Rural Iowa Photos (9 Dec 2018)

Below are some photos taken in the Kent Park area on 18 Nov 2018. Here I’m sharing the 1920×1080 size versions of the photos for people use as desktop wallpaper or enjoy in other ways. They also make for fun tablet or smartphone wallpaper. If you’d like to use any of these for commercial purposes, if you’d like the originals, or have any questions about this collection of photos, feel free to contact me. Thanks!

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Camera and Settings Used

I was using a Canon 6D Mark II camera. For the photos that seem to have more saturation, I had selected the Vivid or Intense options available in the CA camera setting. See page 102 of the instruction manual for further details about these features. I was using the 24-105mm USM lens that came with the camera. Although I didn’t have a tripod, the Canon Image Stabilization (second generation) seemed to work well enough.

I was able to use the automatic mode for most of the photos. The camera’s choice of aperture, speed, ISO, and focal point were acceptable. Sometimes I’d switch to manual focus and at times used Aperture Priority when I wanted more control over the shot. Learn more about Aperture Priority on page 238 of the Canon 6D II instruction manual.

The Intense color setting can result in photos that seem too dark. However, using Intense that then later using software to increase the exposure will result in photos that are less washed out than if the photo had been taken without these color enhancement options. The Vivid setting is a less saturated option, but sometimes isn’t enough.

Rural Iowa Photos

Here’s the gallery of rural Iowa photos. Click any image for a larger gallery view. Enjoy!

Kent Park Photos (18 Nov 2018)

Below are some photos taken in the Kent Park area on 18 Nov 2018. Here I’m sharing the 1920×1080 size versions of the photos for people use as desktop wallpaper or enjoy in other ways. They also make for fun tablet or smartphone wallpaper. If you’d like to use any of these for commercial purposes, if you’d like the originals, or have any questions about this collection of photos, feel free to contact me. Thanks!

20120224fr-greg-signature

Camera and Settings Used

I was using a Canon 6D Mark II camera. For the photos that seem to have more saturation, I had selected the Vivid or Intense options available in the CA camera setting. See page 102 of the instruction manual for further details about these features. I was using the 24-105mm USM lens that came with the camera. Although I didn’t have a tripod, the Canon Image Stabilization (second generation) seemed to work well enough.

I was able to use the automatic mode for most of the photos. The camera’s choice of aperture, speed, ISO, and focal point were acceptable. Sometimes I’d switch to manual focus and at times used Aperture Priority when I wanted more control over the shot. Learn more about Aperture Priority on page 238 of the Canon 6D II instruction manual.

The Intense color setting can result in photos that seem too dark. However, using Intense that then later using software to increase the exposure will result in photos that are less washed out than if the photo had been taken without these color enhancement options. The Vivid setting is a less saturated option, but sometimes isn’t enough.

Kent Park Area Photos

Here’s the gallery of Kent Park photos. Click any image for a larger gallery view. Enjoy!

Greg Johnson – Personal Update 201505

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Personal Update 201505 | 30 May 2015 | Saturday

Greetings,

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read my latest update.

Health

This past month I’ve started riding my bike more. I’ve been seeing more success with weight loss and overall wellness. As we head into the summer, with the longer days, I hope to do more riding. We have some great trails in the Iowa City area. I’m also hoping to get back to the gym. Hopefully in my next update I’ll have more good news.

Politics

As you may know, over the years I’ve had an interest in politics. I recently updated the Political Resource Group web page. A few years ago, I launched AGovernmentOfThePeople.com civics website, which continues to grow. Today I had the opportunity to go hear Bernie Sanders speak in Iowa City. Fortunately I was able to get an ideal seat for making a video recording of the event. I’ve shared the video on YouTube and Vimeo. You can watch the Vimeo version below.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/129315899]

Music

It’s nice to get a chance to connect with musicians and to somehow be a help to them. Music empowers people to live more joyfully and effectively. It soothes, entertains, brings healing, inspires, and energizes. In recent years, I’ve enjoyed working with people in the music industry on promoting their work. In 2011, I was contacted by an agent working with Sardar Khan on his latest music video “Show ’em All” and then later that year, was asked to help promote a project Sardar developed with Snoop Dogg, “High off the Fame,” which now has over 600,000 views.  In 2012, I was contacted by the producer for Kage Sparks and asked to assist with promoting his latest works. My favorite videos from Kage Sparks are “African Dream” and “Shaka Zulu.” In recent years, I’ve been working with Marq Divine on promoting his work.

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

~ Greg

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Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 15 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Greg Johnson – Personal Update 201504

Personal Update 201504 | 30 April 2015 | Thursday

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Greetings,

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read my latest update.

Technology. A few weeks ago, I had a nice radio interview with Asa Crowe on KRUI for the Poli-Tech Tuesday show. We had a good talk about various technology related issues. The show is available online if you’re interested in listening.

Health. I created a video that describes the current version of my wellness program. It’s about 30 minutes long. I hope to create separate shorter videos that go into more depth about each aspect of the program.

Small Houses. This past weekend, on April 25, I gave a small house presentation at the Big Tiny House Event hosted by Luther College in Decorah. It was nice to see the campus and meet so many enthusiastic small house people. On April 14, I was able to be a guest speaker for a sustainability course at Virginia Tech. They were interested in how small houses can benefit the environment. A few weeks ago, I did a Skype interview with Fox News New York that was included in a nice news segment about small houses.

Architecture. In 1984, I traveled to Central and South America as part of the South American Urban Studies (SAUS) program offered through the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA). From that experience and others, my interest in architecture and urban planning have grown, and small houses are a part of that interest. To me ‘architecture’ encompasses all aspects of how we plan, build, and improve the spaces we live in. As a photographer, I’m drawn to the patterns, texture, and lighting of buildings. As the manager for the Iowa City Architecture website, I enjoy aggregating local planning and development news. I also contribute some articles. My most recent writing, from this past week, is “Population Growth: To Build Up, or to Build Out.” I also created a video on the topic of ambient lighting in urban areas.

Goat Rental Business. On April 7, I began offering goat rentals nationwide through my Amazon store. You might enjoy the artwork I did for the campaign. It shows a goat being delivered by Amazon drone. I don’t personally have a herd of goats. I’m actually a reseller for people who offer the services. When you have an Amazon store like I do, you can sell anything offered by Amazon and make a commission.

Consumer Advocacy. This past month, the KIND Snacks company received a stern warning letter from the FDA. Apparently the FDA decided nuts aren’t healthy, and KIND was the company they chose to make an example of. I decided to do a little research into this, and my findings might interest you. You can click here read my report. It bugs me when a good company is getting bullied, so I decided to award KIND Bars an award for Most Nutritious Healthy Snack and Transparency in Labeling. It’s frustrating when the FDA uses taxpayer resources to launch a smear campaign against what is possibly one of the best natural raw foods providers in the nation. This is really an important story because every major news media outlet in the nation got the story wrong (reporting that KIND bars aren’t healthy), except for Huffington Post which reported “Why The FDA Action Against KIND Bars Doesn’t Mean They’re Unhealthy.” That headline should have been everywhere, but wasn’t.

Reflections on Tolerance. It seems like there have been waves of news stories lately relating to intolerance in some form or another. On April 24, I wrote a short article on the topic of tolerance.

Advertising. Since I was young, I’ve had an interest in advertising. I continue to follow advertising news, and occasionally write about it. I like advertising that inspires and also ads that are funny. A few weeks ago I wrote about the latest Taco Bell ad campaign.  They created an elaborate video and launched two websites for the campaign.

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

~ Greg

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Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began over a decade ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways, health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Virginia Tech, Tiny Houses, and Distance Education in Higher Ed

Virginia Tech is utilizing distance education technologies to bring specialists into the classroom.  On 14 April 2015, I had the opportunity to be a visiting guest for a sustainability course taught by Luke Juran. Using Skype I was able to present and interact with the students in the course. Below is a photo from our Skype session.

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I’ve been inspired by the increased interest in tiny houses among students and faculty in higher education. Those focusing on sustainability and urban planning are incorporating smaller and more efficient living spaces into our built spaces. This tells me that we’re reaching a point of critical mass within the small house movement.

As a technology support specialist at the University of Iowa, I enjoy exploring how we can utilize technology for enhancing education. At the University of Iowa, through the Division of Continuing Education, courses are offered through Distance and Online Education.

Continuing education typically delivers certificates, degrees, and professional training to people with full-time jobs who do their studying in the evenings and weekends. In addition to schedule conflicts, people pursuing their career may find their ideal career location doesn’t put them close to the educational institution of their choice. So, distance education provides a great service.

In the past I assisted in teaching a course that utilized various classrooms on campus with multi-camera and multi-microphone systems to enhance the connection with an instructor in California.

More recently I had an opportunity to provide some technical support for a course being conducted by the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and Ohio State University. The course, Two Koreas: Political Economy and Regional Rivalry, had students on three campuses participating.

Combining the on-campus experience with efficiencies of distance and online technologies, creates the best of both worlds. The in-class experience gives students a chance to meet in person. The online component helps expand the campus to include a richer diversity of students and draw from a wider selection of faculty.

Tolerance of Those Who Are Intolerant, Racist, and Bigoted

Many years ago, I was walking to shul on Shabbos with a Jewish friend and we were discussing anti-Semitism. At the time, there’d been a rise in world-wide attacks on synagogues and an increase in anti-Semitic propaganda. We talked about the futility of direct engagement with hateful intolerant racists and bigots.

I looked at my friend and said, “I think the best response to anti-Semitism is more Judaism.” Having more people living an authentic and compassionate Judaism engaged in acts of kindness and Tikkun Olam is the best antidote for anti-Semitism.

I’m not Jewish, but over the years I’ve periodically participated in the faith and found it to be thought provoking, inspiring, and a source of wisdom for how to live a more abundant life. During times of persecution, being intentional about supporting and connecting with Jewish community seems like a good thing to do. Promoting acceptance and understanding is always a good choice.

A few years ago, in one community suffering from a wave of anti-Jewish attacks, hundreds of households put menorahs in their windows as a gesture of solidarity. This also made it difficult for any one household to be singled out.

Unfortunately, ignorance, bigotry, hatred, and intolerance seem to be part of the same parasitic disease that has continued to harm humanity over the centuries. We imagine that society will advance beyond these things. That’s the hope at least. Yet, dormant intolerance rises again, like some kind of recurring skin rash.

Today, hate crimes against blacks are on the rise. Innocent unarmed black people are getting shot in the streets in broad daylight. “Someone call the police!” might be a reasonable response, except it’s the police who are doing the shooting.

Muslims are probably tied for first place with regard to persecution and being misunderstood, at least in America.

The LGBT community continues to struggle for their rights in the face of intolerance and hatred.

What’s the appropriate response?

Negative stereotypes and misrepresentations in the news serve as fertilizer for hatred and misunderstanding. So, an appropriate and effective response is to flood the media and social media with positive images and positive portrayals of blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays, and people from any other persecuted or misunderstood minority group. This can help counteract the negativity of harmful propaganda.

It’s important for young people growing up to have healthy and positive views about themselves and others. If you’re part of a minority group — it’s important to grow up seeing that you are part of a group that is prosperous, successful, accepted, and respected.

Positive portrayals in advertising, movies, television, and popular media can go a long way to instill confidence in young people, as explained in this quote from Whoopi Goldberg:

“Well, when I was nine years old Star Trek came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.” ~ Whoopi Goldberg

If you’re part of the majority, it’s important to have repeated positive images and portrayals of minorities that you might not otherwise have contact with.

A recent high profile incident regarding LGBT intolerance is the story about Memories Pizza of Walkerton, Indiana. This is the restaurant that refused to cater a same-sex wedding. Overnight, the small town pizza shop became the target of a verbal firestorm of vitriolic language expressing anger and hatred over their intolerance of same-sex marriage. Their Facebook page continues to be inundated with hateful responses to their position on same-sex marriage.

In the midst of the backlash of anger, a lesbian couple from California sent a $20 donation to the pizza shop. According to a report in the Huffington Post on 18 April 2015:

Courtney Hoffman, who is a California resident, said she hoped her $20 donation would be seen as an apology for the “hate and intolerance” that has been directed at Memories Pizza, and added that she “fully” supports the pizzeria owners’ right to “stand up” for their beliefs, TheBlaze first reported.

“My girlfriend and I are small business owners, and we think there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” she said in the interview, which can be found here. “If we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”

Hoffman, who operates a small kettle corn stand with her girlfriend, also noted, “If we can remember that differences don’t equal maliciousness, and try to find what we have in common … maybe we can move beyond threats of violence and have open discussions of the things that we don’t agree on.”

Courtney Hoffman’s action above is an excellent example of effective activism. It’s also a genuine and sincere act of kindness that hopefully can open doors, build bridges, promote understanding, and bring about positive social change.

It’s probably human nature to respond ‘in kind’ to whatever comes our way. If someone yells at us, we yell back. If they call us names, we call them names. The problem, of course, is that this causes us to get sucked into engaging in the very same behavior that we’re protesting.

It turns out that the owner of Memories Pizza is not vehemently anti-gay, but simply doesn’t support gay marriage. While that may sound moderately anti-gay to some people, there is a difference. Had the pizza owner met some nice married gay couples, he might have changed his stance on gay marriage. Unfortunately, voices of reason and and understanding were drowned out by all the hateful responses.

In the midst of these conflicts, I wonder to myself, “Why do we become intolerant of people who are intolerant of people to show that being intolerant is wrong?”

Courtney’s example reminds us to take the higher road. We can stop protesting what we’re against and instead boldly and bravely live out what we are for.

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Additional Reflections

It’s relevant to point out that there’s a growing subculture of conservative evangelical Christians who probably feel that they are a misunderstood minority — being portrayed by the media as an extremist and hateful people who are bitter and “clinging to guns or religion.”

In April 2008, President Barack Obama stated about evangelical conservatives:

“…it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” (source)

Obama isn’t alone in this viewpoint. His statement reflects how conservative evangelicals are often portrayed by mainstream media.

In the same way the media focuses on Muslim religious extremists and militants, it also focuses on Christian religious extremists and militants. Religious conservatives (of any religion) are generally portrayed as angry, isolated, uneducated, and bitter — a group that nobody would want to belong to.

Interestingly, what are perceived to be the most ‘religious’ evangelicals are actually very outspoken against religion. There’s a belief among many Christians that religious structures of worship, thought, interaction, and living hinder the influence of the Holy Spirit. The subtleties and nuances of the faith and ‘a relationship with Jesus’ are found in living out a less religiously-structured worship and life of faith. Religion with its huge administrative top-down institutions, detailed doxology, and written prayer books becomes something larger and noisier than the still small voice — and thus a distraction.

In an interview on the Jon Stewart show, Mike Huckabee proclaimed “I’m a conservative, but I’m not angry about it.”

Huckabee was known for that statement because he’d use it in may speeches and television interviews. It was an important clarification to make since people like him are otherwise being portrayed as angry at the world.

There are many evangelical conservatives who aren’t uneducated, angry, or bitter. They just want to have the freedom to live their own life in a conservative religious way.

So, ironically, a group that’s often portrayed as the oppressor (conservative evangelicals), actually isn’t that large in number and is itself in danger of being an oppressed or misunderstood minority group. In some respects, conservative evangelicals are an endangered sub-culture that no longer have a cultural ecosystem to support and affirm its existence.

It’s not the case anymore that “the man” is keeping a certain group down, but we have disagreeing factions of minority groups and special interests who are all to some degree oppressed by another — fighting over jobs, political influence, and power.

The Importance of Digital Storytelling Through Social Media

Digital storytelling through social media is increasingly becoming an essential component of outreach for organizations and businesses. It’s especially important in higher education.

  • Informing. It’s how we inform the public and those within our institution about the work we do.
  • Hiring. It’s how we get the attention and interest of potential staff and instructors seeking employment.
  • Recruiting. It’s how we reach prospective students.
  • Fundraising. It’s how we inspire alumni and others from the community to give.
  • Motivating. It’s how we inspire ourselves to be encouraged about the work we do.
  • Documenting. It’s how we journal our experiences to create a collective institutional memory and history. These stories can document the what and how of processes.
  • Educating. In addition to telling stories, we can share about the process. This becomes an educational, transparent, and open-source way of equipping others to tell their stories.

Below are some photos from recent work I’ve been doing in the area of digital storytelling, and sharing the behind the scenes experiences of how we’re documenting our work — what technology and process is used.

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Michael O’Hara (center). Greg Johnson (behind camera at left). Developing an informational video for the Marcé Society.

Neema Loy shares about her @FulbrightPrgrm experience @UIOWA teaching ‪#‎Swahili‬ with the @DWLLC_UIOWA
Neema Loy shares about her @FulbrightPrgrm experience @UIOWA teaching ‪#‎Swahili‬ with the @DWLLC_UIOWA

Ambient Light Planning for Urban Public Spaces (Video)

Greg Johnson of IowaCityArchitecture.com discusses strategies for managing ambient natural light in urban and public spaces.

This is a companion video to the article on urban planning strategies to enhance available light. The image below and other examples can be found in the video.

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Open-Source, Public Domain, Open Access, Collaborative, Universal Design Wellness Protocol

I’m excited to be developing an open-source, public domain, open access, collaborative, universal design wellness protocol to simultaneously address various health issues such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. The glucose numbers you see below of 87 and 88 were over 300 about 7 weeks ago. Over the same time period, I’ve lost about 14 pounds. Blood pressure, once at 141 over 90 is now down to 118 over 79. More astonishing results to be posted in the weeks to come. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the project so far. You can read my latest post online at http://wp.me/p4ilax-h8

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Radio Interview with Asa Crowe on the KRUI Poli-Tech Tuesday Show

I had the pleasure to be a guest on the Poli-Tech Tuesday show on KRUI with Asa Crowe and Arianna Chronis. In about 30 minutes, we covered technology on campus and a lot of other topics. The interview is available below. Click the play button to listen.

About the Interview

I was a sophomore at the University of Iowa when KRUI was launched. As IOWA alumni, it was meaningful to be at the station today during the weeks leading up to their 30-year anniversary celebration.

It was nice to have a chance to visit with Asa about the various technology resources available on campus. Here are some of the topics we discussed during the interview, and links to further reading:

  • Flipping the Classroom – We discussed the approach to instruction that involves delivering lectures and course content online outside of class time and focusing class time on interactive, participatory, and engaging learning activities.
  • GarageBand – An Apple program for multitrack recording and music composition on desktop computers or iOS touch interface devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad).
  • ITS Help Desk – The central source on campus where you can get support for all things tech.
  • Language Media Center – A computer and technology lab on campus for language learning and media services. The LMC is part of the Division of World Languages, Literatures & Cultures.
  • Lynda.UIOWA.edu – Over 100,000 video tutorials on topics such as: Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, Adobe Suite (Acrobat, Photoshop, etc.), Apple products (iPad, iPhone, etc.), Web and mobile app design, Development and Programming, Google Products, Time management, running effective meetings, and Business skills (leadership and manager fundamentals, etc.).
  • Online Education @UIOWA – The University of Iowa offers Distance Education and online learning opportunities. This is explained on the Continuing Ed website as follows: “Online. On campus. On location. This phrase describes what Continuing Education at Iowa stands for: providing access to a nationally-ranked public institution to as many people as possible. In addition to where you take your course, there are a variety of ways the course is delivered. Many distance courses use the Internet to deliver course work to your desktop. Some distance degree programs or courses are offered on-location, such as Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, the Quad Cities, Sioux City, and Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in northwest Iowa. While still others are offered at the Iowa City campus, many at nontraditional times. Distance courses vary in delivery format and are supported with various technologies. Some are structured so you can complete them at a time that is most convenient for you (like our Guided Independent Study courses), while others provide a more specific set of deadlines and opportunities to collaborate with classmates.” [Facebook]
  • Stanford Open University – An example of higher education courses and reading materials made openly available to the public.
  • Tech Connection – The University of Iowa Bookstore computer center and authorized Apple repair center. [Facebook]
  • Two Koreas: Political Economy and Regional Rivalry – A course being delivered collaboratively by the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, and the University of Michigan. This is a CourseShare course offered by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).
  • UI Capture – The University of Iowa lecture capture system that provides recordings of the audio, PowerPoint presentations, and other content from class lectures.
  • University of Iowa Photography Club – The UIPC has over 500 members on their Facebook Group page. Their organization page is just over 260 likes. The club offers various opportunities to meet other photographers, participate in photography events, and learn at workshops and presentations. The Iowa City Photographers Guild is another local photography group.

Music

Below is a video sample of my music and photography. The song is “Arpeggio Rising.” The photos are from 28 days in India. More of my music is available on ReverbNation and SoundCloud.

Thanks For Sharing

I appreciate the interest everyone has had in this story, and those who have shared this post on Facebook and elsewhere. The maps below show recent visitors to this page. Click any map image for a larger gallery view.


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