Hurricanes mean long, long times of waiting. There’s tons of stuff to do before hand, and tons of stuff to do afterward. But during the storm, if you’re lucky, there’s not much to do at all. For a day or two.
In the case of Isaac, we’re on day two; after a day of non stop prep.
But before all of that, the nights before tropical systems move in are absolutely glorious, and some of the most beautiful weather one could ever hope to see.
Don’t take my word for it, since all I had really the time to do was snap a picture in the sky above the Home Depot. Maybe you’ll have the chance one day…
In modern popular culture, 666 has become one of the most widely recognized symbols for the Antichrist or, alternatively, the Devil. The number 666 is reportedly used to invoke Lucifer (Satan) the dark spirit of seething rage. Earnest references to the number occur both among apocalypticist Christian groups and in explicitly anti-Christian subcultures. References in contemporary Western art or literature are, more likely than not, intentional references to the Beast symbolism. Such popular references are therefore too numerous to list.
The Urban Dictonary, never to be left out of a trend, offers us some tidbits:
The Mark of the beast, and the men who follow the beast of the earth will bear this mark to display their allegiance to the beast. It has been disputed by some scholars that certain numeric ciphers would translate it over to certain words, names, etc… For example, one of the more popular translations was Nero Caesar, and before that, Lateinos, etc…
“…And that number is 666.”
Widely implied that it was 666 because it was an imperfect number to represent the impurities of man and their evildoings and sinful ways.
Read the book of revelations, at the end of the New Testament; it tells all about that, the seven seals, the apocalypse, Armageddon, Megiddo, etc…
St. John is said to have written the Book of Revelation, where we find the reference to 666. So, to simpletons like myself, I naturally look to see what he’s writing in his own Gospel at Chapter 6, Verse 66.
And we find something very telling.
Rejection of the Eucharist
In John’s lengthy discourse on the Bread of Life, gone are the simple parables of Jesus’ early ministry. Jesus is explaining the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.
People are mumbling and grumbling to themselves and others about eating his body and blood. Discontent is setting in that the new messiah is somehow a loon, saying things that do not make sense. And eventually we reach John Chapter 6, verse 66:
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:66
Unable to accept one of Jesus’ most challenging teachings, many return to their former lives.
Former lives untouched by Jesus Christ; former lives untouched by curiosity towards a man walking through their country preaching the Kingdom of God, the fulfillment of the old Covenant, eternal life, healing, forgiveness, charity… They return to former lives where grace had not touched their hearts.
They reject the challenges proposed by God in the supernatural realm, because what is happening in the physical realm appears so contrary to his teaching. “How can we eat his flesh, how can we drink his blood? Let’s get out of here!”
So, the number 666 has many meanings, but in a simple way it ultimately about the rejection of Jesus Christ, his teachings — his body and blood in the Eucharist.
And so it is almost every day of our lives. Do we accept Jesus Christ and continue our walk with him? Or do we forsake him and his Church, and return to our “former lives”?
A few months ago I was diagnosed with vertigo. I had started to feel bad every now and then, with dizziness and nausea at odd times that really bordered on the extreme. In fact, it occurred to me more than once, when it was at its worst, that maybe I should not be driving.
Vertigo is miserable, and many people suffer with it, with no known cause or cure.
In fact, since I’ve been talking about vertigo, everyone and their cousin has had, or knows someone who has had, an experience with it. I had no clue so many people were suffering with it.
A few weeks ago I had been out running errands, and my amazing and stunning dizziness started up in full force again, and I ended up checking myself into the Emergency Room to see what exactly might be up with the dizziness and nausea, since it was again at its worst.
I spared anyone from this knowledge, of being in the Emergency Room, since I figured everyone would think the worst.
The entire Parish knew I was in the Emergency Room within an hour. And they all thought the worst.
The good doc at the hospital said I had vertigo too. I was relieved to have that restatement of my diagnosis, and felt much better about life in general thereafter
I looked forward to my upcoming vertigo test… All would be well soon.
Time passed, and all was well with the world.
Today I finally had my vertigo test, which uses various technologies to … well… test for vertigo.
You put on goggles so the doctor can check your involuntary eye movements while you stare at certain spots, or have hot and cold air variously blown into your ear canals. You do balance tests and hearing tests.
I look nothing like the model in this photo, a fact which pleases me to no end, being a Priest.
After the tests, my doc and her student assistant told me that my hearing and inner ears were fine. Which is great and wonderful, but… the leading causes of vertigo were now ruled out.
It was back to the drawing board…
This afternoon I googled, again, my symptoms — “dizziness and nausea”, only this time I added “headache”.
The results amazed me. One of the leading causes of these symptoms is carbon monoxide poisoning, which often imitates other conditions.
Just yesterday I brought my car in for work. A persistent rattle, alternately diagnosed as various things which had not panned out, had been steadily getting worse, and as things ended up, the exhaust system needed to be replaced.
One side of my dual exhaust system was totally blocked; and every indication is, that this condition had been around for awhile. I’ve checked everything else regularly, but the exhaust system never occurred to me as mechanics is not a gift of mine.
I’m thinking the math adds up, and that these symptoms will continue to subside drastically.
I know you’re probably expecting something to do with the Queenship of Mary today. Or the election. Or any number of prescient issues aside from photography.
But I’ve had zero time to devote to photography lately and just have to get it out of my system, darnit.
And look at that river! And those clouds! And that sky!
Ah, the river… the clouds… the sky…. things to gaze upon and give thanks to God. And certainly to give thanks to him for the Queenship of Mary, who no doubt would gaze upon this peaceful scene quite lovingly, while perhaps being thankful that one of her Priests was photographing the scene for the enjoyment of others.
But, I’m concerned that I haven’t really made any strides in my understanding of exposure.
Hence this strange shot of the clouds.
One thing I do understand is that digital photos have a limited range of dynamic contrast, which is why some areas of this image are darker than they should be. The light is too strong in the clouds, and too dark on the river.
Still, because I had a fascination with the image when I took it, I tried to manipulate it in photoshop. But it never turned out right; it always turned out sort of like this. Well, perhaps not as strange, but I’m not out to win any contests here, just to demonstrate the dilemma of trying to work with a lousy photo which could have been, just hazarding a guess here, a very good photo.
Some areas of the clouds take on drama, and you can make out the storm in the background, but the river itself looks grainy, and the whole thing looks fake.
Putting the whole thing in black and white… well, it’s the same issue ridden photograph in black and white.
Maybe someone with better photoshopping skills could get this to look better. But a better photographer would have taken a beter picture in the first place, and wouldn’t even be having this conversation because the photoshopping would have been at minimum, the picture would have been great, and that would be that.
Or, he or she would have just deleted the photo outright.
So, moving on from this, the photo itself seems like it could have been really cool, but I need to learn and practice, some more skills.
It’s either that or stick to flowers.
But hey, that’s what hobbies are for, to find some spare moments and spend them productively, learning and practicing something enjoyable. And, to have time to give thanks to God for making such a beautiful world for all of us to live in; it’s definitely worth taking more pictures and trying to get it right.