Ex Blog#10: Grandma and Politics

My 82 year old grandmother’s early Alzheimers condition, makes it so her short term memory is a shadow of what it used to be not too long ago. It’s sad on many levels, one being that the disease takes effect in progressively worse stages, which basically equates to seeing your loved one slowly fade away right in front of you. The television is by far what keeps most of her attention throughout the 24-hour day, specifically sticking to PBS news hour, CNN and MSNBC. My grandmother enjoys the headlines and hearing all about the latest in politics, even if she forgets part of what she watched later that day. My grandmother is a sucker for marketing though, because she believes every headline. Let’s just also point out that she is the opposite of a Trump supporter, and frequently uses words to describe I care not to repeat online. I also believe her condition has made it so she exaggerates many things. How many times have I heard her say that the current impeachment inquiry with President Trump is “just like” Watergate with Nixon? The answer is a million times. What I have learned is that at this stage in my Grandmother’s condition and life, all she really wants is to be around people and talk to them. You have to let her tell you the same thing five times over in a day sometimes, and I’ve learned to let her have her opinions or just roll with the punches when she stretches the truth on something. My grandmother strolled in the kitchen yesterday morning with her cane and a big smile. I didn’t really know why she was more joyous and sprite than usual until it hit me. My grandma somehow remembered that the House of Representatives were going to possibly take a final vote on whether or not to impeach the president. In her mind, this meant that Trump might be out of the White House later that afternoon. Instead of getting frustrated and explaining to her how impeachment actually works within the House and Senate, the unlikelihood of receiving enough Republican votes to impeach, and how this differs immensely from Watergate, I just let her be. It’s what gets her going and keeps her entertained throughout the day, for that I am thankful.

Ex Blog#9: New Years Revolution

Yes it’s barely December and I am already heavily thinking about new years resolutions. Since I don’t think I am necessarily resolving anything worth using the term resolving, why not make it a revolution. I just came across an interesting list while googling how to maintain your new years resolutions. For starters here’s what the list advocates: 1. Be realistic, 2. Plan ahead, 3. Outline your plan, 4. Make a “pros” and “cons” list, 5. Talk about it, 6. Reward yourself, 7. Track your progress, 8. Don’t beat yourself up, 9. Stick to it, 10. Keep trying. Whew, are we done yet? This is one of those easier even whispered than even mildly attempting. I am amazed and not surprised by the fact that we essentially make the same lists for ourselves every year around the holiday time, which really says something about American society. I mean everyone around the world celebrates the new year just about on the same day right? The difference is in Norway folks aren’t all pledging to get in shape because as a society, they’re already thin and fit. It would be like taking Colorado and stretching out that mentality across the country. Off the top of my head, I would like to actually commit to a fitness routine though. I would also like to commit to waking up early, not going out to eat, saving my money, and limiting my alcoholic intake. I like the some of the ideas on the top ten list and will break it down even further. But for the time being since we’re still early in December, what are your resolutions and can you make them count as a personal revolution?

Ex Blog#8: Presents vs Presence

As usual, I don’t believe any of these topics need an immense build up; I am struggling between giving presents versus my presence to my loved ones this Christmas. Has anyone in the history of Christmas tradition ever felt like this before? As a child, of course I couldn’t wait for my dad to pretend to be Santa Claus in 12:02 a.m., putting out wanna-be cookies and milk before enjoying the rest of Christmas eve by finishing off a night cap of some sort of spiked eggnog beverage. This rant has to do with the circle of life. If you haven’t seen “The Lion King”, please go see it. But like my old pal Greg Lake said behind the scenes of his iconic holiday tune “Father Christmas”, there is sometimes a sadness to Christmas despite all the joy. As a Christian, most people’s immediate response to that would be utter shock, displeasure, and perhaps even pity toward the who uttered such words. But getting back to the circle of life, Christmas isn’t the same as when we were kids because many of our relatives have passed away, and even many that are still alive, have drifted away. I don’t come from a giant family, but I assume that even then, relationships may be harder to maintain overtime.

As a kid, Christmas was all about receiving gifts, like the latest Gameboy color or N’Sync album. In the later teenage years and bleeding into the 20s, the gift receiving largely turns into a more evenly weighed out, gift giving. I’m still referring to the immediate family scene at home (think Clarke Griswald and company), and not the ugly sweater parties, or white elephant parties that come about during the holidays. Anyway, when you get to middle 20s and onward, sometimes one begins struggling with what to get their beloved family members for Christmas. It’s not that we have forgotten their favorite color or hobby, it’s that maybe the gifts we used to give just don’t seem as relevant or practical. For example, the greatest bond between my father, my younger brother and myself is without a doubt sports. Let’s just say we have plenty of sportswear of our favorite teams and players from over the years that we all don’t exactly need more of any of it. Also, a quality jersey these days easily costs between $80 to $120. Yes, my family is worth more to me than that, in fact that may be the point. The line of reasoning has supposed to have lead to the fact that at a certain time in our lives, our presence and time with our loved ones far outweighs anything we scramble to buy for them. It’s not about the money, it’s that as my mother has tried to beat into my thick head one thousand times over, needs and wants are different things. We all want to somehow capture that feeling of being a kid around family during Christmas time. The best way to do that is to just be around one another, truly giving our presence, not material presents.

Ex Blog#7: MMA News

Connor Mcgregor at a UFC weigh in

In the world of mixed martial arts, we have just received some quality breaking news. The news is both timely and much anticipated, for commissioner Dana White and the UFC has announced that lightweight contender Tony Ferguson will fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in April of 2020 after four attempts at trying to schedule this fight previously failed. The other major announcement is that “The Notorious”, also known as Connor Mcgregor, will be competing against “Cowboy”, legally known by Donald Cerrone on January 18, 2020. For those that don’t know who this wild man in the picture above is, he is a 31 year old wild man of Ireland, who five years ago put the sport of UFC on the map like no other fighter had before. He was cocky, but backed up his brash, unapologetic Irish talk with signature wins after win. He developed and marketed his own whiskey brand called Proper 12. Mcgregor was the first fighter in UFC history to claim three championship belts from two different weight classes. Back in August of 2017, Mcgregor took his game to a new level by challenging undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr to boxing match. Although he didn’t come out victorious, by bringing the UFC to the boxing arena, Connor Mcgregor opened up the possibility for new partnerships for the UFC.

The January fight comes after having been absent from the octagon for over a year, when Mcgregor was last defeated by Russian standout Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is now the undefeated champion who no one seems to have figured out. Mcgregor is still only 31 years of age, young and a superb striker. His ground game and stamina will always be his weakness, but the match against Cowboy Cerrone is the perfect one to get his feet wet and get reacquainted with familiar turf, albeit competing at a higher weight class. After a nasty off the field stunt, where Mcgregor was caught on video tape sucker punching an older man at a pub back in Ireland for no apparent reason other, hopefully some time off has humbled the truly notorious Irish legend.

Ex Blog#6: The Sauna Life

When relatives or anyone casually ask me what my work out routine is like these days, they think I’m taking the piss out of them when I say something along the lines of, “well to tell you the truth, my secret ingredient has been the sauna”. Taking the piss out of somebody is a British term for teasing or joking around with another individual by the way. Now, why on earth could I be serious with uttering such a old geezer line, I mean I’m only 30. Isn’t the sauna for old men wearing next to nothing who seem to hang out in the sauna all day like they have nothing better to do?

Even if you don’t live under a rock and know that the sauna or steam room at your local gym is popular among all age groups, you’re probably still wondering why I could prioritize that at the top of my so called gym “routine”. First, it’s important to note that I’ve only been using the sauna for about a couple of years now, maybe less. As a teenager and in my early 20s, for some reason I couldn’t take the heat. My reasoning and frequently used logic on not even trying it out, is identical to my continued reasons for not attempting hot yoga; why would any sane person enjoy lying, sitting, or stretching in a shallow pool of their sweat?

At any rate, it started out with a couple minutes of stretching in the desert-like heat before heading out for a workout. Since I’m a people person and can usually not refrain from saying something to spark up conversation in a quiet room of strangers, I soon quickly discovered that the sauna is a bit of a social club! And boy, does it take all kinds. So for the last year and a half I have enjoyed a 20 minute social hour with complete strangers at each various smelly La Fitness. You never know who’ll you can meet and what you can learn by just talking to a complete stranger. Don’t worry, I don’t bother the person singing to themselves listening to their music that’s more than loud, I’m good at reading people. Apart the social hour aspect, there’s the benefits which is what we all care about! The why aspect that’s been keeping me use the sauna. It’s been during my many interactions with people, that some folks I have encountered claim to hardly ever get sick while consistently using the sauna weekly. This means at least four times a week for 15-20 minutes. The secret ingredient to pair with this is drinking nearly a gallon of water by the end of the day on days of sauna usage. I haven’t seen any confirmed scientific studies on the popular claim, however the belief is that the 180 degree temperature not only makes you sweat out “the bad stuff’, but further is at a temperature that kills or fights any potential viruses lurking about trying to attack or infect your immune system. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I’ve been using it for the last couple of months now quite consistently, and feel healthy and knock on wood, haven’t gotten sick. I would suggest using it for five to 10 minutes only if you’re planning on working out, and 15-20 minutes for general usage.

Ex Blog #5: Country Music Fans…

Calling all country music fans! This isn’t but could be your blog for the latest on the hottest country trends, songs, and attitudes in country music today. As usual, I won’t hide my biases, instead I’d like to briefly highlight the release of a new album by one of my favorite artists Jason Aldean.

  • The album’s release was announced on 9/9/19, and is fittingly named simply, “9”.
  • Was released on November 22, 2019, around the same time of Miranda Lambert’s release of her eight album.
  • There are a total of 16 tracks on the album
  • The album is full of hits like ” “Tattoos and Tequila”, “We Back”, “Talk About Georgia”.
  • None of the songs are written by Aldean; the album features contributions from artists like Tyler Hubbard, Morgan Wallen, and Brantley Gilbert

What I’ve always enjoyed about Jason Aldean, is how effortlessly he sings a party, pump-you-up type of anthem to the public. Much country music sounds the same these days, a slew of recycled lyrics, guitar solos, and melodies that we’ve all heard one thousand times. However, with Aldean I’ve always felt that it was somehow original and unique, never quite sounding the same. When he sings, it’s believable even if it’s a rocker with simplified lyrics. That’s the difference between him and many of the other artists trying to make it right now in Nashville and country music, they don’t sound believable enough. There is the factor of not writing his own songs that semi ruffles my feathers, however Jason Aldean is certainly responsible for writing plenty of other artist’s major hits as well. Aldean has had that “it” factor for some time now. He’s a simple guy that sticks to his Georgia roots, that are relatable in his songs. Aldean along with Florida Georgia Line, has really changed country music, not being afraid to incorporate their love for other genres of music, specifically a hip-hop sound. This album is barely a week old, and I am already loving it! I can’t stop listening to “Tattoos and Tequila”, and if you need a kick start throughout your day, I implore you to check out this new album to go to.

Ex Blog #4: Starbucks and the Holidays

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that Starbucks has firmly planted itself in the same sentence of other classic or traditional feels during holiday time. Just like some patiently wait for the polar white snows to fall on a ready paved lawn, a large part of the American populace eagerly await new the release of new holiday drinks at Starbucks. They seem to be the Don Corleone of the coffee business in the United states.

In all seriousness, Starbucks’s marketing scheme is genius, and I think many of us who are familiar with the powerful conglomerate, can attest to being drawn in by colorful popping holiday advertisements. Even the news anchors seem to find the big reveal of new overpriced coffee beverages newsworthy. A quick glance on YouTube and I found a video titled “Starbucks unveils 2019 holiday cups and menu”, which displays four inviting tall paper coffee cups filled with an excess of sugars and espresso, featuring drinks like the eggnog latte, and peppermint mocha. What’s the most catchy though is again the cups themselves. The claim and hook line revolves around two aspects: one being four creative Christmas colored patterns that mimic holiday wrapping paper, and maybe even more important, that the cups and reusable. After all, we can’t have a multimillion dollar company not at least attempting to look like they are eco friendly in 2019 right? But don’t worry about the marketing and pricing, buy into the gimmick, guests receive fifty cents off their purchase after 2 p.m.!

Ex Blog #3: Rivalry Week in College Football

Most professors I’ve had in the past that had the task of teaching us the do’s and don’ts in academic and professional writing, would cringe at me writing choosing to use a cliche such as this one: it’s that time of year. Well the heck with that portion of the doctrine because in sports, by golly cliches seem part of the game. In the last week of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, universities across the country typically compete against each other’s fiercest rival. For my Florida Gators, it is the garnet and gold wearing Florida State Seminoles, for Michigan it’s Ohio State, for Harvard it’s Yale. You get the idea. At this point I would prefer you those to keep reading who thoroughly enjoy college football.

What I love about college football more so than the NFL, is the passion from my fellow die-hard fans. A Tennessee Titans jersey for instance, doesn’t go beyond it’s layers of blue to represent decades of school tradition, be it song, dance, and any tradition passed down over the years. Every player and every game is a representation of your school and thus you in a way, leaving a connection stronger than any glitzy over produced Jerry Dome. Then there are the statistics. Of course we sport robots only recount them once a year, usually at the same predictable time every year.

This year hasn’t seen a great deal of regular season upsets, however tomorrows list of rivalry games, just may come with a few shocking climaxes. One upset we’re not looking for is any against the Florida Gators. The Tampa Times this morning, confirms we haven’t beat the Seminoles in Gainesville since 2009! The last ten years can really be summed up to Alabama’s dominance over the rest of the league. The Tide didn’t take home a national championship last year however, and the loss of their Hawaiian gun-slinger, leaves may believing they will fall on the road to rival Auburn Saturday night. That means not winning a title in back to back seasons, the first time that has happened since the arrival of Nick Saban. Speaking of dominance, Ohio State has beaten rival Michigan 14 of their last 15 meetings. Home field advantage may be another winner this weekend, and serve as a long awaited upset. Most of the games tomorrow don’t hold alot of weight when it comes to playoff implications. One game that may be overlooked though that not many are focusing on, #12 Wisconsin at #8 Minnesota. Just watch it, and the golden gophers may have a cinderalla story worth seeing.

Ex Blog #2: Messianic Judaism

Setting, place, destination, what are our surroundings? Well I can paint the scene for you from my converted-garage-now bedroom, where I am looking out the white three pannel window at a cozy Temple Terrace neighborhood. The birds are certainly singing, and the squirrels are letting out whatever one might call the sound they make. The point is, we’re not at a bar, WHEW; it’s safe to talk about politics or religion.

One of my best friends lives in northern Idaho with his wife and small dog. They He absoultely loves it, except for his recent job where he’s been working at a small mom n’ pop restaurant owned and operated by a large Irish-American family. The family is huge, big enough to assume they are Catholic, but they’re not, they practice what is called Messianic Judaism. From my understanding before looking this up, it means Christians that also partake in Jewish traditions. One of Wikipedia’s sources on the issue notes that “Messianic believers generally consider the written Torah, the five books of Moses, to remain in force as a continuing covenant, revised by Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament, that is to be observed both morally and ritually” (“Defining the Old and New Covenant”).

As a Catholic, I was always taught to revere God in a way that stays true to sacraments and older tradition, but following the Old Testament seems to be almost counterintuitive. The obvious question stemming from this topic overall, is it realistically possible to truly be both a Jew and a Christian? Of course one can trace their Jewish heritage to a group of people, thereby creating a distinction in an factual race than only a religion as with Christianity. I was taught that Jesus came down to earth to acknowledge the old, but firmly stand by the new way. I’m interested to see what you all think. As Christmas approaches, we remember and honor the time that Jesus was born and came into the world to redeem the world. After his time on earth was finished, did Jesus want his followers to stick to Jewish customs or adopt more liberal practices (happy-go-lucky approach in some cases), focusing only on Jesus and their church’s interpretations?

Ex Blog #1: Adobe Rush

For those not innately gifted with audio and or video editing ability, a user friendly program is crucial. Growing up, the early going Microsoft video editor software were at times of course simplistic for their time for what you could create, however the layout itself was typically confusing and time consuming.

The idea of cropping images used to be a chore, but with Rush, all clips and images are on a visible timeline. Easy to use dragging tools allow the user to minimize sections of a clip they want to view or have hidden. The scissors tool makes it so clips can be split, making them easier to trim down. Once you find a site that allows for downloading YouTube clips effectively, it is a one-step click to add media clips into your project. I really enjoyed working with the title slides and transitions. The right side of the program features tabs like titles, audio, transitions. Each tab has easy to use templates to choose from and simply drag into your video. The audio was easy to import and also trim down. The great feature with audio, was the ducting feature, where you could have a soundbite or music play in the background underneath any audio. I can’t reiterate it enough, Adobe Rush is the first video editing software that brings users of all levels together.