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2020 Vision – How Photography Changed My View of The World

Am I present, or does my focus linger off to the past or the future?

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2020 was the year of clear vision, so here’s a look at how photography helped give me enhanced clarity in life.

In photography, there are 3 basic elements that you have control over, which allow you to capture completely different images, even in the exact same location.

  1. Focal Length of the lens – Determines how much of a given scene will be included in your field of vision. At the two ends of this spectrum, you have wide angle lenses; which allow more of a given scene to be in frame, and then you have telephoto lenses; which zoom in, isolating a specific subject more, and compressing the background. Wide angle lenses can focus on a subject that is very close to the lens, whereas telephoto lenses need to be further from a subject to focus on it.
  2. Aperture – Determines how much light a lens lets in. Wide open (like f/1.4) lets in a ton of light, isolates focus on a single subject, so that everything else in frame is blurry, and creates a softer image. Closed aperture (like/ f/16+) doesn’t allow much light to get in, makes it so that everything is in focus, and makes a crisper and sharper overall image. 
  3. Shutter Speed – Determines how fast the camera’s shutter stays open while taking a picture. The slower the shutter speed is, the more movement will be shown. At the two ends of this spectrum, you have long exposure, where the shutter stays open for multiple seconds, and literally shows the passing of time, and then you have super-fast shutter speeds like 1/8000th of a second, which can completely freeze even fast movements, like sports, and animals in the wild.


Where you choose to shoot is of course a huge factor that precedes any of the basic elements, and furthermore, when you’re at a specific location, where you are aiming your camera, and therefore what’s in your frame.


Once these basic elements have been set, there is one more function which has a huge impact on the image that you capture; which is the Focus. The subject of your frame is decided by what you choose to focus on, and will have a large impact on where someone’s attention goes when they look at what you created.


Lastly, once you have created your image in camera, you have the option to post process, or edit the photo.

Life Parallels – How these elements can shape your view of the world in any given situation:

Location:

What am I surrounding myself with?

Are the things I see and experience enhancing or detracting from my mental and physical wellbeing?

Am I enhancing or detracting from my environment?

Focal Length:

Am I looking at the big picture, or just a fraction of it?

Am I being distracted because I allow too many things in to my field of view? 

Aperture:

Am I missing out on something that’s right in front of me because my focus is too isolated on something else? 

Am I focusing on too much, and therefore being distracted from what is important for me to focus on?

Shutter Speed:

Am I looking at a single incident without including the scope of time (moment of injury vs entire length of injury which includes recovery and lessons learned)?

Am I too rigid/tense? Do I need to soften or flow more? Am I missing out on things because I rush?

Is life passing me by because I’m operating at too slow a pace?

Focus:

What am I choosing to focus on in my life?

Where does my focus go in any given situation? 

Am I present, or does my focus linger off to the past or the future? 

Do I focus on the positive or the negative?

Think about the classic; “Glass half empty, or half full?” scenario. Two people have the exact same glass of water, but are having opposite experiences based on what they are focusing on (the bear of course would widen their lens to focus on the fact that they can refill the glass at any time from their well, a filter, or a nearby stream, because water is plentiful.)

If your focus tends to go to the negative, don’t beat yourself up over it, just become aware of it, and learn to shift your focus. If you only focus on the negative, what you hate, or what you’re afraid of, you will manifest it in your own life. Don’t poison your mind. Learn to focus on joy, hope, and positivity.

If you’re ever feeling negatively about any given situation; think about your photography arsenal, and the tools you can use to completely reframe what’s in front of you. When you’re facing adversity, how do you frame it in your mind? Do you see yourself as a victim of it, and avoid it at all costs, or do you see yourself as a victor, who welcomes the opportunity adversity brings with it to prove yourself and evolve?

Post Processing:

Am I genuine, and true to who I really am, or do I put on a mask when I’m around others?

In today’s digitalized world, am I transparent, and do I portray my real self/life online, or some kind of illusion?

I think that discernment was the skill to cultivate in 2020; the year of clear vision. When you’re looking at anything on a screen, especially news, movies, etc…. keep in mind that whoever produced what you’re watching also had all these tools available; like what they choose to be in or out of frame, what they focus on, etc…. Be wary, “what you believe is not as important as what you can tell is a lie”.

In photography; better gear gives you a more dynamic range, and gives you more control to create the image that you so desire. In life; pursue knowledge and experiences that will upgrade your mental gear, so that you can see the world more clearly going forward. 

Written By,

BalanceBear

Jon Snip

Los Angeles, CA
http://jonsnip.com

Instagram: @Jon.Snip

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Just Crushing

How Dare You

Runnerbear shares his experience and intent behind his new book “How Dare You”.

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Fear. Anxiety. Depression. Much of the world is in the throes of despair… but not me! I’m fired up and ready to crush, how about you? For many of us, Big Bear’s influence has been what’s made the difference. Looking back, Owen’s livestream has been a blessing. Ferocious rhetoric, turbulent humor, and restorative insights? Best stream on the internet. And it’s been the best for a while. Years ago, when I first felt compelled to start writing down quotes from the great bard of a bear, it certainly wasn’t rooted in anything so ambitious as publishing a book. Something just resonated with me, so I wrote it down. Though meager in its origin, the quote document that I started didn’t stay small for long; like Owen, I’m a man of amplitude. Once upon a time I went to a track and field practice. I liked it, so obviously I dropped everything else I was doing and spent the next ten years obsessively trying to get to the Olympics. I didn’t want to party, I didn’t want to make money, and I didn’t want to study. I just wanted to run fast. Like most things, it didn’t work out exactly the way I had planned, but somewhere along this obsessive, goal-oriented path, I begrudgingly learned to appreciate the process for its own sake. Man makes plans and God laughs; the trick is learning to laugh along, letting the good path, rather than the ego, dictate where to go. Several months after I first began mining quotes, still a blood-hound, clattering away on my keyboard, I noticed that the unassuming little indicator of my quote document was suddenly boasting 10,000 words. I finally felt the abrupt weight of it. An idea that had been steadily concentrating in my mind became cemented: I should write a book about Big Bear. 

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

So goes the origin story of How Dare You. It took about a year of diligent work to go from raw quotes and a rough concept to a refined physical paperback. Today, with the delay in data from my publishing company, I’m not sure what the sales look like exactly. I don’t know who’s buying, how many are buying, or any of that. Interestingly enough, the obligation of patience has proved insightful; I’ve realized that sales aren’t my top priority. If cash was my main concern, I would have quit running, and I definitely would have quit writing, a long time ago. Ultimately, whether this metric of money leads to rags or riches doesn’t change a different, more blissful kind of dividend that I’ve had the honor of receiving since publishing How Dare You: the bright, lively response from the bears who have read it. To hear that I’ve provided a good service brings me joy. With living legends like Rachel Fulton Brown, Jean Troy-Smith, and Owen Benjamin offering such staggering high praise as calling How Dare You a “brilliant … handbook in virtue”, comparing it to the great work of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, or an enthusiastic affirmation of “excellent, excellent writing”, I can’t help but be a little bewildered.  I mean, I’ve never been great at accepting compliments to begin with, so to put such self-congratulatory things down in written words makes me a tad fidgety. 

    Whether brilliant or not, How Dare You owes much of its layout to the combination of my upbringing and Owen’s streams. Growing up, honor culture was foreign to me. Since I started from a place of ignorance, only learning about the values of honor culture as an adult (through the Big Bear), I was able to turn around and explain it with clarity and logic. It’s like the old saying goes, “those who can’t do, teach”. It’s the most brilliant savants that make the worst teachers, because they operate on instinct, not explicit understanding. Ask the very best artist, mathematician, or soccer player how they manage such brilliant feats, and there’s a good chance they’ll give you advice that’s about as unhelpful as three cheap words under one overpriced swoosh. Stepping away from the half-truths of forced corporate resonance, the act of effective teaching, requires real understanding. The act of doing, however, requires only doing. For me, upholding the paradigm of honor culture did not begin as an obvious instinct, it had to be learned. Looking back, what a valuable lesson it has been. 

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

Of course, there are always savants that take the time to excel at both doing and understanding. These are the people that you want on your team. When Owen got booted out of Hollywood and his whole world was turned upside down, suddenly, the doing part wasn’t enough by itself. He needed to take the time to get an explicit understanding of his instincts. He needed to revisit why choosing truth over money was the right decision despite popular Hollywood opinion. Thus, the Why Didn’t They Laugh (WDTL) podcast pivoted, and the course of its new insightful direction was set. Instead of focusing on the niche of differentiating between a joke that roars and a joke that flops, WDTL began focusing on values. As much for himself as it was for the audience, Big Bear needed to explain the importance of maintaining his core mantra: “I might be wrong but I’m not lying”. What followed was a long, drawn out articulation of honor culture fundamentals, paired with the dramatization of what happens when such a brash ethic is forthrightly upheld in the modern dainty public square. 

    This turn of events took place in the days of double-digit streams. I was lucky enough to get on-board early, when I began listening around number 95. Today, we’re well past 1000 and I haven’t missed one since. Between then and now, much has been unlearned, many have been banned, and more has been built. Infrastructure like Unauthorized.tv, Unbearables Media, and The Beartaria Times, did not exist back when I first wrote down a quick jab of rhetoric from a roaring comedian named Owen Benjamin. And that’s the beauty of this whole story. The Beartarian ethic is about pursuing honor culture: we build, rather than complain, we’re defined by our light, rather than our shadows, and we aim for the good, the true, and the beautiful, rather than the wicked, the false, and the ugly. We make every effort to do our best, in pursuit of God’s moral law. 

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

One of Big Bear’s great assets has been his dismissal of prioritizing a secular authority, the primary driver behind the mainstream ethic: civility culture. This opened up the authentic freedom to travel down any conceptual road, regardless of any ruffled feathers in the secular space. As a consequence, a whole world of insights has been brought forward. Encountering an enormous conceptual mass, I made the choice to break up my writing project about Owen into three sensible parts. With that decision, one book became a trilogy, with a narrative that follows the same logical arc that Owen worked through live. How Dare You is focused on the first phase of the journey: upholding the values of honor culture.

Altogether, writing How Dare You has been a wonderful project to put together. I was able to take the scattered lessons in my mind about Honor culture and distill them down into one cohesive bundle. Every part of this process has been a joy. My hope is to build a career as a professional author, spending my mornings writing from a little office in a homestead, but I’ve realized that if I had to, I’d do this for free. For the bears yet to read How Dare You, I hope it resonates with you just as much as it did with me, and just as much as it did with those who have already closed the back cover and offered such generous and rewarding feedback. It’s been my honor to make something that good people enjoy. First and foremost, this novel was always meant to be a cathartic revisit to where this whole process started. It was written by a bear, for the bears. In terms of tone, How Dare You is stern and masculine. Like Owen, I was tough with some of my words, because I know you can handle it. Bears aren’t snowflakes; we’re comfortable with the thermal kinetics that often comes when wrestling with ideas. Think of it like a coach at half-time, whose crassness and intensity are rooted in love, knowing that we can do better. But How Dare You isn’t an exercise in brow-beating either. In addition to a deliberately stern take on the hedonic side of modernity, How Dare You also bounces around between high ground abstractions and low ground goofiness, just like Owen is apt to do. Stylistically, How Dare You is for the bears.

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

Finally, I just want to take a step back and offer a sincere thank you to everyone here. Since the start, this has been a wonderful grass roots movement to be a part of. Seeds have been sown and much has been grown. We will all be known by our fruits. With what has already developed, I’m convinced that the bears are the best people on earth. Looking forward to whatever comes next.
   

Much love everybody, 

Jacob 

Runnerbear

Website: JacobTelling.com

Beartaria Times handle: @Runnerbear

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Lifestyle

Leaving a Legacy

It means being willing to mend broken fences and rebuild some wells that have been long overgrown with weeds.

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It’s been said the best way to live today is to think about what you want to be remembered for after you’ve died. Question: When you leave this Earth, how will you be remembered?

A Tale of Two Lives

Three years ago I spoke at my Mothers memorial service after she died at 87. There were a small number in attendance made up of friends and family. Keep in mind many of her friends and family had already passed on before her. My Mother loved her God, her family, her friends and her community which she demonstrated a thousand different ways. Even on her death bed, she would share Jesus with her attendants. Mom and Dad were married for 63 years demonstrating true love and fidelity. Overall, my Mother had a lifelong positive impact on me and those she came into contact with.

35 years ago I attended the memorial service of Jack, an Elder at the church I was a member of. Jack was a retired welder who spent his time assisting and mentoring those around him. I spent many a day in Jack’s home soaking up his wisdom. Jack took a close friend of mine and taught him how to weld to the point he went on to become a certified welder. He ended up opening his own heating and cooling company.

Jack’s funeral was attended by nearly 300 people with standing room only in our little church building that day. The service lasted three hours as one person after another shared how Jack had supported him or her along life’s way. When I left that day, I had two thoughts: First, was how grateful I was to have known Jack. Second, was I want my funeral to be the same as his knowing my life had a positive impact on those I come into contact with.

It was the deaths of those two very special people, where the desire to leave a positive legacy was born.

Leaving a Positive Legacy

When you leave the company you’re currently working for, what will you be remembered for? Will you be missed or will your coworkers be happy you’re gone?  What about the friendships you’ve cultivated over the years will these friends be sad at your passing? Or will they remember all the turmoil you brought them through? What about your children? Will they miss you or will they feel as if they were robbed of not really knowing you?

My contention is most of us don’t spend enough time determining the legacy we want to leave behind. Like it or not, we leave a living legacy of everyone we have ever touched for the good or the bad.

With this in mind, why not begin right now and determine to live out a positive, Godly legacy. Start with ridding yourself of anything that detracts from being a person of integrity. Get rid of habits that keep you from operating at your full capacity. Get rid of attitudes that prevent you from seeing God’s will.

It means being willing to mend broken fences and rebuild some wells that have been long overgrown with weeds. It means being a servant minded person and not a hard hearted person who sees people as a meal ticket.

Sometimes leaving a positive legacy means standing against the evil being foisted upon you by politics, religion, business, media and peers. Taking a stand is not a popularity move, it’s a Godly move. Standing for what is right takes courage and fearlessness and has a cost to it but one well worth paying. Even if you’re the single candle in a dark cave you bring light and that’s power!

Action Steps

1) Call your parents and tell them you love them or at least you are grateful they did their best to raise you and take care of you. Even if you come from a very abusive background, acknowledging them as humans will go a long way in healing your broken heart and not passing the bitterness onto your children.

2) Call three friends you haven’t talked to in 6 months or longer and tell them how much you are grateful to have them as friends.

3) Listen to your co-worker or your employee the next time they are hurting and they need a shoulder to cry on.  Don’t pass judgment just listen.

4) Hug your children and tell them you love them and demonstrate it by spending more time with them.

5) Hug your spouse and tell them how much you love them and that you are grateful to have them as your partner and friend.

6) Thank your clients for doing business with you.

7) Be a mentor, teacher and demonstrate ethics in all you do.

8) Stop procrastinating and launch that long dreamed about venture.

9) Stop the pity party and get on with life before it passes you by.

10) Don’t give into tyrants, but resist them.

11) Create an A-Team of trustworthy friends who will have your back

If you apply some of these ideas and add your own, I know for certain you will leave a positive legacy and be fondly remembered at your funeral.

Here’s to leaving a positive legacy.

Steve Johann

P.S. Feel free to email me how this article impacted you and the results of your actions after reading it. Contact me at www.stevejohann.com and use the contact form. You can also find my work on my YouTube channel under Steve Johann and soon other digital outlets.

About: Steve Johann is a follower of Jesus, father of 3 God fearing sons and husband of their beautiful mother of 30 plus years. He operates Steve Johann Productions, has been Podcasting since 2007 his show is www.horsepowerchromeandrust.podomatic.com lastly he is passionate about educating, inspiring and motivating people through his God based teaching and writing.

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Lifestyle

The Case for Suspenders

Built For Fancy Pants, Refined by the Working Man

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Before oversized children were buying fruity branded computers and expensive puffed-up coffees while thinking up names for their tiny imitation dogs, suspenders were what REAL men wore to their labor intensive jobs. This quick dive into the recent past of men’s utility/work accessories will present what the modern man can hope to gain by adding this one item to their work attire. 

While in the Army at Camp McCall, NC, I became friends with another combat medic from one of the Ranger battalions who had just gotten back from a deployment to Afghanistan. I noticed he always opted to wear suspenders instead of a belt when he was road marching. Now a road march (or “rucking” or “humping the tick” as its also called) in our “Small Unit Tactics” course was our way of carrying all our equipment on our backs as we stalked as a platoon through the woods. Sometimes it’s also done for speed in a “timed road march” event, kind of like a marathon, but for men.

Military Tested

Having done this activity for years, I had never seen anyone wear suspenders until then. Once you’re walking with the “tick” on your back, you’re kind of stuck with whatever you’ve got on, in exactly the manner  it wants to ride. There usually isn’t any time to adjust things when you’re on the move, so you need to be very certain about what you choose to wear.

I waited until we had finished a troop movement before I tried to gather intel on his setup. As I casually questioned the man about his over-the-shoulders method of commanding his pantaloons, I took mental notes and it all seemed to check out.

He explained:

 “I went to a Korean tailor on Bragg Blvd where I had them sew buttons on my pants. These buttons were strategically placed so they wouldn’t rub on my back when the frame from my rucksack lay against my torso.” 

God bless those tiny Asian hands.

Korean tailors are a form of “camp follower” around every Army base I’d been. They can customize any piece of gear or clothing for a good price. Additionally they give a mean hair cut and make some of the best BBQ you’ll ever have.

He continued:

“I bought the suspenders at Ranger Joe’s in Ft. Benning, Ga. They loop onto the buttons, and don’t rub sores on my back like the web belt normally does when you’re running through the woods or carrying a casualty on your shoulder.” 

I’d spent many days in the rain, walking and running with the “tick” on my back. When your pants are weighed down by water and mud, your belt isn’t much good. The pants just keep sagging until one day you kneel down to take a break and the crotch rips out on your pants. I’ve seen this happen more times than I care to count. This wouldn’t happen if you wore a sturdy pair of suspenders. 

You can, of course, wear both at the same time. A belt and suspenders may sound like overkill, but if you need the upward pressure on the belt line, but also desire the knife-wielding utility of a belt, I see no better way.

Suspenders in Civilian Life

If John Rambo had just worn suspenders, he would have been way more comfortable just building useful structures and being an asset to his community. Suspenders would have acted as an emotional anchor to the way of life that built the foundation of America. 

The closest civilian activity to “road marching” is your good ol hiking and backpacking. Some of you may even be familiar with the practice of “orienteering.” You can click the link to read all about this valuable skill at Info Galactic.

I recently became reacquainted with the usefulness of these nylon shoulder harnesses. I was walking back and forth to the garage while working on my greenhouse, and noticed I kept pulling up my britches. Working outdoors on my feet all summer had trimmed down my love handles and I am back to being old Mr. Hipless Board Sides. 

While at a farm and ranch supply store, I saw and instantly purchased a set of work suspenders. This, again, was a game changer for me. No longer hindered by saggy britches, I was free to run about and focus on crushing. 

A Brief History

Although suspenders likely originated at about the same time that pants came on the scene, the first patent to improve the modern suspender was in 1871 by Mr. Mark Twain himself (under his actual name Samuel Clemens, of course).

Clemens wasn’t a fan of the same garment accessory used by Napoleon. In that day, my understanding is that the common French application was a couple strips of ribbon attached to pants with buttons. These were clearly not for those in the blacksmith trade or the carpentry and masonry fields of labor. For those tasks, you need something a bit more sturdy than Red Riding Hood’s hair ribbon. 

It is likely that suspenders were also used by royalty because of their rotundness (being fat was a sign of wealth throughout antiquity). Large bellied individuals have trouble wearing a belt as any movement will send their knickers sliding. I sometimes wonder if comedian Chris Farley would have lived a few more years had he opted for a more definitive approach to trouser stabilization.

Farmers and ranchers have kept this tradition alive out of age old wisdom. I am very grateful for their longstanding wisdom. Nowadays, the stamped metal clamps that grip the belt line of the pants have improved slightly. You still have two basic designs, in case you were wondering. I opt for the clamps, but the button on ones are still widely available. With a needle and thread, you can place the buttons wherever you please. The design really hasn’t changed since my great grandfather was getting bucked off his first horse and Teddy Roosevelt was knocking teeth loose in university boxing matches. 

My grandfather used to get bucked off his wagon (yes, it’s possible to be bucked off an entire wagon), and once he even break his leg. However, he never needed to break a sweat trying to realign his trousers because he was a man of suspenders.

So if you’re a hard working man, and share the frustration with belts, try on a sturdy pair of suspenders. You can thank me later by sending us a short description of something useful you’ve built or fixed! Send your completed article (aim for less than 1,000 words) with pictures to the appropriate section editor. I look forward to reading about your accomplishments. Until next time.

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