Sunday, September 21, 2008

Opening the Lotus by Sandy Boucher

opening the lotus

Title: Opening the Lotus: A Woman's Guide to Buddhism

Author: Sandy Boucher

Summary: When I first saw this book at my favorite used bookstore in Boulder Colorado (the Bookworm) I was intrigued. The inside jacket begins the summary of the book by asking the question… “Do women take a unique approach to spirituality?” I read the question closed the book and thought…”Well sure… don’t they?” Wanting to explore the topic of female spirituality more I picked it up and finally after months of having the book in my possession I read it last weekend.

Boucher’s book is set up as a general guidebook and a personal journal. Inserted into the chapters are Boucher’s own experiences that lead her to the theories and ideas she often writes about in her books. Many of the stories are of her first experience with Buddhism and her female spiritual teacher. Mixed throughout is feminist theory and insight. From history to a guide on Buddhist practices Boucher’s book generally covers a large scope.

Favorite Quotes:
"Imagine a great net spread across the universe. Each juncture is a “being,” and if we imagine that consciousness as a drop of dew, we can see that in each shining drop resides the reflection of every other drop on the net."

Rating: Well… first I would have to you if have any interest in Buddhism. If you do not, don’t bother with the book. There is a lot of history and description of Buddhist practices and temples that I found intriguing, but to the unwilling reader it will be boring. The personal narratives are not compelling enough to appeal to any reader and the feminist theory is dated and somewhat biased (the book was first published in 1997).

Now if you have an interest in Buddhist history or practice you may consider this book. It is written as a general outline and for those who are unfamiliar, yet interested it is written clearly and concisely. I personally enjoyed the chapter on Buddhist meditation halls. As a Zen Buddhist I was unfamiliar with the Theravada and Varayana practices. Boucher offers a nice overview of the meditation hall differences.

Because of the nice overview of the different types of Buddhism I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. As I mentioned the personal narrative is not compelling and the question that intrigued me in the first place, was never really answered. If you liked this view please be sure to use my Amazon links. You can buy Opening the Lotus here...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Photohunters: Road

Jolly Green Giant

My husband and I have been together for eight years now and much of our time together has been on trips all around the country. We both love to travel and have been everywhere in the US except the North East. We met in college (undergrad) and after my last class for my BA in Psych (literally right after the graduation ceremony) we went on an all summer long trip to Florida and back to Colorado. The little Vanagon in this picture is our first home on the road together. I took this shot back in 2000 (the picture you are looking at is a photo of a photo) in Blue Earth Minnesota. I choose this one for the theme this week because when I think of the word road I cannot help but think about all the trips we have taken together and this shot was from early on in our first trip together.

Edited to add... in the comments section of this post I was asked if that is the Jolly Green Giant in the background...Yes it is and he was HUGE! I have other pictures of the two of us standing under him and his ankle towered over us. We found out about him in one of the AAA guides and traveled to Blue Earth just to see him. Also someone asked me if the sign in the photo said crafts...actually it said Rafts, there was a local place down that road that rented rafts for a nearby lake.

Photohunters Themes| My photohunter pictures | Zen Home

Nikon D300 Review

Amanda and Nikon D300

Another new addition to my little camera family has arrived this week. I mentioned earlier that I was also looking into a higher grade professional camera. Well after months of research (and waiting for the perfect sale price somewhere) I finally decided on the Nikon D300 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only). Since I already had two lens (I really love my Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor Lens) I decided to look around for the body only. Amazon has the camera for an amazing price (click the click to see more details), it was truly the best deal I could find out there on the body only, but other places like Costco (who has a really good return policy in case anything should go wrong) also sells the D300.

So here are the pros of the Nikon D300
• 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor
• It is fast, super fast! If you are using an entry level DSLR like the D60 you will be blown away by the speed of focus and shutter in the D300.
• Live view- which is a nice feature to help you compose the shot.
• 51 –point auto focus!!! Yes it truly does offer 51 points of auto focus and it makes all areas of the photo cleaner and more accurate. This is one of my favorite features of the Nikon D300.
• Dust Reduction Sensor
• Customizable settings within the Picture Control Settings. You can adjust the saturation, hue and white balance for each different setting to fine tune your shots.
• Active D-Lighting to help with better tones and shadows…very nice feature that truly makes a difference. • Magnesium-alloy construction- This camera looks and feels tough.
• For more on the features and specs you can visit Nikon’s D300 website.
• The battery is awesome! After a couple of days of shooting at 800 shots I still have battery life. I cannot believe it!
• At $1500 (Amazon deal) for the body he really is very reasonably priced for a pro DSLR

A couple of downsides to the D300:

I love the D300 and it is hard to come up with any negative things about the camera, so far it has been a dream. But here are some things to consider before purchasing.

• This is a professional grade camera and many of the settings you need to do manually. If you are an amateur or just a hobbyist you may consider buying one of the entry level DSLR before buying the D300. Try the Nikon D60 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lensfor a good entry level Nikon DSLR.
• The menus are a little hard to navigate at first, but once you know where everything is you can change things quickly and with ease.
• He is a big boy! This camera is heavy (but don’t we expect that from professional cameras anyway)

Some of my early shots with the D300: (I am still adjusting the settings but you get the general idea)


light inside (2)

Light Bulb (2)

2 lights (2)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Photohunters: Wild

Southern Toad (7)


Since we moved to Florida in late May 2008 from Colorado I have seen things in the wild that I had never seen in person before. The toad and the frog above are regulars around our household. In the mornings instead of hearing the birds singing I often hear the frogs. It is really pretty neat.

Photohunters Themes| My photohunter pictures | Zen Home

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Photohunters: String(s)

prayer flags 2

I love the idea of prayer flags. They were once brand new and bright, and after time and weather they become stringy, ripped and faded, but the thought behind them remains.

Photohunters Themes| My photohunter pictures | Zen Home