Sunday, December 26, 2010

Example #1:

Example #2

Example #3

Christmas was a lot of fun this year. I ended up getting some new lighting equipment and just had to try it out. So we had a little mini-shoot. We have also completed 2 puzzles, eaten tons of Christmas cookies, had a Nerf war, watched three movies, learned new games, played old games, and stuffed ourselves full of lots of food. Tomorrow involves Snow-shoeing and an extended family get together. Neat.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Religion

I started typing a post, then lost it (always save your work) and I don't have the time that I'd like to have to really dedicate to this post, but here's the breakdown. Lots of things have been happening in my life and I'd like to keep you updated, but one of the most important things has been my goal to read more talks and books by the apostles of the church.


I really felt like I wanted to share some of those things with you.

First of all, I made a mormon.org profile, but it looks like it's still processing. I really think that these are wonderful and I hope that they are helping. You should make one too!

But more serious now. I have seen some really powerful moments come in the past little bit. There have been moments where I have been called upon to stretch myself personally, in my calling, and also in helping others. I have really felt the power of the messages and talks that I have been studying as the perfect talk for that point in time will somehow be the one that I happen to read.

I wanted to share some of my favorite talks with you and some of the quotes from those talks. First of all, I have been reading from "Trusting Jesus" a book of talks given and compiled by Elder Holland. I highly highly recommend this book. Especially this talk and this talk.

I love the way that Elder Holland can help me to put into perspective the events surrounding the life of Jesus Christ, especially the Atonement. I also love the way that I am able to tell that he is speaking from the heart.

One of my favorite quotes from the second link above is as follows. Speaking of the Savior:
In the moonlit silence of that Near Eastern night, every acute pain, every heartfelt grief, every crushing wrong and human hurt experienced by every man, woman, and child in the human family was to be heaped upon his weary shoulders. But in such a moment, when someone might have said it to him, he rather says to us, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)

“Ye shall be sorrowful,” he said—sad, lonely, frightened, and sometimes even persecuted, “but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. … Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20, 33; italics added.)

How can he speak that way? Of good cheer and joy? On a night like this? With the pain he knew was just ahead? But those are the blessings he always brought, and that is how he always spoke—to the very end.
I love that. I really do. I have written next to the title of the chapter "beautiful" because to me the whole talk is an achievement of the spirit.

I also had a rather powerful experience tonight. I have been trying to be a support for a friend going through some rather serious issues. This has involved many long or late-night phone calls. There are times when I just honestly don't know what to say. When that happens, in my mind, I am failing the other person and my first reaction is usually avoidance. I'm not proud of it, but that's what I do. I couldn't bring myself to return the call because I didn't know what I would do or say. I didn't think that I could help and I didn't think that I could handle the situation, I needed a break. Then my book fell open to the first talk that I've linked to. Specifically it fell open to this:
I make an appeal for us to reach beyond our own contentment, to move out of our own comfort and companion zones, to reach those who may not always be so easy to reach.
I realized that I wasn't strong enough, but that was okay because I was being asked to go beyond what I thought was possible, and that by doing so I would be supported. I know that the quote doesn't say this exactly, but that's what I understood. I made the call, and things turned out well. It was a special moment of understanding for me.

I also particularly like this quote from the same talk:
I would ask you now to help with this healing, healing for others, healing for those you love and, yes, perhaps especially for those you don't. The people around us need a lot of help, and I think the Lord expects us to join in that effort.
Also this one:
On the example of the Savior himself and his call to his apostles, and with the need for peace and comfort ringing in our ears, I ask you to be a healer, be a helper, be someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better. Isn't that the phrase we used to use as children when we had a bump or a bruise? Didn't we say to Mom or Dad, "Make it better." Well, lots of people on your right hand and on your left are carrying bumps and bruises that they hope will be healed and made whole. Someone sitting within reasonable proximity to you tonight is carrying a spiritual or physical or emotional burden of some sort or some other affliction drawn from life's catalog of a thousand kinds of sorrow. In the spirit of Christ's first invitation to Philip and Andrew and then to Peter and the whole of his twelve apostles, jump into this work. Help people. Heal old wounds and try to make things better.
After the experience that I talked about above, I decided that I was going to go and look up some of the Mormon Messages on YouTube. I found one that I have loved for a long time and I hope that you will take time to watch it now.


Anyhow. Thanks for listening. I really do want to try to be better about sharing my thoughts with people online. I feel that it is almost my responsibility as one who is familiar with the workings of the internet to provide answers and support anywhere that I can find questions. For me that includes not being afraid to post things on blogs, facebook, twitter, and all of those other sites that I am visible to all of my friends. I would encourage you to join me in doing so.

Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled mildly humorous programming/ lack of updates.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still here. Not dead.

I got back from London. I took classes. It was rough. I was kind of burnt out. However, one major accomplishment in my life: I have finished processing and uploading all of my London pictures!

Feel free to view them at one of these two very very similar links:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38080948@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38080948@N07/collections/72157624043684295/


Tied to this accomplishment, I have another personal goal that I met. My flickr account (the two links above) passed the 40,000 view mark. I don't know why I had set that as my personal goal, but I did, and I did it! So now we're on the way to 50,000. Although with all of these London pictures up I think I'm going to reach that goal a lot faster.

Also in the way of pictures, I am in the process of putting the picture wall back up. For those who didn't hear, we had to take it down one time for cleaning checks to make sure that we weren't hiding any sort of wall damage. But I have talked to the manager and he told me that if I put it back up then I wouldn't have to pull it down again. Unfortunately he is leaving and we are getting a new manager and I sure hope that they keep that policy or I will have a royal hissy fit! (I know how too, I went to London.)

Other photo news. I have made quite a large purchase (for me anyway). I have been doing quite a few photo shoots this summer, and I have made a little money off of them. I made myself a promise that any money I make off my photography will go right back into photography. So I bought a lens! It's used, it's not the top of the line, but darn it it's mine and I love it. It's this guy. For those who don't speak camera, it's essentially the workhorse lens when it comes to portraits.

So, I think that's about it for now. (read: I'm bored with this particular post and you probably are too)

Cool.



Yeah.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Photo Booth


The Photo Booth, originally uploaded by Christian Cragun.

I made this, you should watch it.

(by "I", I mean that my roommate Scott and my brother did most of the work, but I took all the pictures and came up with the idea...)

Friday, June 18, 2010

This post won't be too long.

First of all. I'm home. It's a wonderful feeling. Don't get me wrong, I loved London, but like the title says, I am done with living out of a suitcase. It's good to have some stability.

Interestingly enough, I found that I started to miss the oddest stuff. For example, having a calling in a ward. The Hyde Park ward which I was attending decided to not give the students callings, which made some sense when we saw just how many visitors they had on a weekly basis.

Also I missed root beer. It does not exist overseas.

I also missed having a working camera. Yes, sad story. My Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 lens busted. It isn't shattered, but the zoom ring disconnected from the internal mechanisms. So, that sucks, and I'll have to take it to a local repair shop and get an estimate. Hooray! Luckily it didn't break until I was almost home, but unfortunately I don't have many pictures of Scotland because of it...

Speaking of pictures. The final count for pictures taken for the whole trip (including about 100 for California before actually flying out) is:

2396 pictures.

So I've been a busy little bee and have been working my hardest to get those processed (ready to view) and up online. You can find them on my flickr account. I'm going to work at getting it more organized, but at the moment I figure I'll just get them up and deal with organization later. I particularly recommend the pictures of the London Temple, which you might have already seen in an earlier post. But still, I love them. Also, if you have a flickr account (they're free) please feel free to add comments and add favorites. This helps me narrow things down and also gets me a little bit more traffic from other photographers.

Well, I'll probably post more pictures here and there, maybe tell some more stories about London, put up a show list, etc.

But for now I'll just leave you with this, my favorite purchase from the trip:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Travel Weekend

We leave for Ireland in about five hours. Bringing: my camera. Not Bringing: My laptop.
So hopefully I'll take massive amounts of pictures, but updates will be rather scarce for a bit.

See you on Sunday!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A couple of pictures


So these are slightly out of focus, but that's what I get for seeing picture opportunities when I don't have my tripod with me (yes I actually packed it over here...). These are taken just outside of the Globe theatre after we got out of A Midsummer Night's Dream (which I thought was pretty awful).

Since I didn't have my tripod with me I tried to rest my camera on the railing of the wall next to the Thames. I think that someday I'll have to take my tripod (and a buddy) and go night shooting. I love night photography a lot, but I'm finding that it's actually quite difficult.

As for the performance (it was Thursday night), I honestly did not enjoy myself. The biggest issue was that our seats were absolutely horrible. The Globe has two large pillars on stage, usually not a problem for the majority of the seats, except for ours. It didn't help that the production, instead of playing the show more in the round (to all sides) to accommodate the space, they chose to have the majority of the action take place right in between the two pillars. I didn't really see about 70-80% of the production.

But on top of that, I really didn't like it. I feel like the comedy was being forced and therefore not funny. I feel as though, like children, they found a joke that worked once and told it over and over and over, to everyone that walked into the room. Quite annoying.

They also tried setting the show in the 1920's with flappers and a cabaret type dancer. But they didn't really let it influence anything they did, which is the wrong way to go about it. More or less it just looked like they were in different costumes.

Who knows, maybe I was just bitter towards the show because I couldn't actually see it, but I didn't enjoy myself as much as I could have.

I love creative stuff like this.



Also I'm still alive. I have a bunch of stuff that I can post about, but rather than doing a huge post I think I'll break it up into a bunch of little posts so that you can read them at you leisure (rather than trying to work through a novel of a blog).

Sorry that I'm falling behind. It's been a little busy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

For those of you who don't know my sister, repent ye. She is pretty amazing and one of the best chef/cooks on the planet. She is a foodist. She believes in it and practices it. So I kind of promised her that I would keep a food log of sorts. Here it is. At least some of them. The more interesting ones at least. But don't be fooled, this isn't just for her. Any food fanatic can join in the reading fun!

Today: Lebanese place by the Orange Tree theatre. Sooo good. I had the large mix doner. It was lamb meat and chicken meat put in a pita with "salad" (onions and lettuce) with a garlic sauce on it. I have no clue how this is supposed to be different from a gyro other than the fact that I couldn't pick it up. However, that might have been because the thing was huge. Size of my head at least. It could have easily fed a family of four. The lamb was better than the chicken.

Yesterday: Indian food at Memories of India. This place was a bad choice. We were looking for an Indian place because we had heard that London has amazing Indian food (there is actually a large population of immigrants here). Looking at the prices on the window (everywhere has a menu posted outside) the prices didn't look bad at all. We figured out that the place was authentic when we realized it was near impossible to understand our waiter (not trying to be racist, just honest). The main problem with the restaurant is that they charged for everything. The price for the curry wasn't bad but then they charged for the rice as well. What kind of Indian place charges for rice? Anyhow I got the Lamb curry and we all shared some Sag Aloo and Nan bread. It was okay, but not impressive by any means. Oh well. Live and learn. I'm sure we'll have Indian again and we'll see if we can't get a better place.

Monday: Chinese at a small cafe type place (I forgot the name already, it was either Lan or Jen or something). I had the crispy pork and rice. It was pretty good and not that expensive. Jason and Allan both had duck and weren't too impressed. The best part about this place was the dumplings. We got an order of fried dumplings to split and I wish that I had just ordered that alone. They are made (cut and stuffed) when you order them, so they're about as fresh as they come. We may go back and just feast on dumplings. After that as we headed to the show for the evening we passed a little ice cream shop called Pandora. It was crazy. First off it wasn't ice cream it was gelatto (I can hear Nathan screaming in the background). Second, it had the craziest window display. I should have taken a picture. Apparently their specialty is Gelatto in a crepe with whatever crazy thing they want to put in it. There was a ham and cheese one. Anyhow, I was feeling a little ritzy and decided to get a cone with a scoop (pretty cheap too). There were some weird flavors (like green tea) but I decided that I would play it safe and get the cookie flavor. Turns out it was not at all what I was expecting. You see I was expecting something similar to chocolate chip cookie dough, what I got was fortune cookie flavored gelatto in a waffle cone. It was weird, but good.

So those are the food exploits that I can remember for now. I'll keep posting every so often. Because food is good.
Oh, and occasionally we try to cook in our flat. But usually it's not that exciting. This is a picture of a day when we tried making Tikka Masala from a jar with chicken and spaghetti, it was... food.


Also this is the very special cookbook that we found in our kitchen on the first day. Possibly one of the main reasons we don't cook all that often...

Sorry that I've fallen behind a little bit. I promise one of these days I'll try to catch up on everything that's been happening. I still really want to tell you about Women Beware Women, one of the most incredible shows that I have seen in my lifetime (and one of the actors was the guy who played Dudley Dursley from the Harry Potter movies in it, if that is exciting to you...).

But for now, other stories. Well this is actually more of just a picture post. Yesterday (Tuesday) we took a group trip to the London temple, so of course I brought my camera along. It was an absolutely beautiful day (a little cold but whatever). For those who haven't been to the London Temple, the temple is beautiful, but almost pales in comparison to the extensive grounds (is that blasphemy?). It feels almost like the temple is on the grounds of a forest. There are acres upon acres (I'm awful at measuring distance)(32 acres according to wikipedia) of little groves of trees that have benches hidden among them so that you can sit and contemplate life. It was absolutely gorgeous. Have I said that already?

So the problem is that I take lots of pictures and a lot of them look a lot alike. I'm horrible at decisions and revisions and so I love them all. That's where you (the magic readership) come in. I'm going to put little numbers above each of the pictures and you should comment and tell me which are your favorites (there is no minimum or maximum). Got it? Go!

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So that's it. Well, that's 20 out of the hundreds I took. But my favorite part about all of these pictures is that they're all essentially straight out of the camera. I only made minor adjustments to brightness, contrast, and saturation in some areas. So yay!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Jason sleeping in a submarine bunk...
Artsy?
Today was rather boring. I did laundry. Yaaaaay... Exciting right? Well about 3:30 we went to go find some stuff to do. We made a plan. We were going to go to the Imperial War Museum, get some fish and chips, and then go see The Habit of Art at the Royal National Theatre.

It kind of worked.
Big Cannons! Run!
The Imperial War Museum

We went to the Imperial War Museum and it was actually kind of interesting. I know my parents are probably recalling the days when I had to be forced to even go inside the museums on family trips, but I find that I am acting like an old person and enjoy reading the histories that are presented. I like to imagine what it would have been like to experience this or that. (This is kind of off topic, but I gained a huge respect and understanding for the Black Plague when I did a show that was set in that time period and had to imagine what it would have been like to see a third of your friends and family die and not know where the plague came from or how to get rid of it).
Jason Being a Missile

I really enjoyed the museum. We spent most of our time learning about submarines and MI6 (think James Bond). There were a bunch of exhibits that we just didn't have time to see. So we're going back at some point. One thing that I loved about the museum is that on the sign next to the tank, missile, airplane, etc. they would have a short description of when and where it was used and then it would have a picture from the war of the weapon. There were some amazing pictures. There were some images from WWI and WWII that were just stunning, especially so if you consider the type of equipment limitations that they had to deal with. It makes war photographers of today look like pansies.

After the museum closed we decided that we had just enough time to go get fish and chips. You have to understand that, for me, having my first English fish and chips seemed like a sort of right of passage, or initiation. We needed to do it right. After some research we found a place that was close to the theater and the museum, was cheap, and most importantly, got great reviews.

It is called "Master's Super Fish". Sold.

It was great. I got the cod and chips. Unfortunately we had little time and had to get the food take away, but it actually made it more fun because she wrapped it in the paper (one of those customs that seemed to add authenticity and legitimacy to my experience) and we ate on the walk over to the theatre.

When we got there we found out that the show we were going to see and had heard was amazing was at standing room only for the night. I was not a fan of standing for the whole show, I had already done that at the globe for Macbeth (which I still need to write about...). So we decided that we would see one of the other shows at the National. To be fair, most of the shows that are playing there currently sound great, so we were fine with switching shows since we were going to see the other ones anyways.

We ended up getting tickets to see Love the Sinner. The idea of the story was actually not too bad. But (in my opinion) it was pretty poorly executed.

The story is about a man who is struggling with his sexual identity and also examines religion's role in matters of homosexuality. The main character is a volunteer for a conference at which the international leaders of his church are gathering to discuss their bylaws, specifically the one dealing with homosexual bishops, unions, blessings, etc.

At this same conference, the main character has a homosexual affair. He then returns home and has to figure out who he is, what he stands for, how to deal with/hide from his wife who is struggling to get pregnant. Things get really twisted when the man who he had the affair with shows up from Africa to his house in England and essentially blackmails/begs him for help in gaining asylum in England.

I think that there were some interesting moments in the show. Watching the main character struggling with his decision and his double life was difficult in the good way (the kind that seems to teach us something and leads to a catharsis). It was interesting to watch him become hyper-religious to try and force an identity upon himself, and how he was so unwilling to accept any of his actions and yet his inability to forgive himself for anything. Just very interesting all around.

The issue was that I felt a lot of the acting was off, there were scenes missing, and the lines were just terrible. Jason made the argument that they were going for a natural feel to the conversation and that they were just talking around the issue and not naming it. I agree with him on that fact, but I felt like it was pushed to an extreme to where it was so "real" that it was actually surreal. I feel like if I had read the script next to an absurdist script there wouldn't have actually been that much of a difference. And yet it wasn't being played in an absurdist way, it was being played as realism which created this awful disconnect for me.

... Anyway...

The set was pretty amazing and the music and sound design were very well done. But overall I did not like it. Sorry. But it happens.

We still plan on seeing The Habit of Art and have heard that it is absolutely wonderful.

Tomorrow is church. That should give me a chance to get caught up on sleep and picture editing. Yay!


Sleep.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Today we went to Kew Gardens which is a gorgeous attraction. It's made up of 300 acres of gardens with a few special greenhouses and such. It is a photographer's dream. Landscape, architecture, floral, subjects everywhere. So, I'll let the pictures do the talking. We went and saw an amazing show tonight called Women Beware Women and I'm too sleepy to do it justice, but it is the best thing that I have seen in London, I may even venture to say in my entire life. I'll post on it later. Okay, now for pictures.


There were about eight of these statues representing major political powers or leaders (i.e. Wales, Scotland, King Frederick). They were all different animals including a Unicorn! I couldn't help thinking about the crazy statue dogs from Ghostbusters though...


This is the three tiered spiral staircase inside the tropical greenhouse. Jason said it felt like being back in Ecuador. My camera felt the effects. The second I stepped into the house my filter fogged up, so I took it off and my lens fogged up. So, I would have to wipe it off take a picture, wipe it off, take a picture, and so on. Annoying.

They also had a marine display. Seahorses are amazing. They swim without any apparent motion at all, so it seems like they are just hovering and scooting around. I thought this turned out fairly well considering it was shot through an aquarium.


This is a Roman type pavilion. I liked the picture. In case you didn't know, London was once ruled by Rome. I think that is why they are having the Olympics here in 2012. Also to end the world.


These are some of the Southwestern desert plants. I love these type of plants, probably because of the Tour de Southwest that I did with Brian and Brent back in 2006. For those who haven't been to Joshua Tree National Park, I highly recommend it.


Allan found this neat little patch of flowers. We called it a grove. That may be incorrect.


Jason and Allan enjoy being dinosaurs, especially when they're in the Evolution House.


This is the outside of the Temperate House. Gorgeous inside and out. The clouds also helped me out a little.


There was quite a bit of Japanese influence. This Zen garden and ornate gate (rhyme!) were also Japanese. I was unable to catch any Pokemon. I was sad.


This I think actually used to be some sort of palace. I'm not really sure because we didn't actually go in because it cost more money and it didn't sound too interesting. But the gardens around the building were amazing.


I love the crazy hedges.


This is taken from inside a metal gazebo that overlooks the garden. This was a gorgeous place.


Anyhow, I'll try to keep posting daily. Keep checking back.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I know that I've promised lots of pictures. Always feel free to head over to my flickr account. I usually upload most of my pictures there as a form of storage. I've been pretty good about keeping it organized, but sometimes it's just a mess. FYI.

But here are some pictures to help you get a sense of what I do here (other than the theatre part since pictures aren't allowed during performances and most don't even let you take pictures inside at all).

This is bangers and mash. I ate this and it was yummy.

This is Jason dressed as a medieval peasant at the Museum of London.

This Jason dressed as a fireman from 1666. Put out that Grrrreat Fire! Put it out!

This is Rodger (our teacher) and his harem of women at the Banqueting House.

This is Richie (one of the other six males on the trip) listening to the magic ear stereo that told us all about the Banqueting House. He's fascinated by the magic. And the artwork on the ceiling.

Jason is sitting on the throne ordering Allan to behead Melissa. It actually happened. Weird.

This is a pretty house on a pretty day. I have lots of these...

This is me. I take pictures. I have a new shirt on.

Ratatat | Lex