Thursday, August 31, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Ice Cave

 At the NC State Zoo, we found The Ice Cave which is where the polar bear lives. He's got at least three main sections and it took us forever to find him as I think there's only one polar bear there currently.

Story: Zach and the Doors

 My brother Zach was never my friend when we were growing up. It was like living with your worst nightmare and when you have a mother who is ineffective, you have to put your hope in other things. He was obsessed with coming into my room and causing trouble. We'd have the simple door locks, but he'd find ways to get past it, like taking a stick off of a lollipop or a small screw-diver to pop the lock into "unlock". Imagine living with almost no privacy.

Fact of the Day: McDonald's Women

McDonald's "founder" Ray Kroc originally opposed to hiring women in the first waves of McDonald's restaurants. He believed they were unreliable workers, and that they would probably flirt with the males there. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Photo: Seals at the NC State Zoo

Before we got the polar bears, we saw the seals as you had to walk by them to get to the polar bears. They're really good swimmers of course. 

Question: Should Schools End the Valedictorian Picks?

Some schools are doing away with having a valedictorian picked at all to lead the graduation. I think it's more of a good thing because valedictorian is a high bar to set especially when the school is large. The vast majority of students never have a chance, and the small few that have a chance obsess over their grades and feel the pressure most likely. I don't even remember my high school's valedictorian either, so I don't think it mattered much that they became number one. 

Should they end it? 

Fact of the Day: Tang Dynasty Influence

In China's early history, the Tang Dynasty ruled for a considerable amount of time. It was considered a golden age for China in culture, and it had a great influence in the cultures of early Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Photo: Zoo Map

Once we got to the NC State Zoo, the first thing on the agenda was finding the polar bear. Luckily he was right nearby the North America section's entrance so it wasn't a long walk. I know the panda's at Zoo Atlanta were near the end of the zoo. 

Favorite Quotes: America Should Be Right and Not Wrong

"I can never join with my voice in the toast which I see in the papers attributed to one of our gallant naval heroes. I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong. Fiat justitia, pereat coelum. My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right."

-John Quincy Adams 

John Q. Adams wrote this in a letter to his father John Adams where he expressed he'd rather America be on the side of the righteous, than be successful and wrong. It's a shame that further presidents didn't share the same philosophy. The American government committed many sins in the "fight against communism" and later did the same with the Wars on Terror. 

Fact of the Day: Cuckoo's Nest

Some cuckoo species will lay their eggs in the nest of other birds which many times has the mother bird feed the infant-bird as its own baby, sometimes at a great disadvantage to its real children. Some birds notice this and try to fight against the plans of the cuckoos. However they sometimes will re-counter this move, as they will destroy a nest if a cuckoo egg is rejected. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Photos: My Grandfather Blair

 Due to recent ancestry findings, it reminded me to ask my cousin Blair to find me pictures of our grandfather Blair whom she was named after. I was the youngest child of the youngest child, so he died over a decade before I was born. Due to crappy family management of memories, I had never even seen a picture of him until now. This is him in 1945 posing with a golf club. My dad would be born over a decade later.

Game of Thrones (TV Series) Season 7 Review

 As many of you know, I am a huge fan of HBO's Game of Thrones. I didn't start the series when it premiered but I've been in-love with the story and its characters for a few years now. Season six was one of my favorite seasons ever, especially as it was a lot more gleeful at the end as many of our favorite characters were now in better shape than their fates in the fifth season. With the book Winds of Winter not even out yet, it's sailing really far into uncharted territory. While it's clear that the show isn't going to be exactly as the books, you have to assume the major points will be about the same. Will we find out who will claim the Iron Throne above all the other pretenders in the county of Westeros?

Fact of the Day: Simon de Montfort vs King Henry III

Simon de Montfort was a French nobleman who initially befriended King Henry III in an attempt to reclaim titles and lands taken away from him by Henry's father King John. Simon even married Henry's sister Eleanor and Henry even gave his blessing when all was said and done. However after many feuds with the king, Simon eventually led rebellions against him and calling up what would be England's first real Parliament. For a time, Simon actually held the real power in England instead of Henry III. However Henry's son Edward (the future Edward I) eventually led Henry III's forces to free his father and they were successful at the Battle of Evesham. Simon died on the battlefield, but ironically his future descendants became Kings of England as he was an ancestor to Elizabeth Woodville, who married and had heirs with King Edward IV. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Photo: My Great Grandmother Rosa Ida Hart

As I mentioned before I took the Ancestry DNA test, and one of my distant cousins (second cousin-once removed) found me on there. This is the branch we are related to as the mother and father of all these children were ancestors to us both. Rosa Ida Hart was my paternal grandfather's mother, and at this time (I'm guessing the mid 1890's) she is the little girl sitting in the front next to her brother. She lived to be in her mid 80's and even outlived my grandfather. I don't remember any stories of her even though she died in 1977 and I was born in 1988. Even my older first cousin didn't really know who she was. Funny how family history breaks down over time huh? 

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014 Film) Review

 A Million Ways to Die in the West is a movie that got me hopeful a few years back. It had Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and Ted fame. But most of his fans actually have never seen him in a starring role that wasn't just his voice-only. It has an impressive cast especially with personal favorites of mine like Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, and many others in cameo roles. However the sad part about the movie is that critical opinion was unkind to put it in nice terms. Granted most films that try to cram in as many celebrities as possible tend stink fairly bad. Was A Million Ways to Die in the West really that bad or did it get unfair treatment?

Fact of the Day: Lee Harvey Oswald Funeral

Since practically nobody showed up for the funeral of JFK's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, reporters had to be his pallbearers. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Photo: Panda Art

For those wondering, this is the art we got from Vintage Warehouse in Spartanburg which was done by a Chinese-American artist named Ginger Rogers. It didn't come with a frame, and we went to Michael's that same day (due to my mother's recommendation) and their custom frames were expensive beyond belief. I wasn't a framing the Mona Lisa or a Picasso, so we found a reasonable one from Art To Frame as no local places had basic frames in the large size we needed. A tiny spot on the side was slightly damaged (I'm guessing from the shipping process) but you don't really notice it. I certainly didn't feel right spending more on a frame than I did the art anyways. 

Things I Like: Robb Stark (Game of Thrones)

 One of the big favorites for many fans, the first true-born son of Eddard Stark remained fairly low-key for the majority of season one. He kept Winterfell in shape while Ned was Hand of the King. However that escalates as he calls of the Northern houses to march to King's Landing to save his father from death.

Fact of the Day: Chinese Toilet Paper

Toliet Paper was invented in China, and like many early inventions, it was only available to royals and nobles at first. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Photos: Vintage Warehouse in Spartanburg

 I've driven by it countless times, but it was my mother who told me we should check out Vintage Warehouse.

Question: Your Favorite Soap Opera?

As a guy, I never really watch Soap Operas, but the one I remember the most was Days of Our Lives. I remember my mom watching it religiously and I could recall most of the characters just from over-hearing the show and my mother talking about it for many years. I remember in 2003-2004 there was a story-line about the Salem Stalker who was a serial killer and the story did seem really interesting as murder-mysteries do appeal to me. But after that was over, it went to the same kind of mindless drama soap operas are notorious for and my interest in it died.  

What's your favorite if you have one? 

Fact of the Day: Literal Half Moon

While many supernatural things in the Quran also occur in The Bible (as both have many of the same stories and characters such as Noah and his ark), a supernatural act purely in the Quran but not The Bible is the splitting of the moon as it's a "miracle" attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims who believe the story to be literal, point to the moon depression Rima Ariadaeus as "proof" of it happening. NASA scientists completely reject the idea, and no other country/culture at the time of Muhammad's lifetime recorded seeing the moon in two pieces. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Photo: Truck and the Tiny Brick Wall

While getting done with Spartanburg's downtown mini-golf course, we walked up the side-walk and noticed this. The Dodge-Ram truck here hit the little set of bricks in this parking lot. Not quite sure how bad the damage was for either the truck or the bricks, but I still can't believe someone can be that dumb while driving. 

The Secret Life of Pets (2016 Film) Review

 The Secret Life of Pets is a movie I heard about but didn't quite have the urge to see it in theaters. It's actually made by the same company that produced the Despicable Me/Minion movies which mostly were pretty good but not quite up to par with Pixar. I also liked how the main dog is actually a Jack Russel Terrier as my now late dog Zelda was a Jack Rusell Terrier mixed with beagle, but her whole personality was more Jack Russell. I do find the irony of watching this movie now since I no longer have any pets of my own since the death of my dog Zelda in October of last year. But anyways, how as The Secret Life of Pets for me?

Fact of the Day: Southern Unionist

In the American South during the Civil War, there were many of those from the South who opposed the Confederacy by either refusing to join the rebel army or they went and joined the union army. There were many reasons for one to be a southern unionist. Some felt loyal to abolitionist politics and opposed slavery. Some were loyal to their country and thought of attacking it was cowardly and unmanly. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Photo: 29th Birthday Dinner

While it was a more last-minute choice, we ended up at Pizza Hut on Spartanburg's West Side for my birthday dinner. It had been the first time we've been there in almost forever, and actually three years since I've had Pizza Hut anywhere else. My wife and my mother split a hand-tossed pepperoni, while I got a medium cheese pizza in a pan style. That pan pizza was so darn delicious, I can't believe I've missed out on that for so long.  

We're Back From Vacation

I'm not a big fan of traveling (long car rides and sleeping on a bed that's not truly yours) but we had to go almost three hours in a car to see the NC State Zoo in Asheboro, NC. The biggest draw and only reason I'd consider going that far is to see the polar bear which is the only zoo close to us that has one. You'll learn of our adventures later, but yes Mr. Polar Bear was there and he was awesome. 

Fact of the Day: Catholic Country

Starting in 754, the Papal States existed until the unification of Italy in 1870. In their prime, the Papal States comprised of a good chunk of central Italy all of which was ruled directly by The Pope. Italy officially gave sovereign land (Vatican City) to The Pope in 1929 creating the quasi nation-state known officially as the Holy See. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Photos: I Scream U Scream Ice Cream Spartanburg

 Ice Scream U Scream is a new ice cream place that opened up not long ago in my city of Spartanburg, SC. It's owned by the same guy who runs The Bargain Mill which is almost like Big Lots meets a flea-market almost. He converted a trolley-bus into an ice-cream shop. Apparently this thing can go on the road still, apparently to be a vendor at events. Imagine seeing that down the road eh?

Things I Hate: Craster (Game of Thrones)

Craster is a wildling (Free Folk) in Game of Thrones. While Game of Thrones have their notrorious villains, Craster often gave the big bad guys competition in the despicable department. Despite being a "friend" to the Night's Watch, Craster's main flaw is his love life. Most of his wives are really his daughters, and he keeps the practice up. He also is a very jealous man and doesn't let any of the Night's Watch talk to the women. Jon Snow sees him offer up one of his sons (as the rest had been done) to a White Walker which fans later found out became a new White Walker. For someone so pro-White Walker, why on Earth would he help out the team that protects the realm from them?

Fact of the Day: Peasant's Revolt

Due to issues revolving around the Black Death, high taxation (from war with France), and the corruption among the leadership in London, the royals faced a internal uprising not from a rival lord, pretender, or foreign king but the common people themselves. After murdering several nobles who served after the death of King Edward III, they demanded many things including the abolition of serfdom. The very young King Richard II seemed to appeal to their demands and took a lot of risk confronting the peasants in person at first. However Richard II was not true to his word and had the rebellion crushed.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Photo: Solar Eclipse Library Poster

It's been Solar Eclipse fever here in South Carolina and probably in every area in its path. We happen to be in North Carolina today, so we won't get to see it. Even with those stupid glasses, I don't want to risk burning my eyes by accident. 

We Bare Bears (TV Series) Season 2 Review

 Last year I just happened to stumble across something that used the bear characters from the Cartoon Network show We Bare Bears and I was reminded on how much my wife likes cute animals, as one of her most favorite stuffed animals I ever got for her was a polar bear with a red bow tie. I thought she'd like the show, and I was actually really surprised by how good it is. The show reminds me a lot of classics from my childhood like Rocko's Modern Life, Ren and Stimpy, Johnny Bravo, and a few others. None of those shows scared children, but they were remarkably clever and had a lot of hidden dark humor in them.

We Are On Vacation For Two Days

My wife and I will be in North Carolina on vacation. We didn't want a super-long trip so we will be going to the NC State Zoo so my wife (and myself) can see a polar bear in real life for the first time. The next day we will be doing things in Charlotte, North Carolina. So I will be back on here on Wednesday. Though you will still see posts from me as Neko Random doesn't stop even when I do.  

Fact of the Day: Trump Pets

While not every U.S. President has owned a dog or a cat while in office, almost every president has had some type of pet while in the White House. James K. Polk and Donald Trump (as of August 2017) are the few that don't have an official pet. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Photo: Sparkle City Mini-Putt on Birthday

 Some might remember me talking about this place two years ago in August, and I honestly can't believe it had been that long. This is a 9-hole mini-golf course that the city had developed for anyone in Spartanburg to play. Or as the Republicans around here call it, socialized recreation. I used to play real golf (due to my brother) so I had my own putter and golf-balls.  

The Founder (2017 Film) Review

 Regardless of if you want to admit it or not, but deep-down we all love McDonalds in some way, shape, or form. Now to be fair, I was never a die-hard fan of McDonalds, as I remember us going to Burger King, Hardee's (Carl's Jr.), Wendys, and just about any other competitor you could name growing up to today. Even back as a kid I've heard of Ray Kroc, who at the time of my birth was already long since dead. But I always wondered why McDonald's was called McDonald's with a founder with the last name Kroc. Well this movie will certainly clear up the confusion on that one for those who don't know the full story.

Fact of the Day: Viking Feminism

For their time, women in the Viking-age Scandinavian countries typically had far greater liberties than almost any of their counterparts in the world. While they still lived in a male-dominated society, they could have a say in who they would marry, petition for a divorce (with extra rights), and own property. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Photos: Work Party Bowling

 At my work, every year the place is told hold a party to "give back" to the workers efforts. My mother works for the same company (different location) and hers was held in the back of the building where they played bingo for laughable prizes and had food. Our location however, rented out a lot of lanes at a local bowling place which is only a few miles away from my house. I won the first two games against Daisy 107 to 77 and then 144 to 63. She came back later and won 98 to 87 and then 90 to 74.

The Zookeeper's Wife (2017 Film) Review

 I heard about The Zookeeper's Wife a few months ago I suppose. I wasn't quite sure what the movie was about. It looked like it was about the art of zoo-keeping many decades ago, but...not quite. It's really based on the book of the same name, which is about the true events of the zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski who used their zoo as a way to save hundreds of Jewish people who would have otherwise perished during the Holocaust along with working with the Polish Underground. I also really like Jessica Chastain who is the main star of the movie.

Fact of the Day: Janusz Korczak

Janusz Korczak was a Jewish-Polish children's author and educator. Quite famous in his day, he was offered help to escape the Holocaust from friends, colleagues, and a few admirers in the German army itself. He refused all offers and used his last moments to raise the spirits of Jewish children around him who met the same fate as him. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Photo: Hornet's Nest

One day Daisy and I went to Domino's Pizza. We ordered inside as we wanted to take a look at the other places in the same center. While walking down the sidewalk, I saw this fairly notable hornet's nest. I really wish places would take care of these problems. You don't even need a exterminator, with a good can of inexpensive hornet spray this little nest could be eliminated with ease

Steve Bannon Out of White House

While not officially part of the Trump Cabinet, Steve Bannon was a controversial choice as he was given a special job that had never been made before as Chief Strategist. Many accused Bannon of antisemitism and white nationalism in the present and past, and that certainly got him a job advising Donald Trump. It's rather unclear what made him get fired per se, but that's one less toxic person out of the White House at least. Since his position was made-up, he probably won't be replaced either. 

Things I Like: Little Caesar's Hot-N-Ready Lunch Combo

 When I was a kid, I remember when Little Caesar's was really good pizza. They dropped in quality since becoming the "cheap" pizza many years back. Everyone once in awhile I'll get one, but they do get old fast. However I like their new deep dish pizza combo which comes with a drink.

Fact of the Day: Puyi's Color

While monarchs typically got better educations than their subjects, in the case of China's last emperor Puyi that was not exactly the case. When he was 13, he knew almost nothing of math, science, or even where Beijing was located the world. He reunited with one of his brothers but became angry after he saw him wearing yellow. Puyi believed only the Emperor could wear yellow, but had to be corrected because any member of the Qing family could also wear it. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Photo: Nail in the Tire

Not long ago I thought I had all my tires in check, but Daisy said my tire was flat and..yep it was pretty much done. Turned out I ran over a nail though I'm not sure where but it makes you really hate contractors who have stuff like that fall out of their trucks. I called AAA and the guy put the spare tire on instead of towing it. I drove to Firestone and got a new tire to replace it. 

The Assassin (2015 Film) Review

 The Assassin is a movie that originated in both Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. I wasn't quite sure what the movie was about besides the obvious. I will admit, having a beautiful actress like Shu Qi in the lead role did make me interested. Some people really don't like reading subtitles, but I don't mind especially as it's easier than learning Mandarin Chinese. Foreign films are hard to estimate because critical opinion can vary depending on its country of origin vs American critics, But the movie seemed to have fairly positive reviews, so was it any good?

Fact of the Day: Mike Pence Youth

As a young man, Mike Pence associated with the political and religious views of his parents who were Catholic democrats. In college, he converted to born-again Protestantism and eventually became a ultra-conservative Republican. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Photo: Daisy's Car Battery Issues

 In early August, my wife Daisy mentions that her car didn't want to start before going to work. Luckily her car did start and she made it there without being late. I told her to drive to her dad's after work, assuming she could get the car on again. Her dad said it was probably the battery, I thought it was the starter from the way Daisy started the conversation. But then Daisy's dad checked the battery and got a "good" reading. We took it to Advance Auto Parts and the clerk guy got a similar reading. He offered to charge the old battery for nothing but it would take about another forty minutes to charge. So we go somewhere in my car and come back.

Story: Pitting Cherries

When I worked in produce, we had a guy there named Bryan who was...strange. We had sampled out cherries for the people walking down the aisles, and one lady was so happy that we pitted them beforehand. Pitting cherries is a lot of manual work, and Bryan then got a huge idea in his head. He told me he was going to pit cherries and then take them down to the flea market or something like that. I told him that it wasn't a good idea because of all the work, the refrigeration you'd need, and the fact that once you broken the skin of a fruit/vegetable it doesn't have long until it starts to rot away. If a person really desires pitiless cherries, it'd be a whole lot easier, cheaper, and simpler to get them in a frozen bag at the supermarket. He called me an idiot because I wasn't jumping on his super-cherry bandwagon. Maybe he was right, and he's sitting in his cherry-shaped mansion laughing at me right now. 

Fact of the Day: North Korean Golf

North Korea has always come up with some pretty outrageous propaganda stories about their rulers, and Kim Jong-il's first round of golf is just as ludicrous. The late North Korean dictator claimed he scored 38 under par on his first try and was so happy with the results that he never bothered to golf again.