Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

And here are some favorite tunes to ring in the New Year. In Vienna they celebrate by waltzing:

Of course, it ain't New Year's Eve without a chorus or two of "Auld Lang Syne":

Happy New Year everybody!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Gloomy Winter Day

It's the end of December and still no snow; everything is gray or brown and drab. So today I went wandering around with the camera looking for shots that would emphasize that mood. I no longer have access to the laptop that has Photoshop CS3 and the Exposure 2 plug-in (and they won't run on this computer, either), so I'm having to go back to working with plain old Photoshop CS and the techniques I was using before I came across the versions that made life easier. Come to think of it, having to work for that result is definitely a satisfying experience! I converted to b&w in the channel mixer and applied some aging via layers and blending, and these are the result.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Warm fires, candle-lit trees, evergreens, cakes and cookies and tea with lots of ginger in them, candles, the smell of evergreens and gingerbread baking, holly with bright red berries, snow... For me, this is the experience of Christmas. Nobody put it as well as Mel Tormé in his "The Christmas Song", and nobody sang it better than Nat Cole. So light the fire, kick your feet up, and enjoy the velvet tones of the best voice in the world. Merry Christmas!

Photo & text © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Glad Yule!

It's that time of year again, when the days are short and the nights are long, when the snow falls and the winds blow cold and hard. And in the dark and cold we light candles and gather around the fire to drink hot drinks and sing carols with melodious voices to lure the Sun back north again. It's my favorite time of year; I love the snow and tramping in the snow, coming home to warmth. A blessed Yule to all!

It snowed enough here in Central PA last Winter to get some good snow pictures for this year's traditional (well, it's my tradition, anyhow) slide show. The music is by the late Johnny Cunningham - "King Holly, King Oak", from the Windham Hill sampler Celtic Christmas. It's set up like one of my Winter hikes - tramping around in the snow and at last coming home to a fire in the stove (although I've moved into my own apartment now and there isn't a fire any more. Oh well...). Enjoy!

And speaking of traditions, I think I started a new one a couple of years ago. I'm making the posting of the video of Jethro Tull's "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" part of the annual Solstice post. Enjoy!

Photos & text © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Self Portraits

Tomorrow's post will be my annual Winter Solstice greetings, including my annual slideshow-with-soundtrack, and I'm currently hard at work at putting it all together. But you know me; I'm never only working on one thing. So about that title...

Yesterday the Silver Fox mentioned my old Green Man self-portrait, and I promised I'd repost that. So here 'tis:

His Silverness also mentioned my recent clean-shaven appearance, a yearlong pain in my life necessitated by my living conditions. But now I'm living on my own and not having to keep peace in a household not my own, so the beard is growing back. Here's the progress so far:

Not up to my usual standard, but it's getting there. Maybe next Winter I can take a new Winter King picture.

Okay, back to working on tomorrow's post!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

King Street Decorated

King St., Shippensburg's main drag, is all gussied up for the holidays. I took the camera with me on the way to grocery shopping and caught some scenes. All we need now is snow; at the moment it's raining!

McLean House is always festive-looking at this time of year:

Knute's Pub & Grill gets into the season in a big way:

The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter has a thrift shop on King St., one of their ways to fund the shelter. They decorated the storefront to depict Dickens' A Christmas Carol. There were five scenes, but only these two came out well; reflections in the glass were a real problem. But at least the scene with Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Present came out well, and if you look closely at that second shot you can see a reflection of the artist hard a work capturing the scene.

Then there's The Lollipop Shop. It's always pretty festive looking, but this time of year the owner is in her element and having the time of her life. It looks it, doesn't it?

This house reminded me of Newport; it's that almost-Federal style from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. But where in Newport it would usually be built with clapboard siding, here it's faced with brick, a characteristic of the area. It looks even more in period decorated for Christmas.

And then there's my own contribution to the decorations. I didn't make my wreath this year as I've done in the past; what with moving and all I just didn't have the time. But we sell these at work, and they all looked good, so I bought one and added a bow. Voila!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Open Letter to Lowe's

[Note: I work for Lowe's. And I'm not a Muslim. And no, I don't plan to quit my job. But I am very, very disappointed in the people who run the company I work for, and felt I should register my objections.]

I work for Lowe's, in the garden center at the Shippensburg, PA store. I enjoy my job, and I'm grateful to Lowe's for hiring me. I was unemployed for over three years, my applications turned down time after time; I can't prove it but it was obvious that my age was a major factor in those rejections.

I had to leave my home of 36 years in Newport, RI to go live with my family here in Central PA, and after about 5 months here I was hired by Lowe's. Apparently they respect the the knowledge and life experience of a 58-year-old; there are a lot of us over-50 types at the store. I like my job with Lowe's; I enjoy working in the garden center, I like the people I work with, and the managerial staff is way less dysfunctional than many I've worked under. In many ways it's felt like home.

Until now. I'm distressed and disappointed by Lowe's decision to withdraw its ads on TLC's All-American Muslim show. There really is no logical, rational reason to do this, especially in light of the fact that Lowe's advertises its social responsibility programs, including its workplace diversity and inclusion policies (all of this is documented on their website, here and here). As it says on the website:
Lowe's dedication to diversity and inclusion grows from the steadfast values of our employees and extends to every corner of our company. We draw upon the strength of collaboration, bringing together many unique individuals in the workplace and the community to better meet the needs of our employees and our customers. Recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse work force ensures a welcoming customer experience, enhances partnerships and strengthens community involvement.
In light of this, the decision to withdraw ads from a show about American Muslims makes no sense; it's directly counter to its stated diversity and inclusion policy.

Equally disappointing, it seems the decision to withdraw was made after an avalanche of emails launched by the Florida Family Association, a fringe far right evangelical Christian group who objects to the show's depiction of Muslims as average Americans and not fanatical bomb-throwers, and who threatened boycott if Lowe's continued to advertise on the show.

If the suits in Mooresville, NC (Lowe's corporate headquarters) are worried about that boycott, I can reassure them on that count. If the membership of the FFA exceeds 1,000 I'll be surprised. As an influence on the American body politic they're a microdot. That wouldn't amount to much of a boycott. In fact, I'll bet there are more American Muslims who shop at Lowe's (or at least did before this) than members of the FFA.

The FFA sources its arguments against All-American Muslim to anti-Islam activists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, evangelicals who see Islam as a threat and/or rejection of their own narrow Christian evangelism. It is, in fact, sectarian fear and jealousy, something that should have no place in the business world. Their arguments are made up of misrepresentation, outright lies, and gross (and deliberate) exaggerations. It's a tissue of falsehood from start to finish.

How do I know this? Because I've been involved in interfaith activities and organizations for well over 30 years. I've spent my entire adult life in dialog with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, et al. I've known many Muslims, both American-born and immigrants, for decades. I have a copy of the Qur'an in my library and an electronic copy of the hadith (traditions attributed to Muhammad) on my hard drive. These people are just people, just like you or me, and their spiritual beliefs are really no different or more intense than any other believers.

None of the propaganda spread by the FFA, Spencer and Geller and their ilk, matches the Muslims I've known or their religious scriptures. In fact, their propaganda is the 21st Century American equivalent of Nazi propaganda against the Jews in the '20s, '30s, and '40s. It's bigotry, plain and simple.

So I'm disappointed in Lowe's. I find it distressing that a company that prides itself on diversity and inclusion has allowed itself to be influenced by a group steeped in bigotry and hate. Lowe's values and mine no longer seem to be in sync.

There's a phrase posted throughout the store and on our computers: "I am Lowe's!" I'm not so sure that's true any more.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Out the Back Way

These are some buildings behind my house; they flank our back parking area off Neff Ave., the alley that runs behind us. One is a garage and the other is a small engine repair shop, as the sign says. I've only ever seen somebody at the shop once; I can only hope he gets more business in the summer!

I processed these with Exposure 2's "Selenium Warm/Cool" filter because I thought it gave it that perfect Depression feeling. Neff Ave. always looks so '20s/'30s to me.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, December 09, 2011

More Scenes from the New Place

Some more scenes from the new digs. I figured my bedroom was actually the least cluttered of all my rooms, and I like the bedroom set I found at the used furniture store. And for those of you who know me all too well - yes, that's actually a full size bed! For those not in the know, the joke is that I've been sleeping on twin size for most of my adult life.

The highlight of the neighborhood is the little postage stamp-sized park across the street from my house. During Corn Festival several acoustic acts performed there, using the gazebo as the stage. It's the perfect set-up: a park across the street and a Subway, a laundromat, and a Turkey Hill store (ice cream) all within steps of my front door. The drawbacks? King St. is Rt. 11 and tends to be busy; it's pretty noisy with traffic noise at night, and next Summer I'll be right smack in the middle of Corn Festival. Oh well, the pluses outweigh the minuses in this case!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Digs

I'm now fully moved in to my first post-Newport apartment. The furniture was delivered Tuesday. In the rain. My brother and I moved the heaviest of my stuff - the computer, my CD collection, my library - yesterday. In even heavier rain. Today the sun was out and seasonably chilly weather arrived, and the Comcast guy came to hook up my cable and Internet. And here I am! I'm still putting things away, so the place is still sort of cluttered. These two shots are of relatively uncluttered spots.

Part of the living room, featuring my Archie Bunker chair.

The new headquarters of Roy's World.

2010 saw me hit bottom, and the time in between then and now has been a limbo time of being dependent on family for a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Thanks to them I'm back on my feet again - employed and living independently. The perfect song for that is "Handle With Care" by the Traveling Wilburys, a joyous paean to getting back on your feet after having been down. Enjoy!

Photos © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter Approaches

I was out and about today and stopped by the Dykeman Wetlands Park to see what was going on there. These shots are the result. Berries seem to be the prevailing theme this time of year, although dead flower husks turned in a strong showing as well.

A note to all my photography fans: My calendars on (see the link in the sidebar) have all been updated to 2012. No new ones of Central PA; I just haven't had the time or energy for it. Sorry!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Again

I'll probably be busy tomorrow, so I'm posting my Thanksgiving post today. The photo above is Timber Hill today in full November contrast. And the video below is one of my own from this past January; I think the look and theme is appropriate to the holiday. Enjoy! And enjoy your turkey tomorrow, and be thankful for what you have and for the people you're celebrating with.

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sight & Sound - Spiral

A macro shot of a spiral shell, processed as a black & white and the "sepia soft" filter in the Exposure 2 plug-in.

Music: "The Spiral Staircase" by Robert Rich, from his 1991 CD Gaudí

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dominionism = Blasphemy? Treason?

There's been a lot in the news lately about Dominionism (also known as Dominion Theology, with subsets known as Christian Reconstructionism, Seven Mountains theology, and Christian Nationalism). Basically what it is is a belief that Christians (and in this case very conservative - and often Calvinist - members associated with the Christian Right) need to gain control of communications, the arts, finance, the marketplace, and most importantly government, in order to run the world, or at least the United States, according to what they see as God's law as opposed to the existing secular law.

Probably the most succinct expression of the Dominionist agenda is this from the Coral Ridge Ministries' executive director George Grant, who wrote in his 1987 book Changing of the Guard:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ - to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less.

If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to His Lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our stewardship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose.

Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land - of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. It is to reinstitute the authority of God's Word as supreme over all judgments, over all legislation, over all declarations, constitutions, and confederations.

This philosophy is the driving force behind much of the Christian Right's political activism, including its virtual takeover of the Republican Party. Many of the Christian Right leaders these days are Dominionists: Pat Robertson; everybody associated with American Family Association (the Wildmon family empire, which includes the World News Daily news media organization) , especially their public spokesman, Bryan Fischer; the Dobson family's Focus on the Family empire; the whole Liberty Baptist Church organization, including Liberty University, its Law department, the Liberty Center for Law and Policy, and Liberty Counsel, the organization's legal arm; and Christian Nationalist revisionist "historian" David Barton. Several of the current crowd of GOP presidential candidates are also associated with Dominionism: Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and will-she-or-won't-she Sarah Palin.

The interesting thing is that now that the news media has called attention to Dominionism, most of its staunchest proponents are denying that the movement exists. In August Pat Robertson made a big fuss about it on his 700 Club broadcast and claimed he'd never heard of such a thing. And yet he's stated the prime Dominionist objectives over and over again, including this speech in Dallas in 1984 as reported in Al Dager's book Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Dominion (Sword, 1990):
Now what do you do? What do all of us do? We get ready to take dominion! We get ready to take dominion! It is all going to be ours--I'm talking about all of it. Everything that you would say is a good part of the secular world. Every means of communication, the news, the television, the radio, the cinema, the arts, the government, the finance--it's going to be ours! God's going to give it to His people. We should prepare to reign and rule with Jesus Christ. (Dager, p. 95)
Matt Barber, an associate dean of Liberty University's law school and Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel and Liberty Alliance Action, recently tweeted this in reaction to media coverage of Dominionism: "Can someone tell me what a 'dominionist' is? Best I can tell it's some scary monster that lives under liberals' beds." Yet just last year, at a Liberty University sponsored American Vision’s Worldview Super Conference entitled "2010 Sovereignty and Dominion conference - Biblical Blueprints for Victory!", Barber addressed the conference with these words:
The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:28 that God created us to multiply, fill the earth, and take dominion of His creation for His Glory. When Jesus came to earth, He gave his disciples the Great Commission and told them to make disciples of all nations, Baptize them, and teach them to obey all that he had commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). These two mandates form the basis for why Christ’s Church exists on this planet. Every square inch of this world belongs to King Jesus. It is our privilege to serve Him by exercising servanthood dominion in every area of life.
And John Aman, the current Director of Communications at Truth in Action Ministries, the successor to Coral Ridge Ministries, said "dominionism is a sham charge - one reserved for Christians on the right" that was dreamed up by the Left as "a handy way to smear evangelicals like Bachmann and Perry who bring biblically informed moral convictions into public debate." Obviously he hasn't read his predecessor's book, as quoted above.

Normally such stuff could be ignored or laughed off as a fringe movement with no real power or influence, but this is an ideology espoused by the movement that has gained major influence in one of the two major political parties, and an ideology espoused by a majority of that party's group of politicians vying for nomination as its presidential candidate. These are people determined to seek power and gain control of the country. Laugh if you want, but this is serious stuff and these are serious people.

But it also has serious flaws which have raised opposition both on the religious and secular fronts. Many Christians, and even many evangelicals, object to it as foreign to Christian belief. After all, didn't Jesus say, in response to Pilate's question "Are you King of the Jews?" that "my kingdom is not of this world"? Of course, the usual answer to that by the Dominionists is the Great Commission referred to by Matt Barber above - Matthew 28:18-20. Now he claims that verse commands Christians to teach the world to obey all that Jesus commanded, and leaves the impression that this includes some kind of Christian governance. But what does the passage really say?
And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
But what did Jesus command them to do? Feed the hungry, care for the sick, house and clothe the poor, love all humanity; there's nothing there about governing and imposing laws on the people.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
- Luke 6:20 - 31

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
- Matthew 25: 35 - 40

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
- Luke 6: 37 & 38

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.
- John 8: 3 - 11

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, Which commandment is the most important of all? Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
- Mark 12: 28 - 31

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
- John 13: 34 & 35
Nothing about governing there, is there? Only advice on how people can live together in harmony, with compassion and respect. In many ways Dominionist theology is, in fact, blasphemy.

Of course, it's also treason. These people are advocating taking over the government and imposing "God's Law" as given in the Bible (mostly drawn from Mosaic Law in the Torah of the Hebrew Scriptures, as Jesus didn't seem to be very big on the laws thing), in effect revoking our Constitution, which says in the First Amendment's establishment clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." (A more detailed exposition of this subject can be found here.)In other words, the government can't impose a religion on the population. But that's what these people are proposing to do. Sounds like treason to me.

Our Constitution guarantees a secular government, and we need to protect that legacy. The best protection is awareness. I hope I've contributed to that awareness.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."
- Elsie N. Brady, Leaves

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Study in Scarlet (apologies to Arthur Conan Doyle!)

A barn on my walk last week on Roxbury Road. I used the same technique I used on the Spring Hill Cemetery shots - layered full color and the soft sepia setting in Exposure 2, and the layer blend set to the "darker color" setting. I like the effect.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Fall Foliage

Some shots I took earlier this week that didn't fit in with the posts I eventually put up. The top shot is Middle Spring Creek at King Street next to the McLean House. The bottom shot is the cattail marsh in the Dykeman Wetlands Park. The leaves are falling fast, but there's still some color here.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Old as the Hills

Inclement weather today, so I stayed indoors and did some playing. I decided to "age" some of my misty mountain photos in Photoshop using the Exposure 2 plug-in. I went back and forth between the "selenium warm/cool" setting and the "sepia - soft" one. The selenium one tended to eliminate the mistiness and the details in the sky but bring out the details in the mountains, while the sepia filter emphasized the mistiness and brought out the details in the sky. I chose the sepia filter, and I really like the results. Oh yeah, and I did the photo of the barn and horse from yesterday because it just looked so good "antiqued"; it was totally "in period".

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Walk on Peiper Road

Peiper Road runs between Mainsville and Baltimore Roads on the far side of Interstate 81, giving one an unobstructed view of South Mountain and the farms on the rolling hills right up to the feet of the mountain. So I went out there today and brought you back some treasures.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Spring Hill Cemetery

The main cemetery in Shippensburg sits just outside of downtown on a hill on Morris St. It goes back to the mid 1800s or so, and while I've wandered it several times since I've been here, I still haven't managed to find any stones that attracted my interest. But today I went looking for wide-angle shots - groupings, as it were - and I have to admit that this fairly prosaic burial ground has some interesting views, especially now in the Fall. Add to that some fooling around in Photoshop and some judicious use of the Exposure 2 plug-in and I achieved an effect I like - a little antique and somewhat ethereal. See what you think!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger