My macro photos of water and Washington

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My photo MeetUp club did a presentation on macro photography last month and we were asked to bring in an example of what we had learned.

Macro photo of Washington on dollar bill

Macro photo of my thumb on Washington’s $1 bill.

Washington's eye on $1 bill

A closer macro photo of Washington’s eye on $1 bill

A photo of a drop of water

A view through a drop of water slowly running through other smaller drops of water. Reworked a bit.

There were intended as test photos for our group’s experiments. The equipment used for their demo was 35mm size cameras and the special additional equipment cost thousands of dollars. I used a clip-on lens for my iPhone that cost $16 and gave some interesting pictures.

I failed to get the image stacking software to work well so I avoided the depth-of-field problem and just shot some flat subjects for the class project. I spent only an hour trying to get multiple pictures for the depth-of-field blending but had to go to a dinner engagement. The program has an overabundance of options, each of which needed adjusting, and I ran out of time.

I wonder what the other “students” will bring to macro photography?

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Sage tip # 129, Treat yourself with respect and kindness.

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There is much to be said for taking care of one’s self first and then when you have that well secured to use your excess of caring to take care of other’s well being.

A totally self-centered worldview is all that there is for an infant and they are not developed enough to be aware that they even exist outside of their annoying and pleasurable sensations. As a child matures at some point it becomes aware that others exist as separate beings and that to some degree they too must claim rights to maintain their wellbeing. Putting one’s self first is still a reasonable worldview for an adolescent because so much of their real-world interaction is outside of their personal control. This self-centered treatment still makes sense as an operating principle for adults who are making their way in a world which requires their creating and caring for their family. The self-care they previously needed for themselves alone is now transferring to some degree over to their family which is being considered as their extended self. Those people close to them have become part of their self-concept and thus treating those dependents well and supporting their life quests is in a real sense supporting their own life.

Moving on in physical and emotional maturity there comes a time when treating yourself with respect and kindness includes not only your family, and friends, but extends to your whole world. It includes all the people of the world, and the future people too, and thus it includes caring for the whole Earth because that soon becomes one’s self.

Treating one’s self with respect and kindness eventually becomes identical with treating the whole world with respect and kindness. 

Idea stacking

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Is it possible to automatically combine many ideas about a given thought into a single more coherent thought? This is commonly what a focused group discussion is about. In school, they are called seminars or lectures and will have a stated theme, such as “Why do cuttlefish change appearance?” The presentation could enhance the subject with links, like Cuttlefish and the search for unknown unknowns.

Cuttlefish eyes

Cuttlefish eyes from Google search images

What about routinizing the very idea of searching an idea even before you go to a lecture on the subject and discovering the key ideas and pulling them together into a coherent image? Even more important than preparing for a known idea, what about searching for an idea where the idea isn’t even known to be unknown, or perhaps is known only in a very blurry form for some strange perspective? Imagine how powerful a concept this would be if you could search for ideas that no one had ever thought about before. Is there a way to search into the unknown unknowns?

On a similar theme, there is a method of combining many photographs of a given image called focus stacking. A common use of this technique is in close-up macro photography of insects where a dozen or more identical photos are taken with the focus adjustment slightly altered. Portions of the insect will be out of focus on every photo but other portions will be in focus. There are programs available such as Helicon Focus that will take the areas of each image that are in focus and blend the whole stack using only the sharp portions into a single sharp photograph. The results can be very impressive.

It is easy to do online searches and find stuff relevant to your topic, but that will only be related to the known ideas linked to that selected topic. What if you did a screen capture of that search finding, and then saved a separate window of a similar search, and then added another search that adds a curious term, and another, and another up to, say, nine windows visible on your screen at a glance? Some of those searches will go way off topic, but try to discover overlaps of an idea. Bring up a screen of synonyms and one of the antonyms that are related to your search subject. Pay attention to current new and evolving technology that is even remotely related to your search idea.

By having many semirelated ideas floating around a new idea, a really new and useful idea might spring into existence. 

Sage tip # 15, Empower your friends to do good deeds.

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The 147 suggestions attributed to the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece are so brief and so ancient, and so much from an alien culture that they must be interpreted to have a cogent meaning to a modern seeker of a proper relationship with their personal life. Tip #15 – Empower your friends to do good deeds – is in agreement with my latest reach into providing workable methods for creating a better world for oneself, for one’s species, and for all life. In brief that develops from the mild Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Which progresses to a stronger statement, King James Version, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” The more demanding word is should which means that you should help others to live and to live more abundantly.

That moves the sought-for goal of improvement beyond the level already achieved by the follower of the weak form. That level only recommends treating people in a way that is comfortable at one’s present level of personal moral development. The stronger form challenges a person to reach beyond their present level. It makes that suggestion in an abstract way and leaves up to the person practicing that idea to make up their own mind how their actions might be applicable to that word should.

When discussing this problem with my friends I have responded several times to the ancient challenge of stating the essence of one’s religion while standing on one foot. Tuesday I stood on one foot in front of thirty people and immediately toppled over. I was wearing Crocs, a very thick-spongy-soled style shoe, and was having so much trouble balancing that a friend immediately came to my rescue and provided a shoulder for support. Whereupon, I said, “Treat others better than you treat yourself.” Everyone had a good laugh.

I wish that event was an example of, “Empowering your friends to do good deeds” because she certainly did one for me, but I hadn’t toppled intentionally so any empowering that occurred was accidental and not a spontaneous action on my part. For a habit to have become effectively part of one’s personality it must be triggered automatically by the situation, like a reflex, only a learned response. That didn’t happen in this example.

It was relatively easy to mentally practice holding out one’s hand toward a pile of grocery store candy to fend it off, but empowering friends to do good deeds requires a spontaneous situation where that other person’s opportunities are seen and a situation brought into being where they can perform some spontaneous good deed. Hmm, this will require some new kind of mental practice to develop the habit. Earlier today I did demonstrate to some friends how to create a habit, and over the course of an hour made that habit spontaneous when an unanticipated prompt happened.

A beginning for training to empowering others is setting up easy tasks before kids arrive.

Sage tip #105, Protect your friend’s life as your own life.

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The 147 suggestions attributed to the Seven Sages of Greece were published about the year 570 BC. That means about 550 years before Jesus gave his sermons. I have been rendering those sage suggestions into a slightly expanded modern English wording and calling them tips because that term doesn’t generate the negative reactions that God-given commandments tend to do. Even the term suggestions has a pejorative feel, so I have been using the term tips. Thus in the book Love Your Life, Sage tip #105 is currently rendered Protect your friend’s life as your own life.

When it is stated in that way the idea feels like Jesus’s Great Commandment spoken in King James Version of Matthew 22:37-40.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The Sages’ statement “Protect your friend’s life as your own life” (570 BC) is very similar to Jesus’ 27 AD saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” In both statements, the idea is to value and protect your friend’s wellbeing as carefully as you do your own wellbeing. 

That is a minimum concern we must have for our friends, and when we have the consciousness and the opportunity we should treat others better than we treat ourselves. This is a greater opportunity for personal growth than treating others the way you would wish to be treated. That weak form of the Universal Golden Rule doesn’t advance your spiritual growth; it only locks you into the level you have already reached. When you intend to treat others better than you treat yourself you must pay attention to their needs, and be aware of your needs too, and then intentionally sacrifice some part of your time, attention and other possessions to help that other person.

The reason for doing so personally expensive a thing is because that is the surest way to cultivate the habits of becoming a happier, healthier, wiser and wealthier person.

To protect your friend’s life as your own life teaches you how to protect your own life better.

The Secret to Long Life

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A super long life is great if and only if it is accompanied by excellent health. Fortunately for those who do live past 110 years, they are healthy to the very end. Those people who die young commonly have bad health even in their young adult years and so even in their prime, they aren’t feeling very good.

The New York Times has a feature article, The Secret to Long Life? It May Lurk in the DNA of the Oldest Among Us, where they report on the collecting of DNA of supercentenarians. That means they need to collect blood and cheek swabs from many people over the age of 110 to discover the special good and bad DNA codes. “Of the 70,000 or so Americans who live to be 100, only some two dozen are typically alive at 110.” Worldwide there are now about 150 supercentenarians.

The results for increasing human lifespan through improvements in DNA are inconclusive so far, but some experiments on roundworms, rats, and mice DNA have doubled these animals’ normal life expectancy. World life expectancy in 1900 was 31 years and now it’s 71.5. That was from improvements in sanitation and medicine and was just as successful as improvements from modification of rats’ DNA. If the DNA fixes on us humans doubles our present average life expectancy we might live to 143, and that doubling might give our current natural supercentenarians 200 years.

One tidbit in the article caught my eye, “The Supercentenarian Research Project offers a glimpse at what that might entail, including perseverance, compassion and a sense of humor that trends toward dark.” I like to think those qualities quoted are applicable to me personally. … 1. Perseverance as in my creating 3,662 blog posts. 2. Compassion as many of the posts are about developing personal kindness. 3. A sense of humor that tends to make light of unpleasant happenings.

My close friend Ralph Raphael told me, “The secret to long life is to keep breathing,” but I guess he forgot to take his own advice and died.

Clockwork Purple – It is challenging to keep rolling.

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Clockwork Purple, November 13, 2017

Random Book – Inner Vegas by Joe Gallenberger PhD

Random page 117 was chosen by Gail, and random line 6 by Charles.

It is challenging to keep rolling

Alexis set the timer for 46 minutes. = 10:56


Everywhere I look within the whole Universe things are rolling, spinning, and revolving. It’s revolting! Can’t we just settle down and sit still for a while? It can be so pleasant to just smile and to just sit quietly and look at a picture of a smiling person.

I have sat quietly and looked at the painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci for hours at a time and it hasn’t moved for five hundred years. Nearly everyone who has seen the painting up-close has been moved by that painting. I was moved by it enough to get a high-quality image of it onto my computer and after viewing it for many hours decided to restore it to its original condition.

Five hundred years had built up many layers of dirt, and the varnish from previous attempts to protect the paint had crazed and discolored. Previous attempts to remove the previous varnish to expose the original so the painting could be viewed better had also injured it. It is amazing that it has survived all the years and the abuse. My computer restorations won’t interfere with the original, so I didn’t feel any guilt for spending a couple of months restoring it to my personal satisfaction. I had to do that and then print it out at the highest possible quality so I visit with the “real” Mona Lisa.

Now I visit with Mona Lisa often and we observe one another closely. We never speak or touch but we do communicate deeply. Ours is a wholly visual experience, but it results in strange and challenging thoughts pouring through my mind. I don’t expect a five-hundred-year-old painting to talk to me; it is my own mind that is talking to me, but that mind is influenced by the expressions and attitudes that Leonardo knew and carefully worked into the painting. He kept the painting with him for many years, possibly until his death, and was reported to have frequently made tiny strokes of almost transparent paint. I believe that is true because I can see things happening in my own mind while I view it that only a profound intelligence could discover. When working on it for those few months the effort was aimed at getting to what Leonardo was saying to himself in his deeper inner explorations.

One of the characteristics of this painting is that the eyes actually move and follow me as I move. They don’t sort of move, they really do move, they shift, they roll, they clearly move and keep looking into my eyes, and beyond my eyes into the back of my brain and into my mind. Lisa looks into my innermost thoughts. I blink with anxiety and try to look back at her but I can’t help blinking; it isn’t in fear, I’m not afraid of some old paint; it’s because of the anxiety it generates in my own mind. It is because I hesitate to look that far into my own being, and looking closely into Lisa’s eyes while she follows my thoughts is what’s challenging.

It is challenging to keep rolling with her incessant probing into more than my thoughts, into more than my mind, into more than my physical presence, NO! It’s a probing into my whole existence, into the existence of all that I have known, into my whole human species, and into my whole Universe. Hers is a probing into the totality of the infinity of everything.

It is challenging to keep rolling with these ideas when I can’t keep up with her, but Mona Lisa does keep going and she insists that I keep trying. And so I do try! And … so I do try, but always come up short and blink.


The Mona Lisa is looking at your soul if you are up close.

Sage tip #133

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It makes sense to comment on the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece suggestions from the Oracle at Delphi published on stone stelae about 570 BC because they were in a profound way the foundation of our Western Civilization. They were widely published and thus the Greek-speaking people learned how to read and write their language. They were the first common people of the world to ever have that opportunity. Fortunately, the Sages chose to publish something that could be easily learned in small dollops of wisdom. Mostly they were word pairs in the form of common-sense suggestions for proper ways to behave. Earlier Hammurabi had published harsh laws on stones that were placed about his kingdom with proscriptive demands coupled with terrible punishments for failure to obey his laws.

The Sages’ ideas were more like moral ideals that ordinary people could think about and apply to their daily lives. They were not coupled with cruel physical punishments like Hammurabi’s laws, but with positive personal rewards. The rewards were in this world and were similar to a karmic feedback for behaving well, but the benefits are to come to the person in this life and in a tangible way. These ideals must have worked well because over the next couple of centuries Greece flourished from a remote rocky peninsula to the intellectual source of the world for the next two millennia.

The Seven Sages of Greece tip #133 is a good example of why these ideas helped these early Indo-European People (PIE) become so well organized and powerful. #133 states “Use your life as an opportunity for good deeds.” Many people throughout history have wondered about the meaning of life in general and their lives in particular, and even to this day a common question is “What is the meaning of life?” Some say to serve the gods, some to serve the church, some to serve your government, some to serve your family and let the rest be damned, and some say to serve your self alone. That last one is very popular these days and many public people will say with a calm assurance that “Greed is good!” They claim that idea, first proclaimed by Adam Smith in 1776 in his book The Wealth of Nations, is the foundation of humanity’s super success at dominating the world. Their proof of success is that the population of humans has grown from less than a billion to almost eight billion people.

I would rather live in a world where people’s life goal was:

Use your life as an opportunity for good deeds.

We begin tapering off on our diet

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Debbie’s and my weights are near our aim points. These goals are now a little arbitrary because we are both so near the ideal BMI of 23.41, which I once calculated out from some life expectancy charts. On that J-shaped curve the zone around the bottom is nearly flat so the ideal for a given person, assuming it could ever be determined precisely, might be a point or so either above or below that number.

Another number was hit today on my iPhone Weight-Guru app, which is linked to my electronic bathroom scale. I have lost exactly 20 pounds in the last ten months. We both lost close to two pounds per month without the slightest annoying effort and mostly by just playing little games. The primary game is timing our meals. As I have explained elsewhere we started by not eating after 8 PM nor before 8 AM, then soon moved it up to 7 PM to Noon, and then for several months to a more positive approach of an eating window of noon to 6 PM. Even that was easy because our stomachs and bodies had gotten used to always eating to the full during those hours and not eating anything at other times. No snacks and no caloric drinks! Choosing to eat all foods during a specific well-defined period is far easier than trying to keep track of some strange diet plan.

This procedure was helped early on by creating the supermarket checkout line procedure. You can do it right now. Imagine standing there waiting in line and instead of picking up some easily available candy, holding our your hand and pushing away those candies with your palm. Close your eyes and do that now. It’s that easy; so when you have succeeded with that little game, intentionally physically smile and say to yourself something like, “I choose not to do things that are not good for me.” That easy procedure when done occasionally will have spillover into other habits you choose to control.

A food problem for me was at public events where there was a pile of free food, including various cakes, pies, and lots of other tempting stuff. Now when I see those things I do the grocery checkout line procedure in my mind and quietly walk away and get some coffee and find a conversation. It works every time and when I leave the event my stomach feels good.

Today’s new diet plan is to expand the eating time a half hour on both ends. Now we will limit our eating to between 11:30 AM and 6:30 PM. Such a small adjustment will be easy to the point of being unnoticed by our bodies but it will ease some of the timings of our social events.

Controlling our bodily weight this way was easy.

Accept random luck as random luck.

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Love Your Life has a multitude of little problems that need to be worked out before the big problems can be exposed and grappled with. Fortunately, there are lots of opportunities for working with little problems and these are the training episodes for the occasional big ones. Much of life is just things happening that we must cope with and usually that is just routine stuff, but occasionally some things are more challenging. It is obvious that nearly everything about our lives involves a large dollop of luck. We didn’t have anything to do with the time or place where we were born and wish as we might we didn’t choose our parents or the material things or social values they brought to us.

Most of what we have was the gift of the Universe and the evolutionary processes of life itself. When you start studying even the simplest life forms it is astonishing how complex they are, and yet as complex as they are they lack what we like to call spirit. It requires that we have a verbal language to even have the slightest idea what the concept of spirit might be. All living things have their life force but without language and a developed culture, it is unlikely that anyone would fuss over invisible problems. But we humans do develop ideas out of our hopes and fears that have little basis in the physical reality that we are immersed within.

The Seven Sages of Ancient Greece knew and stated it succinctly with their tip #77. Accept random luck as random luck. When either unexpected good luck or bad luck comes along we tend to impute a causal relationship linking what we have done to that fortuitous event. But the illustrations above about our great general luck that lets us come into existence are equally applicable to our mundane existence. Thus, it is easier on our emotional development to …

Accept random luck as random luck.