Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Minecraft Nativity

(Photo by Michael Stufflebeam)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day.

Instead of Christmas music I hear the sound of snow blowers.  I think our neighbor is doing our sidewalk, which is really nice.  It's really snowing right now.  Big giant flakes.

Pictured above is a nativity made out of Minecraft mini figures.  My nieces are obsessed with them.  And for fun my brother set up a nativity using these popular characters.  It seems Jesus came into the World wearing the full armor of God, sword in tow.  Mary likes cake.  And Joseph is decked out in diamond gear.

Stay safe!

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

But It's Not Even Christmas Yet!!??

Last night in a last minute Christmas food spree to Walmart I ventured down the candy isle with my Mom and sister-in-law Krista, picking out some goodies for today and tomorrow.  In a show of holiday spirit all the Christmas candy was ceremoniously replaced with Valentine candy, beckoning costumers to the front of the store for the red, white, and green variety.

And it's not even Christmas yet!

It's not even New Years!

Or groundhog Day!

(Groundhog Day is the least appreciated holiday of the year. 

But maybe this simply adds to the quaintness of the holiday and a repeated viewing of a certain Bill Murray movie.)

I'm not mentally prepared to even think about Valentines day.

It brings out the cynic in me. Blah.

(I just realized I'm the scrooge of Valentines . . . need to change my attitude.)

But seriously, I like my holidays one at a time.  Yet, I still can't believe today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow Christmas day.  It doesn't seem possible.  Next week is 2017, which seems crazier still.

Today's a full day.  Cleaning.  Wrapping.  Cooking.

There's ribbons and bells stationed at the desk I'm writing at.  Presents all around with tissue paper and boxes.  Every year my Mom and I remind ourselves not to procrastinate, and every year we fail.  Kinda takes away from the spirit of it all.

Tomorrow will be a simple day.  No major festivities.  Time with family.  Snowed out by the upcoming Winter storm moving in this evening.  Church.

Sullivan Boutique messed up on an order I made recently, and they sent me a music CD to make up for it: Thank You, Say it With Music.  Really nice of them to do that.  I'm listening to it now, and it's lovely.

Sometime today or tomorrow I'll need to grab my copy of Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories, including the story about Anne's puff sleeves.  I'll need to read it while I glance at the snowfall.  That would be nice.

Merry Christmas Eve!

And for those living in the Winter Storm warning areas, travel safely.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Craving Disneyland McDonald Fries

Hmmm . . . McDonald Fries.

They're addictive.


And Oh. So. Good.

But nothing will live up to the memory of McDonald Disneyland fries.

From 1998 to 2008 Disneyland and McDonald's had a deal that involved McDonald products sold in the theme parks and Disney toys sold in Happy meals.  When 2008 came to an end this deal was not renewed, much to the relief of some who didn't like the golden arches destroying the Disney magic.  For me, I miss the fry wagon next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

In that decade I looked forward to grabbing a somewhat affordable snack while visiting the parks. There was something bewitching in the taste of those fries.  I don't know what it was, but they were just so good!  Was it the heat?  The freshness?  Did they change the oil more regularly?  Or were there some addictive chemicals added to make me want more?  I don't know.  But here in the real world, whenever I do grab McDonald fries, they are never the same.

Every now and then, as in once in a blue moon, the fries will be amazing while partaking in a fast food run.  For a moment I'm taken back to Frontierland.  The memory of those fries are so ingrained in my mind that when I do get fantastic MacDonald fries my first explanation is, "These are Disneyland fries!" In which I chow down in happy silence.

Maybe it's a good thing Mickey D fries will never live up to the Disney memory!!

Heh, I don't need the addiction.

Monday, November 28, 2016

And Thus It Snows

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?” ~ J.B Priestley

We finally had our first snow.  This year it came earlier than last year, which fell on Christmas day.  This year the first snow fell the night before Thanksgiving, giving us a beautiful day of wonder on our national day of thanks.

Today we got hit by another snow storm.

This one long lasting with giant flakes.  It's only now just calming down, so much so that the dark night is no longer glowing white.

I love the snow when I'm indoors, safe, looking out the window in a warm place.

 A trip to Costco this afternoon wasn't so bad.

But tonight, when my Mom and I needed to make another run to the store, the weather took a whiteout turn for the worst as we drove passed 4 to 5 accidents.  Watching snow is peaceful, but driving in snow is something I'll never quite get use to.

Still, tomorrow morning will be beautiful.

I'm excited to see the fresh snow lit brightly by sunlight, sparkling like glitter.

Monday, November 21, 2016

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

This is the first 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 January.  The cost is $34.99 per box, plus $5 in shipping.  You can save $3 with a six month subscription and $12 with a year subscription.

When you first sign up for the box you select your gender and shirt size, and then what Hogwarts house you sort yourself into in case there are house specific items (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin).  Unfortunately I didn't get any Gryffindor loot in this box--I'm looking at you January--as everything in this box ties into the new Fantastic Beasts movie which was released to theaters last Friday.

(BTW, the next box is open for new subscriptions.  This box pictured in this review sold out within the first week of going on sale.)

I opted for the box to box subscription, as I wasn't sure if I'd like it.  After receiving this box it's a huge winner!  The spoiler pictures I saw online over the weekend didn't do the box justice.

 Fantastic Beasts T-Shirt

Each LootCrate seems to always include an exclusive t-shirt, and this shirt shows the first page in The New York Ghost newspaper, which is featured in the movie.  Also, this shirt is unisex, so they didn't send a fitted women version.  It's a fun shirt, and I like being able to read all the headlines.  I wish I could read all the printed text!  That would be cool.

 Pop! Figure Assortment, Niffler.

Each box comes with a Pop! figure with a random chance of receiving either Newt Scamander, Tina Goldstein, the Niffler, Albus Dumbledore or Jacob Kowalski.  I got the Niffler!  A new creature who is a bit of a thief, not to give too much away.  He's an enduring beast.

 Pigwidgeon Plush

Ron Weasley's owl!  And he's super soft.  I'll be keeping him on my reading chair.

 Bowtruckle Pin

When I first saw the spoilers for this box I couldn't make this pin out.  At first I thought it was simply a green creature hanging out in a pot.  It's really a Bowtruckle Pickett hanging out in Newt's front pocket.  The creature itself, as seen in the movie, is cute.  I'm not sure what I think of the pin, and I'm obsessed with pin trading.  (I've got a nice Disney parks pin collection, not to mention all my Odyssey of the Mind pins.)

 Hedwig/Letter Keychain

This keychain has some serious weight and is quite sturdy!  It also has a faux leather tassel, which is apparently in fashion right now.  (tassels were on everything last Summer.)  I like this keychain, and I'll be hanging it off my backpack, ol' school style.

 MACUSA Notwbook

My favorite item in the box.

A notebook featuring the Magical Congress of the United States emblem.

 It's seriously nice, though I wish the pages were lined, but I'll still use it as a journal.

 And the scroll we received details each item in the box.

The January box is currently on sale, if you like what you see here and would like to give this LootCrate subscription a try.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wresting With Daylight Savings Time

"One must work with time and not against it."
~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Am I the only one who doesn't like Daylight Savings Time?

When I was younger, aka anytime before reaching my 30s, I dreaded springing forward in the Spring and falling back in the Fall.  The thought of losing an hour of sleep saddened me!  I loathed it, honestly.  Falling back in Autumn, knowing that I was getting that hour back, was always my favorite.  Getting dark an hour sooner?  That's never appealing.

 My senior year of High School is probably the only time I liked the darker evenings.  In November 1999 I was in a photography class, and there were hardly enough developing booths (I've forgotten what they're called!!) to develop pictures, and I never got enough time in the dark room.  Thanks to my parents owning a photography business my Dad had the trays, chemicals, and photo developing machine (a big device that let me place the film, position the paper, and with a metronome I counted how many seconds to let the light through the aperture . . . okay, I've forgotten all the terminology.  This is sad.)  I put sheets over my parents bathroom window, set everything out, turned on the red light, and by 5:00 pm I could start developing the pictures for class.  That was fun.

But other than that I don't like it getting dark so soon.

But here's the sad thing, it's suppose to get dark this soon!  Daylight savings time in the Winter simply restores where we're suppose to be.  Once again Utah is aligned with Arizona.  This whole getting dark soon would be easier to take if we inched gradually towards it, instead of getting hit with a sledgehammer.  

And why do we need an extra hour of sunlight in the Summer when the days are naturally longer!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????  Seriously.  Fireworks at 9:30 instead of 10:30 would be nice.

Arizona was right in canceling Daylight Savings Time.

For some reason the time change last week has really affected me.  More so than normal.  My whole inner clock is thrown off not by one, but several hours.  Kinda driving me mad.

And now I'm dreaming of Spring, wishing we could skip Winter, minus Christmas, and just stay warm.  Though I always love a good excuse to drink Hot Chocolate.  Winter does have its perks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

An Uplifting Blog Post to Lighten the Day

Happy . . . late Halloween Day!

Today is Election Day, which is scarier than Halloween, so today I chose to remember happy times, those less than scary days, and write about a balloon.

This isn't about any ol' balloon.  It's a special balloon.  Purple in color.  Latex in material.  And it came into being October 20, 2016.  As of today it's still afloat, along with its Mallard cousins from the dollar store.

The latex balloon was a gift to my Mom on the day we were gathering party supplies for the Halloween festivities that night, and while we were at Partyland the salesperson accidentally made an extra balloon for another customers order, so, out of nowhere, he gave the balloon to my Mom exclaiming, "You've won a prize!"  And it just so happens that we earlier picked up three balloons from the dollar store needing a fourth to balance the look.  Happy timing.

And still today, 19 days old, all four balloons are standing tall.

And we're all quite baffled and amazed by it.

And I'm honestly curious how long they will last.

All the other balloons we got that day have given up the ghost.

What manner of wizardry went into the creation of these balloons?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Remembering Halloween With McDonald's Candy Pails

 When I was a kid I remember when McDonald's came out with the Halloween Candy Pail in the mid-1980's.  I especially remember when the trio of McGoblin, McGhost, and McWitch came out.  Three pails looking like a ghost, a witch, and a pumpkin.  I loved the witch, she was my favorite.

I remember several Halloweens when I went out trick-or-treating with one of these pails.  I also have a memory of the handles not being terribly sturdy, much to my candy loving dismay.

This past week on a trip to McDonald's during a Big Mac craving spree I discovered this years Halloween pail theme: It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, in honor of its 50th anniversary.

They're so cute!!!

There's two pails, one with Charlie and Snoopy and the other with Linus and Snoopy.

 I love the handles.

And the handles are sturdy, too.

Each meal even comes with cute stickers.

Happy Halloween!!

I have candy duty tonight, as always.  -_-;;

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ghostbusters, mini movie review

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5.

It's Halloween!!!  And what's Halloween without a ghost movie or two?  Seriously.  Though I did re-watch Hocus Pocus recently so I'm good on the Halloween movie front.

Anywho, on to the review!

I really wanted to love the new Ghostbusters movie.  Just love it.  Look above all the internet hate and give this movie a chance without reservation.  But alas . . . It doesn't help the fact that the 2nd Ghostbusters movie, which came out in 1989, has a special place in my heart.  (Yes, you read that right.  I know everyone loves the '84 original, but I was two when it came out.  Honestly I haven't seen the first in it's entirety.  Gasp! Horror! I know.)  Ghostbusters II is the first PG-13 movie I saw in the theaters. (Adventures in Babysitting is the first PG-13 movie I ever watched).  I was seven, went with my older cousins, and I felt so grownup.  Plus I watched the Ghostbusters cartoon as a kid so I grew up loving the brand.  (By the way, Adventures in Babysitting just got a Disney Channel remake this year.  Yup.)

So Ghostbusters 2016.  I was actually excited for girls to head up the new reboot.  What bothered me was the fact that this turned out to be a full on remake with new characters.  (Just thinking about it sucked all the steam I had in writing this review.  I'm kinda depressed now.)

Really, Honest Trailers take on Ghostbusters sums up a lot of what I feel.  It's worth a watch and a laugh.

The new Ghostbusters isn't that bad, well, I enjoyed it.  My parents enjoyed it.  We laughed.  It's silly and cookie and I didn't feel I wasted my time over it.  Am I going to run out and get the DVD?  Nope.  But it's fun in a "don't take it serious" sort of way.

I wish when all the stars of the original cast made guest appearances they played their characters, but with this being a remake and not an expansion it wouldn't have worked.  Why couldn't this have been an expansion to the already established universe!!  A spin off sequel of sorts would have been so much more fun.

If you're curious check out Ghostbusters.  You may or may not like it, no promises.  Hocus Pocus has held up over the years.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Thank You Pikachu For Making Me Feel Old

For starters I feel really quite young.

 When I was a kid and would look up to 30-somethings I would think, "Man that's old!"  For goodness sake it was a couple months before my 9th birthday when my Mom turned 30, which--Oh my goodness, I just realized this--I was 13 when my Mom was my age.  How's that for perspective?  Maybe being single at 34 with a boat load of questions about my life makes me feel young.  I don't know.  But then people are constantly mistaking me for 25, which I'll take as long as I can.

And then life throws a bucket of cold water on you to remind you that time is passing whether you like it or not.  For me I got soaked with ice water when I found a toy at Walmart showing the number 20.

"Why the freak is the number 20 on a Pokemon box!!??" I didn't exclaim this out loud.  Instead I screamed this within the confines of my mind.  A quick Google search later and I found out that the game Pok√©mon Red and Green came out on February 27, 1996, a year before the anime.

It wasn't until my senior year of High School, 1999, when I learned about the phenomenon through my obsessed three younger brothers.

We watched the show.  We collected cards.  They actually played, I just like collecting things.  I had many debates with my friends whether Pokemon is a legitimate anime, because a lot of purest wanted nothing to do with these Pocket Monsters.  Kiki's Delivery Service is the first anime I watched.  Miyazaki was gaining huge popularity in America.  Gundam Wing came out in March of 1996 as well, making strides on Toonami with 1992's Sailor Moon.

Yes, Sailor Moon is 24 years old. (Technically Sailor Moon was a middle schooler, so 12+24= 36.  Let that sink in.)

Most of the cards I've collected I've given to my siblings.

I've kept some of the holos.

This is my all time favorite card: Promo Holo Ancient Mew.

Scanning the card into a JPEG made it really dark.

Here's a picture that better shows the colors.

From "Pokemon promo card ancient Mew - given issued out to attendees at the Pokemon Movie in 2000. Ancient Mew is Holographic on both sides and has an amazing illustration of the elusive Mew on the front of the card. The back of the card is wonderfully illustrated with energy balls consisting of grass, fighting, and fire, water, colorless, lightning and psychic."

Apparently it's an ultra rare.  Cool.  I got two on opening day.

Still Pikachu's 20.  20!!  Where is the time going?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dreaming of California

I just realized that this is the first year in my life I haven't visited or lived in California.  It's where I was born.  When I moved with my family to Utah at 19 I've somehow managed to visit good ol' Cali every year since the move.  Well, 2016 is the year I avoided California.  Not by choice, but out of circumstance.  I can't complain, really, as I've done an amazing amount of travel this year, but I miss it.

My Mom, Grandma, and I were suppose to visit Atascadero, Cambria, and Santa Barbara this week.  But the trip fell through.  Financially it's all for the best.  My Mom and I were taking my Grandma to visit her brother.  Hanging out in Cambria was the fringe benefit.  I miss Cambria most of all.

Well, I'll visit Cambria in my dreams.  Disneyland is my second favorite place in the World for me next to Cambria.  I love it that much.  (Is it sad I love Disneyland so much as well?)  Still, salty air, scent of pines and herbs, walking above and along Moonstone beach, hearing the waves and otters crack shells in the distance.  Heaven on Earth, really.  I'm just glad I've had so many opportunities to visit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, mini movie review

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

We've got superheros!  We've got mutants!  We've got superheros who are mutants!  And now we have Peculiar Children.  Strange children with creepy abilities.  Strange enough that no one but the likes of Tim Burton should bring them to us in a strange, haunted dream.  Peculiar children are hidden throughout the World, protecting them from those who would prefer them dead, and somehow Jake, played by , is brought to their war.  Jake is a normal teenager from Florida, hot humid Florida.  Sorry Florida, you get picked on a little in this movie.  Then one day Jake's very normal life turns crazy after his Grandfather is attacked.  A message found in a Ralph Waldo Emerson book sends Jake on an adventure towards his life purpose with the Peculiars.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is strange.  Too strange.  Almost creepy goth side-show strange.  Where did the teenager get all those hearts that reanimates bodies?  The bad guys feasting on eyeballs was a step too far for my likes. I wanted to like this movie.  I really, really did.  I had high hopes.

The movie is sprinkled with opportunity and potential.  Missed opportunities and potential are found in a slow paced opening, awkward storytelling, and rough acting.  The music during a carnival fight scene was just odd.  Not good odd.  Take me out of the moment, cock my head to the side puzzled odd.  By that point I was waiting for the movie to end.

For those liking the odd, you'll find it here.  There are moments to enjoy.  For me I'm perfectly fine with a single viewing.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trying Out a VR (Virtual Reality) Game For the First Time

(My Sister-In-Law Lindsay)

Last Friday I got to try out VR (virtual reality gaming) for the first time at VR Junkies in the mall.  It was all spontaneous. I went to lunch with my Mom, Dad, brother Robbie and Lindsay, and afterword Robbie encouraged my Dad to try a game out.

My Dad loved it so much he got my Mom and I to try it out as well.

I've honestly been on the fence about VR.  I don't know why, I mean, it's what I've been dreaming about since I was a kid addicted to Super Nintendo.  Man was I addicted.  And with growing up on Star Trek TNG I've always been intrigued by the Holodeck, a room the Star Trek crew would go to for recreational, fully immersive virtual reality.  As I've gotten older I've contemplated the downfalls of immersive entertainment.  I guess I'm afraid of getting trapped in the escape.  Too busy living a fake life to make a real life.  It's why, years ago, I stopped playing The Sims.

But out of curiosity I had to try out VR gaming, even if it was for only 6 or so minutes.  (It's about a dollar a minute.  Expensive.  As a kid I spent quarters at the arcade playing Pac-Man and TMNT.  Now it's dollars.  But the memory and thrill of the arcade is back.)

I played Space Pirates and it was so fun!  So, so much fun!  I was on the verge of making it to level 12 when my time was up.  (Though I did get a few extra minutes due to the store getting busy).  But really, now I'm a believer.

My Childhood dream of literally stepping into a game is now a reality!  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Finding the Right Pace

Mosiah 4: 27 "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."

This is the scripture I read over and over again when I was in college, and it's a scripture I've allowed to slip from my mind!  With all the things I'm trying to do and accomplish, my goals get jumbled up in my brain, causing me to not accomplish tasks in a proper time frame, or simply not accomplish at all. 

We all have a lot of things going on in our lives.  When there are so many things to do, it's good to list them, prioritize, and plan accordingly.  "See that ALL these things are done in wisdom and order."  We can do all things, we just need to be wise about it.

And I like the last bit about "that thereby he might win the prize."  Naturally we need to be aiming for good prizes, whatever they may be.  We can aim for prizes, goals, and dreams.

At Anthropologie yesterday I bough a Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change.  I bought it because I need to be more productive and organize my life and priorities better.

When I was in school homework, tests, and essays forced me to stay on track and disciplined toward time frames, but as an entrepreneur working on developing a family business I have to set my own time frames and goal deadlines.  Independently I'm not so talented on self motivation and staying on track.  Regardless there's something nice about weaknesses.  Weakness can become strength.  Good habits can override bad habits.  What fun would life be if everything came easy?

I'm going to organize my life and projects better, and make sure I'm doing things in their proper order, not running faster than need be.

Life's a marathon, not a sprint.  Run too fast and you faint.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Storks, mini movie review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Before the Birds and the Bees, there were the storks.  Friendly bird creatures who deliver babies to wanting families.  At least that's what I was told growing up.  Are kids still taught this before learning about the birds and the bees in health class or other nefarious means?  Well, in the 80s at least I heard about storks carrying babies, and my little mind wondered if the babies were really too heavy for the birds.  How were they able to fly?  I wondered about a lot of strange things as a kid.

In the world of Storks--the latest animation from Warner Bros. Pictures, though the website doesn't immediately tout this, instead advertising that Storks is from the same studio that brought us the LEGO movie--babies are no longer delivered by Storks.  They've moved on.  Babies were too much of a hassle, anyway.  Now they deliver!  Anything, really, in the same fashion as Amazon.  Storks will deliver anything as long as it's not a baby.

While Storks is a fun movie, in parts, the LEGO movie it is not.  As of writing this review I had completely forgotten about Storks and that super annoying pigeon.  I was perfectly happy forgetting about that pigeon. That's not to say kids won't enjoy it, but Storks is not to the same standard as Finding Dory or Kubo and the Two Strings, two movies Storks were up against this Summer, both of which are exceptional storytelling examples.

Storks is a silly light fare that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The wolves are the best part of the film . . . sorry storks.

MPAA: Rated PG for mild action and some thematic elements.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Finding Motivation From Google

This last weekend my siblings and I had a Talea meeting.
Usually I have a really inspiring message to start the meeting with, to get it going on an uplifting note, but this last month has been hard for me, so I struggled coming up with something good to say.  My option, then, was to consult the internet, just for some inspiration, and so I searched "motivational quotes" on Google.  The top 5 search results was honestly perfect.

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations."
~ Anon.

"You can't have a better tomorrow if you're still thinking about yesterday." 

"Your mind is a powerful thing.  When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change."
~ Anon.

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
~ (A few people are attributed to this quote)

"A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence."
~ Jim Watkins

There was honestly something in each of these quotes I needed to hear and ponder over, and it was good doing this blog post just so I can reread these quotes.

In a sorta related, not related note: My brothers and I are working on another cell phone game, this time for both iOS and Android.  We've tested out the first prototype, and my siblings and I are excited over the potential of this game.  I can't give a release date because none of us can guess how long this game will take, plus we're only on the first drafts with many more to come.  The iOS factor, and trying to get it on the Apple store is a challenge none of us have faced.  I'm composing the music!  So I have a lot to learn there as well, but there will be an EP released with the game.

I'll make sure of it :0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spirit of the Game, mini movie review, #MormonYankees

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars.

About a month ago I saw the trailer for Spirit of the Game advertised on Facebook.  I watched, fascinated.  A Mormon missionary story and sports movie in one, based on a true story about the Mormon Yankees in Australia.

The Mormon Yankees was a basketball team of Mormon missionaries who helped train the Australian Olympic basketball team during the 1950's.  The team was so strong the Olympic committee approached the Mormon Yankees to play exposition games against other basketball Olympic teams from many nations.

A really cool missionary story I had never heard about!

The comments section under the Facebook trailer was filled with many stories other users posted about their fathers or grandfathers who played on the team.  Or how their family joined the church in Australia thanks to the Mormon Yankees.  The team was such a positive influence in Australia that the LDS church tripled in size between 1955-1960.

When October 7th approached I was excited to see the movie, and I went on the Cinemark website to get the times, only to notice that Mormon Yankees wasn't playing anywhere.  After a couple of days I realized Mormon Yankees wasn't the name of the movie, Spirit of the Game was.  This is the first mistake the movie makes, choosing a wrong movie title.  Search Mormon Yankees and many articles about a movie being made about this basketball team pop up, "Spirit of the Game" not mentioned.  Searching Spirit of the Game yields Mormon Yankee results.  This movie should have been titled Mormon Yankees.

That aside, I did enjoy Spirit of the Game.  It's an uplifting movie.  Unfortunately the story telling is very clunky.  There's an unnecessary opening scene where someone gets a call that someone else has died, only I don't remember who died, and there was no follow up to this first scene.  Overall the scene transitions are rough.  Acting in parts are rough as well.

I left the movie theater uplifted.  Spirit of the Game is not a Mormon Movie classic--Best Two Years is still my favorite--I'm still glad I saw it.  The story behind the Mormon Yankees is worth telling, though I wish it was better done.

MPAA: Rated PG for mild thematic elements.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Last Rose of Summer & The Brilliant Bright Moon

I picked this rose from the yard on the last day of Summer.  The fragrance sweet.  Store bought roses never smell nice, which is a shame.  "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  At least nature roses still smell nice.

The next day after picking this rose Utah nature took a crazy turn.  Rain, wind, and cold, the weather so crazy there was almost a tornado in Utah Valley when a funnel cloud appeared early morning, only to dissipate thanks to the valley mountains.  And between then and now the weather has been back and forth, taking turns between above and below normal temperatures.

This last weekend was heavenly.  The moon was brilliant, more beautiful then I've seen in a long time, passing through clouds, bright and clear.  I'm not the type to stare romantically at the moon, I prefer a night full of stars, but this last weekend the moon almost won me over.  The temperature that night as I stared at the moon was perfect.  Mid-seventies with low humidity, a slight breeze, the wind-chimes dancing in song.  I stayed outside long enough to enjoy natures thrill until the moon was finally engulfed.

The nice thing about living in north Utah during the Autumn is that we get to enjoy this season for quite awhile until snow hits.  Or maybe its lasted so long this year because I took advantage of the changing leaves when they first started to turn up in the mountains.  Every week since the beginning of September I've taken a trip into the mountains to take in the fresh, crisp air and admire the beauty of the trees.  They're captivating.  Now the trees in the valley have started turning.

This is my favorite time of year.

I'm going to enjoy each nice day we get.

I hope Winter minds its business and delays its welcome.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Food For Ear and Soul

I hate wanting to listen to music and not knowing what I want to hear.  It's like being hungry and not knowing what I want to eat.  Maybe I'm the only one who goes through this, but it's been happening a lot lately.  A lot!  Craving music and not even knowing what genre I want to hear: Classical, country, American pop, foreign pop, jazz, new age, soundtrack, Broadway, Celtic, bluegrass, etc.

it's like an itch I can't scratch.

A feeling of wanting to play a song on loop and not knowing which one.

It's like wanting to say a word that stays stuck on the tongue.

Or a foggy memory refusing to come into focus.

So I've settled on the next best thing: natural white noise via  The meditations on the site are way too expensive, but I like the nature sounds, which are free. Listening to ocean waves right now seems to be doing the trick.

I miss the beach.
. . .

In other news I can really go for a Chimichanga, despite it being breakfast!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

After All These Years I Finally Know My Patronus

I woke up this morning to my Facebook wall going crazy over the new patronus quiz on Pottermore.  It's the test that many of us have been waiting and asking for since Pottermore's early beginning.  I was honestly bummed when a patronus quiz wasn't offered during The Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix chapters, before the new revamp that got rid of the book/chapter format.  (I do miss those old scenes.)

Being the imaginative nerdy creature I am, ever since book 3, aka Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I've wondered what my patronus might be.  (A patronus being a difficult charm that wards off joy sucking dementors, a burst of light from a wand that takes the shape of an animal.  Each patronus is unique to the witch/wizard and is difficult to predict.  The producer of a patronus cannot choose the patronus shape).

So I've wondered about my hypothetical patronus, at one time wanting a red fox,wild mustang, or red panda.  More recently wanting a lynx.

Never wanting a mouse or crow.

There's been hints from J.K. Rowling and Pottermore about a patronus quiz, but no release date.  So upon waking this morning I was surprised to see the quiz was finally available, and I jumped out of bed to immediately take it.

The quiz wasn't what I was expecting.  It's better, but way too short, honestly.  3D graphics whirling you around a white forest of trees, my cursor making fun magical sounds as random words pop up asking me to choose which word I connect to as the patronus spell gradually forms.

And when mine finally formed I got a  . . . Grey Squirrel!

Heh, I wasn't expecting that at all, and had a good laugh over it.

Grey Squirrel . . .

The Hogwarts Running club is all abuzz about the quiz and they've been posting their results: Mastiff, Mole, Tortoiseshell Cat, White Stallion, Dolphin, Buffalo, Sparrowhawk, Brown Bear, Nebelung Cat, Badger, Ginger cat, Irish Wolfhound, St. Bernard, Black Mare, Weasel, Little Owl, Ocicat, Hedgehog, Minx Cat, Dun Mare, Sparrow Hawk, Wood Mouse, Basset Hound, Salmon, Piebald Mare, Wild rabbit, Osprey, Ibizan Hound, Grey Squirrel, Wild Boar, Black Stallion, Doe, Unicorn, West Highland Terrier, Chow Dog, Buzzard, Eagle, Ragdoll Cat, Mink, Dapple Grey Mare, Field Mouse, Scops Owl, Orca, Wildcat, Marten, Borzoi, Dragonfly, West Highland Terrier, Siberian Cat, Thestral, Goshawk, Bay Mare, Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Stoat, Capuchin Monkey, Orangutan, Dapple Grey Stallion, Red Squirrel, Greyhound, Hummingbird, Polecat, Tonkinese Cat, Swift, Grass Snake, Brown Hare, Black Bear, Fox, Goshawk, Bay Mare, Sparrowhawk, Otter, Bloodhound, Robin, Black Swan, Scops Owl, Dragon, Wolf, Stag, Beagle, Stoat, Vole, Tiger . . . may have repeated some animals by accident.  So these are the animals I've seen people get.

The reactions have been varied with some people being super excited vs. those who are simply 'meh': "I'm allergic to cats" "I don't like horses" "Got chased by a squirrel as a kid" "My pride has been damaged so I'm going to go hide in a corner" etc.

I'm just going to be amused.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Trusting God When We Can't See

"We cannot always see the end from the beginning.
We trust in the Lord and wait upon Him, knowing that in His own time and His own way, He will bring about his miracles."

~ Neil L. Anderson

I have a hard time trusting in God's timing.  In trials there are lessons.  In trials there are things the Lord wishes for us to grow and learn.  It seems one of the traits God is granting me is patience.  Patience with his timing.  Patience in learning to read.  Patience in taking seven years to get a four year degree.  And patience in starting a family.  I can't see the end from the beginning, but I still put trust in God, even though I've messed up on my path in life.

Sometimes I feel God gives us miracles to let us know he's still with us and watching.

On Twitter I typed out an experience I had ten days ago:

September 8th, 2016, "Just now while on the way to the theater to see a play with my Mom, we lingered a couple second at an intersection when the light turned green.  All of a sudden a car sped through the red light, oblivious.  My Mom and I were shocked.  The cars on the other side of the intersection lingered as well.  At the next intersection a car pulled next to us at the red light, window down, and a nice woman told us that the spirit told her to tell us, "The Lord is protecting you."  I'll be honest, I was disappointed for not winning anything at the photography competition.  Been bummed since I got home.  How selfish and silly.  I need to focus on what's important.  I need to count my many blessings."

What my Mom later told me was that right before approaching the first intersection she envisioned in her mind a car accident.  The driver side getting hit and she dying immediately, the car spinning, getting hurt, and surviving.  This is incredibly strange for my Mom to imagine such a thing.  But she saw it, and it didn't trouble her, she felt peace in it.  And when we stopped at the intersection waiting for the light to turn, both of us didn't do or say anything when it turned green.  We just looked at the green light, peaceful, calm like, our van not moving.  (And that's strange for me because I spent the whole day back and forth from Salt Lake City saying, "the light's green. the light's green. the light's green."  But this time I just starred.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a car sped through the intersection on her red light, left to right.  We couldn't see her because the rode had three lanes in each direction, and there were already several cars stopped in the two lanes close to us, so she was completely blocked from view, driving quite fast.  If she had hit us it would have been our driver side.  My Mom would have taken the blow.

When she started driving and reached the next intersection we went into the left turn lane, waiting at a red light when a van pulled up to our right, rolling her window down to talk.  I can't remember everything she said, but she was in complete shock and awe with what she just witness, with an overflowing feeling that we were being kept safe.  She then said, "The Lord is protecting you, and he wanted me to tell you that."  She wanted to talk more but the play we were going to started in 13 minutes, and we were supposed to be in our seats ten till the play's start.

I do wonder what else she wanted to say.

I took the experience differently than my Mom.  For me it was a reminder to focus on what's important and to remember that God is mindful of us.  My Mom was stressing about an upcoming trip, praying, more like pleading, to the Lord to keep her safe.

An incredible blessing.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 states: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

I repeat that over and over in my mind sometimes, especially when I'm struggling and feeling lost.  Trust in the Lord.  And I do believe, when we trust in him, he will direct our paths.

But always remember, as Joyce Meyer said, "God can't drive a parked car."

Another thing I'm constantly reminding myself.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How Much Money Each Charity Makes On the Charity Miles App

Thanks to the Hogwarts Running Club I started using Charity Miles, an app that you can download and use on Androids and iOS.  It encourages me to exercise while earning money for charity, thanks to corporate sponsors.  (And earning Gryffindor house points with team #hrcgryffinroar16 simply a bonus).

The site use to state that every running/walking mile was worth $0.25, so 4 miles was a dollar.  The site no longer states this.  Once upon a time the Charity Miles app, CM for sort, would state how much you earned for your chosen charity after your race/run/walk, immediately updating how much that charity earned. The app no longer does this as well, and instead updates at the end of each day the cumulative total earned through combined users.  All we see is how many miles we've walked/ran that day with no idea how much money we actually helped earn towards our charity of choice.

Money for each charity is still being earned, but I was curious how much money each charity was earning, as some charities have only a few thousand dollars earned while others a couple hundred thousand.  This disparity comes from a variety of reasons: charity popularity, where a charity is listed on the charity list, and how long the charity has been on the app, as new charities are added every so often.

Below is a list of the charities on Charity Miles.  The order corresponds to the order found on the Android app, instead of alphabetical.  The first gross is the amount of money earned on September 4 around 9:30 PM MST, 2016.  The second gross is the amount earned on September 14 around 3:00 PM MST.  I then divided the increase amount by 10 to get the daily average.

(The links take you to the main website for each charity if you wish to learn more).

1. National Park Foundation. $14,097. Ten Days Later = $15,028 ($931 increase)($93.10 Daily Average).

2. ALS Association. $1,912. Ten Days Later $2,428. ($516 increase) ($51.60 Daily Average).

3. Habitat For Humanity. $61,142. Ten Days Later $61,639. ($497 increase) ($49.70 Daily Average).

4. American Diabetes Association. $2,343. Ten Days Later $2,343 ($0 increase) ($0 Daily Ave.) (Back in April their total was also $2,343.  No increase in 5 months?  Really!!??  This can't be right.)

5. Charity: Water. $22,902. Ten Days Later $23,577. ($675 increase) ($67.50 Daily Average).

6. ASPCA. $164,029. Ten Days Later $165,392. ($1,363 increase) ($136.3 Daily Average).

7. Stand Up To Cancer. $226,599. Ten Days Later $228,009 ($1,410 increase) ($141 Daily Average).

8. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. $2,519. Ten Days Later $2,911. ($392 increase) ($29.2 Daily Average).

9. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. $107,565. Ten Days Later $108,047. ($482 increase) ($48.2 Daily Average).

10. Save the Children. $16,448. Ten Days Later $16,756. ($308 increase) ($30.8 Daily Average).

11. Feeding America. $164,922. Ten Days Later $165,798. ($876 Increase) ($87.60 Daily Average).

12. World Wildlife Fund. $105,110. Ten Days Later $105,528. ($418 Increase) ($41.80 Daily Average).

13. Shot@Life. $18,057. Ten Days Later $18,181. ($124 Increase) ($12.40 Daily Average).

14. The Michael J. Fox Foundation. $99,393. Ten Days Later $99,788. ($395 Increase) ($39.50 Daily Average).

15. Alzheimer's Association. $95,133. Ten Days Later $95,914. ($781 Increase) ($78.10 Daily Average).

16. (RED). $26,320. Ten Days Later $26,414. ($94 Increase) ($9.40 Daily Average).

17. Operation Smile. $19,378. Ten Days Later $19,587. ($209 Increase) ($20.90 Daily Average).

18. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. $53,105. Ten Days Later $53,970. ($865 Increase) ($86.50 Daily Average).

19. Sight For Kids. $1,934. Ten Days Later $2,037. ($103 Increase) ($10.30 Daily Average).

20. Autism Speaks. $136,729. Ten Days Later $137,105. ($376 Increase) ($37.60 Daily Average).

21. Team Red, While & Blue. $144,873. Ten Days Later $145,651. ($778 Increase) ($77.80 Daily Average).

22. Every Mother Counts. $46,755. Ten Days Later $46,924. ($169 Increase) ($16.90 Daily Average).

23. The Partnership For A Healthier America. $22,326. Ten Days Later $22,377 ($51 Increase) ($5.10 Daily Average).

24. Girls On The Run. $44,288. Ten Days Later $44,526. ($238 Increase) ($23.80 Daily Average).

25. DoSomething.Org. $7,633. Ten Days Later $7,659. ($26 Increase) ($2.60 Daily Average).

26. Wounded Warrior Project. $284,783. Ten Days Later $285,347. ($564 Increase) ($56.40 Daily Average).

27. The Nature Conservancy. $52, 678. Ten Days Later $52,848. ($170 Increase) ($17 Daily Average).

28. The World Food Programme. $90,065. 10 Days Later $90,174 ($109 Increase) ($10.90 Daily Average).

29. Pencils of Promise. $29,670. Ten Days Later $29,774. ($104 Increase) ($10.40 Daily Average).

30. Special Olympics. $31,843. Ten Days Later $31,995. ($152 Increase) ($15.2 Daily Average).

31. Girl Up. $38,807. Ten Days Later $38,914. ($107 Increase) ($10.70 Daily Average).

32. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. $36,302. Ten Days Later $36,491. ($189 Increase) ($18.90 Daily Average).

33. Team For Kids. $7,286. Ten Days Later $7,317. ($31 Increase) ($3.10 Daily Average).

34. She's The First. $21,894. Ten Days Later $22,052. ($158 Increase) ($15.80 Daily Average).

35. Soles4Souls. $17,728. Ten Days Later $17,766. ($38 Increase) ($3.8 Daily Average).

36. Nothing But Nets. $13,526. Ten Days Later $13,588. ($62 Increase) ($6.20 Daily Average).

37. Back On My Feet. $23,912. Ten Days Later $24,027. ($115 Increase) ($11.50 Daily Average).

38. Achilles International. $9,785. Ten Days Later $9,828. ($43 Increase) ($4.30 Daily Average).

39. The Ironman Foundation. $9,553. Ten Days Later $9,597 ($44 Increase) ($4.40 Daily Average).

40. Vision Spring. $5,766. Ten Days Later $5,805. ($39 Increase) ($3.90 Daily Average).

Final thoughts.

First, what the freak is up with American Diabetes Association!!!!????  I'm walking 6 miles for them tomorrow to see if they go up a dollar, because staying the same for four months is ridiculous.

Second, it's obvious that those on the top of the list do better than those on the bottom.

Third, I noticed--because I took screen shots--that in the last 10 days Charity Miles mixed up the order of the top 10 charities, but the bottom 30 charities stayed in the SAME EXACT ORDER.

And Fourth, Vision Spring is always at the bottom, and has been since I started using Charity Miles.

Overall the numbers are interesting.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering For Those Who Cannot

9-11 will always be a somber day for me.

A week or so ago I found the picture below being passed around on Facebook.  I don't know who to credit it with, but the realization of the message hit me pretty hard.

"Did you know? 2016 marks the first year high school freshman will learn about 9-11 as a historical event they were not alive for."

How crazy is that!!??  I did the math in my head and realized it was true.

When 9-11 happened, a moment I still remember clearly, watching in real time as the second plane hit the tower, I was struck with horror and emotion.  Later that day I wondered what those who lived during Pearl Harbor and the Second World War felt.  How do they look at my generation?  I've been to many Veteran events.  I even went to a couple Veteran memorial services while visiting France last April/May.  Myself honoring an event I've only read about and watched footage for, while those men standing in uniform were honoring an event they lived through.

Now I have a taste of what those men must have felt.  I will never understand the horrors of war those Veterans experienced, but I honor their bravery just the same.

And now, remembering 9-11, I'm realizing how precious my memories are.  I must remember for those who were not born at that time.  For those who who can't remember because they were too young.  I'm remembering for my nieces and nephew.  Remembering because if you forget the past repeats.  Remembering because we need to not forget how far we've come, and the place we are now, positive or negative.

Always remember.

And now, always remember for those who cannot.