Dealing With Loss

I can’t imagine the hurt and problems associated with having ones parents go through a divorce.  My parents are happily married in their 27th year of marriage.  The only good thing I can think of having come from my father’s parents divorce is that I was blessed immensely with three amazing sets of grandparents.  They have been some of the most loving, kind, generous, genuine people that I have ever met.  I honestly think there aren’t many people like them on the face of the planet.  That’s how highly I think of them.  I can’t imagine my life growing up without them being part of it.  They had such a fundamental part of my raising, and building up of my character that every now and then, my parents will catch a little bit of something in my brother, Seth, or myself that reminds them strongly of their parents.  

For one, physical features are something that you can’t overlook that easily within families.  You can tell easily where Seth and I got our hair color and eye color (Mom’s dad, Big Daddy), or even our pasty white skin tone during the winter (Mom’s mother and Dad’s mother, Nana and Gran).  Add to that the weird ability to maintain a nice tan during the summer ( thanks to Dad’s father, Pa Paw).  Regardless which genes we got from where, we also have had two outstandingly amazing ‘step-grandparents’, who once again, have been there since our birth and in my mind and heart ARE and forever will be my grandparents.  While we may not have received any of their physical traits, we have most definitely inherited the better parts of their warm, unconditional love, patience, and generosity.  It’s something that is weighing heavily on me even as I type this, because I know, that no matter what I do, I will never be able to repay the love that they have shown me over my very short time on this earth.

I am typing all of this now, because I, very soon, may be dealing with the loss of another grandparent.  In fact, I don’t even want to post this.

EDIT: The fact also that throughout the course of typing, I’ve learned something about myself.  I’m adding this after having finished the post.  I sincerely hope that whoever reads this, will understand what it is that I mean by the end.

The post however is supposed to be about dealing with loss, in particular the loss of a close family member.  Exactly half of my grandparents souls have left this earth to spend eternity with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  They were all born again followers of Christ, and I know in my heart where they reside today.  This fact is also why I am able to write this.  I realize how much pain is associated with death.  It’s something that humans cannot overcome.  It is the end all of all end all’s and it is chasing us from the very second that we draw our first breathe out of our mothers womb.  It scares, and frightens us.  Human beings have been able to overcome many different things over the history of the world.  Famine, Disease, Migration, War, you name it, there isn’t a step forward in humanities progress that hasn’t claimed the life of one of our own.  It’s there.  Death.

It’s something that we all must eventually come to terms with.  And those who have come to terms with it, if they are believers, seemingly are even at peace.  It – I say the word It like giving death a new name, or treating it like Voldemort from Harry Potter will lessen the sting of what we know is it’s reality here on the earth.  I can’t say what I think of death entirely.  Other than I’m very sure there will come a day, when I embrace a worldly death, in order to gain a much more joyous existence in the presence of the Lord God and his Son.  I do fear death, I am after all human.  I enjoy my life, though from my words some days you wouldn’t think so (it’s something I am working on as well).  I enjoy the people I am around and interact with, though they sometimes irritate the crap out of me.  I can’t think of anything in this life that is so bad, that I couldn’t love and appreciate it for the amazing gift that it is from my Creator.

So how does this relate?  How doesn’t it?  We are commanded by our Lord and Savior to Love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith as to remove mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and give up my body to be burned, but I have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1Corinthians 13:1-3  

and of course in verse 13

So now, faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (v.13)

So how does that not relate?  Death will eventually befall all human kind, just as it has for thousands of years.  But what of love?  The reason we are alive is because we are meant to be loving beings.  So yes I miss my loved ones who have passed.  I don’t like that my father and his sister had to go through the painful experience of their parents divorce.  But I know one thing.  My father tells me every single day, once, twice, multiple times that he loves me.  I tell him the same thing.  He tells his parents he loves them, and they him.  I tell my grandparents that I love them every time I see or speak to them.  I tell my mother, my brother, my friends, and family every single time I see them at one point or another that I love them.  And they know it.  Because I know that they love me in return.  It’s something that we are commanded by our Lord and Savior to do, not only to our family, but to our neighbors, our co-workers, our teammates, classmates, roommates, adversaries, enemies, bosses, employees, people we just met.  It’s not PDA, it’s not kissing, hugging, holding hands, or anything that this world can twist it in to.  It’s the way that you see and interact and hold these relationships in your heart on a day to day basis.  It’s seeing the people all around you as God sees them, and not only that but treating them as such!!!  I’m guilty of not doing this.  I have worked as a server, I work in retail now, and there are days when I want nothing to do with anyone who speaks to me.  God doesn’t want that though.  That person, the one who is irritating me, the person at my workplace whom I would like nothing better to do than to tell off in the worst way possible, and personally escort out the front door myself……………..

That person is my grandfather, that person is my grandmother, that person is my mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend, or dare I even say spouse.   Love.  That is why we are hear, that is why it hurts to let go of someone.  It’s because God has blessed you enough to allow you a small moment in the entire scope of eternity to spend and invest you time, and emotions with, that you become selfish.  If they are a believer in Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they don’t belong to you.   They are God’s.  They are his child.  Just as a parent would not want a stranger taking their own child away, to love for themselves, God is a jealous God, and he knows what our souls thirst for.  Our souls thirst to be in communion with him.  We are made in his image, and we are part of the body of Christ.  So how in this world, can I be jealous of losing a loved one as they return to the Creator to rejoice in his presence? Because I am a sinner.  Because I am human, and as such I am a selfish being.

The only way, that I can ever even conceivably deal with losing someone, is to love them.   And in truly, unselfishly, loving someone you will only want was is best for them.  And that which is best for them…..is nothing that this world can ever hope to provide.

Father, let my heart be after you,

Luke

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Christmas in America (Season of Feverish Consumerism)

December. 21. 2014.

It’s Christmas… That time of year when we are supposed to be thinking of spending time with family, buying gifts for the ones that we love, spreading Christmas cheer… all that.  I just want to voice the perspective of one group of people.  That of the retail workers in the US.  If there is one thing that I feel will stick with me from my time in retail, it is how it has made me feel about the holiday season.  I can’t stand how retail makes you view Christmas.

It all started with Black Friday.  I have cameras, I like them.  I have electronics and other possessions.  I like those as well.  What I don’t like is how they don’t make me happy.  I have a lot more than I really need, shoot more than most people in the world “NEED.”  It’s something I have struggled with in the past, “materialism,” and something I try and fight everyday.  Another thing that retail has taught me is how selfish and rude people can be to get the “things” that they want so desperately.

I’m sure most people have read horror stories online about people being injured and even killed on Black Friday, however true or untrue they may be.   To me it just is so so so sad.  I’ve never wanted to sit out in front of a store for hours early in the morning, I’ve not had a desire to stand in line for hours to get the newest product from Apple.  In fact the one experience I’ve had with Black Friday was just to help my father carry his new tv out of Walmart.  That alone wasn’t fun at all.  That plus the fact that I spend every workday in a retail store makes me despise the entire gift giving culture surrounding the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays.  I actually made a decision this year, that I would like to never set foot inside a retail facility again on Black Friday for the rest of my life.  I am growing to hate the consumerism that … well … consumes our nation during the Christmas season, Thanksgiving season, and pretty much every other season I can think of.

I don’t think it’s wrong to buy things.  Things that aren’t necessary for life can be very enjoyable.  I am a gamer.  I enjoy and purchase video games throughout the year.  I’m also a camera geek.  I purchase all sorts of gadgets, lenses, and various other things to take photos with.  It’s the attitude with which the consuming is done that I feel makes a huge difference.   Just to give some sort of idea about how product focused we are, I spoke to a student from Egypt while I was completing my bachelors degree.  Somehow we got onto the subject of TV commercials.  He told that he was absolutely shocked by the amount of TV commercials on all the time.  He couldn’t imagine trying to watch any show without going crazy from all the interruptions for one, but also he was shocked by the amount of product placement in these commercials as well.  He felt bombarded by everything.

It’s just an observation, but I know that everyone who reads this can also agree that it’s true.  The American Dream… is nothing more than lusting after material possessions, a larger home, or a faster car that we do not need.

February. 17. 2014. – update

I started this particular post back on December 21, 2013.  It still makes me sick to a point because even though the Christmas season has now past and the general feverishness has subsided, I can still remember the mindset and thought process that I was going through when I started this post.  Though I’m quite sure that part of my reason behind writing the first part of this post was the frustration and exhaustion I was feeling because of having just finished finals and having been working in the middle of chaos, I will say that my thoughts for the most part still stand.

There are some very good reasons why I prefer Thanksgiving over Christmas (in the most general sense).  Of course I celebrate the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ and I love the spirit some people have during December, but I don’t like the way that the Christmas Holidays are celebrated.  I love how Thanksgiving is celebrated and I really wish that we could lose the gift giving tradition all together sometimes.  It makes me happy to see so many people giving thanks for their many blessings.  Every year it seems that Christmas just gets crazier and crazier.  From people being seriously injured on Black Friday, to hearing about crime sprees and violence on the news.  It is my hope and prayer that we as a nation can somehow reverse the cycle that has taken control of the nation with all the wanton consumerism and money-lust that controls every level of society today.

– Luke

Update – Combining the two blogs

Well I have decided that there really isn’t any reason for me to have two separate blogs when I could just write about different things on the same blog.  So I will be posting the same as one other post from my photo blog, and the photo blog will proceed to fade away into oblivion once that is done.

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I don’t own the above photo.

So for the longest time I haven’t really had anything to blog about on here.  Mostly because of taking my first graduate course.  For a short time I actually grew tired of talking about photography due to the fact that I do it everyday at work (I work in a camera store).  You would think that would be awesome, being as “into” photography as I am, but it really is quite the opposite.  I see the same stuff everyday that I have either already played with, or can’t afford to actually own myself and I’ve read just about every post I can on new equipment and photo ideas.  It slowly all started to make my head spin.  That and working in a retail store during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays can certainly be like a form of photographers “hell-on-earth.”  Explaining the same junk day in and day out about camera basics made me realize very quickly why I changed my major in college from teaching.  The lack of sufficient creative feedback during the holidays is almost as bad as the lack of sunshine I get from being inside most of the daylight hours.  I felt like I had some sort of vitamin D deficiency…”vitamin P deficiency.”  That is until I started reading up on one of good ole’ Sony’s new releases…. THE A7 and A7r!!!!!!!!

I have done my fair share of reading on mirrorless cameras over the past couple of months, as anyone close to me will tell you.  I was absolutely transfixed with the Fuji X series to a point of obsession. (for the price I still am)  The old school look and size plus the available sensor technology and awesome lens selection had me sold, even over the Sony NEX series.  Nothing against Sony NEX at all either, they are pretty fantastic.  I was just much more pleased with what I saw coming out of the Fuji’s, that is without actually getting to try one myself (our store doesn’t carry them).  I had pretty much decided that foreseeing a possible future in missions I would want to take a camera with me practically everywhere.  And as any self respecting photo geek would, I would wish to carry the best possible gear with me that I could carry.  For most people this would mean toting around a photo bag full of heavy lenses and maybe even more than one body.  I can see the clear advantage to this.  Mirrorless cameras in someways can’t hold a candle to the functionality and possibilities presented by a full size DSLR.  Also, Prime lenses (those heavy turds) offer such amazing, sparkling, sharp quality, that anyone in their right mind would prefer them over a basic telephoto zoom for a variety of shots.

So I had a choice really, continue to look at possibly increasing my lens load and also possibly upgrade to a full frame DSLR (eventually), or….forget the wanton full frame fantasies and embrace the compact breathe of fresh air that is the mirrorless camera.  It was something I wrestled with for a while, even though I seriously still have zero expendable income to spend on any gear what so ever at this point.  I began to develop a serious case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome.  Something that I always feared.  Falling into that dreaded trap of thinking that buying better gear might possibly revive my creativity and present new opportunities that didn’t exist with my current setup.  What a stupid fool I was.   I have done less than a handful of actual “photoshoots” in the last year.  My definition of a photoshoot is an actual planned portion of time, where I go and shoot photos at planned locations of planned subjects. (I like planning, leave me alone)  In these photoshoots, I more than happily borrowed and even rented more advanced gear than I owned simply because I had people aside from myself that depended on me to provide spectacular images for certain things.  Just as an example, two of my close friends from college, Trey and Fallyn, allowed me to take their engagement photos while I was visiting for a mutual friends wedding one weekend.  I very easily justified spending a little money renting a full frame Canon 5D Mark II body from lensrentals.com sense I was doing this as a wedding gift for my friends.

side note: I cannot recommend lensrentals.com highly enough.  they have an amazing selection of gear for rent that is kept in tip top shape, and their customer service so surprised me that I fully plan on renting from them again whenever I need any gear I cannot borrow from someone.  Camera arrived in less than two days, along with shipping label and everything needed to return the gear back as hassle free as possible. 

So I get my gear, have a great time using it, despite my reservations with the Mark II autofocus system, and loved having the gear at my disposal.  I was very convince that for the photo quality I was enjoying so much that full frame was the only way to go.

So now you can see something of a predicament forming.  I would like a full frame camera for that amazing, delicious resolution, color, and depth you get out of your photos. (as Kai Wong of digitalRev would say, I am very much a Bokeh loving camera whore)  But the compactness, and freedom you get out of carrying a smaller mirrorless camera appealed to me in a different way.  Bcause no matter how great I loved the photos that I got out of all that expensive gear, I was soooooooooooo ssooooooooooooo releaved when the shoots were over.  Because I didn’t have to carry around all those frikkin heavy lenses, flashes, light stands, etc, you see what I’m saying.  I realized that I had become just what I got irritated at customers about at work.  I wanted pro quality in a super small unobtrusive size.  I was so convince that nothing would ever exist.

Que Hallelujah chorus….

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Taken with my magnificiently complicated iPhone5

Then Sony announced there newest baby.  The Full Frame Sony A7 and A7r.  At first when it was announce I thought psh, this won’t go anywhere, you can’t fit a D800 sensor into a mirrorless body… HA!  Well they did…so I’m an idiot.

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Hello Beautiful ….

I feel like I am gushing on something I know very little about at this point.  After all I have only just been able to hold and test the camera for the first time earlier today.  So I want to go ahead and clarify, I’m not posting this as a review at all.  I didn’t start this blog to be a camera review blog, because I don’t have a desire to take that much time and care into doing it properly.  My intention is purely to post what I think about the concept and to offer a reaction to what I think just might be a real game changer in digital photography.  If anyone (assuming that I actually have someone following this blog) would like the actual specs on the cameras.  Here is a link to the dpreview side-by-side comparison.

http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=sony_a7&products=sony_a7r

Our awesome Sony tech rep was kind enough to swing by our branch and bring his promo by for us to play with.  So a host of several employees took turns taking photos between customers and we ended up with quite a few photos on a memory card that we all subsequently dumped to our laptops to drool over as we “pixel peep” later on.  The function and overall quality of the camera was quite astounding.  I really shouldn’t have expected anything less since I’ve seen nothing but positive build quality out of anything Sony has put out so far in the NEX and Alpha lines.  I seriously was taken aback by the different thing you could do in the camera.  It’s almost as if I expected it to be gear more towards soccer moms than to serious photogs and enthusiasts.  I sat there kind of stunned at what I was doing with this mirrorless camera body and seeing the results on screen that I could’ve gotten on a Nikon D800, Canon 5DMkIII, or Sony A99.  I liked it, a lot.  plus the fact that Metabones among other companies were already making adapters that would fit, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Zeiss, Leica, and other lenses, while retaining some autofocus in certain lines.  The lens we put on it was the Sony SAL-85mm 1.2 Zeiss model with what our rep called a dum adapter (no autofocus, aperture control, or exif data transfered from the lens).  Amazingly sharp lens, and the camera nailed it.  From what I could do in the short amount of time I had it, astounded me.  It pulled out just about every bit of quality possible from that lens.  My favorite part of all was the highlight focus peaking.  Even with the dum adapter you could fine tune focus by looking at the highlights, which would show in bright yellow where the focus was sharpest.  For anyone doing landscape photography, you can also zoom in on the focus area and fine tune the focus even more as you could with a regular DSLR.  Needless to say I was pretty sold.

Now the sad part.  I don’t know if I can honestly justify the price of the camera for my own personal use.  I know after having worked in the camera business almost two years now that when it comes to high end gear, you really do get what you pay for.  The thing for me is, I don’t think that I honestly need it.  So it will always be a question of need vs want.  Making car payments, health care junk going crazy, taking master’s courses there are so many reasons why I cannot afford to even consider making a purchase of this magnitude right now.  Even though the cheaper of the two, the Sony A7, would be my choice (A7 has phase detect & contrast detect autofocus, the A7r only has contrast detect) because I do much more than just landscape photography and could make use of both phase detect and contrast detect autofocus.  With the Sony A7 priced at $1700 dollars body only, and the A7r priced at $2300 body only, I have conceded that it will be a long while of drooling before I can afford such an investment.

Thus is the story of the budget photographer and his classic case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome.  It seems that even with time the Fuji X series will probably be my destiny.

ps: I will be posting some photos that I took with the A7r later and once I get to play with an A7 I will post those as well.

pps: both of these I think will easily outmatch the hipstermatic waste of time Nikon Df that was recently released…waste of time and materials IMHO…

UPDATE:  The camera that I was gushing over in this post has ceased to be of any interest me.  This revelation came to me after examining the the technical specs on the camera.  A battery life of just 300 exposures (mind you this is with all extra settings turned off, autofocus, image stabilization, automatic metering, or anything that makes the camera a modern digital imaging product) is to me pretty unacceptable for a modern camera, especially a Full Frame mirrorless SLR.  So pretty much, aside from the post being entertaining to me, the Sony A7 and A7r are no longer anywhere near my radar.  At least until they figure out how to extend the battery life past that of a watch battery.

The Quest for the Perfect Running Playlist Part 1

Something a lot of people don’t really think about that often when they think of running is music.  I guess to be more specific, I mean the actual selection of music that runners like to carry with them.  A large majority of the running community likes to bring alone their favorite tunes when they run, I really only have a few friends who absolutely do not carry music with them on any runs.  Personally, I prefer to actually enjoy my runs (haha) and an unfortunate side effect of being a runner with diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder, my mind wanders constantly throughout my runs without music.  I read Runner’s World magazine all the time and hear about all these different benefits of running without anything like an iPhone attached to you.  Some call it Zen running, where they can feel refreshed after a run by concentrating on their breathing…. almost like a meditation session.

(side note) I will say right now that I do enjoy going on what I call a “silent run” every now and then.  I’m a Christian and I use the concentration I am forced to employ as some time for private prayer and reflection.

I don’t like the whole “concentrate on your breathing thing.”  For one, I have allergy and excercise induced asthma.(I’m just a giant bag healthy sunshine aren’t I?) OF COURSE I’M THINKING ABOUT MY BREATHING!! I’M RUNNING!!  If I’m trying to break a new PR, more than likely I am sucking air as is, much less concentrating on every single breath.

This is where taking Music along for the ride helps me out tremendously.  If I’m not on one of my “Silent Runs” then I the music can help me stay just distracted enough to help me push through the painful parts of a long run, or it can also help me push my cadence faster.  I feel like the actual songs that you listen to can have a profound effect on how much you “enjoy” your run. (more experienced runners will understand the “enjoy” part.  Becoming an efficient runner I think is first required before you can truly enjoy running.)

Recently I started looking through iTunes in order to form a new playlist for my runs.  I get bored with playlists after a while and have to switch because I will overplay certain songs.  The Nike+ running app was really the first thing that got me to start looking at what I was actually listening to during my runs.  The main reason was that within the app you have two choices of what music to listen to before beginning a run.  One is to just continue listening to what is currently playing.  Two is to select a pre-made playlist from within the app.  so essentially no navigation of music is capable within the app.  Now the app will still run in the background if you exit, but I don’t even count that as an option because I don’t want to try and navigate my phone menus while it is attached to my arm and I am running on a busy road with cars passing me.  (always run on the left side folks, don’t text and run)  Plus this neat little FREE APP has skip buttons within the app, so you aren’t stuck on just one song until it’s finished.  The app also allows you to designate certain songs as “Power Songs”, because everyone has that one song that will just get their blood pumping and help you push forward when the going gets tough.

So anyway, I use other tracking apps as well, this just happened to be the one most people will be familiar with.

When I first made a playlist for my runs, I just picked some fairly up tempo songs that I enjoyed listening to, simple as that.  Well, a few 5K PR’s later I decided to get a little more picky about the music I used.  I won’t list all my songs here because my playlists for runs tend to be outrageously long, I hit the skip button a lot.  At first I threw in some happy tunes like “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones all the way over to a little Metallica and “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”  I even had some Eminem in there like “Lose Yourself” and “Cinderella Man.”  (fun fact – Eminem used running to overcome his drug addictions, clean himself up, and get through rehab.  He has even said in interviews that he is now hopelessly addicted to running and doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to stop.)  I had bands like Maylene and the Sons of Distaster, Rise Against,and Emery.  I started with a gigantic playlist of songs I would listen to on my way to work and just move over into the playlist for later.  Just the other day though I was on a run and Eminem’s “Cinderella Man” started playing after an Imagine Dragons song.  It kind of surprised me at how the tone of the music changed how I approached my run.  Now, granted “Cinderella Man” is by far one of the more conservative songs that good ole’ Marshall Mathers has recorded, but the lyrics and tone are still very aggressive and in your face.

I’m a closet gamer as well as a former concert musician, so when I play video games, my ears automatically tune in to the score, or soundtrack of what ever it is that I am playing.  From Assassin’s Creed to FIFA ’14, I notice music in everything.  It’s a blessing and a curse of sorts.  So what brought to mention this is the fact that the past several FIFA soccer games have had pretty amazing soundtracks in my opinion.  The music is usually pretty different than what you might be thinking.  The best way I can describe it is that the song selection usually has a very Choral or Chant-like quality to it, or it has a very positive up beat feel.  Here is just an example down below:

I’ll be finishing this post in a part 2 later on.

Newbie’s have to start somewhere…

So… Yeah I guess I sort of copied a few of my friends who have one of these.  I figured eh why not… It’s kinda the thing now, Facebook has long since become boring, Twitter, well it’s twitter.  So I guess I’ll give this a go.  My writing could use some practice as is and I’m always looking for some way to talk about my interests, should anyone care to read.  I’ll also have a second photography blog going on as well.  I may not update that one as much but I will post links on here whenever I do.

So I guess to start I could at least dive into what made me pick the title of this blog.  The Run Diary is self explanatory but also has a resemblance to a movie title that I have never seen, nor am I really interested in.  I just thought it sounded catchy.

Anyway I love running.  It’s odd to say that because more than often Running causes me pain.  In fact as I am writing this I am experiencing shin splints from tonights run.  Breaking in a new pair of shoes can do that I guess, but I’m adjusting.  I remember my sophomore year of college I never could’ve imagined liking such a thing.  But thanks to my roommate Lee Lloyd, I ended up getting pretty addicted to the endorphin rush.  We started running to get ready for college intramurals and ended up taking it as far as training and running a half-marathon during our senior year.  It’s something that makes me feel great and will keep me young.  It’s also something I’ve gotten fairly good at.  Just a few weeks ago I ran a new personal best 5K time of 24:27.  Getting faster is the most addicting part I think.

Patience as I learn more about this, please.  Thanks guys!!

The photo here is after my first obstacle course race, The Warrior Dash.  I posted a time of 45:20, which I’m perfectly happy about since I don’t ever get to run on trails.

2013-05-11 15.03.48

Luke

also, here is the link to my first photo blog post

http://lukedwards89.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/what-is-a-photo-blog/