Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Gryffs & The Hares: A Quidditch Story, or, in other words, How A Virtual Running Club Got Me to Walk 59 Miles in a Week

I've talked about the Hogwarts Running Club a few times on this blog.  Last week we started a Quidditch match between the four houses.  Three groups of 75 people each in Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Ravenclaw.  Though we were all racing at the same time, each of the 12 teams was in a race against just one of the teams in another house.

I was put in the GryffinRoar team against Luna's Hare Raisers.

Each of the individual races amounted to a single win.  If two houses got the same amount of wins, the house with the fastest combined time won the tie.

 GryffinRoar and Luna Hare Raisers were very evenly matched.  Through all of last week we were constantly switching places.  It was pretty exciting, actually.

(Okay, a momentary interlude.  I'm listening to a Spotify station, Discovery Weekly, and this song entitled "3000 Miles" by Emblem3 is playing, and it seriously made me laugh because the distance each team had to travel was 3,343 something miles or so.)

The Eagles won their match against the Snakes.  The Badgers won their match against the Eagles.  It looked like the Snakes would win against our Gryffindor team.  A lot of these matches ended late last week.

Still, back and forth us Gryffs and Hares went.  There was serious hope, and a good chance, that we could win, but it was a nail biter, major time.

Twice, close to midnight, I was walking to get in miles.

Saturday was a hard day.  I hit a MAJOR wall.  With some of the teams finishing it looked like we lost our chance at an overall first.  The snakes were rooting for us to win our match against the Hares, but the snarky/cynical side of me concluded that it was because if we won our match, it would guarantee the Snakes winning the Quidditch cup.  Someone mentioned on the GryffinRoar forum that, whether or not there's self interest involved in them cheering us on, they're showing us true spirit, #OneHRC spirit, or something like that.  Then, in the back of my mind, I was all like, "Well, if it's in the spirit of #OneHRC the snakes would equally be cheering for the Hares, which from my knowledge isn't happening."  Could be wrong.  Suddenly I was feeling a little used and contemplated the idea that losing and pushing the Claws to an overall win wouldn't be a bad thing.  Dark moment this was.  Thankfully I snapped out of it, after a couple hours . . .

I realized, no matter who won overall, I needed to give it my all regardless, no regrets.  If we lost it wasn't because we didn't try.

We did try.

And we pushed hard.

Saturday night I went to bed, having walked 10 miles that day, with our Gryff team 30 miles ahead of the Hares.  Sunday morning I woke up and the Hares were 150 or so miles ahead of us.  Then 200 miles ahead.  Then 300 miles.  And so on.  It didn't matter how much we worked we just couldn't make up the distance.  And while I was at church the Hares crossed the finish line in Orlando.

We were crushed.  I was crushed.

Then we pushed just to finish.

When I signed up I promised 7 miles a week, a mile a day.  Last Monday morning was when we crossed the finish line, 7 days from starting, and I did a total of 59.4 miles, just short of 60 miles, walking on the treadmill and around the house, showing proof by using the Nike+ Running Club app by posting screen shots after each walk to my personal thread.

I'm still amazed I walked that far.

 Throughout the race it was fun seeing where my walks brought the team.

 Sometimes I wrote a little something when posting to Racery.

 The final stretch!

 Where I ranked, out of 900, after posting my final miles.

Now I'm sitting at #200.

The overall rankings, though there's a Hufflepuff team still working to finish, and we're all cheering them on, helping them not give up.

In the last few hours today the last two Gryffindor teams, Godric's Pride and Mane Attraction, crossed the finish line.  These last few days our house adopted the hashtag #OnePride.  Pretty much for most of the race our three teams stayed close together, showing how evenly balanced we made the teams, but also a symbol of our solidarity.

It is disappointing our team lost, but in a way we didn't lose because we pushed ourselves and didn't give up.  I didn't think I could get so many miles.  I was unsure about signing up, not wanting to let the team down.  For health reasons I've never talked about I can't run, so I walked all my miles, averaging 20 minutes a mile.  A lot of time!  Pretty much this was all my free time last week.

And I'm sore allover.  A good sore.

And, for the record, Epsom salt baths are pretty awesome.

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.