Month: June 2017

Desktop to Instagram the Easy Way

Mowing the lawn
Mowing the lawn

The Amish don’t care about Instagram but a lot of people do. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get on there but I don’t have a smart phone believe it or not, and I looked into the workarounds.

Most are complicated and involve either setting up a Dropbox account or using an app to mimic a mobile device. But I found a Firefox add-on called User Agent Switcher which impersonates a mobile device, takes seconds to install and works perfectly.

After installing the free add-on you’ll see an icon on the toolbar with a dropdown menu to choose your preferences, choose Android / Crome 40 before signing in and you can upload, crop and caption. Use hashtags with abandon but the maximum allowed is thirty per post.

Instagram used to insist on a square format but now lets you upload landscape and portrait-oriented photos, although not with this method. So either crop to square in editing or change the aspect ratio on your camera to 1:1.  Photos should be 1080 x 1080 pixels but can be less if necessary.

If you’re already on Instagram this can save you a lot of time, but if you’re thinking of starting ask yourself why. I met a guy named Steven Maerz who owns thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment, posts absolutely stunning shots of bald eagles among other things, and has 464 followers while Love Food has 6.9 million followers.

So if you’re the competitive type consider posting a lot of photos of your lunch, because not surprisingly, a grilled cheese sandwich is much easier to compose square than an Amish man mowing his lawn.

Check out the User Agent Switcher Add-on for Firefox here. You may want to check out Love Food for inspiration but not if you’re on a diet, there’s a lot of cake.

The Places That Scare You

The Reading Pagoda
The Reading Pagoda

Reading, Pennsylvania is a beautiful place to visit, during the day. Around 3:00 this morning I decided to go see the Pagoda all lit up and take some photos. I was hesitant, possibly a little scared about going there alone at that time but I went anyway.

I headed up the steep, curvy road to the top and was pre-visualizing the composition (you’re supposed to do that). What I hadn’t pre-visualized was the twenty five, let’s say derelicts, let’s say, behaving badly.

I got out to look around and suddenly they all began to leave. One guy looked at me and said; “Yo you snitched!” I didn’t answer because I wanted to see if he was going to shoot me, but he didn’t, obviously. So far so good I thought, now I have the whole place to myself.

Then thirty seconds after I got my tripod set up two cop cars pulled in with lights flashing. “Parks closed-these people don’t know how to behave-it happens every night,” one announced. I considered arguing with him but the last time I fought the law the law won.

I asked if I could just take a few photos, he sighed and said to make it quick in his best Joe Friday voice. Then I told him that I wanted to climb up the path to get a better view and he just laughed.

Luckily I got a decent shot, and luckily the cops came when they did because I really wanted the gang in the photo for foreground interest, although that probably would have ended badly.

The lessons I took from this are to go to the places that scare you, except for the Reading Pagoda alone in the middle of the night. And to bracket, even with angry cops waiting for you to finish and go home.

The Lesser Vehicle

The Lesser Vehicle
The Lesser Vehicle

Hinayana is a Sanskrit term literally meaning the smaller or lesser vehicle. So how does this affect me, the average spiritual seeker you might ask? I’ll give you a simple yet crystal clear example, none of that finger pointing at the moon stuff.

Yesterday I was at the Strasburg Rail Road where hundreds of people gathered to ride Thomas the train. Compared with the larger steam engines, Thomas was clearly the lesser vehicle (no offense intended).

Or so I thought until I saw this miniature steam engine which actually runs on coal. There seemed to be a serious debate going on, probably about the vehicles or paths known as Hinayana, Mahayana and Tantrayana Buddhism.

Chögyam Trungpa once said: “We must begin our practice by walking the narrow path of simplicity, the Hinayana path, before we can walk upon the open highway of compassionate action, the Mahayana path.”

I didn’t ask if this lesser vehicle was headed for the open highway of compassionate action, but with all those little train fans running around I think it probably was.

Yes Poppy

Pink Poppies
Pink Poppies

I was driving down to the lake yesterday when I saw a group of pink flowers in what was either a construction site or a dump. I pulled in to take a closer look when a guy in a pickup truck rolled down the gravel path in a cloud of dust and parked behind me.

He walked up to my window and asked if I had a problem. Maybe it was because I was parked in front of a locked gate with a huge private property sign, or maybe he was actually interested in my problems.

For some reason, rather than tell him I wanted to take photos of the flowers I told him I was checking my voicemail. That seemed to satisfy him and he left me with the poppies and several yellow finches that appreciate this kind of thing as much as I do.

Later I realized I could have said something witty like “The difficult problems in life always start off being simple,” by Lao Tzu. But I didn’t want to take a chance on pissing him off with all those flowers and birds waiting for me.