Monday, February 29, 2016

Leonardo DiCaprio Gets First Oscar

While I used to resent him merely because how girls my age would swoon over him ever since Titanic, as I aged I started to respect him a lot as an actor. While nominated a few times, he never had an Oscar before 2016. But now he's gotten his first for his role in the movie The Revenant, which I haven't seen but plan on to. I also appreciated after he got done thanking his friends, colleagues, and family, he used the time left to address the issue of climate change with the millions watching. You know it's a serious issue when they had to move the filming of The Revenant because Canada was too warm and didn't have enough snow. 

The Brothers Solomon (2007 Film) Review

 I remember when The Brothers Solomon came out in theaters in 2007. It seemed like a goofy movie though I never saw it back then, and I was little shocked of how badly it did with both critics and regular folks. Not many people really wanted to see the movie, and even less liked it. Richard Roeper (from At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper) apparently hated the movie so much he walked out of it, citing it as the first movie for him to do so. But The Brothers Solomon couldn't possibly be that terrible? Could it?

Fact of the Day: Hillary Trump

While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are very likely to face off against each other in the 2016 presidential election, they have had friendly past despite their more recent political attacks against each other. She went to Donald Trump's wedding to Melania Knauss in 2005. In 2008 Donald Trump said she'd make a good president or vice president. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Valentines 2016

 My wife Daisy loves Valentines Day. Especially as she gets all kinds of candy and gifts during it. She really loves the panda bear I got her.

Fact of the Day: English Barbados

While Spain and Portugal had visited the island before, England was the first European country to establish a permanent settlement on the island of Barbados. It was claimed in the name of King James I in 1625, and stayed under British rule until its independence in 1966. Queen Elizabeth II is still technically the monarch and the ceremonial head of state. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Funny Story: Cookie Dinner

I once worked as a produce clerk for a supermarket, and I often would be the "closer". I lived about 8 miles away, so if I wanted something there I usually got it on a work-day. Which meant I'd usually get it on my lunch break. I saw a pack of cookies on special, so I got it after I ate lunch. I didn't want to walk out to my car (as they made us park FAR away), so I just took the bag back with me to my department where I put my keys. A lady saw me and asked me if that was my dinner as she was worried. I have seen really awful excuses for lunches (like a soda and a bag of chips) from other people, but really? 

Fact of the Day: Trump Parties

While Donald Trump is running for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, he isn't a life-long Republican. Before 1987 he was a Democrat, then in 1987-1999 he considered himself a Republican before switching to the Reform Party. In 2001 he considered himself a Democrat again until 2009 when he became a Republican. He turned Independent from 2011-2012, until he became a Republican once again.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Random Photo: February 2016 Snow

In early February we got another storm of winter weather. This time it was all snow, which I didn't think would do much at first. Then I had to go out and clean my car off as I had to drive later and the roads were too warm for the snow to do much. Then not even 2 hours later, it got warmer and then all the snow melted.  

Fact of the Day: Simo Hayha

Simo Hayha was a Finnish sniper during the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union which also took place during World War II. The Red Army was so scared of him that they nick-named him White Death as he is believed to have killed 505 soldiers. The Soviets went to great efforts to destroy him, and they managed to severely injure him in the face. He recovered, and eventually died in 2002 at the age of 96.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985 Film) Review

The concept of classic characters being in a tale where they are much younger isn't that original anymore.  Though long before Smallville, Merlin, and Arrow there was Young Sherlock Holmes. The recent UK series Sherlock is one of the my favorite shows ever, so I was interested in this one. I also noticed Steven Spielberg was involved in this movie, but as an executive producer which typically isn't a whole lot of work in comparison to a normal producer or the director.

Fact of the Day: Sanders Heritage

Most of Senator Bernie Sanders' heritage comes from Jewish families in Poland and other parts of Europe. He had relatives who perished in the Holocaust one of which was his paternal uncle Romek. Sanders stated becoming interested in politics at an early age, as he realized that Germans had voted for evil men in the 1930's and because of that it had caused the deaths of many millions of people. After such an conclusion he realized that politics are very important. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Texas Roadhouse

After a recent trip to Greenville, SC we headed back home to Spartanburg, SC. However we were hungry so we decided to stop in the small town of Taylors for a meal at a place called Texas Roadhouse. We recently got one in our city and it certainly looks popular judging by how many cars are there. The one in Taylors has been around for awhile I think, so people have gotten over the "new resturant" phase so it wasn't too crowded. Daisy got steak and shrimp which she really liked. I wasn't unhappy there, but I was a bit disappointed. It's very "country" even for a steakhouse. For example they have complementary peanuts to eat, but this leaves a mess on the floor and it's everywhere. Nobody was in much of a hurry to grab a broom and sweep it up.  

Fact of the Day: Mehmed VI

Mehmed VI was the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire which had existed for over 620 years. When the new country of Turkey took control, they abolished his power and sent him into exile. Mehmed VI died in Italy in 1926.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

British Man Becomes Mister Cheeseburger

Just recently a British man formerly known as Simon Smith officially turned his name into Bacon Double Cheeseburger. Apparently the reason wasn't so much based on a love for food, but more of a funny name after a night of drinking with friends. Mr. Cheeseburger  is engaged and I can only imagine his bride might not be too happy to become Mrs. Cheeseburger. Despite everything, Bacon Double Cheeseburger says he has no regrets about it. 

The Age of Adaline (2015 Film) Review

 Back when I first met my wife, she eventually would make me watch shows with her. One of them was Gossip Girl (which was far better than my initial impression) and one of the main stars of that show was Blake Lively. While I still don't understand why she would name her daughter James, I do like her as an actress. I heard of The Age of Adaline early on, and I was intrigued by the idea. Immorality is a very fascinating idea I think anyway.

Fact of the Day: USS Stark

While the Iran-Iraq War was fought mostly by the two countries, other nations had supported either side in some way. While the United States had backed Iraq during the war, in 1987 an Iraqi aircraft fired missiles at the USS Stark killing 37 sailors. The USS Stark survived until she was retired in 1999 and scrapped in 2006. President Ronald Reagan later blamed Iran for the incident despite that the fact that an Iranian helicopter aided the USS Stark in rescue operations. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Clarence Thomas Goes Ten Years Without Asking One Question

With Antonin Scalia dead, Clarence Thomas is somewhat arguably the most conservative judge on the Supreme Court. Appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1991, Thomas has been on the court a long time. However he just recently went ten years without asking a single question during arguments before the court. The Supreme Court goes through many case some of which are immune to modern politics, but I'm not surprised he sits there silently. I wouldn't doubt he's a man who's made up his mind on the case before hearing all the facts.

My Favorite Photos: Happy Apple

My wife Daisy has a strange love for the Apple Store at the nearby mall (we don't have one in our city) as she will always go in there unless they have some kind of event that brings in lines and crowds. She usually gets on one of the Macs and surfs for a bit. I will say this about Apple, their staff is very helpful and friendly if you ever need them, and there's so many of them. 

Fact of the Day: Christian Armenia

While many think that the Roman Empire was the first to make Christianity their state religion, they were not the first. In the Eurasian country Armenia, King Tiridates III declared Christianity the state religion in the year 301.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sin City (2005 Film) Review

 I do remember when Sin City came out in 2005 but I don't think I came close to going to see it. I always assumed the movie was based on Las Vegas in some way, but that's not the case. It is however an adaptation of Frank Miller's comic series. Though Sin City was not just one comic book or graphic novel, but many different stories. This movie features several of them but not all of them.

Fact of the Day: Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was born a slave in South Carolina in the year 1839. During the Civil War he managed to take command of a Confederate ship while it's officers spent the night on land. He steered the ship into Union-controlled waters and greatly help the Union side in the Civil War especially as he knew Confederate secrets like signals.  He later won election several times and served in the House of Representatives in Congress. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Donald Trump Wins South Carolina

 My home state of South Carolina (born and raised) is one of the most loyal red-states in America since southern racists jumped ship after the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Republicans love to win South Carolina as it's the first state in the American South to have a primary. Being one of the most "conservative" states, the man they picked was Donald Trump. Unlike other states, Democrats like me have to vote in a primary at a different time, which is next Saturday. So today only the Republicans voted on their favorite candidates.

My Favorite Photos: Dottie's Toffee

After dinner at Wild Ace Pizza and Pub, Daisy and I walked across the street to check out Dottie's Toffee. Despite the name, it's more of a ice-cream place. I got a pretty good rainbow-sherbet, while Daisy decided to try the mint-chocolate chip ice cream. My only complaint is that the place (like many downtown) is tiny. It only took one family to take up all the seating in the place, luckily they got done as soon as we got our frozen treats. 

Fact of the Day: Baby Chameleon

While most chameleons are born from eggs, some chameleons give birth to live young. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Harper Lee Dies at 89

Author Harper Lee (most famous for To Kill a Mockingbird) died today a few months before her 90th birthday. To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that is in almost every school's lesson plan, and gained a large following as it showed how terrible bigotry was in the American South. I think most people never realized she only wrote one novel until 2015's Go Set a Watchman which is the sequel to her 1960 classic. You have to admire a woman who can become a legend after just one book, not many people can say the same. 

Orange is the New Black (TV Series) Season 3 Review

 While we didn't start the series until last year, my wife and I have been enjoying Orange is the New Black. I know the fourth season will be out in a few months, so I figured we'd finish the third before it does. My wife likes to watch seasons of the same show in a row, but I prefer to space it out a bit. The first two seasons were pretty darn good, but does the third still have that same magic in this comedy-drama?

Fact of the Day: King of Hanover

Because of the Germanic roots of all British monarchs since George I, the King of Great Britain was also King of Hanover which was a kingdom before Germany had unified. When Queen Victoria took the British throne, she had no right to Hanover's throne. As only males could become its ruling monarch, King George III"s fifth son Ernest Augustus became monarch instead. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pope Francis Insults Donald Trump

While in Mexico, Pope Francis called Donald Trump's stance on immigration "not Christian", which many on the right-wing consider rude for questioning a man's faith (except when that man is President Obama of course) like that. In the Pope's own words he said "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel" recently. I think Pope Francis does have a solid argument. While I'm not Catholic or any kind of Christian, I do find it hypocritical of right-wing Christians to be extremely against immigration. They didn't want Syrian refugees because they were Muslim, but most Hispanics are Christian so what's the major argument other than racism? Something which does contradict the whole "love thy neighbor" thing doesn't it?  

My Favorite Photos: Wild Ace Pizza

In downtown Spartanburg, SC there is a pizza/pub called Wild Ace. I don't (nor have I ever) drink alcohol, but I do like pizza and I do like trying everybody's version of pizza at least once. Their pizza reminded me of Sbarro's but not nearly as good, and I'm not a big fan of thin-crust to begin with. I did really enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant, it's very hip and casual. 

Fact of the Day: Finnish War

In the early 19th century, Russia and Sweden went to war in the Finnish War. Finland had long been ruled by the Swedish, so many events took place in Finland as well as Sweden. At the end of the war, Sweden lost and signed a treaty with Russia. Finland left Swedish rule and became an autonomous state of the Russian Empire until their independence in 1917.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Scooby-Doo (2002 Film) Review

While the original Scooby-Doo cartoon series came out well before I was born, however the re-runs, sequel series, and TV movies were certainly part of my childhood. I really don't know why I missed the major two movies when they came out in the 2000s. I was 14 when the movie was new so I suppose it was that phase of life where you totally reject anything family-friendly in an attempt to convince yourself that you were older than you were.

Fact of the Day: Leopard Camel

Many in Ancient Greece, and the Roman Republic/Empire had believed that giraffes were some kind of hybrid species of camel and leopard. They even combined the names for animal in coming up for their word for giraffe. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Snow-Sled 2016

Growing up in South Carolina, I can tell you there is very few chances to do anything when it comes to "winter sports" as we rarely get any snow. Though my nephew Mr. C got to use the snow-sled during the winter storm this year. 

Fact of the Day: Terrible Shark

While sharks don't often attack humans (especially in comparison to how they are depicted in fiction) the most common shark to do so is the great white shark. Tiger sharks and bull sharks are also known to be a common cause of attacks on humans.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Serena (2014 Film) Review

 When I first took notice of the movie Serena, I think it had been sometime in 2015. It's hard to believe a movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper could make such small waves. Most actors usually do the smaller movies to increase their chances of getting an (or another) Oscar. But I think the biggest reason why I didn't hear much is because it's a rather terrible movie. Sometimes the talent of actors can only take a film so far.

Fact of the Day: Political College

In the 2016 presidential election, one of the major issues for candidates is the subject of free education at public colleges. While many candidates have laughed at the idea of "free" college, most public universities in America started out as free or had very low tuition rates. It was only sometime after World War II where tuition rates spun out of control.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Question: Should Schools Still Teach Cursive?

I had always thought that pretty much every school in the United States taught cursive hand-writing, but I hear that many schools don't. I remember learning it in elementary school, and it was not an easy thing to master or even get sorta close to good. I think it should be taught, just because it's only real purpose is for a person to be able to sign their name. However if you look at some people's penmanship, some don't even try to make any of the letters legible. Some people say it's to "read historical documents" but almost all of them can be easily found in standard text. 

Do you think cursive hand-writing is still important? 

Fact of the Day: Princess of Wales

Princess Charlotte of Wales was King George III's eldest legitimate grandchild. While her father wasn't George IV yet, he ruled as regent as George III had eventually became insane. She died shortly after giving birth to a still-born son. Had she outlived both George III and her father George IV she would have become Queen of Great Britain. The role passed to George IV"s younger brother who became William IV. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Antonin Scalia Dies at 79

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died today after a hunting trip. Appointed by Reagan, he was a long-serving justice and one of the court's most far-right members. His death sparks a political debate for 2016 as Senate Majority Leader (and Republican) Mitch McConnell wants to delay his successor until next year when we have a new president as the Senate gets to approve the president's nominee. This is how terrible politics have gotten when Republicans think we can last a year without a full Supreme Court. The reason they have nine justices is to prevent tie rulings. You think we can last a year or more? Maybe we need new leadership in the Senate as well?

My Favorite Photos: Little Snowman 2016

This is my nephew Mr. K with the snowman they made at his house during the big winter storm this year in January. 

Fact of the Day: Orca Hatred

Orca whales have had a bad reputation for centuries in the Western World which only got better in the recent decades. The U.S. Navy even killed many orca whales with modern weaponry in Icelandic waters in 1954 on purpose. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Vikings (TV Series) Season 2 Review

I started Vikings late last year, but I liked it well enough. Though it wasn't quite as good as I had hoped. The 2nd season sees many changes for Ragnar Lothbrok, his wife and son, his brother Rollo, and all of his friends. Not only does life change in Scandinavia, but England will see much drama when the vikings return.

Fact of the Day: Roman Irony

The Roman Empire had a long history of diversity of culture within its lands, though they also had many periods of religious persecution. The early Christian Church had many problems and issues with Rome before Constantine became Emperor. After Christianity was made the state religion, it didn't take too long for those who remained pagan and loyal to the old gods to be persecuted in some way. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Dairy Queen 2016

My wife Daisy and I did not like being stuck in the house during the big winter storm in late January. As soon as the roads were clear, we drove to spend some time out of the house. A lot of places were closed, but some were open. We decided to eat at Dairy Queen where Daisy got hot dogs and some french fries. 

Christie and Fiorina Drop Out of 2016 Race

 After just two primary states, we've seen the Republicans' long list of candidates start to dwindle down to a more reasonable level. After New Hampshire, two candidates decided to call it quits. One of them is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Not quite as conservative as his peers, he didn't get much support. I honestly don't think he should be Governor after his bridge-gate scandal, let alone president of our great country. 

Fact of the Day: Longren Airplane

Less than a decade after the Wright Brothers, a man named Albin Longren built and flew his own airplane in Kansas. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Question: Do You Consider Yourself Strong?

I don't mean super-human strong, or even "I can lift 200lbs strong". I think I have adequate strength (especially for my build) which wasn't always true for me. I think being a vegetarian since I was seven, gave me a disadvantage in terms of body strength, so I was one of the weakest kids. I don't really go to the gym and if I do I like running instead of lifting weights. But most of the jobs I've had in my life required some heavy lifting (for work anyway) from time-to-time. My current boss is a woman, and when something heavy needs to be lifted she calls me "muscles" and tells me to lift it for her. Though I know my strength is pathetic against those people who lift weights every chance they get.

Do you think you are strong (enough)?

Fact of the Day: Chinese Bees

The world's largest producer of honey by far is China. 

Sanders and Trump Win New Hampshire

 Bernie Sanders was expected to do well in New Hampshire and he really did. He got 60% of the vote versus Hillary Clinton's 38%. About 2% of the vote went to either Martin O'Malley (who's officially out of the race), write-ins, and obscure candidates nobody has even heard of. With Bernie's win in New Hampshire, he officially has more delegates than Hillary Clinton. Though neither New Hampshire or Iowa is very populous, so there's a lot of delegates and states left to go before it's all over.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Coloring Dinner

This is my brother Zach and my niece Little K when they went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. I assume the restaurant got the coloring books for my niece. I've noticed that restaurants certainly try to be more kid-friendly than they used to. Especially when I was kid when it wasn't a fast-food restaurant.