let me tell you it took a long time and about halfway t hrough I just wanted to give up.  But I pressed on (alar, poor me, melodrama), and what I found most surprising was how much of y'all's work was still able to impress me.  What a nice thing to come back to, even if there was a bit much of it.

I do have photographs to put up - those from my Bastrop/Buescher excursion, and of course fresher ones from Caddo Lake.  A note:  the seasons of the lake itself seem to lag behind that of the rest of the country: the trees in the forest 100 feet offshore were in bloom, but those on the lake were not and the lake itself showed little sign of life (meaning it wasn't carpeted in lilies and reeds and green algae, which is apparently the norm in summer, and why I want to go back, even in the Texas heat... perhaps on a camping expedition).  However, I don't anticipate looking at or uploading any of these before at least Friday.  I'd also like to go through my stash of old photos - particularly those in my gallery - and see if anything can be done with them editing-wise, but eek that's a lot of pictures...  I'm still totally against major editing on my photos, and though the difference between "major" and "minor" is largely subjective in this case, I would say something like cloning out an element in the scene is major, whereas contrast, saturation, and histogram adjustments are minor (to a certain extent).  There's a lot of grey area, to be sure, and much depends on how comfortable I feel with it - Ansel Adams did a lot of darkroom editing himself, and while I'm still not keen on changing a cloudy sky to a dark one, the photomanipulations of early photographers has eased up my hard-line views on it.

But as to why I expect a delay in further uploads, well, let's just say that I'm trying to be more disciplined in school and other areas of my life, and not just "fake it" through classes (which is what I've been allowing myself to do lately).  This will mean, sadly, less free time for things like dA, but hopefully I'll be more productive when I do have the time.

Anyways*, irregardless* of further thoughts flitting through my mind, I'll spare you further (already severely edited) ramblings and stop now.  Besides, Greek and Spanish homework call at me, as do scholarship essays (honestly, I'd really like to write down, "I know what I'm doing, so shuttup and lower my tuition," but somehow I don't think that'd be received well).  Adios for now, and pictures coming soon.

* I did stumble across a certain someone's blog while blogsurfing, and their grammatical anger at these words made me laugh so hard that I couldn't resist putting them here, just to irritate them.
I've been kind of quiet around here.  This is due to a variety of reasons, but the main one is I haven't had many new pictures.  (Though I do have some that are a few weeks old - including a panorama that is still in the stitching-isn't-quite-right phase - and I went out this past weekend to get a few.)  But I'm going out to Caddo Lake with my dad over the break, and then my mom and sister will join us after a few days.  So I'm going to be taking my cameras - digital and film (I'm afraid I'm beginning to lose my touch, staying away from film for so long - it really is the basis of digital technique) - and I will be taking a whole lotta pictures.  Hopefully enough of them will turn out well enough to put up here.  :)

Right now, I'm busy with school, but not as busy as I could've been.  It's been a better semester so far - it always takes a while to adjust when you go someplace new (in everything, although for me most particularly socially), and it seems to all have started settling in.  All I really need to do now is find out what, besides the CS class I'm going to have to take (I'm seriously thinking I'm going to double major in linguistics & CS, since linguistics & physics is suicide, in the most masochistic of ways)... what I'm going to be doing over the summer.  I'd love to have an internship, but they're hard to find in my field and I'm somewhat grounded due to the summer course.  But ah well, a typical summer job needn't necessarily be bad - just need a better place than last summer's.  Those of you who get one, may you have an excellent Spring Break, whenever it is.  And those of you who don't, just take some time to enjoy the changing seasons.
As some of you know, I went home to my family this weekend, to celebrate my sister's birthday.  Over the weekend - from Saturday afternoon through Sunday - we had some winter weather; that is, it sleeted and the roads were really slick.  My sister went back to school Saturday evening, but the rest of us returned home and went to church Sunday morning.

We arrived a little late, and I think we missed something because we looked in our bulletins and, according to that, David Phillips - the student minister (really from high school through college) was supposed to be speaking but it was our executive pastor, who was apologizing for his unpreparedness; he did say something about God's plans not always coinciding with ours, and people chuckled.  When he ended his sermon, he sat down and - I couldn't see, but I think someone came up to him.  In any case, there was the usual interlude, but he got back up and said, in a shaky voice, "I'm so sorry to have to tell you this."  He stopped and tried to gain his composure.  I felt my stomach sink, because that is not a good thing to see or hear.  "We've just received word that David Phillips, our Life Stage 1 Pastor, was in a fatal one-man car accident this morning."  He went on to say something about feeling free to stay - I'm not exactly sure because I wasn't really listening anymore.  I heard sobs go up from people in the pews, and I couldn't stop myself from crying too.  I'm so thankful my dad was with me - he and my mom have Sunday School during that particular service, but he was teaching the SHAPE class which meets during the next service (along with the college student service), and so he was with me in big church - if he had not been there to comfort me I would really have been very alone.

I can't say I was just very close to David, but I did know him - he was there all through high school, we did talk to each other, I've eaten meals with him - in a group and even just had a coffee one-on-one with him - and he was just always this beacon of encouragement and wisdom... yes, I did know him.  Dave was one of the few people I really look up to.  He's one of the godliest men I have ever known.  He had a passion for Christ that was evident in everything he did.  He had such a heart for missions too; I had been with him only on a few short-term missions: once to Belize with the high school group and twice to Guatemala, and he was always giving glory to God about everything that occurred, and he really shaped my understanding of Theology.  Gosh, I don't even know what all to say.  One of the godliest men I know.  And now he's with his Savior who he loved so much on earth, except now he doesn't have the hindrances he used to.  He had just recently married - just over a year - he wasn't an old guy, but in his 30's, and he had devoted his whole ministry to students - he didn't view it as a stepping stone to "bigger things."  His wife is now a widow, so young and long before middle or old age.  I can't even comprehend that.

We did hold the college service.  Ryan - a close friend of Dave's and the leader of the college ministry - had, providentially, prepared something on living this life in view of the next, and though he did cut it much shorter and started much later, he did talk about it, in view of the reality that had just happened.  There were a lot of mourning people there... I don't even know how to describe it.  Lots of hugs and bleary eyes.  There are only three hopes that I have from this:

1)  Those who knew Dave, and who are part of the body of Christ, are mourning too; we are not alone.  A friend of mine, who I saw at the college ministry after the word had already gotten out, and who was also a very close friend of Dave's, embraced me and said, through tears, "God is King."  So in a body, we're able to encourage and help each other.

2)  Dave knew and put his whole trust in his Savior Jesus Christ, and he now sees His face.  He is not sad, but overjoyed - how can he not be, since he is at the at the place he has longed for: before His God?

3)  We will see each other again - I don't know when, but in view of eternity it can't be long, and we will both be in a complete relationship with Christ then.

Not to say I'm not sad or mourning right now.  I certainly am, and I can't imagine it's anything other than appropriate to do so.  Dang!  I'll miss seeing his smile.  Please pray for his wife and his family and friends, if you think about it, and if you're the praying sort.

As Dave would often put at the end of his writings,

Soli Deo Gloria.
I don't have a poll option, so I'm going with the journal.  Would you buy something if I had a prints account?

1)  Yes.
2)  No.
3)  I don't know; it depends.

Please respond, even if it's no.  Thanks.  :)

And a cookie goes to the first person who can tell me what the title of this journal is from.
What do I say?  What should be said has been said already by people who knew him, but I can't ignore it (and it would be rude to try).  Aquila, a long-time and active member of the Myst community - and more than that, to those who knew him, a wonderful person - has just recently died.  It wasn't something expected, he wasn't terminally ill: it just... happened.  I wish I'd gotten to know him better; he always seemed like a very nice guy, but I never really took the initiative to know him, which is a shame.  So to those of you I may not know so well - let's talk, for who knows when our time to depart will come?  God doesn't give out stamped train tickets, you know.

Though I missed out on getting to know him now, from what people have said about Aquila's relationship with Christ (or James', as I suppose we can now call him), I am encouraged to know that I will get the chance to meet him someday, in what can only be infinitely better circumstances.  But he will still be missed here and now, particularly by those who knew him well.  What a strange combination it is, to be glad that he is in the presence of his Lord, and to also mourn that he is no longer here with us and with his family!
Not really, but close.  But before I continue, let me first alert my friends out there who have no sense of humour.  I know you're there, and what follows is filled with sarcasm and dramatism in the name of humourism.  So if you aren't sure where the line between seriousness and silliness lie, I implore you to stop reading now, for your own safety.


Right, now that that's out of the way, let me begin with my first grievance.  That is, Lost started back up tonight.  Which is bad enough, you know?  It's specifically designed, I think, to imitate an addictive substance and encourage its abuse among its audience.  If you don't know what Lost is, all I can say is that you're better off not knowing - especially at this stage in the game, since you have to know what went before to understand what follows (though they did do a nice thing trying to give a recap tonight) - and I beg you to stay away from ABC on Wednesday nights at all costs.  It's even worse since they gave us a look at *MysteryMysterySpoilerSpoiler* tonight and now I know there's no hope for me getting out of the loop for the rest of the season.

But what's far, far worse is that 24 starts back up next week: on Sunday and Monday with what promises to be two consecutive nights each filled with two hours of adrenaline gluttony (much "thanks" to my father for getting me addicted to that one last year).  This is the show about which I finally admitted, "Okay, I have an addiction, but it's only one, right?  It's not that bad of a drug."

Not to mention that I've also discovered Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends which, while a children's show, is probably the most original thing on television (and also the funniest).  However the break and the DVR have afforded me enough time that I am fairly sure I've seen all of them now and can rest easy on that front.  Add Civilization IV to the mix and life as I know it is coming to an end.

You see, I could - still can - control a mild Stargate addictoin (especially since SG-1 has been a train wreck this season), but... with Lost and 24 and Civ IV I may well have lost my soul, or at least imperiled it.  Or, more likely, I will simply regain what little composure I've lost as school approaches and be the more or less normal and moderately responsible person I was before (oh wait, I just slipped out of humor mode, didn't I?).


By the by, I went out recently and took pictures, and with the addition of Photoshop Elements that my dad bought (he got it bundled with Premiere Elements, as he wants to do some video editing), I have finally been able to utilize the RAW mode on my camera - that is, shooting with much higher quality picture files.  And wohba but I am amazed at all the options even Elements offers.  I had no idea what I was missing out on and it's like going from coloring in scratches on a picture with a marker to having an actual darkroom.  It's so fantastic.  (And to all those who think that picture editing is a sin, all I am doing with PS is what every photographer since the invention of the negative has been doing in a darkroom for eras - Ansel Adams himself did quite a bit of editing, and more than I would probably be comfortable with doing myself; it's not as if I'm editing sections out or in, only adjusting values that already exist in the image.)  The only snag I've hit is that Elements doesn't offer text support on 16-bit images, which is somewhat annoying because I'd prefer to keep them at that higher quality level and still be able to stamp my name, title, and year in the bottom-right as I always do.  So if any of you know a way around this, please let me know.  For now, I'm uploading the lower-res version so I can have the title, etc., on it.

This turned out to be much longer than I thought.
I don't feel right without having a journal entry that just says:

Merry Christmas y'all.

Placeholder superseded!

And now... the week in which finals consume my soul!  Watch - in horror - as twelve separate Greek verb paradigms are added within the last two weeks of class.  Scream - in surprise - as the Eastern European math professor shaves an hour off his final.  You can't escape it!  Finals week: coming to a tomorrow near you.

But in all seriousness, my life at the current moment consists largely of studying.  Greek final tomorrow; piano jury the day after; Spanish final the day after that; diff eq final on Saturday (why oh why did I take that class?!); and then government final on Monday.  Free time?  Ahahaha.  I may end up going to take Christmas pictures sometime in the next few nights at the city park that's all lit up, if only to have a blessed escape from it all.  Though I think it would be safe to say that pictures probably wouldn't be put up or even analyzed until after I'm back home.

In other news, a friend of mine and I were talking today.  He was very disturbed that a mutual friend of ours wanted to learn as many foreign languages as she could in order to spread the Gospel.  This friend (the one whom I was speaking with) is, of course, not a Christian, and he remarked that he didn't mind Christians but it really upset him when they tried to convert people.  Now that's a curious thing, I thought, on two accounts: he knows that I myself am a Christian who believes in the authority and necessity of Christ (so what was he wanting from me, is the question), but also the sentence he just uttered was a paradox!  Perhaps the primary purpose of a Christian, if they in fact believe what they say they do, should be the salvation of others, since Jesus Christ is the only way to God.  I related to him that, well, if she truly believes that those who do not put their trust in Christ are going to hell, perhaps it was more out of love than out of religion that she wanted to do this.  He gave a sort of frustrated I-can't-express-what-I-mean-to-say noise and began to answer just before we were brusquely interrupted by a professor dashing to ... his office? class? the bathroom?  And afterwards, like that, the moment was gone, and we both realized how much we had to study for our finals tomorrow, and we departed.  So after that lengthy story, I ask you, what do you feel about members of a religion (particularly Christianity) sharing their faith with the goal of conversion?  I find this to be not only a worthy goal but also foster a secret desire that I might perhaps one day be a missionary to central Asia (which I am nowhere near being, at the moment, but one needs a sort of goal to aim for).  But I'm curious about what the general sentiment on this subject is in the US.  Not that I can get that in its entirety here, but I can get a little bit of it.  So, what do you say?

---the following is a transcript from the journal of Dec 2, 2005---

This journal is a placeholder and, for the moment, exists to apologize to Osc for uploading.  Three pictures, I should hope, is not a flood - it seems I did, after all, have pictures remaining to put up.  I promise to try and quiet down for a while though, no deluges.  :)
I'm back in business with photography.

Well, with the minor exception of suddenly discovering that going to get your camera professionally cleaned is a waste of money and all that can be done at home if you have the right (and fairly inexpensive) tools.  Oops!  Live and learn, I suppose.

I'm still uploading stuff from McKinney Falls, and this weekend I hope to go out to another local park and get some more pictures.  Ah, I'd forgotten how much I love to do this stuff.  Oh, and I've also moved some (about 40) of my older shots into storage.  Mostly I picked out the ones that, even for the time, were below standard, but a lot of stuff I left alone.  But going through my gallery I was definitely able to tell that I've improved, which is a good sign.  :)

Hope you all are doing well.  It looks as though things may finally be starting to pick up for me here at school.  :D
Recent lull in activity, I know.  My cameras have been getting fixed - I just got them back this weekend when I went up home to go see Wicked with my family (which was fun).  So unless I magically don't have class the rest of this week, there probably won't be any more pictures until at least this weekend.  But I have some things that I know I want to go shoot, so I'm determined to go do it.  I hope autumn gets here soon - there's been a recent cold spell, but they keep saying it will warm back up.  I want leaves to change color; enough with his mild weather!  In any case, expect to hear more from me this weekend.  Hope everyone's having a great start to the season.  :)
I delayed this for so long because there is simply too much that happened in Guatemala for me to write up.  So I'm attempting this (very condensed but not near condensed enough) version.  Skip or skim if you'd like to.  :)

The high school group - because we were so large - was split up into two halves.  We did everything together except that group A went a day earlier than group B, and group B stayed a day later (in the extra day, each group went to Antigua, mostly for evangelizing but also doing some sight-seeing).  I was in group B.  This becomes important later: as you'll find, group A did not get sick.

After we arrived at night in what is a huge urban mess in Guatemala City, we got on a bus and headed to Antigua to meet group A, where we would spend the night.  The next day we all got up and loaded onto another bus which we took all the way down to Panajachel on the shore of Lake Atitlan.  From there we loaded a bus to go across the lake to Santiago Atitlan, the town where we spent most of our time.  This took nearly a full day.

The next several days (was it four or five?  memory grows foggy already...) were spent strictly in Santiago Atitlan where we spent most of the day in manual labor.  There were two projects that we traded off working on: there is the ongoing construction of the Alfa y Omega colonia, and then the clearing of a future soccer field.  Alfa y Omega is a sister church in Santiago, and the colonia is a place for the poor - mostly widows - of the village: a place where they can have housing, water, food, etc. provided by the church.  We helped floor the church that is going to serve that community, facilitate a Vacation Bible School, construct the porch/front door area of one house, and lay the foundations for another house.  The other work site was a jungle, or rather a recently deforested jungle.  The stumps, however, had not yet been removed.  This, and the further clearing of brush, were our goals at this location.  The church youth had no place to gather for activities, and had managed to put together enough money to purchase this lot of land.  It is to be used, eventually, as a meeting place for the youth and hopefully an evangelism opportunity to the rest of the town.  We were able to pull up most of the stumps and put up a retaining "wall" around a portion of the field (really just rocks and stones piled on top of each other).  The Guatemalans helped us a lot on both sites: we thought we were helping (and we were) but they were the ones who really knew what they were doing.  Not only that, but the attitudes of both the Guatemalans and us Texans blew me away - I was overwhelmed at how everyone worked with a smile and a generous spirit.  As was explained to me later by our guide and Guatemala liason Wayne, more than anything what we do down there is encourage them to go ahead and finish the projects they've started: "The Americans are coming, we really need to get to work on it."  :)

One of my favorite memories from the trip was visiting house to house with some of the fellow believers in Santiago, even with - or especially because of - the language barrier.  We would go in small groups (3-4 people) with some people from Alfa y Omega to the homes of people who were in particularly tough times and pray for them.  They have a very different method of praying: a leader initiates the prayer, and then everyone joins in at once until it is over.  So the leader (a Guatemalan) would tell us what we were praying for, and then start off in Spanish to let the translators know we were beginning.  Then the Guatemalans would pray aloud in Tzutuhil (the local language) or a Tzutuhil/Spanish mix, and we would try our best not to be weirded out by the different style and pray aloud in English.  After this, some of us began discussing what Tzutuhil sounded like - and to all of us the 'ch' sound glottalized [k'] sound caught our ears - but the discussion inevitably turned to what English sounds like to non-native speakers.  As near as I could guess, I think our stranger diphthongs and vowels must stand out (especially our 'o' sound, as in "tone"), and I've had a Honduran friend of mine tell me what stood out to him were the 'w' and 'g' sounds (which is what I hear when I listen to Welsh - interesting...).  For those of you who are not native English speakers, what was the distinguishing feature for you when you first heard English?  (Anlis? ;) )

After all this, and much more (including an invitation by the church youth to attend a night-time meeting with them, which was also wonderful), we went back across the lake all the way up to Guatemala City, where group A got their tickets to leave.  The next day we got up and went back to Antigua to spend the day evangelizing and seeing the beautiful old city.  It used to be the Spanish capital of the whole region, but there was a huge earthquake in 1774 that forced them to relocate to what is now Guatemala City (Antigua is not far from several active volcanoes and seismic activity will rear its head from time to time).  For this reason, the old city now holds many of the oldest European buildings in the New World, though some are in ruins from the earthquake.  However, many of our group started falling ill that day in Antigua, and by the time all was said and done over half of us had fallen ill at some point.  Those of us who could, Wayne took to a nunnery in Antigua.  Wayne is the kindest, most incredibly God-filled person I've ever met.  He did not only seem to be full of energy all the time just at seeing us all there, but was constantly telling us the history of Guatemala, language groups he knows of that are being translated, running into all sorts of people everywhere who know him, and he and his wife actually worked on translating and transliterating one of the Guatemalan languages many years ago (and is, of course, fluent in Spanish and reasonable enough in the major Mayan languages).  I will try and tell more of his fascinating tour of the nunnery and Wayne's downright awesomeness when I get to those pictures.  He even wanted to go into a nearby village to meet some friends while we were in Antigua and was going to take me, but unfortunately things did not work out.  Praise God that they didn't, or else he wouldn't have been available to translate when one of ours was so ill that she had to be sent to a Guatemalan hospital for her inability to keep down food (do not worry, he was able to find the best one through - what else? - missionary connections, and the facilities were as top-notch as they get in that country).

By the day we woke to go back to Guatemala City and fly out, I had fallen ill (the last one to do so) and was medicated and nauseous and weak on the entire way back home.  And how I am thankful for the medicines we had with us, and the advice and assessments of the doctor we had (a student's father who volunteered to be our on-call on-location doctor for a week and a half)!  After all the evidence for group B's illnesses was evaluated, I put it down to either the fruit in the hotel in Guatemala City (the Pan-American) or of the posada in Antigua, both of which only our group had.  The church, as far as I know, is still looking into it, but what do I really know about the progress of it now that I'm down here in college?.  But it could have been worse: it was a 24-hour bug and none of our most fluent (read: not very fluent) Spanish speakers were ill in the afternoon when we spoke to people in the city square.

---Local Language Notes---

I have to write this down: even if there's no real point in the telling of it, I found it fascinating.  I have bits of Tzutuhil - a language spoken in just one particular region near Lake Atitlan - written down in a legal pad from the trip, but I have precious little of it due to a combination of factors:

1)  There was not much time to do this sort of thing, as there was a lot of work to be done.
2)  Most of my informants were children from the VBS we did.
3)  I am not at all skillful at first-hand language translation: I'd never attempted it before and looking back on it I can see several mistakes I made.

When I found Andre, he was an absolute God-send becuase he spoke fluent English, Spanish, and Tzutuhil, a great help to someone whose Spanish is very sketchy.  From the Tzutuhil I wrote down, it has in essence a fairly simple phonetic structure but with a few characterizing quirks (though there are still several question marks on a few things).  Syntactically and symantically I didn't get near far enough to tell, although I find it interesting that the word "fine/good" appears to be embedded in the phrase "how are you."  A humorous moment was when Esteban (one of the kids) told me the first word I learned in Tzutuhil.  He asked what word I wanted to know, and I told him to pick one.  He said "Shkuya!"  I asked what shkuya was, and he declared "Shkuya es tomate," followed by an "mmm" and rubbing his stomach.  I guess he liked tomatoes!  :D  And being taught the colors (and being corrected on my pronunciation) by the kids was great - you could tell they enjoyed it.  Anyways, my attempt at translation was fun, even if I wasn't able to do much.  :)
I'm sure you're all well aware of what it's like right now in New Orleans.  It's like something out of another country, or out of a movie.  I don't know what to say or do other than that my prayers go out to the people in that region.

Sept. 2nd:

It seems that Cyan Worlds is at an end.  Great way to end a birthday. . . I'm still reeling from this.
My shiny new D70 came in the mail yesterday.  I went and got a memory card for it today.  That means higher quality images (over the internet, at least) and best of all no expensive developing costs.  I'll still use film if I need to, or if I know I want to make prints, but this liberates me to try a whole bunch of new things without worrying about how the experiment is going to turn out, and if it goes badly I'll be several dollars out for the roll of film.  Next set of pictures: Guatemala trip, 2005, and when I get around to putting them up I'll also have a summary of the trip in my journal.  Now I've got to go finish packing for college.  Next update will be from there.  :)
So my new LCD monitor was delivered today.  Not only does it take up much less desk space than the old CRT but it's also much crisper.  And cripes - now I know what some of you mean when you say there's a lot of grain on my pictures!  It happens when I resize them and don't know what I'm doing.  So in the next day or two I'm going to be re-uploading pictures to correct for this, and then I'll move on to the final pictures from Utah (the Virgin River Narrows) before I start on the Guatemala ones.  Phew, but some of these are really awful.  Hopefully that'll all be fixed soon.  So feel free to ignore my (re)"submissions" for the next day or two until you start seeing "Narrows" in the titles.  :)
I won't lie: I didn't know who Jark was before I came back from Guatemala.  But I am upset by his dismissal.  Why, if I didn't even know who he was or why he mattered or what he did?  Well, I do know now that he was one of the cofounders of this site, and I do not know the reason for his dismissal.  All that has been given to the community by our glorious CEO are vague sympathies, notions about "moving onward," and unknown legalities that keep one from talking about it.  This is not acceptable.

For anyone who is a Cyan fan (and I consider myself one), this scenario may seem a bit familiar.  Oh yes, I am speaking of the fall of our beloved Uru Live.  Before this happened there were other suggestions that perhaps all was not well with the publisher, Ubisoft (for example, Gordon Currie's Rivenguild site was mysteriously shut down - those who were there will remember this).  But no one has ever been told what exactly led to the destruction of Uru, years and years of people's labor and love, before that dream even got off the ground.  The publisher insisted that an offline version be developed.  It was.  And then when Cyan's vision of an online, evolving community took off - even before the beta was officially over! - the plug was pulled on the funding and it was shut down, leaving only the offline version and a few expansion packs.  The remainder of the material is being finished in an Ubi-approved Cyan project, Myst 5.  I have no doubt that it will be good, but this seemed to be what Ubisoft wanted: offline, traditional games with the word "MYST" emblazoned in large, money-making letters across the box.  No explanation was ever given to the enraged fanbase at the sudden shut-down of Uru, and even employees couldn't go into it because of worries concerning certain "legal matters."

And now something similar has happened at deviantART.  A person instrumental to its founding has been ousted.  Perhaps his vision was unnecessary now that, according to one admin, his baby is now a "machine," a machine which can be oiled and lubricated by others, rendering him useless.  Perhaps he simply disagreed with policies, and because of a less prolific legal knowledge he could be shunted aside.  Perhaps Jark actually did something really horrible that warranted his firing.  I don't know.  But I do know that when nobody is able to give an explanation, and those that are capable of giving an explanation refuse to (in this case, the CEO), something foul is afoot.  I've never found myself willing to fully forgive Ubisoft for their shennanigans around Cyan Worlds and their community of fans, and if the powers that be at dA continue down their current line of action, I don't know that I'll be able to fully forgive them, either.  I can't say if I will or won't end up leaving this site: it's too early for that.  I do know that I've met people I wouldn't have otherwise through it, and it seems to me that if some of these (even dA's very co-creator!) can have the floor pulled out from under them - with no explanation given, no viabale assurance that an explanation will ever be given - it may not be the place I want to be.  I think more than anything all the community wants is a cohesive story of what happened and why it happened.

So for now I'm going to support Jark Day on August 7th.