Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Coloring Books Rage

During our Christmas game, my mother took a gift card from me to Cracker Barrel. I didn't really mind but that meant I had to pick again. The last one was my gift which I knew what it was. My brother Brandon had a mini-Foosball table and held it out for me to take it. Knowing what he was going to get, I couldn't resist taking what he had. My gift to the game was a set of coloring books made for grown-ups. He thought it was the dumbest thing ever. He didn't quite believe how popular they are these days until my sister-in-law Tiffany told him she had some. 

My December 2016 Favorites

 With December comes Santa and a lot of "family time". But here are my favorites from the month in the realm of entertainment.

Fact of the Day: Sirens

In Greek mythology, Sirens were creatures that looked like beautiful women who lured sailors to their doom with their voices and music. When Christianity became the main religion in Europe, belief in real sirens was discouraged. However some Christians believed they existed. A Catholic priest in the 17th century was certain that Noah had made a spot for them on the ark. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Christmas Trivia

Every year in recent years we do the game where you get a gift and everyone gets to choose or "steal" a gift in a certain order. I always hated drawing numbers as there is no skill involved. So we played trivia to decide the order. Everyone played on a team and there was three teams. Daisy kept the score while I asked the questions. The winning team was my brother Zach, his wife Tiffany, and my mother which was a team my brother Steven dubbed "Team Tomato". Tiffany was the only reason they won. I gave other teams the chance to take "points" if a team got their question wrong. She picked up a lot of points doing such and that gave them the edge. 

Sad Story: Ben's Accident

When I played baseball in a little league I met one of my best friends in childhood. Ben and I spent a lot of time together. I'd often hang over his house and whanot. My brothers would rarely tag along but I remember my brother Zach and my brother Brandon going with us. We somehow ended up at Kmart and we waited for Ben's dad to finish checking out. I can't remember why he did it, but my brother Brandon pushed Ben into the stand where the plastic bags were held. Ben's bladder let it go and he had an accident. And while I can't say for sure due to bad memory, I will say that Brandon probably never got invited over again. 

Fact of the Day: Mulan Sadness

The origin tale for Mulan ends on a very happy and noble note for the female hero in China. However a very notable later version had her returning home to a father who had long since died. She also is summoned to be a lover of the Khan. Instead she commits suicide. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Christmas Eve Lunch 2016

 During our Christmas Eve gathering, we had pizza and pasta for lunch. The pasta was home-made but the pizza was from Little Caesars. It's inexpensive but whatever. The last time I had some was on Black Friday. It's not that bad as long as you don't have it constantly.

Veronica Mars (2014 Film) Review

 When Daisy and I first started dating I remember watching pieces of Veronica Mars. It started on UPN when it was still a network and remained on the air after the merger with WB to become The CW. I noticed the movie when it came out two years ago. I mentioned to Daisy that we should watch it but she insisted we watch the whole series from start to finish. We finally got done not long ago and I was sort of ready. The third season certainly wasn't the greatest and you could tell why the series was cancelled not long afterward. This movie was made just for fans and takes place about ten years later. 

Fact of the Day: The Real Anastasia

When Tsar Nicholas II was ousted from power he was eventually executed by the Soviets. They made this news public but the rest of the family's fate remained officially unknown. Several well known impostors claimed to be members of the royal family who escaped from Russia. The most famous was the possibility of Princess Anastasia being alive. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the world finally knew the truth thanks to DNA evidence. All of the Romanov family died on the same day including Anastasia.   

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Indoor Basketball Christmas Eve

 What I mostly did with my nephews this Christmas Eve was playing a game with their little basketball hoop that hung on the closet door. This is Mr. C trying to prevent me from getting the basketball into the basket. Though his brother Mr. K was also there too. They told me slam dunks were not allowed. I think they were just a little mad that I was much taller than them.

Question: Ever Needed Help From the Fire Department?

I don't say I ever remember at any point of my life ever being in a house where we needed the fire truck to come down and rescue everything. Nor did anyone get stuck in a chair and needed to be cut out. And I've been only in two minor car accidents so there was no need for them there either. I guess I've been lucky so far. 

Have the firefighters ever saved you? 

Fact of the Day: Rhino Problems

Once fully-grown, rhinos have no true predators in the wild. Unfortunately they aren't very safe as human poachers commonly go after them. Many of them are shot while they find natural spots of water to drink from. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Little Iz Christmas Eve 2016

My niece Little Iz was able to make it to the Christmas gathering. My youngest nephew Mr. C is a few years older than her. My nephews got me to play a game with them and when Little Iz walked by and I asked if she wanted to join. Mr. C told her it wasn't a game for babies because she was only four years old. She said "I'm three" (she's about to turn four soon) and I felt bad for her. I know what it feels like to be excluded. She spent most of the day finding things in Mr. C's room to have fun with. 

Favorite Quotes: Death of Life

"Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely."

-Buddha

With the end of the year I think a lot of us think of the ones we've lost. Personally I lost a nephew through stillbirth and an old dog that we had to put to sleep. We also lost a lot of beloved famous people this year. Whether we go in 2017, 2027, 2057 or even 2117 when the Grim Reaper arrives make sure you're ready to hold his hand.  

Fact of the Day: Ugly Queen

King George IV could of had living heirs today if he had not been so bitter in his own marriage. When he married his wife Caroline of Brunswick he was quite drunk at the wedding. He also considered her ugly and questioned her hygiene. He wrote a letter to a friend where he claimed to only have been intimate with her three times, which the third ended on the night after he was married. A daughter was born nine months later and she never had a full-sibling. When George IV became king he tried to prevent her from becoming Queen. She refused a divorce and while it was possible George IV was unable to get one. George IV was an extremely unpopular king and the public sided way more with Queen Caroline than him. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Random Photo: Old Politics at Christmas

Politics at Thanksgiving is a common subject and we saw very little of it during ours thankfully. However my brother Brandon, my grandmother, and her boyfriend Howard were very happy about the results of the November election as they were bragging during the Christmas Eve gathering. Not unlikely of them either as old southerners are extremely conservative. And my brother Brandon (he's in the Army) came out of basic training radicalized with far-right ideologies and Christian fundamentalism. I was luckily down the hall with my nephews and tried to ignore the babbling. I am still concerned for our country as I have seen all of Trump's cabinet picks. The presidential cabinet looks like it's shaping up to be a league of super-villains. Every pick seems to be someone who is the antithesis to what they're suppose to be running. 

Funny Story: Puppy Dreams

 After my dog's death in October of this year, I've been having strange dreams. One recent dream was seeing a woman handing out puppies in my old house's backyard. One of the dogs looked like a cocker-spaniel and I asked to look at it. I told her I wasn't committed but I spent my time with the puppy. She tried walking off and I told her to wait. Next part of the dream (my dreams get random and strange) I see my in-laws cat Johann and I was wondering why he was somewhere he wasn't suppose to be. Then I saw....

Fact of the Day: Fairness Doctrine

The Fairness Doctrine was a U.S. law that required any major news station and journalist to present controversial issues in a manner that was suppose to be honest, balanced, and equitable. The Fairness Doctrine was eliminated in 1987 under President Ronald Reagan.   

Sunday, December 25, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Little K Christmas Shyness

My niece Little K is very shy even around her own family. Like usual she'll give you a awful look and she was so mad about being there at the Christmas Eve gathering that she told her mom she was NOT going inside. She lost that battle obviously. Like usual she felt better later on. My nephews have a new pet guinea pig and my sister-in-law Amber asked Little K if she wanted to pet it. She got scared, and I told her it was just like a puppy. She said "That's no puppy" and mister guinea pig went back in its cage. 

Merry Christmas 2016

I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays this season. Whether religious or secular enjoy your holidays.

Fact of the Day: Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim is a notable character in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. One of the prototype names for the character was Little Fred. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Random Photo: Lets Go Fishing

While Christmas gifts are on everyone's minds, I got this for my niece Little Iz's birthday coming up near the New year. I think we all remember the tiny version of this game. But this is a much larger version of it. I actually wanted something like this when I was younger but never got it. I hope she likes it. 

Favorite Quotes: Real Christmas Trees

"At some point, someone who worked at Rockefeller Center must have said, "Boys, I have a great idea for Christmas. Let's kill a beautiful tree that's been alive for seventy-five years and bring it to New York City. We'll stand it up in Rockefeller Plaza and conceal its natural beauty by hanging shiny, repulsive, man-made objects on it, and let it stand there slowly dying for several weeks while simpleminded children stare at it and people from Des Moines take pictures of it. That way, perhaps we can add our own special, obscene imprint to Christmas in Midtown."

-George Carlin

One of the reasons why I loved George Carlin is he could easily tell it how it was about human culture. It is rather sad we do this to millions of real "Christmas" trees every year across the globe. It would be one thing if they all came from human-created farms but some of these are taken directly from mother nature. While I miss the smell of a real tree, I have no problems keeping artificial ones in the house. 

Fact of the Day: American Reindeer

While reindeer exist across the globe, only North American reindeer are referred by the name caribou. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Random Photo: Polar Bears on My Windows

 For Christmas we got just one set of those gel cling things. We wanted to test these out to see how they looked before we went overboard. Daisy loves polar bears so this one was obvious. This one has the red scarf with snowflakes around him.

Rogue One (2016 Film) Review

 Star Wars' Rogue One is something that came out of left field for me. I assume many of the people who were looking forward to The Force Awakens were a little shocked we'd get another Star Wars movie a year later. Except it's not Episode 8 but rather Episode 3.5...or at least kind of. Set after Revenge of the Sith but before A New Hope, this film focuses away from Jedi and on a team that was suppose to have taken the Death Star plans from the Imperial Army so the Rebellion could destroy the Death Star. I tried to ignore all opinions as I wanted to be unbiased. But I heard it was good and after watching it I read some people say it was better than any other Star Wars ever. Can it really be that great? 

Fact of the Day: Father King Henry

The English/British monarch with the most known children was King Henry I who was just King of England. He had 29 children, though only five of them were legitimate. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Random Photo: Christmas Door Cover 2016

We got this for our "front" door which is really goes into the kitchen. It has penguins decorating a Christmas tree. Not geographically accurate for penguins and Christmas, but whatever. 

Question: Things That Make You Lose Hope in Humanity

While there are plenty in the field of xenophobia that make me lose hope in the compassion of people, intelligence wise is when someone tells me that they (or someone else we know) doesn't believe in dinosaurs. We have so many fossils that the proof of dinosaurs is undeniable....or so we expect from someone with brain-cells. I know it stems from religious fundamentalism, but imagine if someone said Julius Caesar didn't exist? They'd be thought to be crazy or just plain stupid.  


What makes you just shake your head at people? 

Fact of the Day: Plankton Eater

The world's largest fish (and also shark) the whale shark does not need to be feared by humans like a tiger shark or a great white shark. They mainly feed on plankton which are an extremely tiny species of sea-creatures. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Random Photo: Santa Chair

Like Halloween, I got a Santa Claus chair cover for my office room. His big day will be here soon enough. 

Question: Did You Ever Get the Wrong Laundry?

Only-childs are probably going to feel indifferent here, but I think all siblings got the wrong laundry from their parents at some point. There was a period of like 4-5 years where my mother would always give my brother my shirt and me his shirt. It'd have our school on the design, but she'd always get it mixed up. We never really had many mixups except that. It used to drive me crazy on how she could not stop giving us the wrong thing. 


Did you ever get the wrong clothes?  

Fact of the Day: Fetus Funeral

As Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence signed an extreme anti-abortion bill. One of the mandates was that any fetus would have to have funeral. Regardless of if it was an abortion, a miscarriage, or a stillbirth. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Random Photo: Johann Strikes

Every-time I go over my in-laws house, my favorite thing is to see their cat Johann. Since cats are more naturally nocturnal, he's more active during the evening. I always get tickled when we play a game where he looks at me and then I hide behind something and he can't see my eyes. It drives him crazy. He'll often try to hit me with his paw as I go back and forth between stuff. I assume he thinks it's fun. 

Sad Story: Death and Deaf

When I was little I had learned about the existence of deaf people. There were none in our family so I think I heard about it in school. I never saw the word written, so when I first talked about deaf people to others I called them "death people" as the word sounded so similar. It's common for the human mind to make up what they heard when they didn't hear something correctly. My brother Zach harshly criticized me for it. I felt very small. That was the pain of being the youngest, you always felt like only you made the mistakes. I'm sure Zach said some stupid crap like that when he was younger than me. 

Fact of the Day: Baby King

The youngest monarch in British/English history was Henry VI who took the throne at almost 9 months old. Mary Queen of Scots became Queen at six days old but she was never Queen of England nor Great Britain.

Monday, December 19, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Baseball Champs

Luckily he has sport goggles (I was never so lucky) but my nephew Mr. K's baseball team were the champions of their little league circle. I played baseball from first to tenth grade. We only won the championship once. 

Question: A Dumb Thing You Did as a Kid?

I've done a lot, but one that comes to mind is playing football...in the road...with no shoes on. I'm not quite sure why I tried it but man does that hurt.


What is a dumb thing you did when you were little?  



Fact of the Day: Confederate Irony

When the southern states broke from the United States at the start of the American Civil War, they often mirrored their government structure on what was the status quo when the country was whole. The Constitution of the Confederate States featured a lot of the same things, often appearing verbatim as it was in the original. There was some exceptions such as keeping the evil practice of slavery protected from any bills that may get passed by a future Confederate congress. Another was the mention of God (no religious reference is mentioned in the U.S. version), as they hoped to seek his "favor and guidance". And finally it gave states more autonomy in many ways, but also stated their federal government was permanent. Which meant states could not secede from the Confederacy as they just had done with the United State of America.  

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Fantastic Suitcase

Like many kids, my nephew Mr. K got to see the new "Harry Potter" movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. They didn't have this at our movie theater but they did at theirs. The magic suitcase was pretty neat. 

Things I Hate: The Reputation of The Media

Most Republicans will most likely agree that "The Media" is too liberal and never tells the truth. There is no "The Media" there's more information outlets out there that not even a large group of folks could control it all in the age of the internet. Most of the same Republicans would also say they love Fox News which is one of the most watched news channels out there even though it is "The Media". Along with other right-wing media outlets, there's not a whole lot of room for unbiased stories, fair opinions, or fact-checking. While there are left-wing places that do a similar thing, main-stream "unbiased" places don't usually rely on "commentators" who will say anything they can because commenting is not technically journalism.

This delusional thinking is one of the most disturbing things about American politics. When Americans can't tell fact from fiction because some idiot made up something to get people worked up, we do have a problem. Outside of politics, almost all of those in American journalism care about one thing and that's getting people interested. Scary political news, celebrity gossip, and many more stories that should not matter. And we just eat it up like sheep. Yes "The Media" has an issue but it's not what we think. We are often the problem.    

Fact of the Day: Sloth Bear

The sloth bear is a bear species native to India. While they appear to be slow and clumsy they can surpass an average human's running-speed and are excellent climbers. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Random Photo: Mother's 2016 Christmas Tree

When I came over my mother's house we saw her tree for the first time. Daisy was quick to notice there wasn't a star and I don't recall seeing any lights on it either. My mother always depended on me to put the tree together, but I can see she was able to figure it out on her own. There was a few years where we had no tree. I thought it ruined Christmas a little to be honest. She said having so many grandchildren now made her want to be more festive. 

Sad Story: Pat's Son

 The other day my co-worker Pat and I were talking and she was "at war" with her sister. At first I thought of been something like how many mother would fight with my aunt. It'd often be over something stupid and petty and make them both look dumb. Turns out that her sister doesn't like Pat's son Michael. For what? Well turns out, he likes guys instead of girls. Funny how we discriminate over other people for something as stupid as that. I was a bit relieved Pat was on her son's side as I knew she was far more religious than I ever was at any point in my life, and she seemed to be more on the conservative side of politics even though we never really discussed either. So what outranks deities and politics? Love for your child.

Fact of the Day: Matilda of Flanders

When William Duke of Normandy wanted to marry Matilda of Flanders, it is said she took the marriage proposal as an insult. William was an illegitimate bastard who luckily got his father's role as duke while she was a high-born grand-daughter of the French monarch King Robert II. Luckily for her she did marry William as he later invaded and won the English throne. So as William became king, she obvioulsly became Queen of England. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Random Photo: Snowman Window Stickers

On a recent trip to my mother's house I noticed these Frosty the Snowman stickers on her front door's window. All based on the best version of the story. I was never quite so happy with the other incarnations of Frosty. 

Chocolat (2000 Film) Review

 Even though it came out in 2000, I only heard about Chocolat until recently. There doesn't seem to be many movies about candy being central to the plot. The only thing that comes to mind is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Besides chocolate, the movie is a romantic-drama and to get the women all excited they cast Johnny Depp as the love-interest. Coincidentally five years later, Johnny Depp himself was Willy Wonka in the 2005 remake of the original movie. I also found out later that the movie Chocolat is based on a novel of the same name from 1999. Considering they had made the movie a year later meant production must of been lightning fast. And it must of worked out because Chocolat was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, an honor that films that takes years to finish often never get.

Fact of the Day: Bush Future

At the beginning of George W. Bush's presidency, Congress had predicted that the national budget would have a 5.6 trillion dollar surplus over ten years. Massive tax cuts, wars, and other things caused the the surplus to vanish and the national debt increased. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Holiday Trivia

 Not long ago I heard that one of the branches of our local library was holding a "holiday trivia" which according to what I read would be about other holidays around Christmas time from around the world. We got there early, and we see this room was filled up, but it was "story time" as the library is so tiny there is only one room for special events. Once it was over we went in. And waited for everyone else and the guy or woman running it. Eventually the guy who worked for the library came in, and we were the only ones who showed up. It was a rather mucky day of winter weather outside and while Pacolet isn't far away for us, it's very remote even for South Carolina. Luckily he didn't cancel it (which would of made our drive pointless) so we continued as a contest between me and Daisy.

Finding Dory (2016 Film) Review

 When it comes to animated movies, Pixar is the best...most of the time anyways. 2003's Finding Nemo was one of their best and it's rather peculiar that it took like 13 years to make a sequel. I was only 15 years old when the original came out. I also remember it being one of the last movies I really saw be available on a VHS tape as DVD had pretty much made it virtually obsolete by the time. Back when Finding Nemo came out, Pixar had not made a mistake. A few years later Cars came out and their track-record could be a little hit or miss. A decade and a half is a little scary for a a sequel to be in limbo. Especially as the title suggests a tale of deja vu. Is this oceanic tale another memorable classic, a worthy sequel, or an embarrassing disappointment?