St. Louis Gateway Arch Phone Background

My Gateway Arch Background, in action!
My home screen, with Arch

Ever since I’ve had a smartphone, my home screen background has been a photo I took of the Gateway Arch in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. I’m a fan of simplicity, and didn’t want Apple’s bubbles, or that picture of the planet Earth (even though it is a sweet Earth, you might say), or some other stock photo. Like most people, I wanted my phone to be reflective of my life and experiences, in some way.

Well, Apple changed the screen resolution of the iPhone 5 somewhere like two years ago, and recently, I finally got around to adding an uncropped background photo to my phone’s arsenal. I like sharing cool things, so if you’re a St. Louis native (or transplant!) looking for a slick phone background, you’re more than welcome to piggyback off my photography.****

I’m uploading here both the version cropped to 1440 x 1920 pixels, which I used on iPhones 3G and 4, and an uncropped version of 2736 x 3648, which looks great on the iPhone 5 and 5S. While I experimented with cropping the full version to the iPhone 5S’s native resolution of 640 x 1136, and then to double and triple its native resolution, even adding a border to account for iOS 7’s perspective zoom, I’ve found that the full version looks best and is the most plastic. Furthermore, if you are a user of some other mobile operating systems (Android, Windows, etc.), this will allow you to use, shape and position the background how you see fit.

This photo was taken in May 2009, and features a partial eclipse of the Sun by the apex of the Arch. I edited the image in iPhoto and Gimp to bring out the detail of the Arch’s stainless steel plates as much as possible. Hope you enjoy!

Arch Background - Full Version
Arch Background – Full Version
Arch Background - iPhone 3/4 Version
Arch Background – iPhone 3/4 Version

**** Individuals are free to use these images on their personal devices for personal purposes only. Implied consent is not give for any use other than your phone’s (or other mobile device’s) background. Organizations or corporate entities are not free to use these images for any reason. This should be pretty clear, but in case it’s not, you can tweet me @heatonrob.

An Alternate Logo?

Hockey teams have alternate logos and sweaters/jerseys all the time. Why can’t I have an alternate logo?

I designed this during some idle time in a class last week. Don’t judge me.

You’ll be seeing this logo on my third jersey…


I pledge to post an in-depth update sometime soon, likely after next Tuesday when my final exams are complete and I’ve had some time to celebrate a successful semester. Until then, enjoy the auto-posts I have set up! Ciao!

A Quote For Your Ponderance

I may be stacks of books deep in an exegetical analysis of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a good heresy-related quote when I see one! When life returns to normal, I may comment in some depth about this, but for now, just read this while imagining me doing jumping jacks and celebrating like Albert Pujols just hit a miraculous home run off Brad Lidge.

The unacknowledged heresy underlying most modern English versions of the Bible is the use of translation as a vehicle for explaining the Bible instead of representing it in another language, and in the most egregious instances this amounts to explaining away the Bible.

Quote taken from Robert Alter's "The Five Books of Moses" (2004); Screengrab from FOX television in October 2005.

My Mark of Shame

While I have no idea what this means to medical personnel, to me it’s a mark of shame. It announces loudly and proudly my invalidity, or rather that I can’t donate blood without blacking out.

The back story is pretty boring. I’ve tried to give blood twice before today, once in high school. That first time, I found out the hard way that my veins are somewhat difficult to find, and that when poked and prodded for a while, eventually I’ll get all light-headed and black out. The second time wasn’t the best experience in the world, as I was left feeling queasy despite my successful donation.

Today, Anderson University was holding a blood drive at the wellness center, so after working out I decided that the third time would be the proverbial charm. I told Patrick, the lucky man who ended up drawing my blood, about the previous experiences, but to my delight he found my vein rather quickly. The donation was going really well; in fact, I got through 4-5 pages in my Ehrman book Misquoting Jesus before anything went awry. From there, however, things went downhill pretty quickly. I had the surreal thought that I didn’t feel too well, and while losing consciousness I managed to say “Sir…” twice, because the first time I did not get Patrick’s attention.

I came back to life with four people around me, including one nice girl imploring me to have a drink of Coke. “Crap,” I thought, it happened again. (I should have known it was a bad omen when I walked in to the blood-drawing area, however. I watched another girl pass out just before they asked me all kinds of questions about whether I’d had sex with prostitutes or Africans since 1977, and the like.)

Finishing up, Patrick bandaged my arm and sent me on to the snack table. I didn’t see anyone else get the Red X Mark of Shame Bandage™ besides me, however. Patrick’s parting words to me were: “Maybe you should reconsider donating blood.”

Well, okay, thanks. I do understand the sentiment, because I basically wasted their time and resources with what didn’t result in a full bag of blood… but at least I tried, right? Oh well. As of Wednesday, September 8, 2010, I am officially an ex-blood donor. I’ll keep all of my valuable O-positive blood to myself. Take that, American Red Cross!


Just a brief note: I’ve added a small blogroll to my right widget margin, and I may put up a few other nifty things. I know that I have several bloggy-minded friends, and I’d love to add your blog to the list. If you’d do the same for me, I wouldn’t mind that at all! Leave me a note in the comments, or by some other convenient form of communication if you’d like. Thanks for reading, once again!

“The Spirit of Truth”

For a topical post today, I present you with a glorious trio of YouTube videos of a “preacher” from Los Angeles public television in the late 90’s. Warning, he comes in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you’re interested, Know Your Meme has more on this guy, including this nugget of wisdom:

A segment called The Spirit of Truth featured self-proclaimed deity and foul mouthed evangelical preacher Don Vincent (credited as Vincent Stewart). The show was eventually canceled when Vincent dropped trou on air and requested that viewers “look for sin.”

Beware, the videos are very vulgar. They will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Hopefully, if and when I try to impart words of wisdom, they don’t come out quite like this. Enjoy!

A Ducklike Faith

Millie is the newest addition to our family. She’s eight years old, but has been taken care of for the last six by my parents in St. Louis. And with my grandmother and aunt possibly moving in with my parents, Millie needed to move. Lauren and I were happy to take her. Millie is enjoying life here, and she’s more content than I ever thought possible in an apartment complex for the very first time.

Having Millie around gives me a reason, for the first time, to walk around my apartment complex’s pond. After a few walks I connected the stale and soon-to-be-thrown-away bread in our pantry to the large population of ducks that quack around the pond. Feeding the ducks last night was a humorous adventure, because absent for the first time were three large, dominant and overly social white ducks who ended up taking most of the bread. Anyway, the ducks’ behavior last night gave me some insight as to how we must appear to God.

I first found the ducks resting along the shore in a loose huddle. As I got ever-closer (with Millie snooping around on her leash), the ducks started to stand up and walk away. A few seconds later, they were more or less running for the water, but then I tossed out a piece of bread, which caused the duck closest to me to do a complete 180, almost defying the laws of physics and now in a full run toward the bread. The duck didn’t accept this piece, but it did take one that I later threw that happened to land closer to him and further away from Millie and I. At this point, other ducks who had bailed from their peaceful shoreline resting place took notice of the bread, but didn’t turn around because they weren’t about to challenge the duck no longer confined by the Laws of Newton.

Eventually they are all in the water, and Millie and I are standing on the rocky shore, a safe distance away from my perspective – but probably too close for comfort in the eyes of the ducks, who at this point cared more about the sharp-toothed beast looking for a place to poop. I would throw out pieces of bread, several at a time so that not one duck could dominate the others, and that everyone could get a fair share if he wanted it. Quickly, they ate up the aeronautically-challenged morsels. But there was a distinct pause between the times I threw some pieces, like a backhanded frisbee, and instead had to tear off pieces from my slices of bread.

During these pauses, the ducks would universally turn from me, toward the center of the pond and swim away at a slow (but definite) pace. In doing so, they would each be going their own divergent way – one west, one northwest, one southwest, and so on – but all as if intentionally going back to whatever it is that beckons ducks to operate. And then, I’m finally able to throw another handful of bread toward the ducks, and they return on double-time to compete for each piece that lands anywhere near their beaks.

This pattern repeats itself several times over. All the while, other ducks that are further away, say at the center of the pond, are meticulously making their way over to the shore to discover the source of all of the commotion. They make it close enough to us as I’m running out of bread, and they are still far enough off that my best throw wouldn’t reach them. And as a duck quickly scoops up my last piece, those that I’ve fed are again swimming divergently away from me, each quacking loudly at one another (and the spectator ducks still a ways off) as if arguing over what just happened, the significance of Millie, which duck was my favorite, or some other nonsense.

You are free to make your own conclusions from this, or write it off as insignificant, but in my mind we must appear to God in a similar fashion. In general, we come every week (or at least semi-regularly) to be spiritually fed, leaving to spend the rest of the week or month at our favorite place on the pond. We’ll turn toward God enough to satisfy our needs, but we can’t bear waiting around there for something that, to us, provides no value or worth. And we spend much of our time comfortable in our own divisions of people and ideas, yapping at one another to prove how right we are, or at least how loud and intelligent we can sound.

For better or for worse, I’ll never view a simple act like feeding the ducks at my apartment complex’s pond the same way again. Surely, life is meant to be lived in the world, or on the pond, as it were. But can’t we at least make it our goal to quibble less about the insignificant and turn toward the shore?