ramblings and writings of a southern hobbit

Archive for June, 2010

Fun with Picnik

Picnik is one of my new favorite websites. It’s a free photo editing site with tons of cool editing tools, effects, fonts, and stickers. Best of all, I can access it on campus. Here are a few picture that I’ve tweaked using Picnik. All of them are photos my sister Rose took of our backyard last spring. Enjoy!

Picture 055




After cropping the photo, I applied the black and white effect to the whole picture. I then used the black and white effect painting tool to restore the original color to the azalea bushes and the tint effect painting tool to tweak the color a bit and make it more vibrant.






I had fun making playing with this one. After cropping the photo, I applied the “boost” effect, which increases the contrast and heightens color. I used separate text boxes for each line of the quote so that I could play with using different fonts for emphasis. Since there’s such a stark contrast between the trees and the sun, I couldn’t find a color for the text that was legible across the board. I ended up using the advanced blend mode “difference” for the text blocks, so that text on dark areas was light and text on light areas was dark. The quote is by C.S. Lewis:” “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

Picture 163



wagon wheel


This is the picture of the old tractor wheel just outside our front gate. I also used the boost effect for this one. I like off center subjects, so I cropped it so the wheel was no longer in the middle of the picture. To focus more on the wheel, I used the focal soften effect, which allows you to emphasize a point in your photo by softening everything around it. As a final touch, I applied the vignette effect, which darkens the edges of the photo.



blog header


I used the 1960s effect, one of my favorites, for this one. The 1960s effect tweaks the color in your photo and rounds the edges to make it look like a photograph from the ’60s.


The Great Pirate and Ninja Debate

Although the Great Pirate and Ninja Debate has been ongoing for centuries, many know very little about it. This spurred me to do some more research on the subject myself, in order to help better inform others.

The History of the Pirates

In 1986, the discovery of a jaw bone and a large stick side  by side in a paleontological dig in Ghana led to a new theory of the beginnings of piracy. Scientists discovered that the jaw bone belonged to a member of the species Australopithecus hominus, extinct primates believed by evolutionary biologists to be one of the forerunners of modern humans. Many anthropologists now believe piracy can be traced back to a clan of Austrolopithicus hominus living in modern day Ghana during the Paleocene era. A famine is believed to have hit this corner of Africa late in the era, driving the hungry clan to raid other hominid villages. With the invention of the boat, believed by many to be the accidental invention of Olaf the Cave Man in 56,000 B.C., the descendants of the  clan moved to raiding by sea.

a page from the Book of Elishamma

a page from the Book of Elishamma

More conservative historians remain skeptical of this theory, however. The earliest written evidence of piracy can be found in Jewish religious writings dating back to 1,400 B.C. The Apocryphal book of Elishamma contains the supposed writings  of a little known Jewish prophet prophesying the destruction of Adad–Baal, a Phoenician who terrorized the coasts of Israel from 1,380 B.C. until his sudden death in 1,412 B.C. Adad–Baal was the first to call himself a pirate, coining the term from the Phoenician words py, “glorious,” and raeat, “raider.”

The book of the words of Elishamma, the son of Elihiel, the son of Elhanan, the son of Ezechiel, of the seed of Phineas, of the tribe of Napthali, which he prophecied concerning Adad–Baal: Woe to thee, Adad–Baal of the Phoenecians, who hast said, I shall call myself Glorious, and hath declared, A raider shalt I be. A day shall come in which thy name shalt be a curse to all nations and at the sound of name all peoples shall gnash their teeth. Selah.

Piracy continued to be popular after the death of Adad–Baal wherever there were boats, rum, and stuff to steal. Piracy was a very ecumenical profession, attracting men and women from all nationalities and creeds. As the movement grew, however, the diversity of the pirates led to the need for greater organization and discipline. In 1721, the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew filled this need by formulating the Pirate Code, a definitive code of pirate conduct, which, though rarely followed, has remained the standard for piracy to this day.

The History of the Ninjas

The Most Esteemed Order of Ninjas was founded by Japanese martial arts master Katsutoshi Fuyu circa 1,111 B.C. Fuyu wrote extensively,  stressing the need for simplicity and rigorous discipline, and his followers adopted a monastic, ascetic lifestyle. Traditionally, ninjas begin their training at the age of three, the age at which an individual first displays “The Gift,” as Fuyu described the mystical ability to teleport and disappear that characterizes all ninjas. Very little else is known about ninjas. They are so rarely seen that some skeptics believe that the order is a conspiracy created by the Japanese government.

In his most famous book, conspiracy  theorist John Johnson argues that the Japanese government created the order to instill fear in neighboring countries. Although the book has won great popularity and has even been optioned as a major Hollywood film, little real credit is afforded to Johnson’s claim.

A rare undercover shot of the fabled Ninja Conference reputed to be held each year in Kyoto.

The Beginnings of the Pirate-Ninja Debate

Although the exact origins of the controversy are unclear, most historians point to the middle of the 18th century.  Beginning in 1795, Ninja Warlord Masayoshi Ken’ichi began writing pamphlets against pirate captain Tobias “Terrible Toby” Smith after an alleged offense. A pamphlet war was soon launched after Smith responded with pamphlet of his own, and a flurry of pamphlets were soon written and published by both sides. In the heat of the controversy, the original offense was forgotten. However, the rift between the pirates and ninjas has never healed to this day, despite a recent conciliatory movement led by a group called the “Pirinjas.”

Overheard at Work

Next to the white board at the office where I’m working this summer, there is a list of quotes. All you have to do to get on the list is say something funny enough that everyone in the office laughs and somebody types it up in the Master List of Funny Office Quotes. Here are a few of the things that have made in on the list.

  • I wasn’t sure whether I felt lame or awesomely rebellious.  (Me relating the time I brought a Dell laptop into an Apple store. **Note: This is my first funny office quote ever.)
  • Just wear your swimsuit and a wife-beater. (In answer to an inquiry about the dress code for a work party.)
  • It feels like being inside an onion, only the onion is cutting you. (In an attempt to describe what it feels like to get pepper juice in your eye while taking out your contacts.)
  • If I see one more company “going green,” I’m going to burn tires in my backyard! (During a conversation on environmentalism.)
  • Just beat the hooey out of ’em! (On childrearing.)
  • If only we had brown paper bags and markers. . . . (On clothing.)

A New Translation of 1 Corinthians 13


Newly found manuscript of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthian church. This page of the manuscript includes Paul's original benediction: "Fun to you, and enjoyment, from God our Entertainer and the Lord Jesus Christ."

A new collection of ancient documents recently unearthed caves near the ancient Near Eastern town of Ben-haradadi may shed some new light on Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. These manuscripts are the most ancient discovered yet, and biblical scholars believe these manuscripts are the closest to originals in wording, due to their early date. Of particular interest to scholars is the fact that these manuscripts lack some of the passages long believed by the modern church to have been added in at a later date by puritannical church fathers determined that no one should have any fun.

Scholars have begun a new Bible translation project utilizing these new found manuscripts. Reproduced below is the new translation of 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Love goeth on romantic dates, and giveth roses and chocolates; Love  is fluffy and pink,  is a shallow hormone-induced emotion.

2 Love beareth all things until the other annoyeth greatly, then love causeth great suffering and feeleth justified;

3 Behaveth itself unseemly, yet defineth “unseemly” as all conduct but its own and therefore feeleth quite satisfied with its holiness,

4 Seeketh its own pleasure, is easily provoked, thinketh great evil;

5 Rejoiceth in iniquity and the spreading abroad of the same amongst all its friends and acquaintances and coworkers, but rejoiceth not in the truth;

6 Beareth nothing, believeth nothing, hopeth nothing, endureth nothing.

7 Love faileth: For whether there shall be romance, it shall fade; whether there be words of love, they shall cease; whether there be any emotional thrill, it shall vanish away.

8 For when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I refused to put away childish things, because being childish was more fun and all the world doth continue to revolve around me.

9 And now abideth self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.