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Thoughts on Beauty

There is only one source, one spring of Joy — for both the pagan and the Christian — and it is Christ. And if the source of Joy be attributed to any other such thing, it is idolatry against the Most High. One One is found Good, only One is the essence of Beauty, and from Him does all other goodness and beauty flow. Loveliness is intrinsic to One, and One alone.

If this is true, then idolatry really is an abominable thing, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images that resemble mortal man (Romans 1).

Why then do we have the proclivity to remove glory from the only Glorious One, and bestow it upon mortal man, who is but a reflection of divine perfection? It is pervasive throughout the hearts and minds of believers and unbelievers alike. We cease to give glory to our Creator, barely acknowledging his existence, and instead, we glorify the Creature.

We worship the beauty of this world, while denying the beauty of its Source. We seek to become like God through sinful pride and arrogance; He seeks to make us like himself through humble meekness and love. Oh, the depth of the riches of this great mystery!

Hello Again.

Same name, different Michael. We’ll see how this goes.

Boise, ID.

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One generous act of kindness from an absolute stranger can do wonders to a weary traveling soul.

I’m laying on a bed in a random host home somewhere on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho; taking a hot shower for the first time in days, drinking hot beverages by candlelight and watching movies with one of my closest friends on the biggest seventy-three inch plasma you’ve ever seen. I don’t even remember the name of the lady who opened up her home to us. I think it’s Annette. She loves animals. She has a black lab, a pit bull, five cats, a couple horses, and a countless number of fish. She works in a call center troubleshooting people’s DSL problems. Yesterday she taught a celebrity how to find the colon key on their keyboard in order to type “http://” into Internet Explorer. If she takes the freeway, she can get from her home to her office, park, walk three blocks, and be at her desk within fifteen minutes. Her husband works at Ford. The car she drives shares the same name as my company. And it has seat-heated cushions. Mhmm, seat-heated cushions.. my favorite.

She has Thin Mint Girl Scouts™-flavored ice cream. And premium hot cocoa. And those giant mug things that the dwarves from the Lord of the Rings use. And hash browns and pancakes and bacon in the morning.

And did I mention hot showers?

This generosity is overwhelming.

Thank You.

Breaking the Silence

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No, I’m not dead. But if you follow me on Twitter, you already know that.

I just graduated high school, that’s all. I wrote my last final and made a beeline for Texas three days later where I’ll be spending the next two years doing a film & media internship. So now I actually get to make things instead of simply talking about other people making things. Hence the lack of words here.

The last four months have been the most physically, emotionally, and professionally demanding months of my — admittedly short — life. I’m learning more than I ever have and have more things than ever to talk and write about. Not every teenager gets the opportunity to shoot music videos in Mexico or travel to stadiums and arenas across the US putting on Christian youth conferences.

I think what I’m trying to say is that now that I have somewhat of an interesting life, the things I’m discovering and learning might actually be of value to some people. Or someone.

That’s my hope at least.

So yeah, just wanted to get that whole awkward “breaking the silence” moment out of the way. Thank you to everyone who emailed in their condolences or DM’d me to say that they stopped by my site to clear out the virtual cobwebs. Your loyalty has been duly noted.

Ahhh, feels good to be back.

PhotoForge: Photoshop for the iPhone

I never realized how useful a simple “curves” adjustment on an iPhone would be until now. Some of the features are a little gimmicky (how many times are you going to use the clone stamp tool on your phone?), but it completely changes the way you use your iPhone as a camera.

While it typically retails for $4.99, it’s on sale for a limited time for $1.99.

Seth Godin on “Gotchas”

There are lots of things you can do to make the sale. They often are precisely the opposite of what you should do to generate word of mouth. I know, you can’t have word of mouth unless you have a sale, but a sale that leads to pain is hardly worth it.

My rule of thumb is this: every person you turn away because your product or service isn’t right for them turns into three great customers down the road. Every bad sale costs you five.

I couldn’t agree more.

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Working at Fusion, I’m often amazed at the number of great products and services out there that aren’t being talked about. After booking a Fusion ad with us, the good folks at Hello Canvas offered to send me a free print of one of my photos so that I could try out the service.

The canvas came in the mail the other day and I have been blown away by the sheer awesomeness of the print. It’s HUGE, feels solid, and looks absolutely stunning on the wall.

I can’t quite explain what it’s like to see one of your photos in larger-than-life form. It’s exhilarating, emotional — almost hypnotizing. In fact, I find that I prefer canvas-bound prints to framed photos more often than not. (For once my tastes side on the cheaper end of the metaphorical scale. Huzzah!) If you’re a photographer, art appreciating enthusiast, or parent for that matter, Hello Canvas deserves a serious look.

(Pssst: I believe the coupon code “FUSION” still saves you 10% upon checkout. You didn’t hear it from me.)

From Fusion, to Shawn. With Love.

There’s five different ‘birthday’ graphics — see if you can collect them all. Major props, kudos, and every other form of public praise to Judson Collier for coming up with the brilliant ad designs.

UPDATE: The ads are off the site now, but you can still find them archived on Flickr.

Strangely Addictive Pringles Banner Ad

The banner ad that you just can’t stop clicking. Possibly the only good use of Flash on the web. Possibly.

Blurb’s ‘PDF-to-Book’

My favourite online photo book publisher now accepts books via PDF, allowing you to creative a custom design outside of their clumsy and limiting BookSmart app. Previously you had to choose between a better end result and the ability to sell your book online versus the more flexible and intuitive interfaces of iPhoto and Aperture. Now you can have the best of both worlds.

Find My iPhone Works, and It’s Awesome

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the iPhone thiever who will momentarily be entering the story. You might have told yourself, “Hey, free iPhone!” the night before. You might have seen the gently-threatening messages and ignored them, maybe even scoffed. Then the phone told you it was on Medill St. It talked to you in Spanish. And you saw three skinny white guys prowling in the street with a laptop computer open.

So you take off down the road, and to your shock and horror, the honkeys follow you. You stand at your local bus stop, expecting to lose them. And they converge on your location from across the intersection, the bald one with the laptop yelling and pointing at you. You probably think the angels of death have found you.

Coming soon to a theatre near you.