Benny and the press

In reading the book "Benjamin Franklin" by Walter Isaacson, I just came to the section about his autobiography. He started to write this when he was 65 years old, in 1771. Being away so much representing our young country before the revolution, he was thinking of family and wanted to reflect on his life. He began the first page with "Dear Son" to his son William, but the book was obviously written for the general reading public.

It reminded me that I have an 1824 printing of this book, so I got it out to look at it again. It's about 3x5 in size, leather bound, we would call it a "pocket size" book. On the front flyleaf are two inscriptions: Sally Stevens' Book, March 18th, 1827 and G H Stevens, Keeneyville, Tioga Co, Pa, Jan. 17, 1892. On the back flyleaf, an elegant hand wrote: Albany March 18th 1827. In earlier years people had a much more intimate relationship with their books, they meant much more to them than they do today. Thomas Jefferson took his library with him when he was in France and increased it when there. Look at yard sales, flea markets, etc. and see all the books that people are trying to unload for a couple of bucks. I've always had a great respect for the books that I owned. Most of them are still with me, and I reread them over time.

In what I'm reading about Ben Franklin, I don't think he would be surprised that his autobiography has been passed down through family members. He seemed to have a philosophy that reached into the future, knowing that what he wrote or printed through his printing business was meant to stand the test of time. Many of his endeavors were more for the future than his own time. These blogs and all the internet content we take advantage of today will never mean as much or last as well as a good book passed to your kids or grandkids. In my mind anyway!

Fixups in the Cloud

"Cloud Computing" You'll hear that more and more, What it means is using storage space or online applications that don't reside on your own computer, controlling it over the internet. You already may use it if you use services like Shutterfly or Flickr.

If you're looking for a way to correct some Christmas photos or want to make a good photo better, check out some of the available online photo editors. These are lower on the "complication" scale than Photoshop, but many offer decent abilities to work on your photos.

Some that offer many of the same tools as Photoshop are "
pixlr", "splashup", "Phoenix" by Aviary, and "Sumopaint"
These have a similar tool set as Photoshop or Elements but are of course slower due to working over the internet connection. You can still get some decent effects, do some layered imaging, etc.



Then there are the more simple applications that are limited as to the effects you can accomplish. Many still offer enough to be useful and don't take any time at all to learn how to use them. Just upload your picture and go to work on it. Save it back to a folder on your hard drive when you're done, and it's ready for you to print it out for an album or to give to your favorite "art critic". Some of these are "Picnik", "PicMagick", "FotoFlexer", "pixer"


Even Adobe is in on the bandwagon with its "" which I've found to be way too slow and kludgey to use yet. Just keep in mind with any of these programs that upload time, speed, and mouse response time are greatly increased over a native program on your own computer. If you're willing to put up with a slower yet Free option, then by all means check these out, choose the one you like best and go to work. Also, many of them will link into your online photo storage such as Flickr or Facebook.

(note: links will open in a new window)

Hurry up!! ...or not!

I know I've slowed down my life the last few years, out of necessity for my sanity. It gives you a better perspective on what's important.

The other day I was in Dunkin Donuts waiting patiently in line. You can see out the drive through window from the counter and a lady jumped out of the passenger side of a car and ran inside, barged right up to the counter and proclaimed - "I'm the next car in the line and I don't have time to wait!" She got her TWO donuts and ran back out, hopped in the car and they took off.

Number 1: I wouldn't have served her if I was the counter person, I'd have made her wait in the inside line.

Number 2: If you are in such a hurry, why in the world are you stopping for donuts!

So many people just can't wait, speed by to get two car lengths ahead before the 5 miles of one lane construction zone! I used to be like them, sure am happy to be on the other side now!

Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving.

Even from the depths of despair, you can find at least one thing to be thankful for.

"The Book Of Wonders"

I have quite a few old books I've collected over the years. One is a 1914 "The Book Of Wonders". If I remember correctly (and there's no guarantee of that!) I might have received this book from my old lady friend and relative, Mildred Edwards, who lived a couple miles away in a cute little house by the woods. As a young boy, I used to ride my bike to her house to hear stories, sometimes have a meal, and occasionally come home with a small momento of some sort. She was also proud of our Welsh heritage and family.

This book is filled with 600 pages of "the latest "in "modern" technology and explanations of "how things work". Very interesting then and even now, to look at it in light of the technology of today. Written just a few short years after the Wright Brothers first flight, the section on the "flying machines" or "aeroplane" now read as pretty primitive to us. Several pages tell the story of how sugar is made from the sugar beet. Automobiles; well that speaks for itself, 20 to 30 miles an hour to us is painful. Why is the sky blue? 11 pages on how rope is made. The Wonderful Electric Telegraph System.

How far we have come since the advancements of this time! Our capacity for invention, improvement, technology seems almost insatiable. We are used to the 18 month cycle of "twice as good for the same or less price" in our electronics, we look forward to the "next great thing".

I'm reminded of the way we have become totally reliant on our technology every time we lose electric during a winter storm. How inconvenient! How are we going to SURVIVE? I don't let it bother me too much, just throw on a warm coat, light a candle or two and settle in to read a good book. But how can I check my email??? It'll be there, don't worry. I "fondly" remember week long stretches when we were snowed in and had to wait for the one and only snow blower in the county to dig us out. I would go out in the summer and ride my bike all over the area, I'm not sure my parents even knew I was so far away from home.

I guess the whole point of this post is to remember to take ourselves less seriously once in a while, get back to basics, take a ride on a bike and just breathe.

Tumbling Down

The big Silver Maple tree closest to the house met it's demise yesterday. It has been slowly rotting away in the heart of it for several years, becoming a threat to one corner of the house if we get another ice storm. A few years ago when a severe ice storm came through, many large branches came down with a crash during the night. So, as much as I hate to see it go, down it came.

It reminded me of one of grandma's poems written because we kids had to play in a lawn with no trees, shrubs and shade when we were little.


The little farmhouse sits alone
There in the glaring sun;
No shrub or tree to offer shade–
No place for having fun.
Those children in the summer heat,
Where shall their haven be?
No hideout to climb into here–
A fellow needs a tree!

A tree from which to hang a swing;
Bushes for "hide and seek,"
With nesting birds for wonderment;
Lilacs a'smelling sweet.
And what's to tempt the butterfly
Or lure the wandering bee?
And where can all the pirates lurk?
A kiddie needs a tree!

©1973 HB Stevens

Grandpa S.

This is in response to my sister's excellent caricature about our Grandmother on her blog and her not having many memories of Grandpa.

Grandpa was an auto mechanic by trade and a Jack-Of-All-Trades beyond that. He had his own business at the family home, and I can still remember the sights, smells and sounds when we would visit the Garage. The floor with years of grease and oil forming almost a hard shell over the concrete in the auto bay. The smells of the tools on the bench along the wall. I have some of his hand tools, which I still use and cherish. He had an office and counter area in a separate room that always fascinated me. The office was cordoned off with a rail and swinging rail gate (I wish we had a picture) The glass case counter held CANDY among other items for sale. I always requested a roll of Necco candy as often as I was allowed.

Grandpa would walk up to the house from the garage, wearing the bib overalls and what I would call an engineer's cap, and remove his shoes and hang up his jacket. The back sink was where he would clean up, I do remember his hands, mechanics hands with the traces of grease under the fingernails. As much as I can remember, I never heard him call Grandma anything but "hey!". I'm sure he meant no disrespect, just the way he called her.

He built several things over the years that I remember so well. The rowboat that he built was special when he would get it down from where it hung from the rafters in the car garage, and we got to row around the small pond in the back yard. We also fished for bass in that pond, always threw them back in when we caught any. And the little red motorized car that he built, what fun! I can see him stepping on the outside lever that started the engine, then reaching down under the dash area to put it in gear for us. Off we'd go to ride around the lawn!

He would bring out the movie camera at Christmas and family occasions, plug in the strip of flood lights to illuminate us and film us opening packages. Then on other visits we got to see the movies and slides. As I got older the word became "endure" the slides. Now, what would we give to recapture those times! Grandpa was hard working, enjoyed his other interests and I think he enjoyed having us come to visit.

This is Funny...

Here's a funny clip of a barbershop quartet.


One of my favorite praise songs is "I Can Only Imagine"

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

Just trying to think of what life will be like in Heaven can be overwhelming and comforting at the same time. As humans we want to know everything ahead of time, so we can plan what to pack, I guess. I'm comforted just to know I'll be there at the feet of Jesus. I can wait for the awe and wonder to reveal itself in God's time.

Imagination & creativity are unique gifts from God to us, proof to me that we are created in His image. They say that the church should be the most creative place on earth. Our imagination sparks our entertainment, education, why not our service?

I've always enjoyed radio dramas. I remember listening to them as a kid at the kitchen radio. I'll admit I still listen to them today, even kids shows. One of the best is "Adventures in Odyssey". It's a place where kid's imagination can take them to places and events in the bible or learn life lessons along with their favorite characters.

Imagination - Don't leave home without it!

Pushin' Pixels

Over the years I've sometimes been hard put to explain to people what it is that I do for a living. Even when I was a commercial photographer it wasn't readily understood. Where did they think all those photographs in their catalogs and magazines came from? Now that practically everything I do is on the computer and over the internet, it has become an enigma to some. Basically I "Push Pixels". Most if not all of my day is spent in Photoshop. I also use many other programs, depending on the job at hand, but Photoshop is my main tool. Retouching and manipulating images simply means changing the information at the base pixel level to achieve a more pleasing image, remove facial flaws, affect lighting changes, and replacing parts or adding other images to produce a final photograph that meets the need of the client. Most of it right now for me involves retouching photos of High School seniors, families, and babies. I hope to get back into some commercial and restoration work someday.

Back again

Back again to try to keep up with a blog. It seems everyone is blogging, twittering, on some kind of social network. Not being an exceptionally social person, it's more difficult to share, but I'll try. It will be more of a fluid site now, I'm building it with RapidWeaver, a Mac only program, and will be experimenting with all the various options over time. So, keep returning, there will be changes occasionally.