Can we go on a cruise today???

January 14, 2019 6:31pm
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Remember that thing I said last week about following passionate people?

Tim and Jenn (TheTimTracker on YouTube) are a couple of likeminded Disney fanatics whose videos I’ve been enjoying lately because they really go out of their way to be positive and it’s hard not to have fun just living vicariously through their videos.

Case in point – last month Tim spent two weeks eating hotdogs at the Magic Kingdom for the 12 Days of Hotdogs promotion that they did at Casey’s Corner … because I certainly don’t think that I could eat that many hotdogs myself, but it sure was fun to watch! 😉

Anyways, apparently Disney recently sent a bunch of media guests on a complimentary Disney Cruise, so the last couple of days they’ve been posting videos about their cruising experience which have been a lot of fun to watch, albeit every single one so far has left me desperately yearning to go on another cruise myself! It’s neat seeing around a Disney ship because to date we’ve only done Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and although I think we’d both eagerly sail again on either one of them, we’re also very curious to check out a Disney Cruise for ourselves, too.

In fact, if it wasn’t for our kids currently climbing on everything in sight and worrying about them constantly falling off the boat, I’d love to take the whole family on a cruise…

…though admittedly another part of that cruise yearning is more likely than not also getting to spend a full week without responsibility!

Still … I do miss that decadent, blue water so…

*sigh*

In my ongoing attempt to make 2019 my best and most productive year to date, one of the ideas that I’ve been exploring is how I should best spend my time.

I’ve already written about the downsides of social media, and that’s definitely something that I’m trying to curb in search of this new me.

But at the same time, sometimes I struggle because not everyone online is bad – in fact, that’s been a major concern whenever I distance myself from social media is that I’m going to lose track of the people who I really do want to follow in the process!

So one thing that’s helped is taking a look at each of my interests and thinking about whose insights and opinions I really value in those areas. And those are the people who I’m primarily following, on social media and elsewhere.

Because I figure if I’m going to spend time reading stuff on the Internet, why not steer clear of the random strangers and drama queens and instead devote my time to people who I actually care about?!

Here’s my list so far…

These are all people who inspire me, they make me laugh, and the things that they do make me happy, so if push comes to shove, I’d rather kill a few minutes checking out something new that one of them did than arguing with some random stranger on Facebook. 😉

Inspiration From Liberia

December 6, 2018 10:59pm
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So this is a really cool story…

Guy gets contacted online by someone in Liberia who he assumes is just another scammer, but decides to give him a chance and offers him a job taking photos of his homeland. He ends up sending the guy a cheap camera and spends a couple of months coaching him on photography, then self publishes a small book of the photos so that he can pay him as promised. And they sold enough that the budding photographer was not only able to turn his life around, pay off his debts, and put a new roof on his home, but they also bought school supplies and book bags for kids in five local schools.

And if that’s not enough, check out this special video where these two new business partners plan to give the children of Liberia a Christmas to remember … which ends up being much different than the Christmas we’ve come to expect here in America…

I picked up a couple of copies of their books to give away as Christmas presents. It’s just a really fun, engaging, and also heartwarming story to watch from the very beginning if you’ve got some time to kill watching YouTube videos tonight. 😉

Made in China

April 13, 2018 8:14pm
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The last couple of days I’ve been kind of fascinated by videos of people buying things in the gigantic, multi-story super malls in China. It started from revisiting this video of a guy who built his own iPhone from parts that he bought in Shenzhen!

Of course, it’s not so much about the economics, but more so just one of those things because he could that’s impressive to me. I’ve built plenty of my own computers in my days, but small enough to fit in your pocket is a whole new ballgame that I don’t think my own soldering ability is up for the task! 😉

But from there I started watching these videos from another guy shopping the same market – primarily for counterfeit goods because apparently they’re everywhere…

Although he’s shopping mostly for clothes instead of electronics, which I don’t really care about, it intrigues me nonetheless for so many reasons…

  • Despite everyone selling knockoffs of major brands, the brands themselves don’t really mean much in China simply because counterfeiting is so widespread that everyone knows that what everybody else is wearing is fake.
  • The price flexibility is ridiculous – to start at something like 4,000 Chinese Yen ($632 USD) and work your way down to 150 YEN ($24) … it’s always interesting to me to see where the margin that products sell for falls, but it’s particularly apparent when you have products here that they’re trying to sell for name brand prices that realistically cost pennies to make.
  • …or do they? Consider that how a lot of counterfeiting of clothing takes place is simply by the factory making it to leak the plans, or for all we know it could be happening in the exact same factory! If it looks just like the original, and it’s made in the same place as the original, how fake is it?
  • And of course, salesmanship continues to astound me because you have to be so persistent to do that kind of thing amid eye rolls and people walking away. It’s always surprised me when we go on a cruise and you have those kinds of sellers in Caribbean countries – no matter how good of a deal you think you’re getting, they’re no doubt still making money off of you.

It makes me wonder the extent of this same kind of counterfeiting in the electronics area – some things like full devices and iPhone backs make sense, but looking at the parts the guy bought in the first video, it begs the question of how many were counterfeits and how many were parts out of recycled phones and whatnot. I mean, I know that it exists to some extent – probably quite a bit, considering that there are entire counterfeit Apple stores that pop up around China, but to what level do they take it?

And then the ethical question to end on – when the west exploits so much of their cheap labor to make these devices and shoes and purses, can you really blame them for finding a way to get a leg up in this commerce game when otherwise their numbers are being bought and sold for next to nothing???

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! 😉

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