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January 30, 2011

Noah and the Pet Shop

It was back to Coco's Restaurant today with Angel in tow for the first time. One of our favorite places to eat in Lodi, Coco's is always full of local old folks (especially after church) and young kids (cheap kid's menu). We were on the way to one of the city's reptile, bird, fish and insect stores. Our lunch included the senior chicken strips with broccoli, hamburger and fries and the junior chicken strips. Pretty cheap . . . only cost $30 with tip! Ha! Guess we should have gone across the street to MacDonalds for $15 (and free wi-fi for my iPod Touch).

We were hoping for bright sunshine today after the rain, but were rewarded with just a bit of afternoon sun. It will be back to the socked-in look tomorrow morning. We just keep the lights on at home and try not to think about the drippy wet drizzle outside. It's all under control, though. Not man's control as too many think, but God's providential supervision.

You're right, our lives are pretty boring apart from visiting overwhelmingly breath-taking pet shops. Breath-taking in the literal sense, where your initial inhalation includes a humid, stench-filled measure of oxygen, nitrogen and whatever else has been added by all these dirty creatures. But with a little patience, all is forgotten in a few minutes and you can enjoy the huge Doberman Pinscher, small golden terrier mix and juvenile rooster that greeted each visitor (well, not the rooster - he just did his own thing - mainly running from the bratty boys who chased him).

This is one CROWDED store with cages on top of cages, dozens of tarantulas and spiders in small clear plastic containers stacked behind the glass case by the cash register, parrots, other birds, large and small aquariums, lizards, geckos, and even large 3' monitor-type lizard. All in about a space equal to our living room and dining room combined. Yeow! Electric extention cords and lights everywhere. Pet food crammed here and there. Claustrophobic pets, beware!

It will be much easier to relate to Noah and his predicament now!

(all photos taken with iPod Touch - left the professional gear in the trunk)

January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Twins

Someone posted this photo on for a friend of his who wanted it critiqued. The first reply to his post says, "The picture looks like it has some potential, but it just doesn't say anything to me. Your composition follows the rule of thirds but for some reason it just doesn't look interesting. Not sure what you were going for." I have to agree that although it is somewhat interesting, there just isn't anything that makes me want to put it up on my wall. It tells a story, but leaves too much unsaid.

Now, this would have grabbed me.

January 15, 2011

Kick-Starts A Necessity

These dark and dreary mornings, fog-filled drama under gray skies and cawing crows, demand strong coffee and a quick kick-start to get down the road.

This morning's sunrise looked more like a bright yellow-orange moon filtering through the haze. I turned off the Interstate at Turner Road to grab a shot before it got much higher. No solitary oak was available, and I stopped at the nearest turnout, an entrance to a gated winery. A long row of trees ran its border, north and south, but I couldn't brave the partly flooded field to get a better photo.

Then it was back on the highway, heading toward Cosumnes River Preserve where the water birds winter. The sun almost came out before I had to jump in the car and drive back to Stockton for breakfast with Barb and Angel. Nothing spectacular occurred, but I enjoyed the companionship of an elderly bird lover like myself and a batch of black-necked stilts.

Maybe I'll try again next Saturday.

January 14, 2011

Moon Rising

My newest still camera sports a whopping .6MP sensor. That's nothing to sneeze at if it will take a picture like this, surf the Internet, and do thousands of other neat things. The 4G iPod Touch is an engineering marvel; an iPhone without the phone. It also has HD video. My first 'toy' in 6 years (Nikon D70), it is easy to carry and is a handy resource for a number of things, including Bibles, commentaries, survival info, political documents, sermons and music --- everything but added games, which I consider a waste of time, personally. Sorry, game lovers out there.

Oh, you can use it like a phone if you have the right application and Internet connection.

Who sits around in their underwear and comes up with this stuff?

[picture taken today at sunset of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center while Angel and I were waiting for Barb to get a prescription]

January 8, 2011

Neighborhood Watch Hawk

Here is our neighborhood's resident Cooper's hawk perched in a tree two doors from us. Mr. Nonchalant, who was unconcerned about cars and people staring at it in disbelief. I had time to get dressed (it was before breakfast), change lenses and head for the sidewalk.

He seemed a bit concerned when I started clicking away. The heavy overcast and dark shadows forced me to bump up the ISO too much, but I had to pay the price to get a shot. He finally spooked and flew to the middle of the street, landing on the light pole. Then, off he flew across the railroad tracks on my second take (the first was too blurry).

This is the same hawk that I've taken pictures of in my own backyard pine tree and on the main road north of us where he was perching on another light pole at sunset. Amazing that the noise of the trains screaming through, the traffic, the fire station and the civilian hubbub don't scare him off. Seems that it would be a much simpler and calmer life out in the boonies.

Apparently, there are a lot more mice, rats, and edible critters in this neck of the woods.

January 1, 2011

A Fresh Beginning

Our resolution-filled New Year's Day will be forgotten (along with any resolutions) by January 31. Human nature is beset by fear of pain and deprivation. Only the strongest will prevails against a bulging waistline or lack of exercise. And then, there are the will-motivators: the best being an annual check-up where your doctor gives you ultimatums (shouldn't that be ultimati?). Prayer helps, too.

My gloved fingers were stingingly cold yesterday morning when I visited the University of Pacific for another set of pictures featuring Burns Tower. I pretty much had the place to myself, which gave me the freedom to explore unfamiliar territory. This tower is so out of place compared to its surrounding architecture. It's like seeing the Washington Monument in the middle of Yosemite. Yet, it is strikingly attractive with its colored glass and simple design.

I scouted for the best reflections and found a few worth keeping. But notice the distortions in the glass. The Apostle Paul writes, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know, even as also I am known." I Corinthians 13:12 Paul is referring to a piece of smokey glass or dull mirror surface, where the object in view is imperfectly seen. In context, he's talking about the resurrected body, further illustrated in chapter 15, "Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." I Corinthians 15:49, ESV. This speaks of the first Adam and Jesus Christ, whom Paul calls, "the last Adam."

Sin has marred our view of heavenly things and the heavenly King; but the Spirit of God opens our eyes to glimpse their perfection, beauty and glory. There is coming that day when our faith will be turned to sight. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"