Guatemala 2010

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I got back from Guatemala. It’s passed very quickly. I wanted to let everything sink in from the trip before writing this, but obviously I want to write it while it’s still fresh at the same time.

I learned many things on the trip. I learned things about God. I learned practical things. Cultural things. Travel experience. I doubt I could list all of the things I learned. Perhaps that is the most amazing thing about mission trips: the missionaries get just as much or more from the trip than the people being served, and that applies to many more things than just bits of knowledge. I made many new friends and grew much closer to those that I already had. Best of all, I my heart was just in a constant state of joy, even when I was working my butt off.

Here’s a not-so-quick summary of the week Continue reading

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Reflecting on Guatemala

So as many of you know I just got back from a mission trip in Guatemala this past Sunday. It was an absolutely incredible trip. God moved in so many ways I’m not even sure what all he did yet. I’ll probably never know, because I know he messed with everyone on the trip and probably most of the people we interacted with.

I really don’t have everything collected enough to write a full-out post on the trip. I’m still reflecting on it all and just taking it all it. Hopefully within the next week everything will settle in to place and I’ll write a more detailed post on the whole trip.

Right now I can just say that God’s love blasts away all barriers and he really did some awesome stuff last week.

Don’t forget me: the story of my kit lens

I admit, I often forget about my old “kit” lens, the 18-55mm that came with my Rebel XT way back. Actually, I don’t know if it’s so much forgetting about it as it is looking at it like it’s that cheap thing that came with my old camera. But the fact is, it’s actually a pretty decent lens. Not only that, but it does things that none of my other lenses do. It gives me the ability to do certain things that I can’t do with anything else. That alone means I should never neglect it or forget to use it. It’s an important part of my arsenal. To illustrate my point, here are some shots I just took with it that I could take ONLY with it (click to make them bigger, you can figure it out). Enjoy!

Buzz… what Twitter should be… sorta…

So I won’t lie, I’ve had Google Buzz for all of ten minutes. But it’s pretty simple so I already feel like I completely understand it. Honestly, this is what Twitter should be if you ask me. It has a better reply/commenting system, and images and videos go in much more smoothly.

There’s only one problem: it’s on Google. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Google and many of their services. I’m pretty much constantly logged on to Gmail if I’m on a computer, and it’s pretty much my only search engine. That said, There are a grand total of about four people that regularly log on to Google and use their account services beyond a cursory email check, and that’s for those that ever check real email in the first place. This means that, as cool as Buzz is, right now I can’t really use it to connect with anyone.

I had this same problem with Wave. It’s a very cool idea/technology, but if I have a grand total of one person to connect with on there, what good is it? Hopefully all of this will change once I get to college, but right now all of this stuff isn’t much more for me than a neat gadget to play with a few times.

What do I take for granted? Washing machines.

In our society it can be really hard not to take things for granted. We as Americans are in general a very fortunate people without many troubles, unlike much of the world. We can easily get carried away and just take what we get.

Thankfully, I feel like I have at least some sense of how blessed I am. I realize that I have what I have all thanks to God and I thank him for it every day. But then I realized there is something I blatantly take for granted: modern textile cleaning technology. Have you ever thought about it? At one point, getting a shirt dirty could mean a good deal of tough labor scrubbing it clean or trashing it. At those same times shirts were probably harder to come by too, so having to throw away an article of clothing was a bigger deal.

Nowadays, unless it’s a really nice suit or something, we face the risk of getting a little dirty with, “Ah I’ll just wash it later.” We don’t even give it a second thought. Especially if it’s a white shirt. Bleach will get just about anything out of whites.

Taking this for granted even has its own negative consequences. I don’t think I’ll have to go to any length to prove to you that washing clothes does degrade them over time. A lot of things are a lot softer when you first get them than they are after their first washing, particularly blankets and hoodies and such.

Why did I just write that completely out-of-the-blue and probably pointless post? In short, I got my week-old UT hoodie really dirty last night playing dodgeball, as I completely disregarded its cleanliness, and now I am going to have to wash it, sacrificing the nice fizziness on the inside, to some extent anyway. It’s just one of those things nobody ever thinks about, but it’s really pretty applicable.

I’m Back!

Yeah, ok, I admit it; I remember why I moved to wordpress in the first place. Blogspot’s interface is terrible. I won’t lie, my main reason for trying it again was because it supported the use of adsense. It was sort of an experiment to see if it might actually be feasible to make enough to support something like a squarespace site or something like that. In short, it’s nowhere close.

My main purpose in having a blog is to have an outlet for any writing that I might want to do, which ties in with creativity. The interface and the presentation are both pretty important for this, really, and on the free spectrum, which is all my budget can handle right now, wordpress excels in every way over blogspot in my opinion.

Oh wordpress, why did I ever doubt you?

A Story of Production

In an effort to push the ‘Go to Church’ video to 1,000 views (we can do it people!), I thought I’d write a little behind the scenes snippet about making the video.  So, here goes.

The Song

Obviously the backbone for any music video is the song itself. All credit for even having the idea of doing this parody goes straight to Wes Scheidt. Nic Beidel ended up making the beat for us, so you’ll have to go to him if you want the specifics of that. Once we had the beat, a group of us got together at church one Friday night to record the lyrics. As for technical details, were used an iMac hooked up to a mic using an Apogee One. Sorry, didn’t catch the model of the mic. We recorded using Logic. It was a very smooth process. I think the most takes we had on anything was three, maybe four. Granted it was a slightly lengthy process, as we were writing our lyrics on the fly, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable process (if you know my group of friends you know why). By the end of the night we had our song. The amazing Taylor Ronne did all of the final mixing later on while I did the video.

The Video Shoot

Ahh the video… This step was obviously a little more involved. Initially we planned to start the video by having Kyle walk in and throw a Pokéball yelling, “Mr. Bob, I choose you!” and having Mr. Bob popping out. Obviously that didn’t work out so well, but we did know that would require a green screen shot, so that was the first step. I learned the hard way that setting up a green screen by yourself is not among the easiest things to do in the world. In any case, we got a nice collection of generic shots of people dancing in front of the green screen, some of which came in handy (Bob on white at the beginning, Wes and Jacob w/ fake Anson, and the iPod style shot). After that we moved on to other various shots all over the church. If I remember right the next shot was the one outside with the cross.

We learned right then that the biggest challenge was going to be having the music available for every shot. In that case, we ended up playing it off of Kamyron’s iPhone which was barely audible anyway; throwing in the wind made it even more exciting. I believe at one point Mr. Bob just started giving them a ‘finger point’ beat instead of relying on sound. Thankfully we had an iPod tower for most of the inside shots, although it was fairly cumbersome to carry around. Nothing else out of the ordinary happened after that honestly. We journey around the church shooting the various people and scenes. Though exploring all of the extremely random bit in Caleb’s truck bed was pretty interesting. Time did become an issue towards the end and we had to scramble to get our last shoots, and even missed a few we had originally planned, but it all came together and we got what we needed.

Post Production

I suppose I could write all day about editing, since it was easily the most time consuming part of the project, but it honestly wouldn’t be that interesting. I actually spent a good bit of Sunday and Monday afternoon editing the thing that week (cutting Sunday, coloring and effects Monday), but it all came together and I must say, I’m quite pleased with it.

Admittedly some things were different from our original plan, but in hindsight I think everything worked out for the better. From what I’ve seen, people seem to really enjoy it, and that’s the best reward of all.

Without further adieu, here’s the video, in case you haven’t seen it yet!