An Atheist Christmas

00.48.57 - Mark

My family (and the friends that may as well be) is a mix bag of Religions, from atheists and agnostics to Christians from several denominations and even a would be Jew, and that's just our affiliations - there is a religious tolerance and acceptance and true appreciation for varied faiths that goes much further than intellectual knowledge or passive acknowledgments. Most of us have studied more than one faith - my brothers and I were all brought up in a Methodist Church while attending a Catholic School - and we've all settled on something we believe.

So when Christmas comes around and some extremist "Christian" goes off on ignorant rants on the "True meaning of Christmas" and makes attempts at protecting the Christian faith (The overwhelming majority faith in the United States) by trampling less well represented faiths we have a tendency to step up and defend. I've been doing it a lot this season and there are scattered traces floating around this site.

It's not an easy conversation to keep a conversation and quickly degenerates into lies and misconceptions so deeply rooted it's impossible to correct, then more bigotry, and with an end result of those of a "faith" arguing that if non-Christians don't like Christmas then they shouldn't celebrate it or any other "holy days".

There's a sad commentary in that.

I, as an extremely secular person, have spent most of this evening with friends celebrating the holidays. I've wrapped gifts to put under a decorated Christmas Tree (one nicknamed our heathen tree, and another we're calling the Hanukkah Bush), we've decorated sugar cookies, listened to seasonal music from half a dozen versions of the 12 Days of Christmas to Weird Al's "The Night Santa Went Crazy", we were eating some good food and drank some egg nog. All in all it was a wonderful evening spent with friends and family. It's been true several other nights this week, such as last Monday when we visited a festival of lights in Winston Salem

Yet by some twisted version "Christian" logic, I and a couple others involved, should be barred from such festivities because we weren't Christian. You have to imagine that anyone who would deny other's a good time because of something as trivial as a difference in religious beliefs, must be pretty unsure of their own convictions.

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Life at 2x

23.38.48 - Mark

I feel like I'm trying to cram two weeks into one right now, and it's not because of the holidays.

We've got a family friend visiting for the week and the plan has been going around the area doing quasi-touristy things, and I'm the main host for a few days. Today the guest and I went out shooting photos in the Mountains more or less until the sun went down (and then some) and then the family unit plus friend went to the Tanglewood Festival of Lights in the Winston Salem area, which while amazing, but it has taken up a large chunk of the day (~5 hours) and I'm typing this while waiting for some pasta to cook. The photography has the added side effect of adding more images and movies to my need to process and want to process queues (expect some new HDRs and Panos)

At the same time as all of this I've got a list of people I need to call for various reasons from tech support to photographs to web work. I though people were supposed to slow down and enjoy the holidays?

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Gotta get out of this place....

13.43.53 - Mark

My dad and I took my younger brother to his (real) college this past weekend. Its in Savannah Georgia which is a pretty area (despite the tourism catering kitsch) Matt is probably going to do fine. His school seems like a real place, and on the surface it was a sore reminder of how there is such a thing as a good, progressive learning enviroment. I don't think I ever forgot that fact but going to HSU has certainly pushed it out of the picture. Right now I'm sitting in an advanced graphics course that may - if all goes well - actually open a graphics editing program sometime before October. In the meantime we've spent 8 of our 32 total meetings screwing around in dreamweaver for some bizare and unexplained reason, and the teacher is pushing some half baked make millions with ebay semminar the school is running.

You know, I may not know what I'll be doing in 3 months, but I'll be happy to have that uncertainty than continue to loaf around here

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And now for a commercial break

20.20.09 - Mark

Last week one of my brothers was assigned to do some form of commercial for a book (The Kite Runner) for a class. Somehow he got it in his head to do an animated commercial and drop it to tape. Well with his laptops screwed, and a lack of A/V abilities on it anyways, he borrowed me and my iBook to help him do his video. I helped him figure out how to use photoshop, iMovie and Garageband, and did some of the editing, but it's mostly his work. However he did trick me into pulling a technically unnecessary all-nighters to finish it, and cause me a bit of pain when dropping it to VHS, so I'm taking out revenge by posting it onto the interweb.

The Kite Runner Commercial (9.3MB, 320x240 Quicktime, 2 minutes 11 seconds)

This is the same project that the photoshop doodles came from.

Don't mistake this for an endorsement. I haven't read it and his tastes are usually significantly different from mine. I'm only posting it because 1) revenge, and 2) I think I remember laughing the first time he pitched it. That was many many hours of work ago so who knows I still laugh at bits and pieces of it, but those could be memories from recording parts at 3 AM on a Sunday Morning...

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