Sunday, April 23, 2017

Joy, No Matter What

"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation . . . . and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. We feel it at Christmastime when we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” And we can feel it all year round."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Fate of the Furious, mini movie review

Rating: C+

The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, starts off with Dom and Letty celebrating their honeymoon in Cuba.  All seems like fun and games, a car chase thrown in for excitement, until Dom is approached by Cipher (), and the Fate of the Furious family is tested in whole new ways.

Fate is a classic popcorn movie: Car chases, crazy stunts, espionage, more car chases, etc.  It's all a crazy ride, and Fate doesn't disappoint.  Through the action you'll question self driving cars and whether the Furious family will ever come back together.  Also present in this movie is a good balance between action and humor, which I love.

An understanding of the previous movies is a must.  There's no real background information given as characters are brought in to fill the plot.  A lot of the Furious past players are here, and unless you know who they are, and how they connect to one another, you'll be a little lost.  This isn't a stand alone flick.  In a way I like this.  So much time can be wasted in explaining when really you can just watch another cool car stunt instead.

One thing I wish more explanation was given was in the new character Cipher.   Charlize Theron sure knows how to play bad, but as slick as she plays Cipher, I wish Cipher had a little more depth.  Her motivations are not clearly explained, unless I missed something, but I wish her character wasn't so two-dimensional.

Oh, and if you love physics, and movies that portray realistic physics, you might go a little crazy at times, but it's all for fun and popcorn, right?

If you like the Fast and Furious saga, you'll like Fast 8.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Just a Little Inspiration from Snoopy: It's not about the ROAR

Ah Man!!

So, I've been struggling here and there.  No shocker.  I've talked about it here on this blog from time to time.  More recently I've returned to music composition, and it's been frustrating.  I could go on and on, but I won't, though this last week my lack of confidence got the better of me.

My Mom went to Hobby Lobby and bought me a couple Snoopy inspirational art pieces, one saying "be FEARLESS" and the other "Be A Warrior."

For a couple days it seemed all these videos and stories started popping up on my Facebook feed about never giving up and that becoming good at something is a day by day thing, not all at once.  Cried a couple times because of it.

And suddenly I visualized a glass of water, realizing that each glass is a combination of water drops, and without each water drop the glass wouldn't be full.  It takes all the electrons, neutrons, and protons in their proper order, repeated over and over again.

And then I found this quote:

"Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~ May Anne Radmacher

If you're struggling with something don't feel bad about it.  Don't be afraid to try again.  Have courage.  Be a Warrior!  Be Fearless!

I'm going to keep facing my demons, aka fear.

Drop by Drop.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Your Name, mini movie review

Rating: B+

Your Name is the Japanese anime that has taken Japan by storm.  According to Wikipedia it's the "fourth highest-grossing film of all time in Japan, the 8th-highest grossing traditionally animated film and the highest-grossing anime film worldwide, with a total gross of more than US $328 million."

Your Name, written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, is a body switching movie in the same vein as Freaky Friday or Wish Upon a Star, only this time it's a girl, Mitsuha, from the country and a boy, Taki, from Tokyo who are switching places.  At first they think it's a dream, as the memories of the person they are switching into fade when they are themselves again, in the same way dreams fade when we awake.  It's not until their friends and family mention how weird they've been acting, and by leaving each other messages, that they realize these "dreams" are real.

The narrative is smooth switching from Mitsuha and Taki, showing their lives as they grow to appreciate one another, with many road bumps along the way.  It's through putting yourself in someone's else's shoes that you grow to love them, and that's what makes this movie unique.

Director Makoto Shinkai movies are always a visual delight, and I've grown to love his films artistry above Studio Ghibli, if you can believe.  I remember when The Place Promised in Our Early Days first came out in 2004.  He created ripples in the anime World.  I purchased 5 Centimeters Per Second as soon as it was available on DVD, and marveled instantly over that beautiful movie, particularly the second act, a must see.  Stunning traditional animation.  I haven't seen some of his other work, though I want to, as his style is so distinctive.   Your Name is no different.  It's visually beautiful, adding life and vitality to the presented scenes.  It glitters and gleams, in a good way, in a way film and 3D animation never can.  Thank goodness there are studios in Japan who are still making animated movies the traditional way, and Makoto Shinkai is one of the best.

The story in Your Name is interesting.  Where the plot could easily become convoluted, instead there's balance and fluidity.  There's a good mixture of comedy, drama, and suspense as details from their two lives parallel.

For those who love anime and classical animation, plus really solid storytelling, I recommend Your Name by Makoto Shinkai.

MPAA: Rated PG for thematic elements, suggestive content, brief language, and smoking.

(For my LDS friends who may want to see this, I would say this movie is a strong PG, in accordance to the "suggestive content" mentioned by the MPAA.  When Taki becomes Mitsuha he plays with her breasts, which becomes a joke through the film every time he wakes up as her.  There's no nudity, as he/she is wearing a shirt.  And when Mitsuha first becomes Taki she reaches down to check she's a boy, which is done off frame.)

And for those living in Utah Valley, Your Name is showing at Provo Towne Cinemark 16 with three showings dubbed in English and two showings with subtitles.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Year Ago Today: Flying To Paris

I think I'm FINALLY ready to look through all the pictures and videos my Mom and I took last year during our month long trip to France.  A year ago today I was sitting on a plane, probably somewhere over the Eastern United States.

It's strange.


I had so many thoughts going through my head.  Worry, because of the recent Belgium attack and Paris attack.  But excited as well, not wanting to live in fear, but wishing to embrace life and have experiences I could remember.  A long time ago during the 5th grade I took another trip to Paris.  I loved it, appreciated it, but didn't know as much to truly take everything in.

This time it would be different, and it was.

 Sadly I didn't keep a good journal of everything I experienced.  Thankfully my Mom wrote everyday, so I'll be reading what she wrote to bring it all back to my mind while sorting through pictures and watching the videos.

That was one of my greatest regrets I had while visiting Tokyo a year and a half ago.  I brought a journal on the plane, wrote a nice opening entry, and then didn't write in it again.  I was so tired!  And it was a whirlwind! Between my brother, sister-in-law, and I we took a lot of pictures, so I pieced it together in a Shutterfly book and wrote some blog posts about it, which I haven't even printed out to put in a binder.

I should do that.

I'll finally be blogging about France, which I don't know if my regular readers here will care about, but I'm excited to venture down this road again, just because there are memories worth remembering.  And being into Family History as I am, recording everything down is important, because the mind does make things fade, unfortunately.

So a year ago today I was probably watching a Japanese movie, that one about a little girl who learned how to cook by her Mother who had cancer, depressing, looking out the window at times.  And here I am now typing on the computer on a different journey: composing game music for a VR game my siblings and I are working on (more about this at a later date).  But my heart does ache to travel, and even though I'm not taking a trip immediately, reliving this past trip will be fun.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Exploring AncestryDNA Genetic Communities; Comparing Different Family Members

 (All photos are screen shots from the mobile app)

Last week gave us a brand new update to AncestryDNA called AncestryDNA Genetic Communities.  I'm still learning about it, so this blog post is about my casual observations comparing myself with my parents, siblings, aunt, and maternal grandparents.

When you take a DNA test through Ancestry there are 26 Ethnicity's that can appear in your results, taking the last 1000 years or so into account.  There are over 300 DNA Communities which shows what is happening in your linage in the last few hundred years, showing migrations.

There's a considerable amount of communities all over the world and in the United States.  There's five Genetic Communities in "Settlers of Colonial New England" alone.

I love this new update because my ethnicity DNA doesn't get into my American Heritage, showing I'm mainly Great Britain (Scots and Welsh included), Irish, and Scandinavia.  And even though this is cool, showing what regional DNA I've inherited, it doesn't get into my deep American roots, which I'm also interested in learning.

When you sign into DNA and get into the communities there's a video you can watch, which is also found on Youtube: Introducing AncestryDNA Genetic Communities.  It's only a couple minutes. There's another helpful video from AncestryUK called Understanding Your Genetic Communities, which is around six minutes.

My Communities:

I'm only in two genetic communities: Settlers of the Missouri Ozarks & East Tennessee; Early Settlers of Eastern Kentucky & Northeast Tennessee.

Am I in total shock?  Nope.  This is all on my Dad's side of the family.

Just look at the Hugh Patrick genetic circle I belong to.  Crazy strong.

 He was born in Virginia and migrated to Kentucky with his family.

I am interested in knowing more about my Missouri roots, but there's a major brick wall with my paternal great-great grandfather.  My great grandfather Norman Rhoades was born in Bolivar, Poke, Missouri in 1909, but here's the kicker, Rhoades is his mother's maiden name. She died never telling my great grandfather who his biological father was.  Lula Rhoades married Harvey Kelley, and they later moved to Ventura CA.  My only clue over Norman's father is, according to my Dad, Lula worked as a maid for some major family in Missouri, and something might have happened then.  Who knows?  It just might remain a permanent mystery.  But it appears I do have some deep Missouri roots.

What I like about these communities is that there's historical information by date, events that may have affected ancestors and caused them to move or whatnot.

Click on a time period and all this cool information pops up.  The map changes while showing different information as you change from one historical event to another.

Before I get into more detail, it was interesting comparing what communities I was in verses other members of my family.  There were a few different communities.

Steven and Robbie's Community:

Sadly my brothers Steven and Robbie are only in one community, and it's the very same community: Settlers of the Missouri Ozarks & East Tennessee.

Michael's Community:

 My brother Michael got a community no one else in my family got:
Settlers of Western Ohio, Indiana, Illinois & Southern Iowa.

This is the only community he got.

Here's what's funny, Michael was called to serve a mission in the South Chicago mission, which also included parts of Illinois and Indiana.

We have super strong Iowa roots.

And apparently there's a small museum in Toledo Iowa that has a good amount of information about my Emerson ancestors.

Man I would love to visit.

My Dad's Communities:

My Dad belongs to three communities:

 Early Settlers of the Lower Midwest & Virginia; Early Settlers of Eastern Kentucky & Northeast Tennessee; Settlers of Southwest Virginia & Eastern Kentucky.

 My Mom's Communities:

My Mom belongs to three: Irish in Kerry, English Newfoundlanders, and Settlers of Rhode Island & Southeastern Massachusetts.

 It's interesting that on my Mom's map, even though she's only apart of the Irish in Kerry, it also brings up Munster Irish.  The Kerry ancestors, I believe, are from my Grandpa's side, whereas I found an ancestor on my Grandma's side born in Dublin.

We're just very southern Irish.

My Aunt's (Mom's Sister) Communities:

She actually belongs to a total of four communities: Irish in Kerry; English Newfoundlanders; Settlers of New England & the Eastern Great Lakes; Settlers of Colonial New England.

My Maternal Grandpa's Communities:

My maternal Grandfathers communities: English Newfloundlanders and Irish in Kerry.

It's been this huge mystery tracing back my Grandfather's Grandmother's roots, Mary Hallisey.  There's two Mary Hallisey's with parents named John and Ellen born around the same time, one in Kerry and one in Cork.  When I ask my Grandpa where Ma immigrated from he says Kerry, so this gives some validation.

My Maternal Grandma's Community:

And my Grandma's community: Settlers of Rhode Island & Southeastern Massachusetts.

 The "very likely" shows how confident Ancestry is in my Grandmother belonging to this community, whereas my Mom is only Possible, and it doesn't show up in my communities at all.  It's all in the name of inherited DNA.  Amazing how much can disappear in just three generations. 

 As you click through the history in each community it will bring up your ancestors that were in the area during the time mentioned.

 And a lot of cool graphics on the map pops up.

Giant dots represents those in the community.

Little pointers with numbers are ancestors in your tree.

(See how important it is to add a family tree with your DNA?)

 And with David Davis Eby we're also apart of his DNA circle.

Genetic Communities are very interesting, and I like the path of migration and historical information provided.  Of course, the accuracy of this information also depends on the accuracy of family trees along with records and so forth.  There's a lot of inaccurate genealogy research, which is frustrating, and I'm guilty.  Still, this is a cool update in which I still have a lot to explore.

So in total my family belongs to:
Settlers of the Missouri Ozarks & East Tennessee
Early Settlers of Eastern Kentucky & Northeast Tennessee
Settlers of Western Ohio, Indiana, Illinois & Southern Iowa
Early Settlers of the Lower Midwest & Virginia
Settlers of Southwest Virginia & Eastern Kentucky
 Irish in Kerry
English Newfoundlanders
Settlers of Rhode Island & Southeastern Massachusetts
Settlers of New England & the Eastern Great Lakes
Settlers of Colonial New England

So even though I belong to two, there are a total of 10 my family belongs to.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Late Night Ramblings: Stay Strong

There are two things I should never do with this blog: 1. don't write when I'm feeling particularly cynical and 2. don't write when I'm really tired.  I'm not feeling quite so cynical right now, but I'm tired, particularly because I've spent the last two hours picking out socks from Amazon to mail to the Hogwarts Running Club for the sock drive.  Who knew how complicated socks could be?  The other houses ( *cough* Slytherin *cough*) went with quantity over quality to win the drive.  The Gryffindor's decided unanimously for quality.  Makes me proud to be a Gryff.  And so that led to two hours reading reviews and realizing Hanes and that Fruit brand just weren't going to do and it was worth paying more money for good reviewed socks that will last.  It's all about pleasing Dobby, right?

So I'm sitting here, realizing I've slacked in my blogging, listening to David Archuleta, figuring I should write a little something.  Should I be profound?  Should I write something meaningful?  Funny?  I don't know.

Somehow, sitting here with little sleep I'm feeling this strange sense of peace.  Maybe it's the quiet of the night?  Maybe it's my half glazed eyes?  But I think what I'm feeling is the fact that I believe I'm moving in the right direction again.  I think we all get stuck.  I've been stuck.  Not because I want to be--who does?--but life does that.  I've realized some things these last couple weeks.  But I'm also starting to find my passion again.

I've spent many hours recently watching tutorials on Youtube and Master Classes.  Mainly figuring out Cubase again, Omnisphere, etc.  Trying not to get overwhelmed, though I've failed in this department.  But something has started happening that I haven't experienced in a very, very long time: I'm starting to hear music again.  In college I used to hear music all the time, mainly orchestral bits, as I walked and studied.  But somehow in the last few years I've stopped hearing the music.  I'm not talking about getting a popular song stuck in your heard.  That never stopped.  Original tunes bouncing around in my head, coming and going from who knows where.  And last week as I was watching tutorials while organizing my projects and resetting goals I've started hearing music again, and it's really quite joyous.

I still feel like I'm walking through a tunnel, but I'm seeing the light.  Feeling it.

The future can sure be daunting, and I've spent so much time trapped by worry, but as cliched as it sounds, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  You just got to hold tight, don't give up, don't stop.  And as the wise Dumbledore once said, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

It's after 2 a.m.  I really do need to sleep.

Really, never lose hope.  Just don't.  Hold strong.  It's strange, in moments when we feel weak I bet we'd be surprised by how strong we really are.  Holding on makes you strong.  Not giving up makes you strong.  Trying again makes you strong.

Stay strong.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Power Of Our Weaknesses

"Those who do not see their own weakness do not progress.  Your awareness of your weakness is a blessing--because it helps you remain humble, and keeps you returning to the Savior."

~ Henry B. Eyring, LDS Women's Conference,
March 25, 2017

Shamefully I didn't watch Women's Conference live.  I always forget.

The only time I have seen it live was over a decade ago when I got to attend in person, and sadly what I remember most from that experience was the hour it took to find the car in the parking garage.  Pretty funny memory, actually.  But I always forget to watch live, even though I'm always eager to watch all four main sessions of General Conference live, which follows the week after, (aka. this coming weekend).

The above quote by President Henry B. Eyring was immediately passed around on Facebook after the session, reminding me I missed it, and is still showing up on my feed.  Last Sunday I was able to hop online and watch his full talk.

Thank goodness for technology.

This quote touched me, because this is something I struggle with: My overwhelming awareness of my weaknesses, and never feeling like I'm measuring up or good enough.  Sometimes I get trapped by my weaknesses, more often than not it seems, but these weaknesses do push me forward and has always led me to prayer, begging for strength and courage.  Our weaknesses are a blessing.  They help us stay grateful.

Sometimes I think it's a blessing that we're not aware of all of our weaknesses.  That would be overwhelming!!  If we pray to God and ask him to show us our weakness we are shown just enough to change for the good, if we're brave enough.

So the next time I'm hard on myself for my weaknesses, which is pretty much all the time, instead of being hard on myself--which is one of my many weaknesses--I'm going to go pray to our Lord and Savior for strength.

(Ah, heh, though be careful when you pray for patience.  And be careful in telling God you can't handle anymore.  My Grandma made that mistake once.  Many overwhelming, awful things were happening to her, and she told God in prayer that she couldn't handle anymore, she was pushed to her limit, and in that moment a giant tree branch broke and fell on the roof causing a lot of damage, and proving to my Grandmother she could indeed handle more.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 2017 J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World by LootCrate subscription box review

This is the third box in the new J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World by LootCrate, featuring 5-7 exclusive and officially licensed items in each box, delivering right to your front door the magic of the Wizarding World from Harry Potter to Fantastic Beasts and everything in between.
The subscription is bi-monthly, coming every other month, which means the next box will be delivered in May.  The cost is $34.99 per box plus $5 shipping.

This month is "Hogwarts House Pride"!!


When you sign up for Lootcrate you choose a house.  For this box there was a Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor variation.  I got the Gryff box and I really like the design of the lion.  I feel bad for Ravenclaw!  Thanks to the movies they never catch a break.  Those who love the books will never get their blue/bronze colors with an eagle.  They would freak if they did, those nerds! :P  Both my sister-in-laws are Ravenclaw, and I made a blue/bronze scarf and gave one to Krista, who likes to wear the Ravenclaw sweater from time to time.  She loved the scarf and actually wore it around town.  For special events I love wearing the Gryffindor scarf I made.  You're not a true fan until you've made a scarf.

Oh, and another thing, Lootcrate gives elusive box items in their subscription boxes, and this month all five items are exclusives, which is really cool.  No Funko Pop!  Ha!

 Hogwarts Raglan T-Shirt

I LOVE this shirt!  Seriously, I do.  I'm wearing it now and I don't plan on taking it off.  I love the soft muted colors and the overall design of each house.

 Sorting Hat Pin

This is a small and simple pin, but I like the texture.  For fun I do virtual races for charity and get medals, and I like to put pins on them.  One pin = 50 miles walked/ran on the medal ribbon.  I have Hogwarts medals thanks to the Hogwarts Running Club, so I'm going to walk an extra 50 miles and put this on one of them.

Hogwarts Express Lanyard

Because you never know when you're going to ride the Hogwarts express or visit a theme park.  I love the metal Hogwarts crest, and I even have a ticket to ride the train to Hogwarts.  How cool is that?

Hogwarts House Duffle Bag

This is smaller than I thought it would be, but it's the perfect size for dance class.  If you go to the gym this would be a good gym bag.  Just the right size for my ghillies, ballet shoes for when I want to preserve my ghillies (not cheap), couple extra knee high socks, towel and water bottle.

Hogwarts House Beanie

So cool.  Love the style.

"Gryffindor" is wrapped all the way around.

It's getting warmer now, so this will wait till next Fall, but I like it.

Here's the information that came with the box.

So there you have it!  Hogwarts House Pride, Gryffindor style.

Next month's theme is Dark Magic.  I wasn't going to get the box, I need to save my money, but May is my birthday month, and I'm curious.  This is a good birthday present to myself, right?  Ah!  From some hints and spoilers I think there's going to be a Percival Graves item in it, hmmm, we'll see.