Category Archives: photography

Fall is Fading Fast

It’s been a busy fall for me, and I haven’t gotten out with my camera nearly enough. Temperatures are dropping and fall colors are quickly fading in the mid-Atlantic USA. Knowing that, I took a few minutes at the end of my lunch break to grab my iPhone and take it for a walk in the park:

— the chaplain


Posted by on November 17, 2011 in photography


Darwin’s Rescue

Yesterday afternoon, the deacon, Hypatia and I went to PetSmart to buy Hypatia a car harness. Two hours later, we left the store with a car harness, some puppy treats, a doggie toothbrush, two new leashes, two new dog crates – and a second dog.

As the deacon said later, that turned out to be an expensive harness.

How, you may ask, did we end up adopting a second dog?

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you.

As we pulled into PetSmart’s parking lot, we saw a van from the Lost Cat & Dog Rescue Foundation, a sign advertising an adoption event, and a lot of dogs milling around outside the store. As we walked into the store, I pointed out one pretty dog (not a Beagle) to the deacon, who responded by saying, “I want another Beagle.” The three of us went into the store, found the harness and puppy treats, paid for our purchases and left the store. As we crossed the sidewalk toward the parking lot, we were greeted by a beautiful 2 year old Beagle named Opal. I greeted her and she responded to me happily. I hesitated to adopt her, though, because I’d read that, if one is introducing a second dog into the family, it’s often best to adopt one of the opposite sex from the first. Apparently, two dogs of the same sex sometimes have difficulty adjusting to each other, whereas opposite sex dogs usually get along quite well together. So, I said “Goodbye” to Opal and kept walking. About three dogs over, I saw a tiny male Beagle. Since he was smaller than Hypatia, I estimated he was 4-5 months old. I walked over to him and said hello, and he promptly jumped onto my lap and smothered my face with kisses. And stole my heart.

I called out to the deacon, “Look at this little guy. What do you think of him?” The deacon and Hypatia came over and he said, “Yes, he’s cute.” We spoke with his handler and discovered that his age is actually 8 months or so. As we walked to the car, we talked about whether we should adopt him. By the time we finished loading the harness and puppy treats into the trunk, we had talked ourselves into it. So, we turned around and headed back to the dog formerly known as Tommy and adopted him. While I filled out the paperwork, the deacon texted our son and told him to come to the pet store after work so he could meet our new dog.

As we shopped, the deacon suggested that we rename the dog formerly known as Tommy. I said, “Do you want to call him Darwin? That’s a great name for a male Beagle – I love the wordplay involved.” The deacon agreed, and our son noted that it follows the trend of naming our dogs after scientists. Darwin is a smart boy and he already knows his new name. I think it’s much more dignified than Tommy (which is a cute name, but not very dignified).

Darwin had a rough life before his adoption. He’s very undersized and was probably the runt of his litter. He was found as a stray about two months ago in Spotsylvania Couny, Virginia (a rural county located about an hour south of Washington, DC). We don’t know if he escaped an enclosure and got lost or was deliberately abandoned. One of the guys from the rescue foundation said it’s not unusual for hunters to abandon hounds who won’t hunt. Can you imagine such heartlessness? It makes my blood boil!

Anyway, Darwin and Hypatia are adjusting to each other pretty well and they love playing together. When the deacon and I take them for walks, they make sure the whole pack is close together. If either dog is in the lead and decides the other pair is lagging too far behind, he or she will stop walking and wait for the other pair to catch up. We’re quickly becoming a cohesive unit.

And now, I’ll close the post with a couple of photos.

Here’s an updated photo of Hypatia. She’s just over 6 months old and weighs 25 pounds. She’s about fully grown now and beautiful.

And here’s Darwin. He only weighs 15.6 pounds. He’s small but spunky and holds his own very well when he plays tug-of-war with Hypatia.

So, there you have it, the saga of Darwin’s Rescue. Stay tuned for more adventures of two hounds in suburbia. In the meantime, my next post will be a review of a newly released book. You’ll have to come back soon to find out which book it is.

— the chaplain


Posted by on November 6, 2011 in life, pets, photography


Bumper Sticker Sighting!

I saw this bumper sticker on a beat-up Honda Civic:

Pathetic. Utterly, absolutely pathetic.

— the chaplain


Posted by on February 1, 2011 in humor, photography, religion



Here are some interesting items that I’ve found in the past week.

I’ll begin with some science news: “Scientists observing a small group of Australian lizards very closely, believe they may be watching evolution happen right before their eyes. A variety of Australian skink – like snake but with four tiny legs – is slowly starting abandon egg laying and beginning to give birth to live offspring like a mammal does.” Follow the link for more information about the visibly evolving skink.

Next, photobugs may find this link interesting. The author has assembled what he (or she) claims are 12 “of the most iconic photographs ever taken.” It’s an interesting selection. Tell me what photos, if any, you would add to such a list.

Vjack acknowledged an interesting “Idiot of the Week” last Saturday. He even has video. Here’s a hint as to what this particular idiot has been up for the past year or so:

The Catholic Church’s difficulties in recruiting young men into the priesthood have even spread to Ireland. “The difficulty in attracting young recruits is a problem that is afflicting vast swathes of the Catholic Church, particularly in secular, developed nations. But Ireland’s recruitment problems will cause concern in Rome because it had always been regarded by the Vatican as a bastion of Catholic mission in the heart of secular Europe.” I’ll admit that I’m neither surprised nor heartbroken by this news.

Additional Catholic news that is disgusting, but not surprising, is that a Catholic priest blamed his behavior on a girl who was 12 years old when he began molesting her: “I made a mistake – you invited me…”. This prick wasn’t a man when he molested a child, and he’s still not man enough to take responsibility for his behavior. What a sickening little worm.

Finally, the deacon and I made a quick trip to Toronto a couple of weekends ago. In between attending a couple of family events, we found a few hours for sightseeing:

— the chaplain


Posted by on August 31, 2010 in photography, religion, science, travel


Masters of Disaster & Irony

British Petroleum, the company that is responsible for what may be the most catastrophic man-made ecological disaster in human history, has spent nearly two months trying to persuade the world that it bears little or no responsibility for the devastation that is currently going on in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s why people find notices like these, posted at BP gas stations around the USA, ironic.

I didn’t know anyone was still buying gas from BP. I guess someone will have to do it, though, if we want BP to pay for cleaning up its mess. For some truly awful looks at the disaster that continues to unfold in the gulf, check out this photo essay. Some samples of what they have:

Americans missed an opportunity to start weaning ourselves from oil during the energy crises of the 1970s. Nearly 40 years ago. It sickens me to think about how far we could have come in the nearly half century that has passed if we would have made some efforts to change our ways then. I wish I could say that this disaster will be a wake-up call. But, I doubt that it will be. We’ll muddle through this, then continue doing the same irresponsible, wasteful shit we always do. What a confounding species we humans are; we can investigate the outer reaches of the universe, the depths of the sea and the structure of DNA, yet we don’t have enough sense to avoid fouling our own nest.

H/T to Think Progress and

— the chaplain


Posted by on June 12, 2010 in environment, photography, society


Religious Encounters of the Tourist-In-Italy Kind

None of you, particularly those who have visited Italy, will be surprised by my observation that there are churches everywhere in Venice and Rome. It may be going too far to say that there are churches on every corner, but it is fair to say that one need not walk more than a few blocks to get from one church to another. Some churches are small and easily overlooked. Others are fair-to-middling sized, and others can only be missed if one is blind. Rome is also littered with the remains of its pre-Christian, pagan past. There’s simply no escaping religion and its symbols in Italy.

In addition to these inevitable physical encounters with religions, the deacon and I had some interesting personal interactions and observations during our (far too) brief Italian sojourn. Three of these had to do with the way our tour guides discussed the sites we saw.

Two of the guides, the one who showed us around Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace in Venice, and the one who showed us the Roman Forum, spoke of religious legends in rather neutral tones. They repeatedly referred to the “traditions” associated with the sites we toured. The lady in Venice, especially, often looked a bit sheepish as she told a tale, then finished by grinning and saying, “that’s the tradition.”

St. Mark's Basilica - detail

Temple of the Vestal Virgins

In contrast, the lady who guided us through the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, the tombs of the popes and St. Peter’s Basilica, spoke like a true believer. She didn’t come right out and say, “I believe this.” But, she gave her spiels with a slant that implied that she held the things she was saying as precious truths. The most striking example was when she discussed scientific tests that had been performed on what many believe are the remains of St. Peter. She concluded her presentation by saying, “Are these really the bones of St. Peter?” Then, she answered her question by smiling broadly and enthusiastically nodding her head, yes.

Vatican - a view from Vatican City

The final encounter I want to discuss is not about Italian attitudes toward religion, but about the religion that dominates the Italian landscape: Roman Catholicism. One of the tours the deacon and I took in Rome was a Rome By Night bus tour. The tour began at about 8:00 p.m. and concluded with dinner in a little off-the-beaten-path restaurant. Dinner began at about 10:15 p.m. and concluded around 12:00 a.m., give or take a few minutes. (Italians take their time eating; meals are social events, not mere means of physical sustenance for them. That’s an attitude I like and am determined to adopt more regularly). On this occasion, the deacon and I shared a table, and a sizable carafe of wine, with a fellow we’d never met before and probably never will see again. Since a stop by St. Peter’s Basilica – to see the exterior in its evening illumination – was one of the last stops before dinner, I shouldn’t have been surprised (although I was, a little bit) when Carlo began talking about religion.

St. Peter's Basilica at Night

Carlo, having been born and raised in Puerto Rico, had grown up in the Catholic Church. When he was about 16, Carlo got a job and began spending less time at his local church. The local priest was concerned and visited Carlo’s home to encourage him to make sure that he didn’t get too busy to save room in his life for God. Since priests had always visited his home, Carlo didn’t think too much about the priest’s interest in him at that point. What spooked him was the night that he left work and found the priest waiting for him outside. Apparently, the priest had called someone (not Carlo himself) to find out where Carlo worked and what time he’d be finished. Carlo thought this was more than a bit creepy, so, from that time forward, he minimized his contacts with the priest. And, he found out later that his antenna had been in good working order. It came out, not too long after these events, that the priest had molested some boys in the parish. That was when Carlo realized just how close he had come to being another victim. Needless to say, Carlo has little use for Mother Church these days.

Not surprisingly, the artifacts of religious traditions and history are obvious in Italy. What’s less obvious is whether many Italians, while proudly acknowledging their history, continue to take those traditions seriously. It’s a question I find interesting ground for further investigation.

— the chaplain


Posted by on May 8, 2010 in photography, religion, travel


In & Out

I’m just popping in to say hello. Work has been crazy busy hectic this week because I’ve been

a) catching up on stuff from last week,
b) keeping up with stuff from this week, and
c) getting ahead on stuff for next week.

The last item is necessary because I will be heading out of town for a business conference this weekend. Here are some pics I captured in Venice and Murano. There will be plenty more in the future.

Gondola details:

Carnival masks:

Murano glass blower:

I’ll be back in a week or so…

— the chaplain


Posted by on April 22, 2010 in announcements/news, photography


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