Thanks, Obama…

January 11, 2017 2:52am
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Looking for a little political inspiration as we prepare to stare down the dragon with Donald Trump’s own inauguration now soon upon us?

I just finished watching President Obama’s Farewell Address and here at 2:30am with his last words now fresh in my mind, I will freely admit that I’ve nearly got tears in my eyes. I can only hope that I live to see another president who speaks with such eloquence and whose sincere spirit reverberates through every word.

Barack Obama has set the bar pretty high for future presidents of these United States.

Let us not forget the character that this office deserves, and the diligence that we the people deserve from this person who strives to be our leader both here at home from sea to shining sea as well as to the rest of the world.

In the face of adversity and uncertainty, quite frankly right now I feel more patriotic than ever.

Thanks, Obama.

Finding Inspiration in the Stars

November 15, 2016 3:40pm
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It started out with just a random suggested video to watch during lunch – this one was about Commander Chris Hadfield returning to Earth after living on the International Space Station, talking about his reacclimation and all of the great creative things that he did to help “sell space” to a curious public during his stay…

From there I was pointed to this related video about fellow astronaut/cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko from Russia, who most recently spent a full year on the ISS to study the effects of space on the body with the thought of travel to Mars in our not-so-distant future…

…and I think what I loved about watching both of these videos back to back is that they’re really a great reminder of how space exploration brings us together, from listening to the passion that both of these men share in talking about their work as well as the things that they each missed back on Earth while they were away.

Even something as simple as the need for subtitles were a positive reminder because in a way they’re proof that despite Kornienko clearly speaking Russian throughout the interview, that passion and humanity still shines through that he’s talking about returning to Earth and its natural features that he loves.

There’s also a couple of scenes of all the astronauts together on the ISS and they’re always smiling and waving and working together towards a common goal. It just seems like if they can come together for the greater cause of science to transcend boundaries up there, we should be able to figure it out back down here on Earth, too. 😉

Motivation

February 23, 2016 5:36pm
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Parenting Inspiration, Revisited and Evolved

November 7, 2015 12:47am
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“There are days where it’s tough, and there are days where it’s incredible … and you’re like, how could I have ever thought that this wouldn’t be amazing?” – Mike Krahulik, on fatherhood

I found myself re-watching this video quite late last night, somewhat ironically because no more than two hours later I was back up begging Christopher to go back to sleep with little hope in sight!

Truth be told, watching this episode of Penny Arcade: The Series back when it first came out (circa 2010) played a pretty big role in helping me to come to terms with the idea of parenting and actually becoming a father. I mean, it’s always been something that I knew I wanted to happen – off in the distance – but it was still equally terrifying to sit down with my wife and seriously talk about making it happen … and this was even before all of the infertility stuff really came to light! 😯

Now having about a year and a half under my belt as I re-watched this tome of parenting inspiration, it was kind of rewarding to see their words click with me on an entirely new level, both quite specifically through Mike’s quote above as well as this great quote of perspective from Jerry…

“The idea that parenting is built up of these major moments when they’re all completely suspended in hundreds and thousands of individual experiences that have tremendous value.” – Jerry Holkins, on parenting

As we find ourselves inching closer to the infamous terrible twos, we’ve definitely been experiencing more outbursts and tantrums and generic crying recently than the previous few months have bestowed upon us, and some of them in the last week in particular have been very trying,  to say the least. I told Sara just today that it often feels like my world is a light switch, and one minute it’s awesome and then the next minute it’s suddenly shit again, and throughout the course of the last couple of days it’s like somebody’s just been flipping that thing on and off like a son of a bitch.

But I try to remember the other moments – the ones that admittedly are just as frequent, yet tend to get easily washed out by the chaotic ones – where Christopher is making me laugh out loud as we’re walking around Walmart at midnight to get him milk, or when he’s cuddled up on my lap watching Sesame Street videos on YouTube, or when he brings one of his books over for me to read to him.

It can be so tough to conjure them up in the moment because sometimes those toddler tantrums can just be brutal to a grown man’s psyche, and yet afterwards once the dust has had a chance to settle and we’ve drifted back down to earth, it’s those silly moments … those giggly moments … those moments packed with so much tenderness it just about makes you sick – those are the things that make you take a time out to remind yourself, “Yeah, this IS pretty amazing.”

I found myself reminded of this old tune circa 1983 from the episode of Fraggle Rock that Christopher got to watch after eating lunch today, and it amuses me how whenever I watch these older Muppet works like Fraggle Rock or The Muppet Show or even the classic episodes of Sesame Street just how much Jim Henson himself bled through the characters that he played – with this one, it’s almost hard not to picture Jim himself playing that magical flute down in the Fraggle caves, singing his song of songs to anyone who cared to listen.

In fact, you can actually see some fun pictures of Jim posing and performing this character (Cantus the Minstrel) over on the Muppet Wiki!

The other day I was posed with the challenge of naming who my creative mentors would be if I were to gather them all around a table for their advice and wisdom, and though I’m probably going to write about the exercise later in greater detail because I really found it to be pretty interesting, I’ve got to say that at the time the very first person to pop into my mind was none other than Jim Henson. And I’m not entirely sure why, but what I’ve pieced together so far is that even though I’m not necessarily precisely where I’d like to be in my writing career at this point in my life, I can say that I’m trying to get there by embracing in these things that I’m the most passionate about and you don’t have to watch more than a couple of minutes of any Muppet act to know without a shadow of a doubt that Jim Henson lived creatively by doing exactly that.

It’s also interesting – and admittedly a bit relieving – to note that as epic as those regrettably short, last twenty years of his life were, looking at Jim Henson’s career, some of my absolute favorite things to come from the legend actually didn’t come to be until later on in his life:

  • Sesame Street first aired in 1969, when Jim was 33 years old
  • The Muppet Show first took roots in 1976 (40 years old)
  • The Muppet Movie hit theaters in 1979 (43 years old)
  • Fraggle Rock first aired on HBO in 1983 (47 years old)
  • And probably my personal favorite – A Muppet Family Christmas – was released in 1987 when Jim was 51 years old (only two years before his death)

I bring this up simply because lately it’s been easy to sort of look around and panic when I see that I’m 34 years old and I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, but I try to think of a guy like Jim Henson – one of my creative mentors – and not only acknowledge that some of his best works came far later in his life, but also – and more importantly – that frankly it’s hard not to look back at any of these moments in his career and not see just a happy, bubbly guy having the time of his life creating these bizarrely charming stories about wandering minstrels and strange, little creatures living just out of sight, and it kind of makes me stop and question my priorities and whether I should really be beating myself up for not being farther in life than I would like instead of simply living in the moment and enjoying every last step of the process along the way.

Hmmm. 🙂

Kevin Rose and Leo Laporte

May 14, 2015 7:15pm
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I’ve had this episode of Foundation in which Kevin Rose interviews Leo Laporte earmarked for a while now, but I finally found some time this week to listen along and it was really enjoyable just listening to someone who’s as creatively passionate as Leo talking about his career at large and the road bumps that have slowed him down along the way, and even some of the challenges he faces today with trying to transform TWiT from The Leo Laporte Network into something that’ll actually give him a chance to take a vacation after a while!

I actually really respect both of these guys because like many, I was introduced to them when I switched to digital cable back at the turn of the millennium and suddenly this amazing channel called TechTV existed to embrace this geek culture which was only starting to really blossom as the Internet itself was beginning to take hold. I’ve always kind of considered TWiT to be my lifeline back into tech because even though I honestly don’t watch any of their shows very regularly, I know that whenever I’ve got a couple of hours to kill or need something to put on in the background while I’m pretending to be productive, TWiT just has this incredible wealth of tech content from all of these passionate hosts – Leo and the rest of the former Screen Savers crew included – and it’s always a good time to see what these guys are talking about and get my finger back on the pulse of what’s really going on in tech.

Ironically, one of my favorite TWiT memories still is a few years back now when Steve Jobs passed away and listening to TWiT’s live coverage and the sort of sense of community that it presented to help make sense of such a visionary’s passing as Steve’s happened to be…

After listening to this episode in its entirety, amusingly enough YouTube then recommended an episode of Triangulation (which is one of Leo’s shows) and in fact was one where the tables were turned and Leo pretty much did the same interview with Kevin in the hot seat! I mean, so much of TWiT sometimes is just listening to these guys reminisce about TechTV and their experiences from the other side of the camera, so both interviews are a lot of fun if you happen to be fans from The Screen Savers days or even just enjoy listening to passionate people talking about their craft! 😉

Nothing’s Gonna Change My World

April 29, 2015 8:06pm
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I just discovered last night that this song that I’ve heard bits and pieces of over the years is actually a song by The Beatles, and though I’m by no means their biggest fan, I can’t help but find the lyrics to this particular one to be like poetry…

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe.
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind,
Possessing and caressing me…
Jai Guru Deva OM

Interesting to read that the background of the song is very spiritual, and I thought that the words went quite well with this particular YouTube video featuring imagery of the stars around our own universe, too. 🙂

[Edit: I had to swap out the video because it got flagged as only available in the UK and the imagery in this new one is a bit … different!]

I just watched the last five or ten minutes of An Inconvenient Truth because I stumbled upon it on Showtime and I was kind of itching to watch it the other night. I wrote a lot of papers about environmental awareness in high school and college … or rather, I turned in one really awesome paper over and over again … but either way, I particularly love the list of ways that everyone can change their lives to better our environment that runs over this song in the credits at the end of the film.

My favorite one of them all…

Vote for leaders who pledge to solve this crisis.

Write to Congress. If they don’t listen, run for Congress.

movie thoughts … The Fault in Our Stars

March 14, 2015 10:26pm
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MV5BMjA4NzkxNzc5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ3OTMxMTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_We all knew before sitting down for this movie that it was going to be a tear-jerker.

Because of that I knew that I wanted to be in the right mood for it, even though it started showing up on HBO a couple of weeks ago. Ironically, it’s kind of one of those things that you’ll probably never be really ready for on all levels – needless to say, it’s a movie that makes you do a lot of thinking as it refuses to pull any punches in a way that only a tragic love story is truly capable of…

I think I liked this movie because for 126 minutes it forces  you to confront the realities that someone with a terminal disease faces every day, and in a weird way I kind of admired its candor. There’s a scene in the second half where Hazel is fighting with her Mom and corrects her from saying, “If you die…” to When I die…” that just leaves your jaw dropping with acceptance that could only truly be served with a firm clubbing to the head.

We all know that Hazel is going to die, but nobody more than she does.

Spoiler – She doesn’t even die in the course of the movie, but we know that it’s going to happen eventually because we’ve watched her suffering unfold in ways that make us all wish we could take some of that burden from her…

Death is a topic that still terrifies me to personally think and talk about, but that doesn’t prevent it from inching closer and closer to me and everyone I’ve ever cared about every single day. The only thing that we can do is make the best of the time we have while we’re here, and that’s why this movie and book were so beautiful because it’s a tale of young love and hardship and fully appreciating a matter of months when truth be told they really deserved a lifetime together to love and to hold each other.

But sometimes life doesn’t always happen that way, and it’s not fair, and it’s crushing even as you see it coming from a mile away. This story was a celebration of both love and of heartbreak, and it’s really of no surprise after watching it why John Green is such a brilliant guy.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”

Everything, Everything Will Be Alright…

February 20, 2015 3:28am
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Got this cover of Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle in my inbox the other day courtesy of The Doubleclicks and I must say that it’s a pretty endearing rendition … I really enjoyed how it gives you a chance to slow down and really listen to the words, and of course, the backdrop of two aspiring, little girls who grew up into the ones singing to you was pretty darned heartwarming, too… 😉

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