Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Beauty in Overlooked Places; Seeing That Which We No Longer See

"The more often we see the things around us -- even the beautiful and wonderful things -- the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds -- even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

This photo was taken last week in Solvang, a quaint Scandinavian town in coastal California.  I had just exited a shop when I saw these flowers set inside wild grass, flowing in the wind, a flag casting dark shadows in scattered movement.  At the very top of the photo is the grill of a car, which took some work trying to obscure.  These plants lined the sidewalk next to the street where cars park, very easy to overlook, but with the way the light was shining and the movement of the plants I couldn't help but pause and take it in.

A group of Asian tourist noticed as well and started taking pictures, one women sitting on the pavement to pose for a shot.

How often do we walk by the beautiful?  Not just physical beauty, but symbolic beauty as well?  That which is seen and unseen.  How often are we so caught up in routine that we forget to pause?  Forget to look around?

Later that week my Mom, Grandpa, and I traveled up the coast to Ragged Point, a beautiful place set atop cliffs overlooking the Ocean.

My Grandpa had enough for the day and sat in the car to read after walking around a little, but my Mom and I weren't done.  Before walking the loop through trees and looking at breathtaking views, we stopped in the mini mart. The young man working the mart was quite energetic, and my Mom asked him where he lived, curious only because the Pacific Coast Highway is closed in many parts due to mud slide damage and whatnot.  He mentioned that the waterfall is in his backyard, pointing towards the direction, and suddenly we struck up a conversation about living in beautiful places and taking it for granted.

Even now, living along the Wasatch Front, where giant mountain peaks line the Eastern skyline, I take it for granted.  Bigger than life!  Beautiful!  But on many days I go about town, every now and then glancing up to take in the sight.

We really need to pause.  Pause and look around.  Pause to notice those who are in our life and those who are not.

We need to pause to see the things we've stopped seeing.

e see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds,
Read more at:
The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
Read more at:
e see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds,
Read more at:
The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
Read more at:
The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
Read more at:
The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
Read more at:

Monday, May 22, 2017

My 100 Book Challenge

I found this little sign in a gift shop at The Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo last week.  On it says, "Not To Be Trusted In A Bookstore With A Credit Card."

Okay, I'm not that bad!  But close.

The sad thing is I've developed a habit of buying books and not reading them.  Literately, I've got complete shelves of books that haven't been read.  Yup.  It's indulgent.  It's like buying CD's and never listening to the music.  Or buying Art and putting it in a closet, never to be glanced upon.

So, starting today, I will not buy another book until I've read 100 books I already own!  This number has fluctuated between 100 and 50 in the last few months, but, no, I'm going big.  This will be hard.  Ahh!!

Now, children's short picture books don't count.  Any book above 100 pages, with or without pictures, counts.  Now if a book is in a larger book, like a collection of Mark Twain or Jane Austin, each individual book is counted, not the entire column.  E-books,  comic collections, manga, short story/novella anthologies count as well, as long as there are more than 100 pages.

At the end of all this I'll list the 100 books I read, to stay accountable, and if I slipped and bought something.

Maybe I'm setting myself up for failure?  But this is a good goal.

Last week I found a charming antique book in an antique store: Little Sister Snow by Frances Little, printed 1909, and with the most charming illustrations on the inside.

This will be the last book I've purchased!!  Until said 100 books are read.

 What a find this was!!  And only $6, too!! :D

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2000+ Days on

  I recently discovered that I've been doing Postcrossing for more then 2000 days.  I've sent and received 656 postcards each way from all over the World, from a total of 54 different countries.

It's completely random.  It's always a surprise where the system has me send postcards, and it's always a surprise from whom and where I receive these postcards.  I don't send to and receive from the same people.

 The 54 countries: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Belarus, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, China, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Algeria, Ecuador, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Hong Kong, Croatia, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, India, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Thailand, Turkey, Taiwan, Ukraine, U.S.A., and South Africa.

 Countries I've sent to but haven't received postcards from:  Chile, Algeria, Ecuador, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, and Romania.

Countries I've received from but haven't sent to: Denmark, Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Turkey.

I'm still addicted to postcrossing.  Just last weekend I sent off 21 postcards.  I love finding fun postcards and stamps to send.  And I love receiving postcards, seeing the cool stamps, and reading the personal stories and likes from those who love snail mail as much as I.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Circle, mini movie review

Rating: D-

I wasted my life watching this movie.  Wasted my life out of curiosity.  Curiosity killed the cat.  Maybe I should count my blessings?

Emma Watson stars in this book to movie adaptation.  Tom Hanks is in it, too.  For this reason people probably scrambled to see The Circle.  If you haven't, good for you, go see something better.

Emma, aka Mea, works at a boring call center as her father struggles with an illness.  She wants to get a job at The Circle where her friend, Dr. Who companion Karen Gillan, aka Annie, works and lives a successful lifestyle traveling the World.  The Circle, which is part tech company and social media company (in which I was at first confused, only that The Circle is simply THE GREATEST COMPANY EVER in mankind, forever more, and so forth, whatever.)

And so Emma, aka Mea, goes and uncovers stuff.  Goes transparent, which means she wears a camera at all time.  And gets sucked into this future idea of a global surveillance state, because, by golly, it's so much fun having people watch you all the time, you know, all those friends, all the time, watching your every move, because sharing is caring, and they can save your life while they're stealing it.

The ending of the movie is abrupt.  The audience felt it.  I could feel the confusion in the audience it was so thick.  This teenage girl sitting by my Mom actually asked her what she thought.  The girl gave it a D.  My Mom gave this movie an F.  The girl's parents didn't like it either.  I settled with a D- with unshed tears over time I'll never get back.

MPAA: PG-13 for a sexual situation, brief strong language and some thematic elements including drug use.

P.S. If you want to see a movie where someone is gradually sucked into an ideology, Blame it on Fidel! is a far more successful, chilling movie, in which I think The Circle was going for, but failed miserably.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Finally Having a Kinder Surprise Egg in France

I've heard for years about these mysterious Kinder Eggs with a toy surprise in the middle.  They're mysterious because they're illegal in the United States.  So, so dumb.  When I was in France last year I was on a mission to find and then try a Kinder Surprise Egg.  My sister-in-law wanted me to sneak one back into the United States for her to try, but I didn't.  I read a story where a family was fined over $1000 an egg.  I don't have the money to risk that.

Along the Motorway, I think that's what they're called, French Autoroutes? I found Kinder Eggs at a multi purpose rest stop.  Finally I got to try one!!!!

 This is the dangerous egg toy at the center of the chocolate shell.

Scary, right?

I should be mortified for my life.

So, so mortified.

I can't believe I'm defying U.S. reason and eating one.

What am I thinking?

So dangerous.

I can't believe I survived the experience.

 The toys are cute.  And the comic that's included is cute as well.

Are these illegal in Canada?

 Just searched and they're legal both in Canada and Mexico.


Monday, May 15, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, mini movie review

Rating: C-
Popcorn worthy? Nope.

King Arthur, a story with many incarnations, changed and modified through time in a variety of formats.  My particular favorite version being the book The Once and Future King.  Who doesn't know one of the many King Arthur tales?  And that's, in part, one of the many reasons this movie falters.

The opening battle sequence has a slow beginning, and is honestly quite confusing.  For a while I thought Jude Law was playing Merlin, but he was Arthur's Uncle.  His brother, Uther Pendragon, played by Eric Bana, I actually thought to be an older Arthur, and that this was all a future glimpse.  The fact that they were battling Mordred, who I know in some legends to be Arthur's son, and in other legends Arthur's nephew, is what mainly confused me.  In this movie Mordred is an evil sorcerer, nothing more than that.  I spent more time trying to figure out what was happening, who everyone was, than fully experiencing what was happening on screen.

When the exposition concludes we get to see Arthur grow up, and it is in this sequence, which I actually quite enjoyed, that it was obvious is the director, as it seems he borrowed his Sherlock Holmes style for this movie: Quick cuts, fast motion, then slow motion.  The music seems throughout very Sherlock Holmes as well, only Hans Zimmer didn't compose this music, Daniel Pemberton did.  So many aspects of this movie seemed borrowed from Sherlock, instead of being fresh and original.

This version of King Arthur is quite dark at times.  I felt more agitated than inspired.  There were moments of fun, but sadly only moments as the plot jumbled and jumped.

See this movie only if you have a couple hours to waste.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language.

Friday, May 12, 2017

In Which My Brother 3D Prints For Me the Gryffindor Logo

My brother Michael has been on a 3D printing kick.

He's kinda obsessed.

I still find it amazing that 3D printing is a thing.  Just one step closer to getting a Star Trek replicator?  Still, the technology is getting really impressive.  We're on the cusp of 3D printing being used in the medical industry for saving lives, using patients own cells to print organs and so forth.  Crazy stuff.  So many possibilities.

Lately Michael has been printing fidget spinners, which I was thinking I would be getting, but secretly hoping for something else.  Yesterday afternoon Krista asked me if I wanted to look up things that can be 3D printed.  Mentally I said Gryffindor, but I've been annoying the family with my Hogwarts obsession, so I said a castle instead, and Krista pulled up this video of a large castle this guy 3D printed.  Really cool stuff.  When I opened my gift I didn't get the fidget spinner I was expecting, but the Gryffindor logo!  Yay :D

Sometimes I wonder what our ancestors would think if they saw our day.  Would they be impressed or frightened by the possibilities of technology?  I'm both.

Oh, and Michael finally took the Pottermore sorting test and he got Gryffindor!  Yay!  My Mom and I aren't the only ones!  Though my Dad still hasn't taken the test, and he said he would, just hasn't gotten around to it.  He self-sorted himself into Hufflepuff, though he could easily land in Ravenclaw or Gryfindor.  My other two brothers got sorted into Hufflepuff, and my two sister-in-laws were sorted into Ravenclaw.

And, yes, according to a blog post I wrote many years ago, I was originally sorted into Hufflepuff, had an identity crises over it, and retook the test and got Gryffindor.  Since the Pottermore site update I've taken the updated test 7 times (I know I have issues, but scientific study, you know, and I'm not even a Ravenclaw or a Horned Serpent, I'm a Pukwudgie if you're wondering), and I got Gryffindor 5 times, Ravenclaw once and Hufflepuff once.  My brother Steven likes to joke with me that I'm really a Hufflepuff in denial.  But I'm not!  But as my Dad would say, "None of this is real."  And as I always respond to him, "But it's real to me."  Which means it's real enough.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II, mini movie review

Rating: A-

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. II!!!  A movie full of epic space mayhem, flashy battles, and stellar 70's music.  Honestly the first movie was quite a pleasant surprise.  There's a talking raccoon!!  It seemed poised for disaster, but it was full of a lot of fun with great characters, plot, and action.  This second installment lives up to the first movie.

Peter Quill and the gang are back, baby Groot in tow, saving the galaxy as they rock out.  Along the way they pick up some new friends and foes.  Ayesha is the leader of the Sovereign race, genetically superior golden people with a bad taste towards theft and an awesome battle system.  Mantis is an alien with special abilities and a total sweetheart.  Peter meets someone who sheds light around where he comes from and why he exists, aka how is it Peter was able to hold an infinity stone in his hand without dying?

This second Guardians of the Galaxy is simply a rocking good time balanced with humor, action, and good music.  The new characters add a lot to this imaginative world.  I was afraid I wasn't going to care for Mantis, but she's a really enduring character and I like how she interacts with Quill's crew.  Yondu and Nebula are also back, adding interesting depth to the story and what it means to be a family.

Also Kurt Russell plays Ego.  There's a flashback scene with a younger Kurt Russell and the CGI is incredible!  Leaps and bounds ahead of Tron: Legacy which showed a young Jeff Bridges.  Technology has come so far, though CGI Leia at the end of Rogue One is still creepy, not CGI baby creepy from a certain (*cough* Twilight *cough*) movie, but still creepy.  Young Russell is impressive.

And I Love Baby GROOT!!!!  AHHH the cuteness!

See Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II if you loved the first.  (If you haven't seen the first you will want to find a copy, as the first movie is referenced at times without deep explanation.)

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.

P.S. I like the music in Vol. II over Vol. I.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pearls of Wisdom

Going through my file cabinet this last week I stumbled upon a folder full with cut out newspaper comics and scraps of paper with quotes scribbled on them.  I'd completely forgotten that I once had a cork board right behind my door where I pinned all these pearls of wisdom and scraps of humor.

It was all in the name of encouragement and motivation.

Henry David Thoreau: "You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment."  This was pinned on my board, but thanks to Google I just found the rest of the quote.  "Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land.  There is no other land; there is no other life but this."

Seeing this quote complete gives it so much more meaning.

The first part feels hallow now without the second.

"Hopes and desires often fail to materialize with many of us because we lack faith--the one great motivation force with makes all things possible." Howard W. Hunter

 "Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak; sometimes it means you are strong enough to let go." ~ Author Unknown.  I've found great solace with this quote.

This next quote is great for college students

"I urge you to not take counsel of your fears.  I hope you will not say, 'I'm not smart enough to study chemical engineering; hence, I'll study something less strenuous.' 'I can't apply myself sufficiently well to study this difficult subject or in this comprehensive field; hence, I'll choose the easier way.' I plead with you to choose the hard way and tax your talents.  Our Heavenly Father will make you equal to your tasks.  If one should stumble, if one should take a course and get less than the 'A' grade desired, I hope such a one will not let it become a discouraging thing to him.  I hope that he will rise and try again." ~ Thomas S. Monson.

And with these quotes I had several cut out comics: Calvin and Hobbes, Non Sequitur, Get Fuzzy, and The Peanuts.

I also had a cut out of the Pass it On from with Kermit the Frog: "Eats Flies. Dates a Pig. Hollywood Star. Live Your Dreams, Pass it On."

Man, I feel like I've gotten so off track with my life.  I've been organizing my files to sort out projects and ideas, but I didn't realize how much finding my childhood, youth, teenage, young adult tidbits would effect me.  How much I've let some of my dreams and aspirations to slip.

Well, thinking of that guy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "I'm not dead!" And that knight, "Tis but a scratch!"  Two different parts of the movie.  I need to see that movie again!  And now my thoughts are drifting.  How you watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the Shakespearean subtitles on?  It's impossible.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi UT

 Every year I've wanted to visit Thanksgiving Point Ashton Gardens for the Tulip Festival, which runs mid-April to early May every year, and each year I somehow don't make it.  A couple weeks ago my Brother and Sister-in-law invited my Mom and I to go with their little family to see the gardens, and we jumped at the chance.

I've been to Thanksgiving Point Gardens once before, a few years ago mid-Summer, and it was delightful.  So peaceful and calm.  A variety of different flower species with places to sit down, relax, and take it all in.

The Tulip Festival, especially on weekends, is quite a festive event.  There's booths and vendors, and a family play area with a bouncing ball house, free crafts, and large checker and chess boards.  The gardens are especially crowded this time of year, but there are still quaint little places to get lost.

We went on a Saturday, and as tomorrow is the last day of the Tulip festival, I recommend you go early morning vs. late afternoon.  We went around 10 am and left around 2pm, and bumper to bumper traffic went all the way to I-15 coming into the gardens.  That's crazy.  The parking is sizable, but not that sizable.

Thanksgiving Point Gardens are worth the visit anytime of year, but there's something special seeing tulips spread all around.

Photos by Sarah and Robin Stufflebeam.