Monday, December 31, 2007

Entry 42

This is my last entry for 2007, and it's my 42nd blog entry.

Although not much for numerology, 42 is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything... If you are still confused, see "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams.

But I digress.

One of the things that really struck my on our vacation this summer was how much the people make all the difference no matter where you are. We loved Guam, mostly because of Fred & Helen. We loved Yap, and it wouldn't have been even remotely the same without Cy and Susan, as well as Cara who lived upstairs. The location was spectacular, but the people made the experience great.

So it's new years eve, and we are in Tracy visiting with family. Three of my cousins and their wives are here, along with my aunt & uncle. It's a Lingenfelter year end party, and there is no where else I'd rather be.

God has made us relational. He made us in His image, which is relational as well. God has all the relationship He ever needs within the trinity, and yet created other creatures like us in order to have even more relationships. We are created to connect with one another and share in fellowship.

So here we are, the end of a long day, sitting down to a great New Years Eve! It sure beats sitting around at home watching Dick Clark for the eight thousandth time...


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The short, sad decline of film

As a kid I learned to take pictures with my dad's 35mm Nikomat camera. In those days, all of the photos were taken on Kodachrome 64, a slide film that holds its color for a very long time. Later I found a little 126 camera and started buying film for it. Although it had almost no features and was a very odd format (26mm by 26mm officially, although the film was actually 28mm square), I learned the concepts of taking good pictures by trial and error. I remember that my favorite picture was one I took of a dog while I was running along side it. I liked the photo because the dog was in focus and the background was blurred.

In 2001 we bought a Nikon N80 film camera to take with us to the olympics. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out which films to use. It was amazing the variety! There were tons of films, but as I recall I bought a lot of Agfa Optima Pro II 400 and Konica 200. I also shot a lot of Kodak Supra 100 and loved the fact that Kodak Supra 800 could be pushed to 3200, making it perfect for things like hockey!

None of those films exist anymore.

First Konica went out of business. Then Agfa. Then Kodak started discontinuing films left and right. Recently they discontinued HIE, the infra-red film that I shot in Chicago and Colorado last year. I was very dismayed by this loss, as there is nothing else quite like it on the market.

2001 was probably the high point for film. At that time the best digital camera on the market, the Nikon D1x was 5.1 Megapixels. There were higher pixel counts, but that (well, the original D1) was the first truly high end pro DSLR from a major manufacturer. Previously Kodak would take Nikon bodies and adapt them for digital, but Nikon, Canon, Minolta and Olympus were not making DSLR's until the release of the Nikon D1.

Digital was beginning to take hold, but film still was the dominant player. The competing film companies were producing better and better emulsions and competing for business. In the five years that followed 2001, film sales would evaporate as pro DSLR's came into their own. The drop in professional sales ended film research, and began the steady decline of film as a medium. On the consumer end, digital point and shoots completely destroyed the low end camera market. APS was the first casualty, followed quickly by the advanced 35mm point and shoot.

And then came the death blow. In 2003 Canon produced the digital rebel for less than $1000. With that, the consumer SLR market crashed. By early 2006 Nikon had discontinued all of their film cameras except for the mighty F6 (the best film camera ever made) and the FM10, a model aimed at beginning photography students. People stopped buying film bodies and began to buy DSLR's. Without the prosumer purchases, film companies began dropping left and right.

For color print film, Kodak and Fuji are essentially all that remains. It seems that every few months Kodak announces the discontinuation of more films. What is left is a small collection of print films, and a slightly larger collection of slide films. Even black and white seems to have taken a beating. The workflow of digital photography is simply too appealing. It takes a lot less time to import photos than it does to scan the negatives or the slides.

I am one of the holdouts. I still use the N80 that we purchased in 2001. We have added a 10MP Point & Shoot to our equipment, but the best pictures we take still come from the N80. But our options are dwindling. There is now only one place worldwide to get Kodachrome developed. How long will that last? I used to process slides at my local costco. That services has been discontinued. I have to drive nearly 60 miles to find a place that will process my true black and white film. Color print film remains easy to process, primarily because of the popularity of disposable cameras, and the fact that the same equipment creates prints from negatives and digital files.

I miss the variety of films. Each of them brought something different to the table. Each of them affected the photographs in various ways, and those films are lost, gone forever. Digital cameras now contain modes to emulate the effects of those various films (most commonly Velvia), but it isn't quite the same.

Film will never totally go away, but the attrition is far from over. Rumors are now swirling that Kodak might stop selling film altogether or sell the business. When this all shakes out there will be very few options for film photographers, and possibly only one company.

I like Fuji Slide films. I shoot Provia 100F almost exclusively. I don't care for their print films. Superia X-TRA 400 doesn't scan well, and doesn't look as good as the shots I take with Kodak 400UC. I don't generally shoot 100 print film, I use slide film for those occasions. I no longer have any film that I can push to 3200 like I used to. This is a real loss. Kodak's discontinuing of HIE is a huge loss. I expect that eventually they will discontinue 125PX, if they haven't already. Fewer and fewer options will make shooting with film less attractive.

Such is life I guess, but it's a bummer.

You can file this as a lament :-)


Friday, December 21, 2007

Sex God

Rob Bell makes me cry. There, I've said it. But really, he does. The way he writes, he brings together the truth of God's scripture and the reality of God's love with such clarity that it brings tears to my eyes.

I love reading, but some books are easier to read than others. I've been working my way through some very good books that are heavy reading, and since this was sitting in my stack I decided to give it a shot. It didn't take long for me to finish it. Rob writes like he preaches. Lots of pauses, short phrases for impact, and he leads you through a narrative like a good story teller would.

Sex God is Rob's latest book. The subhead is "Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality" which sounds kinda weird, but it's really not. It's also a book about a lot more than sex. This book is about the value of human life. About dignity. About marriage. About relationships.

One of Rob's chapters is entitled "God Wears Lipstick" and in it he discusses the concentration camps during world war II, and the horrors that the British soldiers found when they liberated those camps. Each of these people that had been brutalized, violated and stripped of all their dignity were bearers of the divine image of God. He relates the treatment of these people with how men treat women when they turn them from divine image bearers to mere objects of lust. Rob writes "The problem is that 'that' is actually a 'she.' A person...It's degrading. It's violating. It does something to a person's soul"

The entire chapter is very powerful, but it's the story at the end that made me cry: "It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived...that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived...I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips...At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity."

I have removed a lot to keep this entry short and given you a very brief summary of the chapter (very brief), but the essence is that humans are special, and God has an interest in seeing us retain our humanity and this affects how we treat one another. This theme carries through the entire book, as Rob drives home the point that every person is worth dying for. Every person.

The latter sections of the book deal more specifically with sex, as Rob moves into a discussion of how the union of a man and a woman is designed to provide a glimpse of who God is. What was revolutionary to me was the discussion on heaven, and how our relationships on earth provide small glimpses of what God will provide for everyone in heaven. It suddenly became very clear why there will be no marriage in heaven, we won't need what marriage provides because we will have the full glory of God.

Sex God isn't as critically acclaimed, or as controversial as Velvet Elvis, but it's a great book nonetheless. I have to admit, I wasn't excited about the book when I read the title. I dragged my feet on purchasing it because I wasn't sure if I would like it. But having read it, I am very grateful for the gifts that God has given Rob, and that Rob is obedient to use those gifts for the kingdom.

If you haven't read Velvet Elvis, read that first. But if you have, pick up Sex God. Highly Recommended.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Movies - Christmas 2007

We don't get out to movies much, because it's very expensive. By the time we drive to the theater, buy two tickets, and pay a sitter, we could have bought three or four full priced DVD's. But for one reason or another, I've seen three movies in the last month.

First up was Beowulf in 3D. This effects laden retelling of an old english poem was entertaining, but I don't think it is what anyone would call a great movie. I also don't think I would have enjoyed it as much in 2D, and that's a very real problem. When a film virtually requires a gimmick, that is not a good thing.

The whole movie is animated using a technique similar to what was done for the Polar Express, only it doesn't look as creepy. While neat, I think I would have enjoyed it more as live action. In the end I was entertained, which is the point I guess, but it's not a movie I can see owning and certainly not a "must see" film by any stretch. If I was rating it, I'd give it a C, or perhaps a B- if you see it in 3D.

The second movie I saw was Noelle. I really liked this film, and would have enjoyed it even if I didn't know David. Unfortunately, this movie will be gone from most theaters by the time you read this because of a poor first weekend showing. The movie business is very unforgiving, and if the first weekend isn't a resounding success, the movie will be gone very quickly.

Noelle is a story about a catholic priest who is sent to shut down a small cape cod church that is no longer viable. That is the story on the surface, but there is a much larger undercurrent of faith and forgiveness. The movie has a nice blend of humor and drama, and generally produces tears by the end in all but the most hardened person.

This is one of the few movies we have gone to see as a couple, and both Patty and I enjoyed it. I wish this movie had been promoted better. I have only talked to one person who had heard of it before I mentioned it, and they might have read about it here in my earlier entry, because I know they had read my blog... I'm very disappointed at how this whole thing has gone. I would like to have seen Noelle do a lot better, and I think better promotion could have made a big difference here. Overall this movie was probably a B to me. Not perfect, but well worth seeing.

Last night I went to see I am Legend. This movie stars Will Smith as a (not exactly) the last man alive on earth. To be honest, I really like the premise here. Will Smith is utterly alone in New York City. He is the only "normal" living citizen. The rest of the planet has been wiped out by a virus that was originally produced to cure cancer (which it did). Unfortunately, the virus mutated and went from curing cancer to effectively giving the entire human race something like rabies that makes their hair fall out and turns them into gollum like ultra violent creatures that cannot be exposed to sunlight.

The movie was a mix of suspense, action, and save the world heroics. Will Smith plays the role well, as he tries to survive in Manhattan, avoiding the creatures that come out at night. This is by far my favorite of these three films. While I really liked Noelle, I am Legend is more the type of movie I enjoy seeing. It makes me want to see The Omega Man, a 1970's movie based on the same book, simply to see how cheesy it can be :-)

There is an interesting subplot of faith in I am Legend as well. I don't want to go into it too much because I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone. I am Legend is well worth seeing. It's not perfect, but I give it an A-...


Tuesday, December 4, 2007


So the internet is abuzz recently because Mark Driscoll called Rob Bell a heretic. I was not at the conference where this happened, but from what I understand it was because of Bell's book Velvet Elvis, in which Rob lays out a hypothetical situation wherein the virgin birth was conclusively disproved, and asks the question "could you still be a Christian?" Rob's point has nothing to do with the virgin birth. Indeed, on the very next page he affirms the virgin birth and his belief in it. But his point is lost because we want to jump on the sensational...

Why do we eat our own? The world is lost and dying without Christ, and we are more worried about attacking people who don't share our beliefs exactly when we should be rejoicing in the impact that is being made for the kingdom of God. The reason Rob chose the virgin birth was that he didn't want the issue to be trivial, he wanted to make his point that we can't hinge our faith entirely on one aspect of what we believe the bible says. He included ways the scripture could be read to not support the virgin birth, not to argue that point, but to make it clear that our faith is not one without basis, but one that we support with the revealed written word of God.

I like Driscoll. I like Rob Bell. Both men have done great things for the kingdom of God. We need more leaders like them who can take the word of God into a post-modern culture without getting mired in relevancy or bogged down by modern thinking. We also need to be united for the cause of Christ, not working to undermine the ministries of others.

The world is lost. Rather than drag this on, let's return the focus to sharing the love of Christ and proclaiming the gospel to those who need Him.