Friday, December 31, 2010

1001 posts and a New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

This post is number 1,001 of 2010. I set a goal of 1,000 posts back in January. I’m happy to see that I hit my target, but it was no easy task. By midyear I was behind schedule to the tune of 250 posts. My travel schedule had put me in China for a good part of the first half of the year so blogging was difficult. Once home, I managed to make my goal by applying the project management techniques I use in the real world – and that gave me an idea. Perhaps I could use my project management skills to improve my heath.

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to continue a project I started on October 1st. I think the popular term for what I’m doing is called “eating my own dog food.” I mentor people about how to change habits as part of what I do for a living. I’ve started following my own advice. On October 1, I stopped smoking. I had been a regular cigar smoker for 30 years. I thought quitting would be harder than it was. I only miss it when I’m under a lot of stress.

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”Mark Twain

October 1st was the start of what I call my “get healthy” project. I’m using my project management skills and the skills I normally teach to others to eliminate bad habits. I put together a project plan to guide my efforts. The plan covers all aspects of my health and fitness. My goal is optimal health. My approach is to identify bad habits and eliminate or replace them with good habits. I have a lot of bad habits.

For example:

  • Oct 1 – quit regular smoking (elimination)
  • Nov 1 – quit regular drinking of diet soda (replace with water)
  • Nov 15 – reduce alcohol consumption to 2 units per week (elimination)
  • Dec 1 – quit junk food breakfasts (replace with oatmeal or like food)
  • Dec 15 – Take meds as prescribed (new habit)

Jan 1 starts with a new habit – the daily walk. On Jan 15th I move on to eating moderately at lunch and dinner (no heaping portions or seconds). And so the process goes. I change one habit every 15 days or so. I have 30 habits already targeted over the next year and I’m sure to add more as I move through the year. My plan is in Microsoft Project. I review progress several times a week. Zen Habits offers some good advice for how to successfully change your habits. .

I’ve found failures to be just as important as successes when trying to learn how to improve, especially when it comes to changing habits. It’s not an easy task, and I’m sure every one of us has tried to quit something and failed, or tried to do something positive and failed. The key, of course, is to not just give up after failure, but to reset your resolve, to analyze what went wrong and why, and to plan to overcome those obstacles the next time.

One primary success factors is simply defining things correctly. I did not quit smoking altogether, I quit smoking on a regular basis. If I smoke a cigar again it will not throw me back into the “smoker” category, nor will I feel like a failure. It’s been three months without smoking and two months without diet soda, so I'm not abusing the definition, I’m framing the definition so that a small lapse is not a major failure. I learned this by looking at past failures where small lapses tanked big efforts.

Another success factor is keeping track of what I’m accomplishing. I smoked an average of 5 cigars a week. That’s 5 cigars x 14 weeks for 75 cigars avoided and $490 saved. For diet soda I avoided 22100 mg of salt and a whole bunch of artificial sweeteners, plus I’ve picked up 10 8oz glasses of water per day (up from less than 1). Every can of soda avoided moves me toward a better me. Over time, the numbers become impressive and helps keep you focused on your goal..

I’ve noticed some health benefits already. I breath a lot easier now that I do not smoke. Eliminating diet soda caused me to shed a lot of water weight (diet soda is loaded with salt). Eating oatmeal has knocked my cholesterol down by 28 points (it was already good, now its even better). I’ve even lost some real weight too. The biggest change is adapting to life with less caffeine. Cutting the diet soda’s also radically cut my caffeine intake. I now look forward to my morning cup of coffee like a drug addict looks forward to his heroin fix. I think reducing my caffeine intake has helped tame my lifelong battle with insomnia. I now have trouble staying awake once the day winds down.

I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that I could make these changes on my own. I think watching my dad die had something to do with changing my mindset.That and the absolutely awful time I had in China (where my every public appearance was an ordeal.). Plus, when it comes to my work life, I follow everything I teach. I know making changes to small habits can result in amazing outcomes. For example, I taught an employee how to handle a help requests from VIPs. The process is simple. Listen to the request and then repeat it back to the requestor – seek agreement. When back at your desk, send an email acknowledging the request and make a commitment about its resolution. Notify anybody on your team or in your chain of command who needs to know about the commitment. Follow up each day until the task is complete and keep your team informed. And then when done, follow up again a week later to make sure everything is working ok. This little change of habit radically changed how the employee was viewed by the leaders of the organization he supports. It works every time.

Happy new year everyone.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nutball Alert: Atheist Neil C. Reinhardt

I get mail from atheist nutballs too.

Neil C. Reinhardt is officially an Atheist nutball. Anyone who sends me an email offering helpful advice while criticizing all atheists is suspect to begin with. I could tell he was slapping at me because of my unfavorable coverage of the Tea Party. I did not realize he was a rabid Tea Party apologist, although a simple Google search would have confirmed it. Check out Neil C. Reinhardt shows his true colors.

Neil’s first email was helpful yet disturbing:

Hello MoJoey,

I like your blog!

I suggest IF you are not a member of the "Freedom From Religion
Foundation" you contact them (link below) and get a copy of their great
monthly newspaper "Freethought Today"

It usually has two pages contaning MANY cases of where some member of
the Clergy is doing something illegal and/or wrong.

And of course, IF you are not a member of it, I hope you join as the
more members, the more they can accomplish,.

As you are in the LA area (as I am) and IF your not a member of
"Atheists United", (link below) you may enjoy their monthly meetings
and/or various functions.

I am a member of both to those as well as "American Atheists" (link
below) and the "Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers" (link

Sadly, I find MOST Atheists ONLY use rational thought, critical thinking
skills and little things called "Facts" on the existence of one, or more
gods,   On nearly any other subject, they, just like the far right
Christians who deny evolution is a fact, simply deny any facts which
prove they are wrong.

At least the Christians have a valid reason for being stupid and denying
facts as they were programmed to do so.  The Atheists who do it (and it
is, sadly, MOST Atheists, have NO valid excuse for acting very

I Thank You for your time
Please, Take Care!
Neil C. Reinhardt

"A 76 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist, 101st Airborne
Vet and  an Iconoclastic, Philosophizing, Beach VolleyBall Playing
Grumpy Old Son Of A Beach!"

I really love Nature's Immune Boosting Healing "miracle" I've been
drinking and using topically since September of 1979 when I was 62.
(Studies show Noni Juice boosts your immune system over 150%!
Even after over 13 years of my use, Noni Juice Still, Just Totally

I read Reinhardt’s email and responded with this:


Thanks for the email. I'll join the Freedom From Religion foundation. I think I might enjoy the magazine.

I must admit you are the first Atheist Tea Party member I've ever met. What draws you to them?

I'm a libertarian myself and find the Tea Party a bit over the top.

Instead of answering my question, Reinhardt seized the opportunity and attacked. I love the hasty generalizations.

Hello Mojoey

You are welcome, I just got ffrf's latest
edition yesterday.

MOST Atheists ONLY use Logic, Reason, Knowledge, Facts and Critical
Thinking Skills ON the existence of one. or more gods.  On ANY other
subject, MOST Atheists have their heads so far up their asses it is a
wonder they can still breath.

They are either TOO LAZY to get off their ass and do the research to get
sufficient facts to assure they know what they are talking about AND/OR
they are just TOO DUMB to be able to comprehend what the information
they (supposedly) researched
actually means.

Sadly, and based on your comments on the Tea Party, it seems you are a
one of them.

I can assure you there are quite a few CONSERVATIVE Atheists who support the Tea Party's basic tenets. MOST Atheists are TOO LAZY to find out what they are OR to do ANY research into it OR what types of people are Tea Party Supporters

Hell, I will bet YOU have NO clue what the Tea Party's basic tenets even
are and yet here you are making negative comments about them.

Which is VERY SAD!

Being a libertarian is like being a communist for the very simple reason
neither system will ever work in the REAL world where people have
different needs, desires, drives, motivation., etc., etc, Such systems can ONLY work IF EVERY person IN the system agrees to it,will put forth effort to accomplish it AND will be satisfied with the

Such systems are doomed to FAILURE as long as people are the way people

Please, Take Care!

P.S. In an effort to edify you, I am going to forward some e-mails. One
of which is why I feel I am more qualified to comment on things than
many others are.

Well… At this point I told him I thought he was nuts and asked that he stop corresponding with me. Threats, petty name calling, boasting, and emails attesting to his manly accomplishments soon followed. I made a police report after he threatened to shove a cactus up may ass. I also told him it was unwise to threaten me as I lived just 20 miles away. He and had been kind enough (or dumb enough) to leave his phone number and enough information to figure out where he lived in his emails.

I did not realize he was 76 years old, although it would not have changed my approach. I don’t feel bad about egging him on because he is uncivil to the point where I am wondering if he has brain damage. And I did egg him on. It’s easy to do the immature and the elderly.

So in answer to some of the questions he’s never bother to ask – I’m 50, a vet, and as big as a small bear. I’ve attended a dozen Tea Party get togethers in several states. I find the movement incomprehensible and anti-intellectual. I also find it overly concerned with the legitimacy of President Obama and focused on Christian social issues. So yes, I’ve done my homework. The Tea Party is nuts and so are the people who attend the stupid meetings. I made my mind up based on facts and direct observation. The Tea Party is full of your type – angry irrational old men. Now go away.

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I'm a giver, not a taker

Do you want to know what a liar looks like? Check out this pastor’s attempt to spin her arrest in a positive ligh. Pastor Sandy McGriff is laying it on rather thick. Pay not attention her arrest record of use of alias. No, she belongs to god.


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ever eat at Pink's?

It started off as a desire to have a good hot dog. I won’t eat a Nathan's hotdog. It’s a long story involving Las Vegas, whisky, rum, and tequila. pinksLet’s just say… well no, never again. So Pink’s is really the only option if you are looking for a good hotdog here in beautiful Los Angeles. But to eat at Pink’s takes a commitment. In my case it’s a 45 minute drive through LA traffic, plus a 2 hour wait in line, and then a fight for seats. You’ve got to want it real bad. But its worth it. Pink’s dogs are yummy.

The menu is interesting. I had the Guadalajara Dog ($3.85)– relish, onions, tomatoes, topped with sour cream. and a Mild Polish Dog (4.30) - mustard, chili onions. Oh, and a side of heartburn.

I don’t normally order the sides, the fries and onion rings are good but I’ve never been able to eat more than a handful without getting an upset stomach. They are too greasy for me. I was tempted to order a side of bacon ($1.40) just because I could, but passed in favor a a bottle of water and 3 orders of onion rings (for my guests).

pinksDickPink’s has problems. For instance, the seating is insane. With limited tables and a large crowd people hog tables an hour or more before they will be eating. This ties up tables so lots of people end up standing up to eat. I watched a guy sit a table for an hour without eating. He was sill waiting when my party left. The only advice I can give is be aggressive. Fight for your table or you will end up trying to eat a messy chili dog while standing, which is not fun.

The other problem – they don’t make a So Cal street dog. Street vendors all over Los Angeles make a bacon wrapped hotdog smothered in grilled onions with hot peppers. It’s the unofficial hotdog of So Cal (and I love them). I guess you could order one because they will make anything, but it pains me to see them missing from the menu.

Pink’s is a cash only business. So bring cash and quarters (to pay the parking meters). Pay a visit the next time you are in town. They are open until 2:00 am weeknights and 3:00 am on weekends. Its about 100ft north of Melrose on Le Brea. Just look for the insane line.

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The New York Times - 2010: The year in Pictures

The New York Times – 2010 The Year in Pictures. I look forward to this collection every year. The New York Times always puts together a good collection. Enjoy.

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My best photos from 2010

I put together a collection of my best photos each year. These are the best from 2010. It was not a good year for me from a photography standpoint. I worked way too much, and even though much of my work took place in China, I was too busy working to focus on shooting. I hope 2011 is better, but I doubt it will be. I’m already looking at 40 weeks of travel and couple of hard projects.

My favorite picture from the year was taken in China.


I have an eye for the odd and ugly in the world. I need to spend more time exploring and shooting if for no other reason than I am happy when I’m doing it. Spending more time shooting is one of my goals for the new year, plus shooting the wildflowers. We’ve had a lot of rain this year, that means a great desert wildflower bloom. I’m off to Joshua tree in spring.

Toomanytribbles has a great yearly photo retrospective up. She has a good eye and an aesthetic sense that elude me. I always enjoy her work.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The most popular toy at Christmas

IMG_0322Every year I look forward to attending my in-laws’ Christmas party. I can’t tell you exactly how many people attend, but a good guess would put it at about 60. We eat a big meal, drink some champagne and then eat Imogen’s desserts (she’s an amazing chef). I get to take pictures of my family and friends (my favorite part), and swap stories from the year with my cousins. It’s the highlight of the year. Unfortunately, this year I was waylaid by a bad headache, so it was hard to enjoy the party. I only took a few photos before retiring me gear because there were too many little fingers about. With the headache fogging my thinking my conversational skills were malfunctioning, so I spent a lot of time watching the younglings play instead. I figured that they would hit the new toys, but I was wrong. The most popular toy at the Christmas party was Uncle Don’s iPad (and its cool stand).

As you can see from my Hipstamatic photo, the kids all sat around the iPad which was elevated by a solid aluminum stand so that it sat 10 inches above the floor. They played some silly game where you feed a frog a fly – for hours. They would rotate the iPad for each turn. The stand was sturdy enough to stand up to the kids and the iPad was none the worse for the wear at the end of the evening.

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Hey, that pastor is a thief

Here is another truism: Once a thief always a thief. If your pastor used to be a thief, find another church. Another good measure is the find out if your pastor has ever had a real job. If the answer is no, find another church. He’s all about making a living off of his parishioners, and that’s not right.

Pastor Sandy McGriff, a self-appointed pastor of a Dallas area church, was arrested for burglarizing the home of a parishioner.

She said her pastor, Sandy McGriff, called her on Christmas Eve, shortly before the break-in. A short time later, police said a neighbor spotted the 52-year-old preacher breaking a window and climbing in.

Arriving officers said they caught McGriff loading her car with Agnew's furs and purses — and then resisted arrest.

Pastor McGriff has a criminal record so she did what a lot of cons do, she started a small church of her own. And in that fundie land known as Texas, where people do not have much discretion, pastor McGriff soon had people attending her services. How the hell does that work?

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Pastor Ivory McDaniels arrested

Pastor Ivory McDaniels was arrested the week before Christmas and charged with four counts of second degree sexual assault involving minors. Specifically, he is alleged to have touch four girls inappropriately while working as a substitute teacher at Fordyce High School in Arkansas.

Fordcyce is a small city of about about 4,799 people, and about 17 significant churches, of which 14 are Baptist. Pastor Ivory “touchy” McDaniels is pastor at Greenville Baptist Church.

As can be expected, the community is in an uproar.

The allegations have rocked the city of Fordyce and have left the community divided:  those who say they support Pastor McDaniels and those who are outraged by the accusations.  The story is so controversial that those who did speak out about it only did so under the condition of anonymity.

One resident said, "It's sad and it's a disgrace to the community." Another had this reaction, "He's very known. I went to his church for almost a year.  He deal(s) with all the kids.  A lot of people looked up to him."

The townsfolk are circling the wagons to protect their pastor down in quiet little Fordcyce. Sorry folks. It’s too late. Word of the McDaniels scandal has made it out all the way out to Southern California. Don’t you just love the internet?

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Pastor Earl Post Jr. arrested

I am surprised stalking is illegal in Texas. I though pastors got a by when it came to stalking minors. I guess I was wrong.

Earl Post Jr. was arrested by the Canton Police Department, Monday afternoon.

He is accused of stalking a 17-year-old girl.

His arrested jeopardized a Christmas for a bunch of needy kids.

Christmas presents for hundreds of East Texas children may go undelivered this weekend due to a bizarre string of events that unfolded in front of our cameras Wednesday afternoon.

It turns out Post may have been a fraud working the classic pastor’s Christmas scam. You know, collect toys and then return them for cash. At least that’s what the locals thought, along with allegations the Post employed a registered sex offender.

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But It’s 75 and sunny here

I ordered some photography equipment today and got this notice via Amazon:

Important Information About Your Adorama Order!

Due to the snow storm and blizzard conditions along the east coast, UPS and most major carriers will not be able to pick up and deliver shipments today.

Please allow for a one day delay to receive your order.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

The Adorama Team

I guess some people don’t live in LA.

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Photography tip - Foliobook

I’ve been looking for a better way to show my photos on my iPad. I stumbled upon Foliobook last week. It is exactly what I’m looking for.

Foliobook is the iPad portfolio app that allows you to create your own magazine-like home page. Professional Photographer Magazine said “Its the most unique customisable portfolio app”. Not only does it allow you to express your work and your individuality, Foliobook is also fast and easy to use. As an extra bonus, support for both orientations means your custom home page can be rotated just as easily as your picture content, its almost two portfolios in one.

It’s all of $8 on iTunes. I’ve put it through it’s paces by customizing the look and feel and setting up four galleries. I showed the results to my wife who said the right combination of kind words, so I think it looks pretty good. Give it a try for yourself.

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The passing of a generation

My Great Aunt Pat died on Christmas morning. She was the last of her generation and also a stanch atheist, so I’m paying my respects here. She was always a bit of a mystery to me since I did not spend much time with her. I saw her more when I was a child visiting my grandparents than I did as an adult. I think she was the wild child of her generation. At least that is my impression since here stories all centered around stories from the early days of Los Vegas.

I did not find out Aunt Pat was an atheist until near the end of her life. I wrote about it back in October of 2008.

I spoke with my mother this morning. She and my sister had visited Aunt Pat at her rest home. In the course of the visit, Pat asked about my sister's relationship with me. My sister said that it was all good except for that I was an atheist and she was not. I guess my aunt dropped an unexpected bombshell with her next comment.  She said she was an atheist too. She went on to say that we are all the result of an evolutionary process. I am so proud.

My Aunt Pat gave me the all time best Christmas present ever one year back in the 80s. She was never a person with money. In fact, I think perpetually broke is a good way to describe here. Yet she never forgot me at Christmas. Sometime it was only a card, but that was ok. It was nice to know she was thinking of my family. The best present ever… She sent me a tortilla warmer. I used it for twenty years.

The generations move forward with her death. My parents generation now becomes the oldest. Mine in next in line. Time goes by way to fast. You don’t this when you are young. I never did. I sure do now. Good bye Aunt Pat.

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I am free to drink, you should be too

I’m almost 50. By this time in my life I have little patience for those who would try to limit my lifestyle because of their own silly beliefs. I drink. I prefer scotch. I don’t drink much, but when I drink, I don’t want to be stopped by an arbitrary blue law. There is no difference between drinking on Sunday or drinking on Monday. Why do some Christian pastors seem to think there is?

Jerry Devinney stood before his mother's coffin and wept.

But the 21-year-old was not sure why he cried: His mother had left him when he was 3 months old. Alcohol was her ruin, he said.

His father was a "weekend" alcoholic, Devinney said, absent from most family activities.

And because pastor Devinney was personally touched by an alcohol related tragedy, it only makes sense to limit access to alcohol for everyone.

This is why Devinney, pastor at Oakdale Baptist in Rock Hill, will again stand and say "no" to efforts to extend the sales of any alcoholic spirits in York County.

Organizers of a petition drive hope to gather enough signatures to seek voter approval for Sunday sales of beer and wine in some York County stores in the November 2012 election.

Its Sunday drinking that kills. We should not be allowed to drink on Sundays. Yep, that will fix the problem. Why can’t this jackass just say that he thinks Sunday should be kept holy and without alcohol. Why does he have to wrap in a story of misery and death? Why can’t he be honest?

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Friday, December 24, 2010

The trouble with carol sings

My wife and I were out to dinner on Thursday enjoying our special Festivus meal when we IMG_0289were interrupted by carol singers. Earlier in the evening we had reminisced about singing carols in our youth. My wife did not recall participating but she enjoyed hearing the singers. I participated with my church choir. It was great fun walking from house-to-house singing Christmas carols. We did it each year. I remember it being innocent and without agenda (but I was a kid). We were just as likely to sing a Christian tune as were were to sing a secular one.

Since my youth some things have changed. Carol singers today all seem to have an agenda, at least the ones I’ve run into. Near the end of our dinner and after the Festivus Miracle, we were visited by a well trained trio of carolimage0-1 singers who performed a catchy holiday medley. All they wanted in return was cash and a chance to pimp their Pentecostal madness. Why did they want anything? They placed a flyer on each table along with a donation envelope. No pressure. Just listen to the Christ centered music medley and then donate what’s in your heart. We gave $3. $1 for each singer.

I’m sure the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ 4th Watch can use the funds What with a full schedule of services (including a seekers service), daily devotionals, and a weekly TV program to fund. Sheesh – what ever happened to simply singing for the joy of singing?

A Banksy Christmas


Banksy is among my favorite working artists. His satirical wit brings a smile to my face every time I see one of his pieces. His reason for the season image (on the left) is appropriate on many levels. I cannot imagine that it would survive in the wild. Here is a suggestion for next year – let’s use this on our bus ads. I’m sure it will get a rise.

I watched Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop a few days ago. It gets my vote for best documentary of the year. I enjoyed every minutes of it. Especially when I learned the street name of the main subject. I nearly fell out of may chair.

The New York Times says..

It seems to be a natural fit for a documentary. But Mr. Guetta’s nonstop footage turns out to be unwatched (he has boxes and boxes of unlabeled tapes) and even when he cobbles something together after years of shooting, largely unwatchable. “He was maybe just somebody with mental problems who happened to have a camera,” Banksy says in the film.

So Banksy decides to take control of the material himself — or so we’re told. Robbed of his camera and prodded by Banksy, Mr. Guetta, meanwhile, morphs into a street artist, inventing an alter ego called Mr. Brainwash and staging an opening exhibition in Los Angeles that turns him into an overnight sensation, all of which is captured in “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

I detest Mr. Brainwash. I’ve always thought the guy was a hack. Now I know why. I’m pretty sure he’s a gag invented by Bansky.

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The first flowers of spring


It’s been raining hard here for a week. I went for a quick walk about my house to check for damage. Besides finding a small termite swarm, there was no other damage besides that to my wallet ($1,200 for pest control). While checking my front yard. I found these flowers blooming near my window box in the shade of a giant magnolia. It looks like winter is over here in Southern California.

Christians can be good too

I catch a lot of flack from friends and family about the persistently negative tone of my blog. Most understand that I am on a mission and unlikely to stop holding abusive members of the clergy accountable for their misdeeds.It should be clear by now that I do not enjoy doing this. I struggle even reading the stories. Dealing with the backlash that comes from moy posts is another matter all together.

I recently committed to posting positive stories about Christians when they come to my attention. You can thank my lovely daughter-in-law for this idea. I think it makes sense too. My focus is hypocrites and not people who are trying to live a meaningful life. It comes down to my core philosophy of not judging people by what they believe, instead judge them by what they do. Take Rudy Favard for example. I judge him to be good.

Rudy is a star high school football player who gives a little of his time each night to carry an invalid child up a flight of stairs.

On Tuesday night, Patty and Rick Parker were in their cramped kitchen with their 8-year-old son Ben. Dinner was over. Bedtime was near.

Ben’s twin brother, Sammy, lay on a cot in the narrow hallway just outside the kitchen. Unable to see or speak or control his limbs, he coughed or let out a little moan every now and then. Rick and Patty took turns feeding Sammy, who has cerebral palsy, through a stomach tube. He cooed when they kissed his face or stroked his cheek, and when they cooed back, he opened his mouth into a wide, joyful O.

A few feet away was the narrow, winding stairway that is the family’s biggest burden lately.

Which is where 17-year-old Rudy’s simple, life-changing act of kindness comes in.

Until recently, Rick carried Sammy up those 14 stairs to his bedroom each night. But a few months ago, Rick had major surgery for a life-threatening heart condition, and now he can’t lift much at all, let alone a 75-pound child.

Read more….

It warms my heart. I hope it does the same for you. Rudy is acting in accordance with what he believes. Theses acts are powerful and positive examples of the good side of Christianity. It’s important for me to remember that there is a good side.

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Eli Potash receives a gift

This is my kind of Christmas story. Street cellist Eli Potash receives gift for local Salt Lake City musicians.

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Best invention ever

Beer, beer, beer, beer…

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Photography - Moodaholic

This is interesting.

I was listening to Radiohead while moving the sliders back and forth. It fed my needs in some odd way – very soothing.

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My Festivus miracle


I was patient. I knew it would happen. I’ve waited years for my own Festivus miracle. It finally happened today. I was blessed while eating my traditional Festivus meal of pho and fried tofu. My boba tea smiled at me. It’s a miracle.

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Photo a day - Rainbow in Los Angeles

rainbowIt’s been raining for a week. I happened to get a new camera the day it started raining. The Nikon D7000 seems nice, but I‘ve reluctant to take it out in the rain. Yesterday’s drive home offered the first chance of capturing a few shots. I happened upon a rainbow over the 710 freeway in Long Beach. A rainbow in Los Angeles is rare. I was lucky I had a camera handy.

To tell the true there was no luck involved. I always have a camera handy. Let me explain. I take a camera with me every day no matter where I am going. As I drive (I do a lot of driving), the camera is sitting on the seat next to me primed and ready to shoot. When I saw the rainbow I made some quick adjustments to the ISO and switched over to aperture mode. Plus, I set the camera to manual focus and fixed the focal length to what I desired. I also set it to shoot at its maximum frames per second. With camera ready I shot 144 photos in the 15 minutes I had a shot at the rainbow. Fully 90% of the take was worthless. Shooting while driving is risky at best. II only take photos when I did not pose a danger to others. So when I shoot I shoot like a paparazzi. It was essentially point the camera, shoot ten frames, return to driving. Where is the tip in this – you must be ready for a shot. Plan ahead. Take your camera with you and get it ready to shoot. Don’t waste time on composing because you will just end up in an accident. You may have to crop – I did, otherwise there would be an annoying crack in the left of the picture. Does anyone have $600 for a new windshield?

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Unfit to serve?

Al Stefanelli has an interesting post up called US Army: Atheist Unfit to Serve. The premise is simple. If a soldier does not have a spiritual side to his personality he is unfit to serve.

- A red bar means that you face some significant challenges in this area. This means that you should focus most of your attention on this area, though you should also note that placing too much emphasis here could result in other dimensions dropping. The key is to properly balance where you need the most development with the areas you are already doing well in.

Read the whole story here.

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Best lengua taco in the OC


It’s that time of year again. I started looking back at my year to figure out what was good and bad in my life. I had plenty of bad this year, flying to China, and the massive time I spend stuck in LA traffic top the list. Not to mention picking up a stinker of a project at work. Fortunately, there are lots of good things from 2010 too. One of these was the discovery of a decent lengua taco right around the corner from my house at Belinda's Authentic Mexican Food. I’ve been a fan of of beef tongue tacos for a few years now. I first tried them in Acuna about 6 years ago. After I got past my cultural inhibitions I found the meat to be my favorite filling for a street taco. Belinda’s does it right. I could go on and on about this delicious treat, but lets just say I’m having a foodie’s love affair. I could eat them every day.

Belinda’s is full of good Mexican fare. I love the tortas, and their soups are great too. Stop in and treat yourself. It’s at the corner of Orangethorpe and Valley View in beautiful Buena Park. You will not regret it.

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iPhone photography - Hipstamatic


I picked up the iPhone Hipstamatic photography application recently. It’s a lot of fun and well worth the $2 price tag. The application comes with three lenses. Of course, they offer more lenses, cameras and film for for just $1. Go for it.

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More on Pastor Baron Hopgood

I posted on Pastor Baron Hopgood a few days ago. Here is more proof that he is an apparent fraud and a smoothing talking con man who preys on African American churches and their congregants. A reader pointed me to a Consumer Watch profile on Hopgood. It’s revealing. Here we have a pastor with a long history of cheating people, yet he’s invited to speak at church after church. Why?

There is a background story supporting the Consumer Watch profile. It’s fascinating. So is the uncut video of Hopgood’s interview. How do we know this man is unethical, it all depends on what people say about him and how he reacts. Our intuition does the rest. If you are a Christian, measure him to Christ. I bet the answer is a FAIL.

The stories are all very similar.

The first person that complained to us was Courtney Thompson. When we went to Hopgood about this, he denied it and said that she had kept a company computer and phone and that's why he had stopped payment on her check. She told us she had the phone but denied having the computer. Because of the uncertainty of what happened, we felt it necessary to see if this was an isolated incident. What we would soon discover, is it was not. Hopgood consistently asked "Where's the proof?". I would accept that question had there only been one or two people. But when you talk to a dozen people over the span of three cities who all give similar accounts as to what happened, it makes you question Hopgood. Why would all of those people lie?

Yes, why would a dozen people lie? And why would Christians give this man the time of day? Faith must be at least in some part about discernment. How is Hopgood in anyway like Christ?

Did you miss the lunar eclipse?

I sure did. Los Angeles was hit by an epic storm during the lunar eclipse. It rained for 5 straight days. I missed it all. Fortunately for us, the in Santa Fe produced a nice photo series of the event. I had big plans. Instead, I watched the rain. I wanted to take a photo like this one. I’ll have to wait a few years for the next opportunity.

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Aperture Portfolio Prize for 2010

The Aperture Foundation has an annual photographers portfolio prize. I find the winners inspiring and thought you might too. The 2010 Portfolio Prize was published a few days ago.

I found runner up Julian Röder’s Legos Transformation oddly hypnotic. While Anne Golaz’s The Hunting Game is down right disturbing. This year’s winner is David Favrod. He produced my favorite photo – Godzilla (the 6th photo).

Favrod is an interesting photographer.

David Favrod was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Swiss father and raised in Switzerland. Though he was brought up far from Japan, he was exposed to Japanese culture through his mother, the stories of his grandparents, and his own travels there. When, at eighteen, the Japanese Embassy denied him dual citizenship, the rejection inspired him to explore his identity deeper. He writes, "I usually find it hard to speak about myself. I always stumble in the paradoxes of, 'Who am I?'"

Check out his website for more photos.

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Introducing OH MY GOD!!!(or lack thereof)

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, OH MY GOD!!!(or lack thereof).

My name is Jabu. I’m an 18 year old atheist from Zimbabwe living in Botswana, Africa. I’m the author of OH MY GOD!!!(Or lack thereof). To fully communicate my reasons for starting this blog, I must tell you a little more about myself. I live in a Christian household, specifically Seventh-Day Adventist, and my family is blissfully unaware of my chosen ideology. The greater majority of my friends are also very religious, most possessing a uniquely African brand of Christian fundamentalism. So I started this blog with a dual purpose: trying to get my friends to seriously think about all the dogma they accept as truth and as a sort of repository of explanations for my lack of faith I can show to my family when the truth finally comes out.

That’s not to say other non-theists, doubters or people just out for a good debate are excluded – you are just as welcome to read, and feel free to follow the blog or subscribe to the feed. An African and ex-Seventh-Day Adventist perspective will permeate my posting, and if you have acquaintances that belong to either party, please do refer them to the blog. Adventism will be a major focus in the blog, as I am constantly bombarded with it, and a pet passion of mine is refuting the pseudoscientific claims constantly being repeated on their TV channels. Adventists are much more difficult to deal with than other Christians, because they not only believe themselves superior to those of other religions, but to other Christians as well.

Anyway, please do visit the blog, follow, and make comments if you feel the urge.



Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Another pastoral career flushed away

Pastor John Perkins ordered himself a hooker from an online website. He texted the hooker, arranged to meet her and attempted to exchanged money for sex, it was then that he flushed his life down the toilet over cheap hooker sex. What kind of a pastor would do this?

John Perkins, the minister at the First Church of the Nazarene in Lima, is accused of driving to Dayton to meet a prostitute for sex.

I hear it was an ugly cop too.

Ok John – how does it feel to fall for the old bust a pastor trick? Pretty dumb right. So when do you resign? Soon right? You can’t actually get up in front of your church and talk about god – that would be awkward. I give him a week.

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Suspended sentences for church leaders

Four members of Valley Christian Center in New Hampshire found out that they were not going to spend any time in prison for failing to report the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl. These men, Rev. Timothy Dillmuth, Richard Eland, Robert Gagnon and Michael Wedge, faced only 30 days in jail, yet Judge Pamela Albee suspended the jail time, probation, and the 2,000 fine. Justice served? I don’t think so.

They were found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report they suspected a 12-year-old girl had been sexually abused by another church elder. No one has been charged.

Ok boy’s get back to saving souls and don’t let me hear about you protecting one of your friends when he molests another young girl. Wink, wink.

…and not a work on the church website.

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Hater, crazy, or both?

MetropolitanWe have another nutball. The Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus is either crazy, an anti-Semite, or both. His anti-Semitic rant was broadcast in Greece. Since he is a major player in the Greek Orthodox church, his words are particularly disturbing.

According to the news agency, when the bishop was then asked, “Why do you disagree with Hitler’s policies? If they are doing all this, wasn’t he right in burning them?” he replied: “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” He added that Jewish bankers like “Rockefeller, Rothschild and Soros control the international banking system that controls globalization.”

Do sane people ever believe this crap? Unfortunately, we cannot simply ignore him. Plus,  I’m betting that calls for his dismissal or condemnation go unheeded too. My recommendation. Tell the world he’s suddenly come down with gout and has been shipped off to the hospital to mend. Then lock the door and never let him see the light of day again. A person in his position speaking words of hate to believers can motive others to action. He needs to be stopped.

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Youth pastor Norman Pugh sentenced

A youth pastor with previous abuse allegations was sentenced to 13 years in prison for inappropriately touching a 13-year-old girl. Justice takes much to long in some cases. This one has been working its why through the courts for over a year. At least now the victims can rest assured the Pugh will do some hard time in a Georgia prison.

Pugh, who previously served as a youth minister for Arnoldsville Baptist Church, was acquitted in November 2006 of charges he molested a teenage girl who was a member of the church.

I found this info after following up on a few cases from last year. I wanted to see if the conviction trend was continuing. It is.

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Hypnotic–non from Jonathan

non from jonathan on Vimeo.

I caught this on Reddit. I found it oddly comforting. I'm jealous though, he writes without all the misspelled words and grammar problems I have. My video would take much longer.

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Pastor Timothy Parker sentenced

Pastor Timothy Parker will spend the next 20 years in prison.

The Rev. Timothy Parker appeared at the Fayette County Courthouse in West Union today. Earlier, Parker pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, which are class C felonies.

Parker molested a female relative. He was the pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Westgate. There were no insane congregants claiming him as a good Christian and that he was persecuted by hostile authorities. Parker committed his crime and then folded under the pressure of more charges and all without support. But lets remember – the victim was 12-years-old. 20 years in prison is a long stretch for a child molester.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another Baptist falls

Teacher, preacher, and now alleged pedophile Ivory McDaniels was arrested and charged with the sexual assault of 4 teen girls. McDaniels is 68 and a Baptist. And her is the kicker…

McDaniels has also served as pastor at Greenville First Baptist Church for the past 16 years.

How do you tell the grandkids that you worked hard all your life as a pastor and a teacher only flush it all away? That can’t be easy.

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Hit me with the idiot stick

BaronHopgoodOne time when I was really young and poor a traveling salesman sold me an expensive family bible. I was an atheist at the time. I felt like an idiot for the year it took my to pay the damn thing off. I gave it to my mother-in-law a few years ago. I still feel like and idiot when I think about it – but then I read stories like this one: Edmond police arrest OKC pastor.

Baron Hopgood, 35, founder of Baron Hopgood Ministries, also had an outstanding warrant from Midwest City on a complaint of defrauding an innkeeper, Edmond police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said.

Why does this make me feel good? Because “pastor” Hopgood is running a life long scam. And people buy into it despite seeing the obvious con man standing in the pulpit.

Baron Hopgood Ministries is a nonprofit organization that serves “as a education system to help believers recognize, develop and implement principles proven for success in business and vision fulfillment,” according to the ministry website.

The ministry hosts a seminar on money and goal setting called “The Encounter” and a weekly meeting called “Friday Night Live,” to “help people maximize their abilities in every aspect of their life,” according to the website.

This story tells me there are a lot of idiots in the world. If you trust this looser with your financial future or take advice from him in any way, you are an idiot. From what I understand, there is a whole industry around these business ministries within the black church. They travel from church-to-church preaching about becoming rich or succeeding in life. It is all tied up with the prosperity doctrine, which is pastor enrichment scam all its own.

This man has no education. He has no special knowledge to teach besides his bullshit biblical feel good doublespeak. His business allegedly fail. He allegedly does not pay his bills or employees. He lives off the money of sheeple. Just listen to his preaching. Or watch his important (and incomprehensible) moment of inspiration below.

Wait – success is succeeding, no success is finishing, no, finishing well. What did Joshua say, what the hell is Good Success? You must start well and finish even better. Wait, now we must go back and pick up the obstacles that become the things that god has called us to but we ignored. Wait, we must be successful in all things, no wait we must finish and bring to completion. What the hell is this guy talking about?

Let’s check the dictionary: Success - the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

So, perhaps he should stop trying to event new definitions for the word and come up with some meaningful content. It’s just a thought. He can work on it from prison.

All I want for Christmas

People who know me understand that I have simple needs when it comes to gifts. Cigars, whisky or books – if you stay in with these three area’s you cannot go wrong. Oh… and food. Love the food too. But things change with time. I quit smoking three months ago. I’ve reduced my drinking to a level where a bottle of whisky will last a year, and food… I don’t even want to talk about it. But books – I still love books.

I collect books on art, graffiti, and photography. This year I will buy myself a special treat. toomanytribbles published a photo book. It looks amazing. At $65 it’s not a bad deal for what looks like a high quality product. If you know toomanytribbles you understand that she is a talented artist whose work is sublimely beautiful. Even her Flickr feed in inspiring. I can’t wait to buy her book.

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Pastor Robert Burnam resigns

This was no surprise. When you allegedly text a hooker from a church meeting then get busted in a police prostitution sting, and all within the first weeks of your new job leading the church, I’m guessing leadership jumped at the chance to accept his resignation. I wonder though, did god make a mistake?

The church released the following statement Friday: “We are saddened to hear of the charges brought against Robert Burnham. Clearly, we do not condone this type of action.  He has offered his resignation, and it has been accepted.  We will be praying for all parties affected.”

All for a hooker. What the hell?

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Did I mention youth pastor Justin Amoroso?

Joshua AmorosoI took a break from reporting on pastors for a few weeks and I find myself backtracking to catch-up on some of these sleazebags. Youth pastor Justin Amoroso was arrested in early December for sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. The girl was 14. The police are afraid there are other victims.

According to the arrest affidavit, the girl told police they first had sex in Amaroso's home will his wife was at work, in the 14-year-old's home while her step-mother was sleeping and inside the home of the senior pastor of Gateway Church while he and his family were away on vacation.

Facebook and text messages were involved. It’s becoming a pattern.

Amoroso was the Youth pastor a Gateway Church in Colorado Springs. The church website is down (another typical response). Amoroso has been fired.

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Photography Tip - How to shoot the holiday table

I’m reading Andrew Scrivani’s photography articles. His last article was on Food Photography: How to Shoot the Holiday Table (Nov, 2010). He’s continued the series with Part two. Both articles offer practical tips for food photographers. Enjoy.

One other tip, I just finished scanning a bunch of family photos for an event next months. I’ve accumulated a large number of birthday cake photos. Most are underexposed. My guess is that the problem originates with all the white frosting. I think it acts like snow. I did not shoot these myself, but it promoted me to check some of my shots. I focus on the facial skin tones using a spot meter. The results are much better.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ex Mormon videos

I work in social media. Video is by far the most effective social medial tool available today. When we can watch Jean Bodie talk of her authentic experiences without a filter, we come closer to truth. There are several compelling ex Mormon stories up on YouTube at the I am an Ex Mormon channel. Spend a few minutes watching. I did. It helped validate something I’ve known for a long time. Mormons are in a social cult and they don’t realize it.

I grew up with many Mormon friends and as a result of those friendships I almost became a Mormon, of course a girl was involved. As I entered my professional life I found myself developing important lifelong friendships with my Mormon co-workers in Utah. I love these people. They are my friends to this day.

I know through direct experience, and now through additional video testimony, that the act of leaving the Mormon church is almost unthinkable because of the threat of becoming socially ostracized. If you leave you will be cut off from your friends and family. I’ve seen the process. It’ horrible. And it works both ways…Those leaving are traumatized, those staying are traumatized. I cannot think of another mainstream church that operates this way. Mormons act like a cult.

I’ve kept my Mormon friends over the years because they are good people and we respect each other. I try to judge people based on what they do rather than what they believe. I don’t try to convert them to atheism, they don’t try to convert me to Mormonism. It keeps things simple.

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Youth pastor Dwight Bullock pleads guilty

Another youth pastor will go to prison. Youth pastor Dwight Bullock pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault of a child. He will serve 10 years in prison.

Bullock was a youth director at Moore Chapel Church on South Bowie and an employee with the Texas Department of human services.

In case you miss the subtext – Bullock is a child predator. 10 years is not enough.

Ocean Art Photo competition winners

I love this time of year. Almost everyone has a best of or photography contest that features interesting photos. The Ocean Art Photo Competition 2010 posted their winners(NSFW). I like Under the Jetty (Phil Sokol). Careful – one of the shots is an art nude.

I used to submit my photos to competitions back in the 80s and 90s. I once had an odd thing happy. I won a juried contest at a national newspaper only to have the same picture rejected by my employers annual photo competition for not meeting their standards. So my best work was my worst work so to speak. I grew tired of competitions after a decade of participation. I may give it another go. Does anyone else enter these?

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Catholic ethics are all screwed up

Bishop Thomas Olmstead demoted Sister Mary McBride for not doing her job. She was supposed to represent the Catholic church in matters of medical ethics. More precisely, she was the liaison between the hospital ethics committee and physicians. She was supposed to stop all abortions. Instead, the doctors and hospital made the right decision when presented with an urgent case. A pregnant mother of four had pulmonary hypertension and was going to die. The doctors terminated her pregnancy in order to save her life. Yet Bishop Thomas Olmstead wanted McBride to enforce Catholic doctrine that calls for a ban on all abortions without regard for the details in the case. He did not care about the patient. This decision was not made from a position of Christ-like love. It was hate driven and a political calculation. The mother should have died to preserve the church’s position on abortion. The cause is more important that a single human life. The catholic church has a long history of sacrificing believers in the name of politics. 

Olmstead did not stop with a demotion. The hospital is a Catholic institution called St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. Olmstead wanted the doctors to take a pledge saying they would never do another abortion. The doctors refused. You can read the whole story here.

What I don’t understand is the ethical math involved. To Catholics a living human who is the mother of 4 children is worth less than an unborn fetus in its 11th week of gestation. Not only that, but what Olmstead wanted to do would have resulted in the death of the mother and her fetus. How is that a win? Plus, sending the mother away to have the abortion at another facility would have simply resulted in the abortion taking place while increasing the risk to the mother. What Olmstead wanted was for the hospital to never perform an abortion, which is a wholly political position and therefore suspect. What gives Olmstead the right to make medical decisions for the doctors?

Catholics listen – you can be good without God and you can receive medical care without the Church being involved. Don’t let the Catholic church get in between you and your doctor. Don’t let Olmstead kill your mothers and daughters over a misguided and ethically corrupt position on abortion. You can make the right choice without Catholic interference. Rise up – cast Olmstead to the curb. He deserves it.

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