Monthly Archives: December 2008

2009 Favorite picture countdown, 7 and 8…


I took this one several years ago and could kick myself for not keeping the original shot, it just screams Norfolk and Southern…


Is there really a need to explain why I like this one?

Eastbound and down loaded up and truckin
Ah we gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I’m eastbound just watch old bandit run…

As a very uncertain New Year approaches…

—And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

—Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Bachmann HO scale N&W Class “J” 4-8-4 circa 1985…

Hard to believe it’s winding down to 2009. I’ll wrap up with my favorite 10 pictures in no particular order…


I like the look of two guys just admiring a Class “J” from up close, free from the crowds something like this might draw in real life.

…and this shot of a mixed local on the Miracle Strip Model Railroad club layout.


For an inexpensive camera, the depth of field came out real well in this shot.

December 26, 2008

The definition of poverty in America is a rather loose one. My car is 14 years old, I rent and I make several thousand less a year than the powers that be say I should therefore we fall within that definition—in the eyes of some. As one who sponsors missionaries in a third world nation, the picture of my two children, warm, dry, fed, healthy and gleefully tearing through their small pile of presents, was not one of poverty. Because we don’t spend a whole lot or allow requests for a particular gift or buy big ticket items, our children could not tell you from one year to the next how we were doing financially based on what lay under the tree.

This year, like most, found my beloved and I facing whether we’d allow ourselves any gifts, preferring to have a little more under the tree for our children. Unlike years past though, there were no last second “rescues” and thus no gifts. However, with a son bouncing off the walls, light saber in one hand, Nerf gun in the other, and a daughter vibrating from the excitement of landing an impossible to find doll and her own mp3 player, one would be hard pressed to say that we had no “gifts” for each other yesterday.

Then my beloved and her mom ran off to the bedroom with a twinkle in their eyes. Out they came with a large something covered with a blanket. Pulling it away, I found my wife had, on her own, made a custom fitted cover for my diorama, using foam core art board, hot glue and some aluminum angle. My artwork had been taking a serious beating lately (note the church steeple and the trees behind it), enough that I pondered dismantling it to save what was left. Now it is protected and freestanding, with velcro securing it on all four corners…



Pictures don’t do it justice, it really is a well built, tight fitting lightweight cover that will allow me to bring my work to local train shows, as well as keep it protected as I use it for a photo set.

And yes…I got to sneak in some of her favorite dried dates and candies…I kinda pity those who only got what they wanted this year.

The Truth about Christmas

By Miguel A. Guanipa

The story of Christmas is one that warms the heart and inspires our most enduring thoughts of peace and good will for all humanity; it gives us an opportunity to engage in the wonderful act of gift giving; it allows us to briefly turn our gaze from the stresses of daily life and refocus on being thankful for the pre-eminent joys amidst our circumstances.

But beyond all of the aforementioned very good reasons, the first reason why we celebrate the Christmas story is because it is a true story. And the spellbinding truth which Christmas proclaims is not the birth of one who came to teach us a new philosophy, or a new set of moral principles, but one who claimed to be God.

The singularity of this claim would then make it a matter of supreme urgency to dedicate our most sincere efforts to confirming its truthfulness; not only because it was Christ who made it, but also because of the weighty repercussions he cautioned were bound to the vindication as well as the negation of his claim.

It is important to note that unlike the frothy heroics of so called “blind faith”, the logical consistency of this claim does not vanish once we summon our most basic faculty of common sense. Once a fervent agnostic himself, C.S. Lewis said it best in a brilliantly succinct catchphrase: “Jesus Christ was either a liar, a Lunatic or Lord”.

That is, if Jesus Christ lied when he said that he was God then he should be denounced as a bald-faced liar or dismissed as a hopelessly insane individual. If he was either of the two then it is absurd to patronize him as a great prophet or teacher. But if perchance he was merely a well intentioned sage, whose teachings have been grossly misunderstood, it would be to his great discredit to leave his most crucial pronouncements veiled in impenetrable obscurity. Yet his contemporaries left us with no indication that they were beset by such ambiguity.

On the contrary, everyone who heard Jesus speak — especially his most passionate adversaries — clearly understood what he was claiming. Some believed and others simply did not believe and instead took him for a blasphemer, a charlatan, or a dangerous deceiver of the people. Though they offered no affirmation of his claims, there was never any doubt as to what he was claiming. And that is precisely why they responded with such virulence.

But their response is more a reminder that the truth sometimes is not immediately obvious, but still a very real and precious commodity. One should never squander our belief on any given truth claim until we have first proven that it can withstand a good dose of responsible scrutiny; because when we believe something that purports to be of great significance, we are obliged to act in accordance with that new revelation, and it would be a tragedy to invest the type of commitment some claims necessarily require, later to find out upon closer examination that we have committed ourselves to a lie.

But of most importance is to be certain that that which we have come to believe as true is actually the truth, since every action we take in response to the truth is another step closer to it. But when that which we believe to be the truth is actually a falsehood, and we have not securely bridged the gap between simply knowing about it and ascertaining its veracity, then every action in response to this “truth” is a deeper plunge into an abyss of deception.

If, on the other hand, we have indeed ascertained the veracity of a truth claim, but choose not to believe it, we can no longer claim ignorance when asked why it did not compel us to action, because we have knowingly chosen to reject it.

Now, any claims of truth raise a hedge of exclusivity, which is forbidden in an age when total inclusiveness is the only absolute criteria upon which any statements of truth can be made. But the ever-adjustable notion of inclusiveness and the transcendental virtue of truth do not always mix well, since truth can not logically embrace contradiction, even when it is done in the name of inclusiveness.

Those who deny the truthfulness of Jesus’ claim are themselves affirming something which explicitly excludes that which it negates. Thus the charge that Jesus’ claim is unnecessarily exclusive is something that anyone who proposes a declarative statement of truth is guilty of, including those made in opposition to that with which they disagree.

Conversely, Jesus does not coerce the inclusion of those who wish not to partake of the redemptive offer of his claim. His claim is exclusive only by default, as it has to exclude those who stand in opposition to it; because it is not Jesus who excludes those who reject him, but rather those who by rejecting his invitation freely exercise their prerogative to exclude themselves.

As an antidote for this moral conundrum, the implacable idols of tolerance have decreed that those who do believe in the claims of Jesus Christ settle on an amicable compromise, by conceding that this knowledge is true only for those who believe it. Anyone who views Christmas as simply a charming but essentially vacuous, mythic tradition will heartily agree with their assessment.

But Jesus Christ staked his whole reputation, without reservation, on the claim that his equality with God was firmly anchored on nothing but the truth. And the truth is not subject to one’s preference; it is true, whether one believes it or not. It is not contingent upon belief, but rather belief is only justified when that upon which it is grounded is the truth.

This is the context within which Jesus Christ made his rather astonishing claim, the truthfulness of which endows the story of Christmas with its enduring significance. And though he made it in a least intrusive and most gentle fashion, he did not seek – then or today – to indulge the neutrality or merely passive assent from his hearers, because like no one else, he fully understood the full force of its implications.