Camera+ App for iPhone

Camera+ logo

Camera+ is my new favorite App for the iPhone. ($1.99)

I’ve been using the standard camera option on my iPhone 3GS. It was handy but nothing fancy and with pretty much no options or editing capabilities. Camera+ has so many options, filters and editing tools built right in that it turns your iPhone camera into a photo machine that gives you customized images that look awesome!


Fresh bean dip

Easy to use and great additional features for your iPhone camera including zoom, filters, self-timer, and more! Many options are available without paying more than the basic 99 cents. (There are additional features available for additional costs but they’re just more filters.)

Things I love about it:

  • Quick button response — The Camera+ App provides quick response times. When you push the shutter button…the photo is taken. What a concept!
  • Timer — Want a photo of yourself? Camera+ includes a self timer with audible warning. There are 5 second, 15 second and 30 second timers available.
  • Cropping — Get just the good stuff when you crop down the image as you desire. Options allow you to keep a variety of ratios or crop freestyle.
  • Borders/Frames — This option really makes your presentation look good before you post your images out to your friends. Includes a variety of options to choose from
  • Filters — One of my favorite things… I really like the options that are provided. From antique looks to HDR and limited depth of field , cross processing and more, this App provides a wide selection of filter effects that can be expanded (paid service).
  • Sharing —  With Camera+ it’s easy to share your favorite images via Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, or by emailing the image size of your choice to your friends. Continue reading

Leadership: Art or Science

Recently a friend asked me what I thought about leadership. Is it an art or science?
I think it’s both.

While personality traits that lend themselves to leadership may be born into an individual, I believe that most of the qualities of good leadership are developed through the experiences, examples, training, and effort that an individual has or gives.

Similar to musicians, there are those naturally born with an ability to lead and there are those who have to put in much time and effort growing into a leader. However, those who hone, craft, and develop these skills are the ones who receive the benefits of good results. Leadership is a science in that it is developed through processes, but it is an art in how it must be executed in a way to be well received by others.

It’s a bit like engineering and designing a chair. The engineer makes the structure so it won’t fall down. The designer makes it look like something upon which someone will want to sit. You need both. A leader who is all science will probably have difficulty finding people to lead.

Someone who is all ‘art’ as a leader will not really have somewhere he is leading the people to. You need both art and science in your leadership development.

Guatemala’s Romeo and Juliet — The Story of Vanushka

The grave stone of Vanushka Cardena Barajas, the young gypsy who died of a broken heart.

Here’s the story of Vanushka Cardena Barajas roughly based on the tale told to me by a Spanish-speaking guide at the cemetery in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and other sources I could find. Legend says it happened about 1927 though details are not verified.  Recently, the Guatemalan songwriter Alvaro Aguilar wrote a song dedicated to Vanushka.

Vanushka was a young Roma/Gypsy woman when she moved with her family from eastern Europe (possibly Hungary) to Guatemala. They traveled the country performing in a circus to make money and because entertainment was the trade they knew. When they were in Quetzaltenango (also called Xela) they settled in and promoted their circus.

A statue of Vanushka lies on her tomb in the El Calvario Cemetery in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

One evening a young man, who we will call Javier for his name has not survived the years, arrived at the circus tent. Javier was from a wealthy family, (some say he was the son of a Spanish ambassador) and that night he visited the circus with some of his friends. He was handsome and something about the way he carried himself among his peers caught the eye of one of the performers, Vanushka. She was observing the crowd from off stage until it came time to take her spot in the ring.  That night Vanushka’s performance was better than ever and her beauty and skill caught the eyes of everyone in the crowd, but no one was so captured as the wealthy young man.

After the performance, the Javier saw Vanushka leave from a side entrance and he rushed away from his confused friends as he made his way around the tent to try and speak with this beautiful girl. He did catch up with her and they talked the entire night as they walked around and around the circus tent.  As dawn broke they said farewell and promised to see each other at the performance that night.

This continued for several days and at the end of the week, they had confessed their love for each other and were trying to figure out how to share their new-found love with their families. Her family had already seen the blossom of love on her face as she watched the stands for this striking young man and no one could miss seeing them walking hand in hand as they circled the tent each night.

The fourth  night of the performance in Xela, Javier was joined by his father as he went to the circus. Javier’s family had started to suspect that something was happening since their son was hardly sleeping and had that dreamy look in his eye of a lovestruck youth.

It didn’t take Javier’s father long to realize that this match would never work, for their families were so different and came from such different backgrounds and there were so many wonderful plans he had for his son. Father and mother tried to talk Javier out of love, but nothing seemed to work. They reminded him of his education, his station in life and his responsiblities that just would not fit when combined with this wandering daughter of a circus master.

Despite their attempts at reason, Javier was convinced that Vanushka was the one for him. Out of desperation, Javier was ordered to leave for Spain the next day to spend four years in university there.

The Vanushka tomb showing Vanushka holding a photo of her beau.

That night Javier wept as he bade Vanushka farewell. She was heartbroken and clung to him as he was torn from her arms by his valet whom his parents had demanded he take with him. That morning he left in a carriage for the coast to catch a ship to Spain for what he imagined would be the worst four years of his life. Sadly, he was only slightly incorrect.

For days Vanushka wept in her tent. Her mother could not console her and even her father’s demands were not enough to get her to eat. Slowly, the beautiful Vanushka became strained and pale. One night only a few weeks after Javier left. Vanushka slipped into a troubled sleep that slowly calmed to a deathly pale.

As her mother kept watch by her bedside, Vanushka gave a shudder and weak sob as a tear streamed down her pale cheek. Then her hand went limp and she breathed the long shallow sigh of death from a broken heart.

The entire gypsy family wept for Vanushka as they carried her lace draped casket through the streets and to the Calvario Cemetery where they laid her in a tomb.

People still write on Vanushka's tomb hoping to have their distant loved one restored.

Although people debate whether she died because of the distance between them or because they were kept apart by their families, most people in Xela agree that she died of a broken heart.

As legend has it, a young woman heard

the story of Vanushka’s sorrow and went to her tomb to weep for she had a similar separation between the man she loved and herself. Soon, they were reunited and the tale grew into one that says that one who visits Vanushka’s tomb and leaves flowers or writes a note on the tomb will be reunited with their love.

The dedication information on Vanushka's Statue placed on her tomb February 14, 2011

While there is  only a little evidence for Vanushka’s story here, there is clear evidence that many people still visit Vanushka’s tomb and leave both flowers and notes. In fact, in February 2011, a new statue was placed on her previously simple tomb depicting the lovesick girl in repose with a photo of her beau in her hand.

If you want to visit Vanushka’s tomb for yourself, you can find it when you enter the Quetzaltenango Calvario cemetery. Once you get through the gate, the tomb is just off the main path to the left of the entrance. It’s kind of tucked behind the first couple of large tombs, but if you walk around them you’ll find it. If you have difficulty, ask around and someone will surely help you!

Ojibwe Language Resources

North American native languages are surviving. One of them is the Ojibwe tongue  which is spoken by about 50,000 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and by about 30,000 people in the US states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota. (Ref.

Want to learn the Ojibwe language? Here are  some helpful links:

  • A simple site with common words to get you started.
  • great overview of the history of the Ojibwe language. (It gets a bit technical but could be helpful, especially to linguistics nerds.)
  • A list of schools where you can study Ojibwe

Guatemalan mission outreach

Eight days after a volcano erupted and a storm released mud slides and flooding in Guatemala, a team of 15 people from Resurrection Life Church was on the ground and ready to help.

The team worked along-side the residents of homes that had been swamped with mud. Shoveling and scraping, they cleared mud from three homes, a school and from around a church. They also shared the Gospel and distributed tracts and food for the people.

“The people paid attention to our message not just because we had some gifts for them, but because we spent time working right along side them to help them get their village back from the mud and to show that God loves them,” team leader Michael Shead said. “While many seeds were planted in the village, we saw children respond to Jesus at a school outreach and even had one man on the street accept Christ after just a short conversation.”

This team mixed manual labor with medical assistance, ministry outings to a school, home visits, and a prayer visit with patients at a public hospital.

“Seeing the team serve so well together was a reminder of how we can work together for the Lord wherever we are,” Shead said. ” I want to do this more!”

How much is a Masters Degree worth?

According to the Commerce Department a masters degree is worth about $1.3 million more than a high school diploma when it comes to lifetime earnings.

I haven’t seen much of that $1.3 million yet, but the experience of completing my masters degree in communication has proven beneficial for job opportunities, faculty teaching positions and more. Plus I really enjoyed the intellectual interaction with fellow students and professors. It just takes things to a new level when compared to undergraduate classes.

Top things I value about my grad school experience:

  • The experience
  • The opportunities
  • The training/education
  • The challenge

Whether you get a masters degree from an Ivy League, private or state school, getting a graduate degree can greatly enhance your marketability, opportunities and bring you into contact with fellow professionals and students who can prove valuable additions to your field of friends.

When to stop what you’re doing…

I remember when my brother and some friends were digging a hole in the back corral.  I think it was eventually supposed to be a well or discover treasure or build a fast track to China. I don’t remember exactly. I do remember that we had fun, learned some hard work and eventually stopped digging and moved on to other things.

Sadly sometimes, businesses or organizations start something or come up with an idea that is exciting and wonderful but doesn’t quite pan out.

Whether it’s lack of vision, tradition or some other missed insight, sometimes leadership fails to push the stop button on projects. While they’re never going to reach China, employees are left digging at something they know doesn’t work.

There comes a time that every person discovers when something is not working. It may be a project, a program, or a great idea that outlived itself. There comes a time when it’s time to stop.

Now I’m not saying to just give up, but if you reevaluate your goals and the project’s desired outcomes and find that it’s not worth it, then change the way it’s being done or shut it down and move on.

This doesn’t mean to just give up on a project but that after careful evaluation, if the goals and direction that you’re wanting to go isn’t being accomplished, you need to change what you’re doing and try to reach the goal in a new way. That may mean that you need to close something down, or stop doing something that has been “always done”.

Don’t be scared to try something new, but do be scared to continue doing something just because everyone is use to doing it. If it’s sapping resources and not providing a return or potential return, try getting a backhoe or fill in that hole and dig somewhere else.