Every now and then I recall an unusual word. It is generally a word that I once knew, but also a word that I haven’t seen in quite awhile. I suspect that there are books and articles that have all these words, but they are lost in the “garage library”, and I haven’t seen or read them in thirty years.

You can get a little confused after thirty years. Take the word “shibboleth”. It wasn’t a word that I read or heard recently. If i had I might have used context to remember what it means. By the way, using context is sketchy, maybe the author doesn’t really know the root of the word.

The word wasn’t read or heard, it just popped into my head, and seconds later all I had was a big question mark. Shibboleth? What was it? A Jewish dagger? A tower of stone? No, that didn’t seem right. There was some sort of negative context. A pejorative of some sort. Shibboleth? Yeah, clearly a Hebrew root.

I was stumped, so I naturally did the reasonably thing, I asked my wife. No help there, she had the same quizzical look that I had. She had once known this word but now it was lost.

I really would like to know if certain words, perfectly good words, just go out of favor. Is this the first stage of a word going “archaic”. Well, I can’t allow that. I will bring it back as a perfectly good, valid, word. As soon as I find out the meaning.

When the wife does not help, I generally turn to the dictionary. Oh, how thankful, it even had a spell check feature because I was looking up something that I wasn’t certain I was spelling right.

And there it was! I read the primary definition and it wasn’t anything close to what I remember. A shibboleth is something that a particular group of people use as a bonding element. Veterans share war stories, Scots/Irish like bagpipes. A shibboleth is a shared item or tradition, of a group of people.

So where is the negative? Well, someone once wrote about a tradition that they felt was no longer valid, or important and suddenly a new context was given to the word. How unfair! It was a perfectly good word that changed because of some critic who had an opinion.

Then I read on, and found a darker side of the word from it’s Hebrew root. There was a war between Ephraim and Gilead (Judges 12), and Gilead won. The stragglers from Ephraim we’re trying to cross the River Jordan to go home. Gilead controlled the fords and asked each man to pronounce “shibboleth”. In the dialect of Ephraim the word sounded like “Sibboleth” . Somehow the “H” disappeared. Over 42,000 men were killed. Tough times in the Old Testament.

I don’t know that I ever remembered that background. I’ve read Judges several times, and I have no memory of “shibboleth”. This is another separate issue that I need to resolve.

So how do I use shibboleth in the future. Even though it probably is unfair, I think I will use it to describe an outdated tradition that no longer has meaning.

Hey, shibboleth is almost a shibboleth.

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Stones That Speak

There were piles of stones throughout the Middle East. Stuccoed flat walls were hard to come by, graffiti traces unknown. But when you came upon a pile of stones you knew there was a story, a reason behind the arduous work of setting stone upon stone.

In the high Sierras, glacial swept ground leaves very little soil to mark a trail. Small piles of stone dot the granite to lead the way. “Look here, a human made this for a purpose.”

Stones of remembrance.

How much easier if the stones could speak? Annie Dillard once write a book called, “Teaching a Stone to Talk”. A character in the book had selected a likely stone from a nearby creek, placed it on his mantle, and for five to ten minutes each day, he patiently tried to teach the stone to speak. My guess is that he is still trying.

I just read an article where the writer had recently re-read books from his past. He had read Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” twenty years ago. He freely admitted he thought it was a bit “nutty”. Now, he re-read it and found it wise, funny and delightful.

The book hadn’t changed. Was something added to his life during the past twenty years to cause him to see the book in a new light? Or was something peeled away?

What is true about a creek, may also be true about people. “You can never cross the same creek twice, the water is different.”

Time changes everything, even people. “You can never meet the same person twice. Time passes.”

People are also used as “touchstones”. Things are falling into chaos, but one individual is still there, connecting the past to the future. They are trusted, they may even have some answers. Mostly you don’t ask them, their presence is enough assurance that things will work out.

They are given credit far beyond their actual abilities, but that is fair, because they are there, and they have given their “pound of flesh”.

We need our piles of rock. We need our touchstones, even if we both change, because changing together is a powerful bond.

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“What happened was… I nearly lost my cat Louie, which meant I nearly lost my mind. He’s back now and OK. So I wrote a book.”

I read this in my morning newsfeed. As part of my morning routine, I drink some coffee, have some toast, and I thumb through the newsfeed on my phone. I know I shouldn’t do this. I only get confused.

It started when I didn’t recognize the individuals they were writing about. Obviously they were important, their opinions mattered because that was the whole point of Buzzfeed/Vox/Politico’s story about them. But I didn’t know who they were!

So months go by, and I still don’t know who they are, beyond the fact that they keep being quoted by various newsfeed articles. It’s like they are famous by being famous.

I just read about a restaurant in London that was invented by a blogger. It was called “The Shed” and it had a unique menu of serving the ingredients of dishes before they were cooked. The guy just made up the whole thing. It made the top of the list for the best restaurant in London by TripAdvisor.

I thought perhaps that I was losing grip on reality. I’m ready to take the blame. I’m entrenched in old school thinking, so most of this new reality seems odd to me. Famous people who have done nothing, restaurants that have no menu or food, and people who write an entire book because a cat was nearly lost.

A cat was nearly lost? All cats are nearly lost everyday. They go out, they disappear, no one knows where they go… and then they come back when they are hungry. That’s the definition of nearly lost.

So the world has another book written. I can’t wait to add it to my bookshelf.

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Spiritual Home

Big Sur has always been important to me. I didn’t know about it when I was younger because it was never a destination for my parents. They claimed Northern California but never ventured the southern coast.

I read about Big Sur when I was devouring the works of Henry Miller. I picked up a volume in Berkeley by Miller called, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Quite the title, I had never heard of either.

With some study, I found the art of the German medieval master. How that connected to the place of Big Sur I never found out. But I vowed that I would travel to Big Sur on my own power, to find out about this magical place. Thank you Henry Miller.

In 1967 I hitched here with a friend to find the artists and recluses that made this place unique. We were stunned with the coastal beauty, steep hills dropping to the blue Pacific. A rugged land where roads sometimes slipped into the ocean, trapping residents and tourists alike.

We caught rides, heading to the state park where we might set up camp.

We searched for hipness, we found none. The counterculture we hoped to find was hidden in the woods. The cool restaurants and meeting places didn’t yet exist. We hiked some trails, we tried to find the ocean (it was a long ways off), we hunkered down in our campsite and we prepared to sleep the night.

We met raccoons. Dozens of raccoons, hundreds of raccoons. We didn’t, couldn’t, sleep. We fled Big Su in the morning, meeting nature, but not meeting the artists that nature hid.

Now years later, everything is hip. The restaurants, the coffee houses, even the roadside pullouts. The Henry Miller Memorial Library is open for business. It just feels great here.

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It a new day! It feels like a new beginning. The flu has flown, and I’m still here, ready for another relapse. I only say this because there is still a nagging cough that comes from somewhere deep in my chest. A grudge holding spot of mucus that refuses to give in to health. Vick’s VapoRub might be just the trick.

Around our house when I was growing up, it seemed that every malady brought out the Vick’s. I have so many memories of colds, fevers, headaches and even bruises that were slathered with a thick coating of Vick’s. It doesn’t appear popular anymore. I could barely find it on the drugstore shelves.

So I sit here with a light coating of Vick’s on my chest, a daub on each nostril, and I’m breathing pure menthol. It’s true, smell and memory have some weird crossovers in our brains. I suddenly wonder if I can find Crusader Rabbit on the internet. And Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent.

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Bathroom Death

Okay, I admit it. I go to the dark side far too easily. Given any circumstance and I will investigate and ponder the worst case scenario. I’ve told people that I do not like to be surprised. While this is true, I think the real reason is one of control. I like to think that I had control in my life (not true), I would like to have the same amount of control in my death (which I know is none).

Death thoughts? Yes, another little visit to that darkest of sides. It isn’t just random, it is because I have that flu everyone is talking about. So I naturally go to the statistics of national flu death. I’m encouraged! You may feel like death warmed over but it is not likely that death is at your door. Which reminds me, I just installed a couple of Arlo security cameras, if Death comes knocking, I will not be answering.

Alright, I’m good with the whole immortality thing, I may not like it that one celled animals, some fungus, crusteations, and a few trees, are closer to immortality than me, but I’ve adjusted to the extent that I may impart value and purpose to my life/death, unlike a lobster,

The first thing that must happened is controlling my place of death. If anyone is out there listening, please don’t let me die in the bathroom, any bathroom. The lead singer of the Cranberries was just found dead in the bathroom. Why tell us this? We know nothing else, was she trying to throw-up? Did she had a cramp that paralyses her diaphragm? We don’t know, all we know is that she was on the bathroom floor. (I miss Dolores so much, I loved all her music) Like Elvis, like Jim Morrison, like Judy Garland, like, Lennie Bruce!! Okay, Orville Reddenbacher does not fit the stereotype, but he still died in the bathroom.

It gives you pause, if Death is knocking it may be at the bathroom door. There is even a conspiracy theory that Marilyn Monroe died in the bathroom, but her murderers recognized how horrible that would be, so they moved her to the bed. And she was naked! When I first read that, I was terribly impacted. Naked! Good grief! Well, it’s taken fifty years and I now recognize that all dead people are naked. The don’t take their clothes with, we are all naked under our clothes.

Okay, back to the place of death. I’ve explored what I think it the worst place, but what about others, the hospital?, the car?, the Home?, on the battlefield?, in an alley?, on a trail?, doing something you love? Doing something you hate? Still pondering the best place. Perhaps I will leave it to God.

Way too many options to control, and what is the difference anyway? I suppose it is the takeaway at the funeral service. If it is told that I died because I accidentally fell into a meat locker, then I would request someone to speak on the finer points of my life, not the meat locker.

And if I died in a bathroom then somehow change the certificate to the bedroom, good enough for Marilyn, good enough for me!

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Nukes in Hawaii?

The news today is that for almost thirty minutes the residents and tourists of Hawaii thought that a nuclear ballistic missile was entering Hawaii airspace.

Hmm, lots of tangents here. Thank God it was a mistake, part of a drill, although the message sent out stated that it was not a drill. The talking heads on TV have been all over the map, telling stories of people huddling in their garage, shaking in fear. What would you do? How can you know unless you were there?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I do know what I would do. It happened to me.

I was in a concrete bunker on the DMZ in South Korea. Not near Seoul, but way off in the east, near Chunchon. I was manning the communications as trick chief in the wee hours of the morning. It was somewhere in the middle of January 1973.

Trick chief was not a big deal. The man with the most seniority and rank was in charge, and that was me. All I had to do was to check the incoming messages, check the security code, and process the messages in time depending upon the security codes.

By “processing”, it meant getting the message to the proper folks within a specific time. The message itself printed out the actual addresses before it actually got to the message. I was trained to install & repair the “hot-line” phone that the president would use, I wasn’t really trained on “processing messages”, but it seemed simple enough.

I had every clearance that the military issued, so it was okay for me to have eyes on paper. There was “no clearance”, then “secret clearance”, then “top secret”, and finally “top secret crypto” clearance. I was trained that was all there was.

When I was briefly trained as trick chief, I was told there was one more, “Red Rocket Flash”. It seemed to me that it was a made-up local designation, but everyone was serious about it. The other security codes had various processing times required. Red Rocket Flash was on the order of WWWIII, and had to be processed in one minute.

Actually, when I was trained, he said that “Red Rocket Flash” has always had “This is a Test”, because otherwise, it was North Koreans were about five minutes away.

Five minutes? Well, we had nuclear tipped missiles with about a 50 mile range, with the wind at the missiles back. The warhead had about a 50 mile blast radius. So technically we were at the edge of a nuclear winter if we launched. We prayed for a good wind.

Of course we never would launch first. We would wait to be told with a “Red Rocket Flash” message that stuff was happening.

That night in January I got a Red Rocket Flash message, and the first thing it said was, “This is not a test!”. Umm, a cold chill went down my spine. I immediately alerted the officer in charge, and then waited for the message.

The problem was that the five letter address code for the receiving posts was still printing out. Thousands of addresses were being printed, and that took almost 30 minutes. Every couple of minutes I had to tell the commanding officer that it was “Red Rocket Flash” but I didn’t know what the message was.

Meanwhile, everyone grabbed weapons, the armory was emptied, the missiles were rolled out, fingers on all the triggers. Every eye was turned to the north, waiting to see hordes of padded jackets flowing over the border.

For thirty minutes we pondered the end of our normal lives. What did we do? Ha! We did our jobs. What did we think? Now that’s a different thing. We thought everything, and 45 five years later I still remember thinking those things.

So the talking heads have talked about the psychological damage to those people in Hawaii. Normally I kinda go to “snowflake” statements. Umm, I can’t go there, my personal experience is that this will be remembered.

What was the Red Rocket Flash message? The Vietnam War was officially over.

There will be 1.3 million in Hawaii that will remember this day, what they did. And what they thought.

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Pondering the Cold

This winter’s chill factor reminds me that we have different strategies to combat the cold. I’m not a fan of heat, I probably handle cold a tad better, but not by much. My wife will come back to find that I haven’t turned on the furnace all day. I noticed it was cold, but it wasn’t so bad that I had to get up to turn up the thermostat. Buy me a blanket, and I will adjust.

Which brings me to this post. What is the most important thing that I have created? (Apart from children, which was a partnership). I have done many things, I’m not saying that I am the most creative person I know, a good friend creates two or three paintings a day, and has for years. Another throws pots and all sorts of clay creations, with astounding quality and quantity.

But there is one measure that is very hard to understand. How is the creation used and enjoyed? A painting on the wall sometimes disappears from conscious vision, then it comes back again. A good story is enjoyed, forgotten, then it comes back. A creator’s desire is that the creation will have value, but it is often forgotten.

Well, ha!, I say! Of all the things I’ve done, there is one moment of time that had me creating a cherished, and well-used item. I made a down- quilt sleeping bag. Actually, I sewed several of them.

I know, this is not earthshaking art, but using the measure appreciation, I have to say that it far exceeds anything I have ever done. Primarily, because my wife does not like a chill.

On any given outing to a restaurant, she generally will bring a coat, even during the summer, because the air-conditioning will always be directly behind her. It doesn’t take much to make her very uncomfortable. I’ve known this for years. When I introduced her to backpacking, I wanted her to be warm. I bought her down jackets, down vests, and all kinds of insulating materials. I made sure that the down sleeping bag had the most loft possible (height of the feathers). She was comfortable in the woods at night.

However, relaxing around the house, in winter, meant an $800 or $900 heating bill every month. I think we burned out at least one oven by leaving it on with the door slightly open. Now, this was years ago, so we no longer get notices that our bills are three times higher than our neighbors. What changed? I believe it was the sleeping bag quilt.

I encourage anyone with little time to investigate building a down quilt sleeping bag. I know that you can always purchase a thing, but it is expensive and you don’t have the pleasure of creation, just the pleasure of purchasing.

So here are my tips for making the best thing ever for a chilled companion. There are several websites that offer bulk fabric and good quality down feathers. The hardest items are the plans, or patterns, and the closure, or zipper.

If I were to do this today, I wouldn’t bother with either one. I love YKK large zippers for a good tight mummy bag fit, but even backpacking,, I use the bag as a quilt, so all my bags can be unzipped and laid flat. They taper at the bottom but not too much. If I had made them square it really would not have added much weight. A down quilt may shift a bit during the night but a few Velcro straps can keep it fastened in place.

So here is the deal, buy a tough but light weight cover of ripstop nylon of one color, buy another color soft liner ripstop for the inner part that is next to your skin. Both need to be down proof. The secret is to buy the baffle material to give the loft required. The higher the loft, the warmer the quilt. The worst thing you can do is to sew threw the two sheets creating tubes. You have all seen jackets and vests that make the wearer look like the Michelin Man. The sewn-threw method creates cold spots. Sleeping bags have tubes, by having baffles sewn to the top and the bottom liners. It is a lot of straight sewing with a good machine, but it can be done. It’s all in a straight line.

I laid out my material on a pool table to kept it organized while sewing. Once all the baffles are sewn, sew all the edges except the one opening for the tubes. I sear the edges with candle, then roll them for a clean sewn edge.

Now, this is a wonderful trick that I learned from the web. Get a large tent where you can set up a small table with chair. Put the sewing machine on the table. Put a shopvac or small hand vacuum in the tent. Place all the small bags of down and the baffled, empty sleeping quilt in the tent, zip up the enclosure with you wearing a breathing mask. Fill your tubes with down, and sew it shut. Then vacuum all the loose down. There will be loose down no matter how hard you try.

I did not do this with my first bag. There is still down feathers in the garage rafters above the pool table. Down simply escapes when ever it can.

Very simple to do, takes a few hours once you have all the material, takes a bit more if you want the option of a zippered mummy bag. In the end you will have a tremendously warm creation that will last for years.

The measure of appreciation? My wife uses it every night throughout the year for the last ten years. Another one is brought out for the TV every night on the couch. Animals have ripped it, chewed on it, and they have patched holes everywhere, but it is still warm and toasty, and a creation that is valued.

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Twice Tick Speed

The clock ticked on the wall. Other rooms had converted to the digital system, but this room wasn’t important enough for an upgrade. It only had four accountants in it, doing the work of two accountants. And they only double checked figures that had already been approved. It was a dreary room with a ticking clock.

The clock ticked ten minutes to five. If studied close enough, the big hand made a half second move to the past, and then leaped to the future at twice the tick speed. Moving twice the tick speed always made Alfred a little nauseous, so he preferred not to watch the clock.

Alfred had the most seniority of the four accountants. In fact, when the clock actually makes it to five o’clock, Alfred will retire with thirty years in the company. Thirty years of being on time, and ending exactly on time. Alfred had proof, he had thirty years of time clock stamps that would prove him correct. But now, after thirty years, he wondered if he had done the right thing.

Other employees had missed a few mornings here and there, so they had stayed later to make things up. They even stayed later to go over their required time. Many employees donated time to the company as project timelines came closer.

Alfred didn’t approve of that. It offended his accountant soul.

Alfred never gave more than what he was paid for. To his credit, he never gave less. Still there was a nagging saying that Alfred had heard many times at the company. “Be sure to give your pound of flesh and you will be alright!” Alfred argued in his head that his hours were compensated by his payroll check, and that was enough.

Nine minutes to five, and Alfred got a phone call from Human Resources. They had all of the paperwork done, and would settle up accounts. The human resource person laughed a little. Settling up accounts with an accountant! She asked one curious question before hanging up. “Are you right handed, or left handed?”

Alfred responded “Left handed.” and he stared at the phone receiver for a few seconds. Alfred wondered about the type of parting gift would require knowing this. A baseball glove? He never played on the company team! Gold plated scissors? He did do scrap booking as a hobby, but no one knew this.

It was now five minutes to five and Alfred thought he heard the elevator coming up from the third floor. His pencils were all sharpened for the next occupant at his desk. He had stocked paper, staples, and sticky notes. He was a little shy in the proper amount of paper clips, but that was okay, he didn’t approve of paper clips. They bent the paper, and they didn’t always keep the papers fastened.

The elevator doors opened and three Human Resources staff exited, and began to make their way down the hall. Alfred could see them quite clearly as his desk had a view of the hall. He had seniority.

The young woman on the right side had the briefcase that held all the papers that he would be required to sign. The man in the middle had a wrapped present that looked suspiciously like a clock. Alfred hoped it didn’t tick. The man on the left carried a leather hinged case that might have a thirty year medal hanging on a ribbon. Alfred began to be upbeat.

“So Alfred, today is the day! We have your papers to sign and your account to be cleared! Congratulations on your thirty!”, the middle manager smiled with his professionally whitened teeth. The young lady presented the papers complete with yellow marked prompts for his signatures.

“Great, thank you! And now could you extend your right hand? I believe you said you were left handed so we wouldn’t want to get it wrong!” He laughed a little at his little joke.

Alfred hadn’t heard about a retirement bracelet, but he hadn’t retired before so everything was new. He pulled back his shirt sleeve and extended his hand. The man in the left opened his leather case and pulled out a large meat cleaver.

“You know, not many people manage to do thirty years without giving up a little skin here and there. And not many know that a human hand is very close to a pound of flesh. But then I thought, an accountant would have worked that all out.”

Just then the clock made its move backward to the past, followed by twice the tick speed to the future, and a swishing sound. Alfred felt a little nauseous.

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Merry Christmas

On this first hour of Christmas 2017, I wish all travelers through the blogosphere the merriest of all Christmases. There have been many firsts in my life, and there are possibilities of collecting a few lasts. I would not want the year to end before thanking all of you for stopping by.

May this next new year be the most joyous, the most productive, and the most blessed of any year in the past. Cheers!

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Kaidan from Arkona

I’m currently reading a book by Don Richardson. He has several very interesting books about his life as a missionary. I am reading the book that refutes the Big Bang Theory, A Man from Another World, EA Books Publishing 2016

It is not an easy book to read, but it is presented in a very friendly fashion. Kaidan is a visitor from beyond our galaxy, and he has come to point out the error in our ways concerning our ideas on cosmology. He is from the planet Arkona, which may be in another galaxy, but we share the fact that we are all created. Shouldn’t we agree on the process? And, oh by the way, he has 24 other planets that are pretty much aligned with a better theory than the Big Bang.

So the book continues with a teaching seminar with 500 of the top terrain scientists who are almost rabidly in favor of the Big Bang. Kaidan is very kind, but he points out some embarrassing concepts that are held with no foundation in logic.

I love a good story, and if the story teaches, I’m a big time fan. There is one problem though. The book assumes that some of the basics of cosmology are understood.

What’s wrong with that assumption? What thinking person hasn’t spent some time pondering the very nature of creation? It’s the most important piece of scientific inquiry that we have. Where did we come from? Are we riding on the back of a turtle or not? Let’s sit down and reason together, come up with the answer(s).

I must admit I’m more familiar with cosmetology than cosmology. The book uses words that are mostly in English, and in most cases the words are simple, like Big Bang Theory. This tricks you into thinking that you understand. After reading two thirds of the book I can clearly state that the air is fairly thin, and what I thought I knew was… just plain simpleton crap. Now, Don comes along with his fiction based character to offer even more of the stuff that I didn’t understand in the first place.

I remember this happening once before. I picked up Bill Bryson’s book where he actually explains the Theory of Relativity. I was thrilled, I understood it for a full day. The next day I was back to being a dullard. Except this time, in Don’s book, as soon as any theory was mentioned, my eyes just glazed over.

One concept did crystallize, apparently the Big Bang Theory does not consider magnetism, because ions did not exist, and ions create magnetism. So planets had to form by gravity alone. But Kaidan’s Theory includes ions and magnetism, so planets are formed with gravity aided by magnetism.

This must be important if true. And what would it take to understand the truth? It can’t be just words, because I’ve tried that. It’s like trying to understand another language by having the speaker talk louder. It doesn’t help!

I would like to think I have the ability to finish this book. Apart from the random boredom that sometimes occurs, I have never given up on a book. I plodded through to the end with James Joyce’s Ulysses, and I learned the classic meter of Nikos Kazantkakis’ The Odyssey; A Modern Sequel. Having said that, this little two hundred page book is kicking my butt.

I can’t read it louder, but perhaps I can read it slower.

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A pastor friend, or even better, a friend who is a pastor, has recommended memorizing as much scripture as possible. This is something I have been reluctant to do. Not because I do not see the value. It is mostly because I’m never certain which translation I should use. Weak rationalization- mostly I’m lazy, and at this stage in my life, I fear failure. Maybe I can start with this one verse. Psalm 3:27

I have learned that I am not satisfied unless I have exhausted the English translation of all scripture. It has been very helpful to have a study application where I can easily access multiple versions. For this example I have chosen ten different English versions. Thankfully I am mono-lingual so other languages are complete out. I suppose the Greek and Hebrew versions should be considered, but that’s why I’m looking at the ten English versions, why reinvent the wheel?

So, briefly, this is my take on Psalm 3:27

27 Withhold not good from those to whom it is due [its rightful owners], when it is in the power of your hand to do it. [Rom. 13:7; Gal. 6:10] Amplified

I like reading the Amplified because it is so… amplified. The problem that I have is the unnecessary double negative. “Withholding not” good, seems awkward, but there is a hint of what the Latin suggests. As a species we “withhold”, we are not good about sharing, we are over concerned with the survival of the fittest, and other selfish acts. That’s a fair way to begin the psalm. “Hey, remember all that “withholding”? Well, don’t do it!”

And what are we “withholding”? The answer is “good”, and “good” that is obviously known as good, and it is due! Quit being a self centered creep, and give credit (good) when it is warranted. Oh, yeah, also do it when it is in your power to do it. Like, perhaps before you die! Or before you are chained in a dungeon, or before you are muted by some disease or man.

This is pretty good advice! Let’s briefly look at the other versions.

27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due,[+] when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Complete Word Study

Okay, nice use of “thine”, gives more of a sense that it is “yours” to do. But how did “those” go to “them”?

27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it. Darby

Thine reduces to thy, hmm.

27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. King James Version

The return of thine!

27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it. Webster’s Bible

Nothing new here, it’s been said before.

27 When it is in your power, don’t withhold good  from the one it belongs to. Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Wow, this is pretty straightforward. Scripture with contractions! The problem is that it starts with a phrase that “weasels”. I’ve known people that will sieze the moment, and use the excuse before they even get to the action.

27 Don’t withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do it.

Power of my hand? Hand tools?

27 Do not withhold good from those who need it, when  you  have the ability  to help.  Net Bible

Ah ha, helping! I like it! Everyone likes to help, well… most everyone.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,  when it is in your power to do it. English Standard Version

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. New American Standard Bible.

Yep, both say the same thing and I suppose I will use them to memorize. I will add this scripture to the other one that I have memorized from years ago. “Jesus wept. John 11:35

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The Speed of Thinking

With in the framework of the laws of physics as we understand them today, we can say only that the universe came into existence when it already had an age of 10-43 seconds.

I am trying very hard to understand how the entire universe had an age (no matter how small) before it was created. Is this the speed of thought of the creator? Because we are speaking of creation, the exact moment of existence. The universe had an age before it existed because the creator had to think it into existence.

Nothing can be faster than the speed of light. Oh, wait, I stand corrected. Nothing is faster than the speed of light. At the moment of creation nothing, the vast void, had to expand in order for light to progress. I like it when the answer is so clearly stated.

Apparently there are three other three other things that are faster than the speed of light, but I have enough to think about fr the moment.

God’s thinking speed, and anything faster than light. Well, okay, I am thinking a little bit about Neg. matter, and it’s existence, or not.

4 Things That Currently Break the Speed of Light Barrier | Big Think

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7 Things That Must Not Be Thought

I’ve been told that to write better, you must write more. Well, at first blush that would make sense, after all, practice makes perfect. Who said that?

There is the possibility that you can have thirty years experience, or you can have one year of experience, repeated thirty times.

To write better I should write more. Repeating the same mistakes until they are embedded as an edifice, fossilized in my core? I write more to be a better writer to write more… there is a cyclical nature to this. Riding a horse on a carousel doesn’t get you very far. Break the cyclical, create the spiral!

The endless spiral of a Mandelbrot fractal. I like the thought. A cosmic zoom of the spiral line that is actually infinite numbers of fractal spirals. The infinite measure of the coastline of any island. How is that possible when some islands are obviously larger than others?

The answer is that some infinities are larger (or smaller) than others. I find cold comfort in this statement.

I don’t know if that was seven things or not. It was a silly Buzzfeed title.

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Another’s Shoes

It’s the Christmas season. It’s also the Christmas shopping season. Wow, I went to Target this afternoon. Not the most pleasant experience- I survived mostly by shopping in the food section. Not a whole lot of gift shopping in the frozen meatless patty aisle. Much less competition. Everything goes well, except I forgot a couple of items. No problem, I’ll stop at CVS on the way home.

Okay, so maybe I had some stale coffee this morning. Maybe it was the mid morning two hour teeth scraping, (I have two teeth that need to be watched. I’m not watching, but somebody is!) In any case, it is possible that my morning had set my teeth on edge. Ha!

I only had to purchase two items at CVS, NyQuil and chewing gum (is there gum that isn’t chewed?). Three items may require a list, four items definitely require a list. I was good with two items.

I like purchasing items that do not require further choices. I like to order Rubens for lunch. True, I like the tasty sandwich, but I like the lack of further choices. It’s rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island. If the restaurant starts to ask questions like sourdough?, mayo?, ketchup?, Velvetta? and bison burger?… well, just run away. This is all to say that NyQuil is no longer safe. There appeared to be five choices of NyQuil and none of them said ‘original’. I did the best I could.

The chewing gum was right at the counter, easy in, easy out. I stepped up to grab four packs and then placed them on the counter. Immediately I felt a tap on the shoulder, “Excuse me, there is a line!”. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know!”,so I stepped to the next counter where the customer was having items packed up.

Then I looked around, realizing that there was no line. Perhaps the woman had created one, but there was no one behind her. At least I hadn’t been a complete idiot. If I saw her, I probably thought she was looking at some of the “point of purchase” displays. No big deal, she was getting her stuff checked, and I was in the next line, waiting for the bagging to finish.

That’s when I looked up and caught the eyes of the young man who was checking out the woman. He was looking at me with apologetic eyes. I’m not sure what that is, but when you see it, you know what it is. So then I focused on what the women was saying. I probably could hear the first part, but I wasn’t paying attention. Now that the clerk and I had a silent connection, I could hear the rest of the woman’s comment. She was talking about me, and how I had the gall to cut in front of her.

I was dumbfounded. I suppose I thought the apology was sufficient. Apparently not so, I was still a topic that she had to work through. So what was it? Male dominance? White privilege? Thuggish? Just plain crude Christmas shopping behavior? After all I had just been to Target. Too many categories that overlapped.

I was so confused that I didn’t notice that she had left, and the young clerk had motioned me back to his counter. I carefully checked to see if I was cutting, but no one was there. I looked at him, and he said, “Some people have an attitude…”

Trying to find a reason that made sense, I went through some of the various possibilities. I didn’t know what it was like to be a woman, I didn’t know what it was like to be black, I didn’t know what it was like to be a single mom (if she was?)… I didn’t know anything about walking in her shoes.

But that is also the point. No one really knows another’s experience.

Ha, I’m old, confused, I have bad eyesight, and my feet hurt. My early life was filled with beatings because of how I looked, my army years were punctuated by being spit on in airports, my professional life was marked by not being qualified for the jobs that I had. But none of that is known by those standing in line at CVS. And, would it matter if it was?

My rant this afternoon is to make a choice to be kinder. We don’t know the whole story to anything, even our own lives. Forgive yourself, forgive each other. Do it for the season, learn to extend it all year.

You can wear someone else’s shoes, but it does mean they will fit, nor will they walk the same path.

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Earth Abides

I had mentioned that “Earth Abides” has been one of my favorite books. When I was in high school I frequented a very small junk store that had a fairly large collection of paperback books.

Appropriately enough, it was called Lane’s Hole in the Wall. It really had an amazing assortment of, well…crap, as my father would say. Lane collected everything, and then put a price on it for his store. Classic!

At least once a week I would stop by and look through the paperbacks. This was where I found my first battered copies of Henry Miller’s work. I also found a well worn collection of Walt Whitman. The bulk of my purchases were in science fiction. I wanted everything that Robert Heinlein had every written for example.

One day, after I had found a half-dozen random books, Lane reached under the counter and brought out “Earth Abides”. He said it was pretty cool, and it was written with local neighborhoods mentioned. I had never heard of the writer, but if Lane said it was good, then I went along with the .25 price tag.

I could not put the book down. It was absolutely wonderful! Filled with great natural science, and an amazing story set in the hills of Berkeley. I could even figure out where the invented streets were. Such a good book, and it remains so.

Fast forward fifteen years.

I was about thirty years old, and I was planning to hike the California Trail from St. Louis to Sacramento. I had purchased all the topographical maps necessary, I had read many of the journals, and I was thinking about setting out that summer. I had one more thing left to research. In general, the route taken once they crossed the Sierras was not well documented, particularly after gold was discovered.

There were about five passes across the Sierra Nevada mountains that handled about 80% of all the trail traffic. Sonora Pass, Carson Pass, Ebbets Pass, Echo Lake Pass, and lastly the famous, or infamous, Donner Pass.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I should break-in my equipment and maybe even train my body for the trail. My new plan was to delay the main trail, and use the summer to hike from Sonora Pass going north to Donner Pass and maybe a little beyond. I could spend several days at each one of the passes, going down the east approach, and then crossing to descend the western slope. It was a good plan and it would help me get ready for the larger trip on the following summer.

Naturally I did as much reading as possible, before my hike. I was going to use the Pacific Crest trail to get me from pass to pass. I had to mail food and supplies to several post offices near the trail in order to be resupplied. I had a recent copy of the Pacific Crest trail book which pointed out where the trail was still not well marked. Something about ribbons in the trees. My pack was about 65 lbs with my map borders trimmed and my toothbrush shaved. I had to save ounces.

I also had read everything about Donner Pass because my plan was to use this pass as the one used on the California Trail. The Donner Pass story was widely written about, but the best research was detailed in books by a University of California professor of history at Berkeley.

I read everything that he had, but then I thought I would visit him to ask for more specific information. That’s when I found out that he had been retired for several years. But the history department secretary said that he lived in San Francisco, and that he often made time for students and researchers. She gave me his number and I called for an appointment.

I had notebooks of questions, I really wanted to know things about the land, and if the wagon guides were following hunting trails. I suppose I wanted to know stuff that he hadn’t written about. Maybe even some secret places that he knew, where I could still see some evidence of prior trail use.

I made two visits, and he was very gracious in providing everything I wanted. There was a little confusion around the first visit. Upon entering I said that wanted more information about the book that he had written. He said fine, ask away. I then mentioned my plan to investigate the passes. He looked a little perplexed and said, “That book? People don’t ask me about the Sierras anymore, I just get visitors about that other little book I wrote.” “What book was that professor?”, I asked. “Oh, um, ‘Earth Abides’, nice little fiction book I wrote in 1949”

I was speaking to Professor Stewart, but I was also speaking to George R. Stewart, the author of my favorite science fiction book. By the way, he got the title from the Bible, the first chapter of Ecclesiastes.

It was the best day!

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Parsing the Difference

I’ve been thinking about pain and suffering. What an introductory line!! Nothing is quite as depressing as morning thoughts of pain and suffering.

Things are not that bad. At least not yet. Yes, I do have some pain, and yes, I do have something that might fall into the category of suffering. This is not the reason for my thoughts.

It just occurred to me that the two terms are different- but people, and professions, are mixing the words as if they are interchangeable. I think they are different, and something is lost when they are used inappropriately.

I feel pain in my foot. I should take my shoes and socks off to investigate. I should remove the pebble, or dress the blister, and continue on. Pain is meant to be a signal that something is wrong.

The fastest nerve impulse travels about 250 mph. That means a burned fingertip will still have some damage before you can tell your finger to move off the hot surface. 250 mph from finger to brain, 250 mph from brain to finger to get it to move. Any sightseeing along the way will result in a bigger blister.

(As an aside, why is it that food that is too hot to hold, is apparently okay to pop in the mouth? The dampness does next to nothing in decreasing the heat. I am resolved to break the idiocy. If it is too hot to hold, drop it on the floor!)

So, pain is good! It gives us warning. One bad impact of leprosy is the lack of feeling in body tissue. Hands and feet were damaged by fire without being aware. Now that we have microwaves, we have removed one source of danger. But we could accidentally lean on hot surfaces, or not feel a bad blister on our feet.

Diabetes can also have that same effect. Nerves are damaged by high sugar, and feet and hands lose some sensation. Interestingly diabetes can also cause neuropathy which results in constant pain of pins and needles. Not a warning pain, it is a suffering.

Pain in the back might be a warning to cease activity before more damage occurs. Pain, as painful as it is, is actually a good thing, because mostly it is a short-term thing. I know that this doesn’t sound truthful. However, if you actually chart all painful responses you will find that short-term pain vastly out numbers the longer lasting variety.

Just one of the reasons that the opioid problem exists is that we are tired of pain, short or long term. Unfortunately, using opioids doesn’t just target chronic pain, we lose our warning signals, and at the same time we gain an addiction.

So where does suffering begin? Is there a benefit to suffering?

The word is loaded. When I think of suffering, I can’t help thinking about the community’s reaction. People suffer from natural disasters, people sense this and react to make it better. Groups of people suffer from disease, doctors and researchers find treatment to reduce the suffering.

Suffering is something you do while you are alive. In some cases, the pain is suffered, but the living is undiminished. I know far too many migraine sufferers that still lead productive lives. Chronic pain is not fun, and it cannot be ignored. It is just there, but people find a way to live along side of it.

Mostly, I’ve been thinking of the physical world of pain and suffering. The mental/emotional/spiritual world of pain and suffering has different rules and boundaries. Having experience with techniques in the physical world doesn’t always relate to success in other realms.

I must admit that I have yet to be challenged significantly in those areas. Although, perhaps there is a sort of “leprosy of the soul” that blocks my ability to assess mental/emotional/spiritual pain, without being a complete sociopath.

This thought process has gotten a lot darker than I intended.

All I wanted was to be clear when I was dealing with pain, and when I was living with suffering. I’m good with both.

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Cosmic Rays

At some point can we just leave it alone and allow it to be a mystery? 

I’m referencing an article about the “big void” that appears to be inside the great Pyramid of Khufu. The lead headline states “Cosmic rays discovers Void”. I mean, who isn’t going to be interested? Cosmic, rays, pyramids…Voids!

The Pyramids have always been Cosmic! Hundreds, thousands, of people have spent time sitting under pyramids hoping for a symbiotic connection to Khufu. People have worn tinfoil-hats in pyramid shapes. Our currency has a pyramid topped with an eye, now that is certainly “Cosmic”.

Reading further it states that “muon” particles have been used to penetrate the stone blocks. What? Where did “muons” come from? I never read about muons. I could have used that in Scrabble. Heck, muons seem more important to me than voids in a pile of stone.

Admittedly, those stones have been mostly a mystery for about four thousand years. Now, muons are going to leave nothing unknown. It’s kind of sad really, the notion that man leaves “no stone unturned”. 

Well, thanks to “muons” we don’t have to turn over stones to find things, making the idiom pointless. I’m struggling to keep up.

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I’ve been thinking about this for months on and off. It certainly is an American idiom, but as it does describe a universally human action, it may have more descriptive words in other languages.
The Western United States has a very colorful history. Many books written about shootouts and gun battles. Usually they occur in the dusty Main Street, with one opponent at one end, and the other opponent at the other. The winner was the fastest draw. Almost like the medieval belief that the strongest was right, blessed by God.
While “Might is Right” is an interesting concept, this was not what was happening in the Old West. It was more like “Sneak was Best”. Waiting at night in the shadows, then shooting the person in the back was more common than the duel in the street. I’ve even heard that there is only one documented occurrence where “the duel” actually happened. Most of the violence was more a surprised ambush. Although in the West it was called “bushwhacking” as the assailant crouched behind a convenient bush beside the road. It didn’t even matter to jump out if you still got a good shot under cover.

The term “bushwhacker” was applied to the individual who practiced this, and it was one of the worst things you can say about a person. According to Webster’s it was first used in 1866, the same year that “bamboozled” was used. Apparently this was a particular bad year for human behavior.

Most other dictionaries have a split in the word, in 1810 it was a person that lived in the forest, whacking bushes to get around. Later, during the American Civil War it described irregular troops that fought by ambush on the Confederate side, particularly in Missouri.

There are still “bushwhackers” today, and there are more than you might think. Without thinking about it, you may have done this a few times yourself. It’s not a good thing, but it does pop up now and again. And for some people they embrace it, and polish their abilities to a fine art.

I ran into one a few months back and it shocked me to the core. I was as surprised as some traveler walking down the trail when sudden rifle fire ripped up the landscape, trying to find my flesh. This time it wasn’t bullets, it was words!

Bushwhacking in conversation can be confusing, upsetting, and unnerving. It is always a surprise because of the very nature. Having an argument is clearly a problem, but you are not surprised by the comments, you are getting dished on, and you dish back. A bushwhack in an argument is like getting a frying pan hit your head from behind. Surprise! You lose!

 My logic tells me there are at least four reasons to bushwhack.

1. You love the power of the sudden win.

2. You don’t believe a “fair fight” will go your way.

3. You aren’t sure that you will win, but you love the chaos it creates.

4. You can’t use a gun, and this is the next best thing.

But what is the expectation or the motive? In the Old West you might get the traveler’s money. But what is won in a surprise attack during a conversation? It can be a show of knowledge which directs the listeners to the bushwhacker. An effective way to gain the praise of the audience, so long as you are subtle about the bushwhacking. It is also a useful way to pivot off to a direction that is less dangerous. I suppose this might be the best use of the technique.

Again, the secret thing about bushwhacking is the surprise. It is generally the bush that you hide behind, but it can be the nature of your relationship. You meet a new person at a church function and you don’t expect a surprise attack. This was what happened to me recently.

It was someone older than me, and perhaps fearful that his communication skills had lost a step. Certainly in earlier years he was quite impressive with positions and responsibilities. But now the years had passed and he felt he needed the advantage. In a very conversational manner he invited a question. Of course he already had the answer. And his answer was powerful enough that even if you agreed with him, he had the upper hand. And if you didn’t agree with him then you were toast, and everything you said thereafter was suspect.

Wow, it sounds like politics. I suppose the most polished bushwhackers today are part-time politicians. I say this because bushwhacking takes up most of their time.

The problem for me is that the element of surprise is no longer there. I expect to be bushwhacked by politicians. I do not expect bushwhacking in Church. Although I suppose some people feel that it happens a lot. At least, in my experience it is a rare thing.

What can I offer you from this experience? Not much! I can say, do not be surprised, and be cautious! This sounds good but mostly it is bad advice. Expecting attack every moment is a sad way to live. I can say to take just a quick moment after being “bushwhacked”, to analyze the event. What is the motive? Understand the dynamics! Perhaps even be compassionate about the reasons found.

Instead of countering and drawing yourself further in the bushes, you might say, “Interesting opinion”, and leave it at that.

Most importantly, if you find that you tend to “bushwhack”, try another way. Spend more time phrasing your argument with reason and care. In other words, don’t shoot from the bush beside the road.

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Frozen Things

I seem to be attracted to frozen things, items, concepts, words, and images.

If you have the time and patience, it is well worthwhile to research refrigeration. It’s been around for quite sometime, although the new “compact” versions for the home are fairly recent.

Well, at least I remember having an icebox when I was young. Perhaps we were just poor and I didn’t know it. Hmm, we didn’t have television, we had a party-line telephone, and we had an icebox. Yep, we were poor in finance, rich in spirit.

The icebox was great to keep things cool. I think the water vapor as the ice melted added a little something extra to the lettuce. The milk bottle always had beads of perspiration, and of course it was delivered fresh every other day. The Iceman Cometh twice a week.

The chips of ice in the street combined with the tar of the asphalt and made a cold chewing gum. How our teeth and gums survived that I do not know.

But frozen food? Nope, that was a mystery. The supermarkets began to have frozen food but it was for the upper crust that had refrigerators. Now, even if you did have a refrigerator the freezer compartment held two ice trays and room for one frozen pea package, and two frozen corn. I’m not sure that anything else was available frozen.

We had corn and peas growing in the backyard, but I dreamed of the day that we could have frozen vegetables. So… modern, inventive and fresh (frozen).

Several years later we had a black and white TV with rabbit ears. More like Jurassic Park rabbits, because the ears were monstrous whip antennas. Much of my youth was spent being the channel changer (five channels, but the adults never watched two of them), and the antenna adjustor. The adjusting mostly ended with me watching the program from the back, while upside down, while holding on for dear life.

I was still thrilled, it was my television, and the images were sharp and clear because of my efforts, even if they were upside down.

On the refrigerator side of things, the freezer compartment was much larger. Large enough for four TV dinners. What? How perfect!

We also had this great cart that stored six folding TV trays. All that was necessary was to sit comfortably, unwrap the heavy tin foil lid and eat from the nifty compartments. Don’t want your food touching other foods? This was perfect, the gravy never mixed with the cranberry sauce!

Is having food mixing a real thing? It all ends up in the same place! Or perhaps it is a distant memory of a perfect time when foods were served in compartments?

I loved my frozen foods! Then a miracle happened, my father fell victim to a TV commercial. One years worth of frozen foods delivered twice a year. So much cheaper to buy in bulk, and, get this, a brand new “deep” freeze delivered with the food FREE.

The most powerful word in the English language. This was “deep” because you were in danger of falling in to pick up that last frozen steak. It was big, so big that it deserved a room of its own. Most families had to put it in the garage.

For the first time we felt pretty well off because we had a laundry room off the kitchen that was almost the width of the house. The washing machine shared it with about thirty tropical fish tanks.

Heck with the fish, they migrated to other rooms, even the bathroom. We placed that shiny white coffin of frozen food just a step away from the kitchen. I mention it as a coffin because it was certainly possible to fall in and have lid lock down on you. And if a certain child would actually get in to see how cold it was, and when the light goes off… well, no need to buy an extra coffin.

I never really talked with my parents about the twice a year delivery of frozen food but it was fabulous for me. No worries about food, we had six months worth right there. We had tubs of ice cream, tons of TV dinners. We had peas and corn, forget the garden.

I was hooked on frozen. Years later I realized the quality of frozen words in time. Books that captured frozen ideas, photos that captured frozen moments. It all made sense, I was addicted to the thaw of frozen things.

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Thoughts on Bibles, Part 2

Things were beginning to heat up, no pun intended. The Church was getting very concerned that the study of theology was becoming uncontrolled. They had many examples of schisms within the church, such as Arianism, and more recent Catharsis of southern France. The best solution at the time was to declare them heretics and burn them at the stake.

This new threat was not particularly regional, as the above examples, but more about the changes in technology. The system that produced copies of Bibles was altered forever with the printing press.

True, the Catholic Church benefitted from the invention of printing. Thousands of monks no longer had to sit in Scriptoriums all over the world, to produce by hand the Bible. Gutenberg’s invention now allowed the bulk of printing to be done to through mass production, leaving the monks to apply gold leaf and create the illuminated page details.

The actual content of the Bible was still in Latin and it was still the Vulgate. When John Wycliffe opened the door by translating the Vulgate into the vernacular, then the Church truly lost control because the vernacular (common tongue) belonged to the people, not the Church.

It’s interesting to note that possibly the printing press producing literate works in the vernacular was more responsible for defining borders of countries than all the Kings, Popes, and wars combined.

If you spoke, wrote, and read French, then it meant that you lived in France (mostly).

Following the need for an English Bible, William Tyndale turned his attention to the problem. He was born in England in 1494, well after Gutenberg’s invention, and he was 23 when Martin Luther published his 95 thesis’s, which began the Reformation. Tyndale spoke and wrote in at least seven languages and had already published many articles and books.

Europe and England had changed forever with the Protestant belief taking hold in the North countries. It still wasn’t regional in the same way as a political rebellion. One city in Germany might be Catholic, and the very next city could be Protestant. In Holland there was a heavy Spanish Catholic influence, and the Dutch Reformed Protestants were also very strong.

With the Catholic Church actively persecuting those who did not use the Vulgate Bible, it soon spilled over as a political concern, with civil wars now being fought across Europe on a faith basis. They were still Christians, but now the bloodshed was based on what translation was used for the Bible.

To be sure, the fears of the Catholic Church remain today. Many untrained pastors lead church in unusual ways, with many interpretations of scripture. Sometimes the concerns are less when the pastors are from the main denominations. Although when I tell individuals that I attend a non-denominational church, I have gotten the response, “Oh, that’s where you get to believe in anything you want?” They are implying that there is no overarching authority to control the direction of belief.

It is truly a minefield, and there are too many examples of cults to dismiss this concern entirely.

When Tyndale turned his attention to an English translation of the Bible, he knew the risks. His life was at stake (no pun) but he still applied his considerable talents to the task. Just as Jerome rejected the Greek Septuagint as unfit, Tyndale rejected the Latin Vulgate. Using the Masoretic and the older Hebrew sources, he found that English actually was closer in many instances to the original Hebrew. The vernacular English was much more flexible than Latin.

There were times that even English could not convey what Tyndale thought the Hebrew was conveying. In those cases he simply invented an English word or phrase. This was not as unusual as it might seem. Creating a printed word in the vernacular was actually an exercise in how to spell what was for centuries an oral tradition. It was quite easy to go from learning how to spell a spoken word, to the creation of a new word for a new concept.

Tyndale was in contact with Sir Thomas More and Erasmus, as well as other scholars of the age. Erasmus collected “phrases” that had been created and then became common in the vernacular.

In Erasmus’s Adagia there are many phrases from Tyndale that became poplar because of his Bible translation. William Shakespeare also created these phrases found in his published work. Because a phrase is in 17th century English, many people think the phrase is from Shakespeare, and if not Shakespeare then the Bible (King James), when actually it came from William Tyndale’s work, including his Bible.

The following phrases were created by Tyndale: “let there be light, and there was light,” “male and female created he them,” “who told thee that thou wast naked?” “my brother’s keeper,” “the Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee,” “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul and with all thy might,” “the salt of the earth,” “the powers that be,” “a law unto themselves,” “filthy lucre,” and “fight the good fight.”

In addition he created the words Jehovah, mercy seat, atonement, scapegoat and Passover.

It’s interesting that even Passover is more often used by Jewish people, even though there is still the perfectly good Hebrew word of pesach.

The word of atonement was created to help explain Yom Kippur. In the section that describes sending the live goat sacrifice into the wilderness, Tyndale create two new words, “scapegoat” to describe the goat, and “atonement” to describe how the priests laid the sins of the people upon the goat below sending the goats away.

Even more curious is that the word “atonement” could be pronounced in the fashion that is more in keeping with Tyndale’s invention. It should be thought of as “at-one-ment”, and “atone” is more correctly pronounced as “at-one“.

It is very hard to separate the political world, the religious split, and the abundance of translations from each other. They are all interwoven. Certainly the Geneva Bible translation of 1560 was the main Bible of the Reformation in Europe. In England, there were several, and initially the Wycliffe was used until the Tyndale/Coverdale Bible was published.

Then, in 1611, the first edition of the King James Bible began to be used, and surpassed all others as the authorized Bible of the Church of England.

About 76 percent of the Old Testament and 84 percent of the New Testament text of the King James Version is based on the words of Tyndale.

Additionally, the House of Stuart, to which James belonged, had Scottish roots and was primarily Catholic. So, there are some places in the King James Version that seems closer to the Vulgate than Tyndale.

The first edition from 1611 is also famous for not having a single “J” throughout the entire book. There was King Iames on the first page and references to Ioshua, Ionah, and Iesus, but nothing with a “J”.

The letter “J” had been invented by Italian scribes 200 years before the King James Version, but it was thought too common to be used in an important Christian book. However the very next edition, the letter “J” replaced all those capitol “I’s”.

The King James still has a huge market and many people feel the uncommon beauty that comes across in passages. In fact, in many cults that have a “Word from God”, it appears that God speaks 17th century English, similar to the text of the King James.

In 2012, the top five translations that were sold were…

1. New International Version

2. King James Version

3. New Living Translation

4. New King James Version

5. English Standard Version

In 2014, a study found the top five bibles that were used in Bible studies were…

1. King James Version (55%)

2. New International Version (19%)

3. New Revised Standard Version (7%)

4. New American Bible (6%)

5. The Living Bible (5%

The following is not a complete list, but it does show 100 of the most common translations of the Bible into English.
* Abbreviated Bible – TAB – 1971, eliminates duplications, includes the Apocrypha

* American Standard Version – ASV – 1901, a.k.a. Standard American Edition, Revised Version, the American version of the Holy Bible, Revised Version

* American Translation (Beck) – AAT – 1976

* American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed) – SGAT – 1931

* Amplified Bible – AB – 1965, includes explanation of words within text

* Authentic New Testament – ANT – 1958

* Barclay New Testament – BNT – 1969

* Basic Bible – TBB – 1950, based upon a vocabulary of 850 words

* Bible Designed to Be Read as Literature – BDRL – 1930, stresses literary qualities of the Bible, includes the Apocrypha

* Bible Reader – TBR – 1969, an interfaith version, includes the Apocrypha

* Cassirer New Testament – CNT – 1989

* Centenary Translation of the New Testament – CTNT – 1924, one of the few versions translated solely by a woman

* Common English New Testament – CENT – 1865

* Complete Jewish Bible – CJB – 1989, a Messianic Jewish translation

* Concordant Literal New Testament – CLNT – 1926

* Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Translation – CCDT – 1953, includes the Apocrypha

* Contemporary English Version – CEV – 1992, includes Psalms and Proverbs

* Coptic Version of the New Testament – CVNT – 1898, based on translations from northern Egypt

* Cotton Patch Version – CPV – 1968, based on American ideas and Southern US culture, only contains Paul’s writings

* Coverdale Bible – TCB – 1540, includes the Apocrypha

* Darby Holy Bible – DHB – 1923

* Dartmouth Bible – TDB – 1961, an abridgment of the King James Version, includes the Apocrypha

* De Nyew Testament in Gullah – NTG – 2005

* Dead Sea Scrolls Bible – DSSB – 1997, translated from Dead Sea Scrolls documents, includes the Apocrypha

* Documents of the New Testament – DNT – 1934

* Douay-Rheims Bible – DRB – 1899

* Emphasized Bible – EBR – 1959, contains signs of emphasis for reading

* Emphatic Diaglott – EDW – 1942

* English Standard Version – ESV – 2001, a revision of the Revised Standard Version

* English Version for the Deaf – EVD – 1989, a.k.a. Easy-to-Read Version, designed to meet the special needs of the deaf

* English Version of the Polyglott Bible – EVPB – 1858, the English portion of an early Bible having translations into several languages

* Geneva Bible – TGB – 1560, the popular version just prior to the translation of the King James Version, includes the Apocrypha

* Godbey Translation of the New Testament – GTNT – 1905

* God’s Word – GW – 1995, a.k.a Today’s Bible Translation

* Holy Bible in Modern English – HBME – 1900

* Holy Bible, Revised Version – HBRV – 1885, an official revision of the King James Version which was not accepted at the time

* Holy Scriptures (Harkavy) – HSH – 1951

* Holy Scriptures (Leeser) – HSL – 1905

* Holy Scriptures (Menorah) – HSM – 1973, a.k.a. Jewish Family Bible

* Inclusive Version – AIV – 1995, stresses equality of the sexes and physically handicapped, includes Psalms

* Inspired Version – IV – 1867, a revision of the King James Version

* Interlinear Bible (Green) – IB – 1976, side-by-side Hebrew/Greek and English

* International Standard Version – ISV – 1998

* Jerusalem Bible (Catholic) – TJB – 1966, includes the Apocrypha

* Jerusalem Bible (Koren) – JBK – 1962, side-by-side Hebrew and English

* Jewish Bible for Family Reading – JBFR – 1957, includes the Apocrypha

* John Wesley New Testament – JWNT – 1755, a correction of the King James Version

* King James Version – KJV – 1611, a.k.a. Authorized Version, originally included the Apocrypha

* Kleist-Lilly New Testament – KLNT – 1956

* Knox Translation – KTC – 1956, includes the Apocrypha

* Lamsa Bible – LBP – 1957, based on Peshitta manuscripts

* Lattimore New Testament – LNT – 1962, a literal translation

* Letchworth Version in Modern English – LVME – 1948

* Living Bible – LB – 1971, a paraphrase version

* McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel – MCT – 1989

* Message – TM – 1993, a.k.a. New Testament in Contemporary English, a translation in the street language of the day, includes Psalms and Proverbs

* Modern Reader’s Bible – MRB – 1923, stresses literary qualities, includes the Apocrypha

* Modern Speech New Testament – MSNT – 1902, an attempt to present the Bible in effective, intelligible English

* Moffatt New Translation – MNT – 1922

* New American Bible – NAB – 1987, includes the Apocrypha

* New American Standard Version – NAS – 1977

* New Berkeley Version in Modern English – NBV – 1967

* New Century Version – NCV – 1987

* New English Bible – NEB – 1970, includes the Apocrypha

* New Evangelical Translation – NET – 1992, a translation aimed at missionary activity

* New International Version – NIV – 1978

* New Jerusalem Bible – NJB – 1985, includes the Apocrypha

* New JPS Version – NJPS – 1988

* New King James Version – NKJ – 1990

* New Life Version – NLV – 1969, a translation designed to be useful wherever English is used as a second language

* New Living Translation – NLT – 1996, a dynamic-equivalence translation

* New Millenium Bible – NMB – 1999, a contemporary English translation

* New Revised Standard Version – NRS – 1989, the authorized revision of the Revised Standard Version

* New Testament in Plain English – WPE – 1963, a version using common words only

* New Testament: An Understandable Version – NTUV – 1995, a limited edition version

* New Translation (Jewish) – NTJ – 1917

* New World Translation – NWT – 1984

* Noli New Testament – NNT – 1961, the first and only book of its kind by an Eastern Orthodox translator at the time of its publication

* Norlie’s Simplified New Testament – NSNT – 1961, includes Psalms

* Original New Testament – ONT – 1985, described by publisher as a radical translation and reinterpretation

* Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha – OJBC – 1996, an Orthodox version containing Rabbinic Hebrew terms

* People’s New Covenant – PNC – 1925, a version translated from the meta-physical standpoint

* Phillips Revised Student Edition – PRS – 1972

* Recovery Version – RcV – 1991, a reference version containing extensive notes

* Reese Chronological Bible – RCB – 1980, an arrangement of the King James Version in chronological order

* Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible – SNB – 1976, a version whose concern is the true name and titles of the creator and his son

* Restored New Testament – PRNT – 1914, a version giving an interpretation according to ancient philosophy and psychology

* Revised English Bible – REB – 1989, a revision of the New English Bible

* Revised Standard Version – RSV – 1952, a revision of the American Standard Version

* Riverside New Testament – RNT – 1923, written in the living English language of the time of the translation

* Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition – SSBE – 1981, the sacred name and the sacred titles and the name of Yahshua restored to the text of the Bible

* Scholars Version – SV – 1993, a.k.a. Five Gospels; contains evaluations of academics of what are, might be, and are not, the words of Jesus; contains the four gospels and the Gospel of Thomas

* Scriptures (ISR) – SISR – 1998, traditional names replaced by Hebraic ones and words with pagan sources replaced

* Septuagint – LXX – c. 200 BCE, the earliest version of the Old Testament scriptures, includes the Apocrypha

* Shorter Bible – SBK – 1925, eliminates duplications

* Spencer New Testament – SCM – 1941

* Stone Edition of the Tanach – SET – 1996, side-by-side Hebrew and English

* Swann New Testament – SNT – 1947, no chapters, only paragraphs, with verses numbered consecutively from Matthew to Revelation

* Today’s English New Testament – TENT – 1972

* Today’s English Version – TEV – 1976, a.k.a. Good News Bible

* Twentieth Century New Testament – TCNT – 1904

* Unvarnished New Testament – UNT – 1991, the principal sentence elements kept in the original order of the Greek

* Versified Rendering of the Complete Gospel Story – VRGS – 1980, the gospel books written in poetic form, contains the four gospels

* Westminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures – WVSS – 1929

* Wiclif Translation – TWT – 1380, a very early version translated into English

* William Tindale Newe Testament – WTNT – 1989, an early version with spelling and punctuation modernized

* William Tyndale Translation – WTT – 1530, early English version, includes the Pentateuch

* Williams New Testament – WNT – 1937, a translation of the thoughts of the writers with a reproduction of their diction and style

* Word Made Fresh – WMF – 1988, a paraphrase with humour and familiar names and places for those who have no desire to read the Bible

* Worrell New Testament – WAS – 1904

* Wuest Expanded Translation – WET – 1961, intended as a comparison to, or commentary on, the standard translations

* Young’s Literal Translation, Revised Edition – YLR – 1898, a strictly literal translation

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Thoughts on Bibles, Part 1

All bibles are based upon the Tanakh, the 24 books of the Jewish Bible. Generally, the current Jewish Bible is derived from the Hebrew Masoretic text. The first five books are called the Pentateuch, and are always given in the same order, as they are considered the history of the Jewish people. They are also called the Books of Moses, or the Torah. The rest of the books are organized as the Prophets, and the Writings, and they are not always in the same order in the various translations. They were compiled by various scribes in Israel and Babylon over hundreds of years, and the Masoretic text version was codified between 700 ad 1000 AD.

There is also the Greek translation of the Hebrew pre-Masoretic texts, called the Septuagint. It was supposedly commissioned by the Greek King of Egypt, Ptolemy II, the son of the general of Alexander, in the 3rd century BC. The Jews of Alexandria did not have full command of Hebrew, so Ptolemy found six scholars from each of the 12 tribes, and placed them in 72 isolated rooms with only the command, “Write me the Torah of your leader Moishe (Moses).

The additional books of the Tanakh were added at various times during the next several centuries. Nearly 600 years after the first commission, it was known by the Latin term “translation of the Seventy”, or the Septuagint, sometimes abbreviated as LXX.

The Septuagint includes numerous books no longer considered canonical in some traditions: Esdras, Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, the Book of Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. When Jerome translated what was to become known as “The Vulgate Bible”, he included these texts as the apocrypha. Jerome used only the Hebrew sources as he thought the Septuagint to be the inferior.

The books of the New Testament were written in Greek at various times between 50 and 96 AD according to most scholars. Some of the leading scholars believe the first 4 of the 27 books were written before 70 AD. The first four books are generally called The Gospels, and the first three are further grouped as the Synoptic Gospels (one eye), meaning they witness the events with a similar perspective.

The Gospels are followed by Acts, the Epistles (Letters), and the last book is Revelation. The earliest books so far are fragments of two stories of the Epistles, 1 Thessalonians in 51 AD, or possibly Galatians in 49 AD

It is significant that we call the New Testament writings as books because they were originally produced as Codexes, printed on parchment or vellum. This was much easier to produce, versus the traditional Old Testament Scripture written on scrolls. Even today, the Torah in the Synagogue is on one continuous scroll.

The Catholic Church began to use the Vulgate as the official bible and the Greek Orthodox Church used a version of the Septuagint. The Protestant Churches used various Latin versions without the Apocrypha, and several versions that were translated in the vernacular, or the language of the people.

Vernacular languages were unique to the regions, or country, and were spoken, but not written. Literacy was not wide spread, and was controlled by the Church. Writing a book was tedious, with all copies being written by teams of monks. If it was going to be published it was going to be published in Latin. After the printing press was invented, it was much easier to print in the vernacular, with printing presses springing up in nearly every large city in Europe, except Russia.

An English version of the Vulgate Bible was translated by John Wycliffe in the early 1380s. How much of the translation was by Wycliffe can be debated, but he certainly organized the effort. The Catholic Church was unhappy with the translation of the Vulgate but during Wycliffe’s lifetime there was no direct opposition. However, after Wycliffe’s death in 1384 he was excommunicated and declared a heretic. He was exhumed from his gravesite, his body burned at the stake, and the ashes spread into the River Swift.

The only Bible allowed was to be the authorized version of the Vulgate in Latin, and all others were to be burned, and the translators burned at the stake.

An example of the changes in English over 300 years…

Later Wycliffe: For God louede so the world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.


King James Version: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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I was nineteen, filled with life, traveling on the edge, hitchhiking through the Rocky Mountains. I had been on the road a month, sleeping under the stars in a different spot each day. Filled with experiences, we had decided to stay in Yellowstone for at least a week.

Of course Yellowstone has at least three months of places and things to do, but we decided to use Old Faithful as our base camp, and go on trips from there.

Naturally we took in the geyser walks, the sulphuric pools, and the main attraction, Old Faithful.

It was named in 1870, and was the first geyser to be named. It may have been more regular in the past, but now it seems eruptions are anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes apart, and eruptions last three to minutes long, and go 100 to 185 feet high.

Old Faithful is the centerpiece. The visitor center, the Inn, the campground, everything is named for it. As a stranger in this strange land, I determined to study it intently, and I spent 4 or 5 eruption cycles watching, in order to know more.

By the last few eruption cycles I was now watching the people reacting. The surprise and wonder on the faces were powerful reminders that Mother Nature was in the House.

I was sitting in a deck chair in front of the visitor’s center, with a perfect view of the slightly steaming cone. To my right there was an elderly couple occupying two deck chairs that were slightly closer to the geyser.

In full “people watching mode”, I was doing my best to observe this couple as they observed the geyser. I didn’t overhear much, actually, I heard nothing. They sat very close, clasping both hands together, as the women seemed to be watching for geyser activity.

Then I noticed that the man had kept his hands cupped around his wife’s, and she was moving her fingers rapidly in the cave of his hand flesh.

He was not only blind, but he was deaf as well.

I turned my head to observe nature around me. The trees, the yellow sulphuric earth, the boiling pools with steam rising, and the mountains in the distance. It was rich in imagery, and it was about to explode with a plume of hot water going 150 ft in the air, complete with a rumbling deep in the earth.

And it must have been a complete mystery to him, except for his best friend sitting beside him. Her hands quickly described the scene, as the sounds grew louder, her fingers went faster. When the geyser blew, she raised their hands higher, descended, and raised again even higher, matching the output of Old Faithful. It was one of the longer eruptions and must have went on for eight minutes or more.

I took this image of how a couple can love one another, care for each other, and truly communicate the world to each other… I took all this to my heart and locked it away.

I have thought about what I saw almost fifty years ago, but I am only just a little closer to really understanding the depths.

Yesterday, I saw another example of marriage.

I was sitting in a bagel shop, enjoying a sesame seed bagel and pretty good coffee. A couple came in and sat at the table in front of me. They were older, at least a few years older than me.

She spoke in a clear voice, with no contractions or accent. He spoke low, and pitched only for her ears. I heard everything she said, but only a few phrases of his.

She said, “Evertime we come here we sit at this exact table!” No anger, just an observation. He chuckled and muttered something to her. Then he left to get their orders. She sat watching the people walk by.

He returned with food, and she said, “I do not know where my husband is, I am a little worried.”

The man said something more that was unintelligible.

Then she said, “I have no idea why you are so nice to me, as you are a complete stranger!”

He chuckled again, and I heard the tale end of a sentence. “… I know your brother very well.”

“My brother? I haven’t seen him in a long time. I think he may be dead. Is he dead? I think so…”, she said.

She went on, “Why a complete stranger would be so nice to me is just amazing. I just can not understand it!”

It became clear that the husband was well, present, and lovingly taking care of his wife. Another lesson I wish to learn.

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Running in Circles

There was once a tribe living in the time of Great Migrations. People organized by families, moving from one hunting ground to the next, stopping briefly to gather supplies, but then moving on, searching for their permanent homeland.

This was common, with many tribes in motion, competing for the very few resources available.

The one thing that was different about this particular tribe was in the organization of their movement.

The tribe had scouts sent ahead on the trail, which was normal. The tribe then followed in a loose formation that extended back for several miles, which was also normal. And they had a rear guard, guarding the rear, again perfectly normal.

What was unique is that this tribe also had a large party of men and women that ran around the main group that was moving. Running twice the speed of the people walking forward, then still running quite fast around the other side, completely encircling the tribe while they moved. This group of runners changed frequently, allowing all able members of the tribe to take part.

Seen from a distance it must have looked strange. Seen from the perspective of an enemy it was intimidating. Should someone be foolish enough to attack, there would be a large group of people coming to the rescue in a few short minutes.

And if there was a tribe that discounted this, there was another surprise. All that extra running gave the tribe great endurance and strength.

They could choose to fight and win, or they could simply run, and outrun. Far better to have a choice in order to survive.

Since I exist, I must have come from a tribe. I like the idea of coming from the runners.

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Birdhouses of Lafayette

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Off Trail

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NYC Grad

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Music Playlist

There is something to be said about visiting a new friend and then looking over their albums. Ha! In the days when we had albums. 

An album collection was almost decoration, it was out and it was available. It invited inspection. You could learn a lot about a person from the music that was important to them.  

Well, it was a start at least.

Today it is much more intrusive to ask to see someone’s playlist. I noticed that it is not so easy to get a simple line by line printout. From what I gather playlists are too private to be shared.  

My playlists have changed over the years. I will always include the classics that I grew up with. They are etched in my soul, I can almost sense the order of the songs on the album.

I have added other songs now, some flashbacks to the past, some barely known to only a few. The list below is not conclusion and there are many others left out. This is just my current top forty.

1. Adele- most everything

2. Alanis Morissette- most of everything

3. Alison Krauss- most verything

4. Anna Nalick- Breathe, Soldier, Wreck of the Day

5. Annie Lennox- everything

6. Anouk- For Bitter or Worse, I don’t Want to Hurt No More

7. Beth Hart- Leave the Light On, My California, Take it Easy on Me

8. Bob Dylan- most older things

9. Bob Marley- most everything

10. Brian Eno- most everything

11. Brooke Fraser- Jack Kerouac

12. Bright Eyes- most everything

13. Buckethead- everything

14. Civil Wars- most everything

15. Cranberries- most everything

16. Dar Williams- most everything

17. Decemberists- most everything

18. Diana Krall- most everything

19. Dido-most everything

20. Don McLean- most everything

21. Edie Brickell- Buffalo Ghost

22. Enya- most everything

23. Charlottes Martin- Most everything, Wild Horses

24. Cocteau Twins- Alice, Pandora

25. Ilya Anderson- most everything

26. Imogene Heap- everything

27. Lamb- Gorecki

28. Lana Del Rey- most everything

29. Lucy Kaplinsky- everything

30. Moby- most everything

31. Neshama Carlbach- most everything 

32. Philip Glass- everything

33. Pink- most everything

34. Pomplamouse- most everything

35. Regina Spektor- most everything

36. Sia- most everything

37. Shawn Colvin- everything

38. Suzanne Vega- most everything

39. Tim Buckley- most everything

40. Tori Amos- most everything

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My Favorite Photojournalists 

In no particular order

1. Robert Capa- Spanish soldier

2. Henri Cartier-Bresson- stairwell bicycle

3. Robert Frank- blonde girl smoking candy cigarette

4. Dorothea Lange- migrant mother

5. James Nachtwey- Hutu death camp

6. Zoriah Miller-war

7. Don McCullin- war, dazed marine

8. Eugene Richards- doctor & child

9. Luc Delahaye- portraits

10. William Eugene Smith- crying Frenchman/ thymalyde children

11. Sabastiao Salgado- labor

12. John Stanmeyer- national geo

13. Phillip Jones Griffiths- Northern Ireland soldier

14. Steve McCurry- afghan girl

15. Therese Bonney- WWII, Tamara

16. Kevin Carter- bang bang club, vulture & child

17. Louis Wicks Hines- lunch on beam

18. Gordon Parks- famous ports, Ali

19. Margaret Bourke White-Gandhi

20. Yousuf Karsh- famous portraits, Churchill

21. Vivian Maier- street photography, 

22. Jacob August Riis- NYC, slums

23. Carol Szathmari- Crimean War

24. Matthew Brady- Civil War, portraits

25. Alfred Eisenstaedt- sailor & nurse

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Student Works 2

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Student Works

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Teaching Digital

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Venetian Mask

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Palace of Fine Arts

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Capone’s Jazz Toilet

The Green Mill

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Road from Devil’s Postpile 1


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Road from Devil’s Postpile 2


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