Friday, January 30, 2015

The Friday Flush #16

Friday Flush #16

   The first week back to school after three weeks off on Christmas vacation has been a bear. Kids that don't want to get up. Parents that don't want to get them up. Homework that does not want to be done. Ahhhhh, this is the life. I find my escape at times by finding  videos online that take my breath away, inspire, or in any other way give me a small escape. Friday Flush #16 brings you the jet pack man, undiscovered WWII images, and,.....well.....the universe.

Dual Flight Jet Pack
I think we've all thought about how cool it would be to fly. I came across JIM CROW a while ago and was blown away by his jet pack. A-MAZED I tell you. I watched him fly solo, with jets, and it was just incredible. I read recently that his goal was to do a dual flight with another jet pack. I watched his new video on YouTube and the ending gave me the chills. I love the innovation, and I love the "dreamer" aspect of this story. Gives whole new meaning to the "spread your wings" bit. Give it a watch, and don't forget to play it to the very end. I got goosebumps. I'm sure you will too.

31 Rolls of Undeveloped Film from a Soldier in WWII Discovered and Processed
I've always had an interest in the various aspects of war. The causes, the dedication of an individual, etc. I inherited my grandfather's book of pictures from his time in Papa New Guinea. 
I saw a link via Reddit about 31 rolls of undeveloped film from WWII that photographer Levi Bettweiser purchased at an auction in Ohio. The process is inspirational and the result is nothing less than preserving history. They reminded me of the kind and quality of the images from my grandfather's book. Every day shots from the war, that give more personality to such an epic event. The full video of the project can be found at http://www.rescuedfilm.com/#!rescuedwwii - so take a look when you have some time to watch and absorb.

Andromeda Galaxy
While I live on the 3rd rock from the sun, the great expanse of the universe has always captivated me. Most every night, as I lock up the house, I step out onto my porch and gaze up at the sky. In the summer, I take my time. In the winter, I haul but back inside. So you can imagine my sense of awe when I found the video of the 1.5 gigapixel image of the Andromeda galaxy as seen by the Hubble telescope. Somewhere around the 0:47 mark, my mouth dropped open and I felt more small and insignificant than ever before (and then afterward, got back to worrying about the little things in life). This was breathtaking, and I know if you take a quiet moment to watch and reflect, you will be awestruck as well.

Happy Friday all. Be inspired.

J.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

DYI Disney Infinity Poster Art


"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." 
- Walt Disney

   It's not a secret that our family has been wanting Disney Infinity in for home for nearly a year leading up to this past Christmas. The kids made no bones about it, and mom & dad masked their desire as "for the kids". We started the new year, defeating frost giants in the Marvel Avenger's play set. The kids got WAY creative in Toybox mode. Having come off a Guardians of the Galaxy high, we also delved into Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy play set. The game play is fun, the chance for both male and female gamers to be represented is cool, and the adventure seems endless. 

   One aspect that I hadn't anticipated is a little bonus gift that came with our starter kits. #DisneyInfinity starter kits include an incredibly cool 16" x 23" poster that features characters from that play set. I was tickled to have a few in our possession after the holidays and figured they'd be pinned up in the kids' room in no time. However, the creative side got a hold of me and I got to planning for a fun project with these awesome posters.
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A quick method to make these lovely bonus posters into a permanent art piece for the kids' room goes as follows:
1. I purchased a cedar tongue and groove board from Lowes, then sized and cut the wood to fit the size of the posters.
2. Assembly was easy with drilling pilot holes and putting both pieces together with wood screws.
3. I moved the project inside and prepped for the nest steps.
4. I adhered the posters to the wood with Modge Podge, working out the bubbles with a roller and my hands.
5. Once dry, I took the pieces outside for sanding.
6. Light sanding on the corners aged each piece. A small amount of dark finishing wax was used to age even more. An afternoon to dry, and they were ready for hanging.


   As Walt Disney's quotes says above, I talk a good talk, but need to do more. The Wife and I have SO many ideas that we want to see come to life, but when you boil down all the talk it comes time to actually do something about it. It was easier on this project, because our family is in the middle of a Disney Infinity REVOLUTION!!! These little posters are just simply the exclamation mark to highlight this moment in time. It adds something to the kids' room that they are passionate about (as well as mom & dad). The wood portion adds some dimension to already amazing artwork. The whole project was a creative outlet for dear old dad. Lastly, it's a way for me to show my love for the Disney brand, as it has brought us so much happiness and joy from when I was a boy, to the present day with our little family.

Happy gaming. 

J.







Monday, January 26, 2015

The Annoying Sibling Syndrome


"Mock,...Yea-ah,...Ing,...Yea-ah,...BIIIIRD!!!...Yea-ah,...YEA,...Yea-ah..."
- Lloyed and Harry, Dumb and Dumber

   The day previous to this post, The Wife looked back and saw our 5YO son reenacting the above scene sitting next to our 2YO daughter. She told him to knock it off, and in a frustrated voice muttered, "Geez,....Lloyd." I busted up laughing since I also noticed our poor wee girl had the same look on her face as the guy in the middle. 

   In a long line of annoying siblings, our boy can be the leader of the pack. While he is sweet, loving, tender, caring, and a snuggle-bug,....is also a button pusher and bluff caller. Once he's in the car, there's an invisible timer to see how fast he can get me to blow up like the guy from Dumb and Dumber. It can be mind-numbingly irritating, but then, wasn't I a young boy once?

   This is the key point. Our pediatrician once said that our boy is "very bright, and with that, he needs engagement or he will get bored." So the challenge is to be "creative in a really interesting way..." (Dr. Oatman, Gross Pointe Blank). Sure, we can plan outings, excursions, invasions, etc., but what does one do in the car? I'm not a fan of putting a movie on EVERY time we enter the vehicle. That can spiral out of control. The flip side of that is Lloyd singing Mockingbird in my daughters face.

   So the challenge continues. Any thoughts are welcome. Suggestions will be considered. Patience will continue to be tested. In the meantime, here's the most annoying sound in the world.

J.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dressing The Part


"And as long as I've got my suit and tie, I'mma leave it all on the floor tonight."
Justin Timberlake, Suit & Tie

   As a guy, I followed the stereotype that I don't care what I look like half the time,….for far too long. Growing up, I was your typical boy. Dirty and mismatched fairly often. One year in middle school, I wore Bermuda board shorts the whole year round, even in the cold and rainy winter. In high school, I went probably two years without any new shoes, as I just inherited hand me downs that either my older brother didn't want or ones that were left behind at a weekend party. Yeah, I kind of just didn't care. It's a miracle my wife ever saw past that.

   Fast forward to present day, and while I've taken more notice of how I dress, it's not gotten much better. I dress the part for my job, as I need to look a certain way in the medical industry. I also have a few nice casual shirts, and a pair of jeans I like. The rest of the time, it's whatever is available. Health issues for the past 5-7 years have caused weight gains and losses that have made it hard to want to make future purchases, so things have either been tight on me or threatened to fall off. My work clothes and suit currently look I'm a child trying on my old man's clothes. A recent turn of events caused me to take a closer look at that, and a trip to buy some new threads was in order.

   The result was convincing. I've ignored it too long, and I wonder how many of us guys need to take notice. I decided a "before and after" was needed to show what I WAS wearing, and what I will be from now on. I made do with what I had, but my concern not what people think about me in terms of popularity. I'm more concerned with not being taken seriously, viewed as a professional, and things of that nature. So with the wife, we took the time to find my current measurements, with room to grow in case of some small weight gain. She actually dedicated a "date night" to the cause. Amazing!

Our end product is shown here as a before and after. Pretty darn cool. 

J.



P.S. As an added bonus, here's Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

9 Signs He'll Be A Good Dad


"I've done all kinds of cool things as an actor: I've jumped out of helicopters
and done some daring stunts and played baseball in a professional stadium,
but none of it means anything compared to being somebody's daddy,"
- Chris Pratt

   I kept a link to an article in Yahoo! Parenting title "9 Signs He'll Be A Good Dad". Like most these days, I was wary going into it, assuming I'd debunk most of the signs as "NOT ME". As I read, the traits were pretty spot on. We're all different, and that makes the world go 'round. That being said, I wanted to give a thought on each point that was listed, and how I personally ranked myself.


He’s in touch with his inner dork.
When I was young, I was shy in a group setting, convinced I wasn't funny or interesting. I was easily embarrassed and wouldn't do anything spontaneous. My father was similar, so I didn't know any better. Through life experience, I'm now the complete opposite. I'll drop down in the middle of a Target to do a backspin, or bust out some dance moves, just to show my kids I can be a dork, wherever and whenever.

He’s hard to gross out.
I'm about a 4 out of 10 on this one. I still get grossed out with diapers, but mostly I can't manage the baby/toddler getting super messy in their high chair. Covered in applesauce, yoghurt, and any other manner of food makes me cringe.

He’s comfortable saying “I love you,” “I’m sorry” and — when appropriate — nothing at all.
Done, done, and done. I try to buck the system on this one. My kids will know they're loved, they will know how to say sorry, and know the precious value of silence.

He doesn’t need to be the center of attention.
When was I ever?

He’s the future king of Candy Land.
This bullet point discussed playing games. It's always been about the wee ones having fun, so I try to keep it that way. That being said, I have a need to play by the rules even while I'm being Mr. Fun. Something to work on.

He’s rich in something other than money.
The line, "children need your presence, not your presents" made sense (not cents? Ha!). I know friends and family that make money more important than whom they are providing it for. It's hard when you task yourself with providing the financial side, when you also want to be good at the "being there" side.

He’s very good at something.
My kids know I have a great attention to detail around my creative work. Hopefully that is passed on, as I do see it in each child's need to finish a project. I'm also big on life hacks, so I'm trying to add to my list of things I can do.

He’s got close friends.
I have a few close friends that I go to for advice. A few times they've come to me, so I feel that there's a good support system in place for us to lean on each other,……and vent when necessary.

He genuinely wants to be a dad.
The Wife and I chose to spend a number of years just being married,….without kids. It bonded us and allowed for some childless fun. Then we were ready for the next phase, and I wanted children. Now I have moments where I twirl my hair in my fingers, rocking back and forth, muttering to myself. Seriously though, I loved hearing the title of "daddy" being called from across the room or yard. It's the adventure of a lifetime.


   So, read the brief article and let me know….how do you see YOURself? As long as were trying, I think we get points. There are so many great dads out there these days. Here's to all of you.

J.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Do You Bro, Bra, or Dude?

Here's my story, sad but true
About a girl that I once knew.
She broke my heart, I became unglued,
It all started when she called me dude. 

   I came across The Dude Map: How Americans Refer To Their Bros at QZ.com. Looking at language used in Tweets, a forensic linguist looked at the use of slang terms that guys used for each other. "Dude" rose to the top as the most commonly used term, and I was like, dude, you GOT to be kidding!

   I've used, bro, bra, pal, man, and the like for years,.....but DUDE has been my label of choice. I've even donned crew, clan (as in Scottish,...NOT the other one), and so forth. In the end, dudes are dudes, in whatever form it takes.

   It was interesting looking at the most popular term used to refer to your bro in each part of the country. I wonder how that translates around the globe. In my time across the pond in England, I remember terms like chap, mate, and so forth. I'd be interested to hear what term was used in other parts of the world. Any way you slice it, we have our bros, dudes, or whatever. There's a distinct word we use to describe and refer to them with.

What's yours, dude?

J.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Friday Flush #15

The Friday Flush #15

This week's "Flush" brings you some good old fashioned in-flight entertainment. I find that getting lost in a good video now and again can give a needed break from the norm. Whether it's a good solid hit from a football game, the birth of a hand-made Damascus steel knife, or some dang good animation, I look forward to some me time on the net.

The "Snot Bubbler"
Back when I was playing high school football, my JV coach, Coach Larry Brown, referred to the "snot bubbler" hit. When I asked what exactly that was, he replied with force "IT'S WHEN 'YER HIT SO DANG HARD, SNOT BUBBLES OUT'CHER NOSE!" I was still just starting my term as a running back at that time, so I had no first hand experience. Until I did. Yes, one game I was hit head on, and I was NOT expecting it. As I stared up at the famed "Friday night lights" from my back, I tasted it. I had been issued a "snot bubbler" hit, and the snot was running out of my nose, over my top lip, and into my mouth. I stumbled across this massive hit recently that brought the memory back. Despite not enjoying BEING hit, I won't say no to seeing a good "snot bubbler".


Damascus Steel Knife Making
There's something about handmade wares that make us feel connected to the final product. I saw a link to The Birth Of A Tool. Part III. Damascus Steel Knife Making (by John Neeman Tools). The link said it was "oddly peaceful", and I was curious. The music is from the band Foreign Fields and fits the film perfectly. One of the comments stated, "The film is as beautifully made as the tool." I would have to agree. I remember my father taking us four boys to the state fair as kids and making us watch the blacksmith make horseshoes for almost an hour. The boredom nearly killed us. Damascus Steel is 7 minutes long and I couldn't get enough.


JohnnyExpress
I'm a sucker for animation. It's been that way since Saturday morning cartoons. So when a well animated piece with a good story comes along, I'm all in. I give you JohnnyExpress by AlfredImageWorks on Vimeo. It's a cute story about a outer space delivery man. A fun way to kill 5 minutes, the claymation style is fun visually, and the sound effects add to the delivery. I wish I had the time and the talent to explore some of the fun stories floating around in my head. Maybe one day. Until then, we have some great story tellers and animators around us, that can give us some much needed entertainment. Hats off guys.

So there you have it. Big hits, better blades, and bubbly animation. Happy Friday all.

J.








Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014


"Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
- Star Spangled Banner

   Two nights ago, our little ones asked what Veteran's Day was. They knew it was a blissful day off from school for sure, but not what the occasion marked. The conversation continued through yesterday when both our 8YO and 4YO asked more about it while we were in the car. We explained, they nodded, and then our 4YOU blurted out, "I see a white van!" (sigh.....)

   My last Veteran's Day post was from 2012, which was short and sweet. This year I say a quiet thank you to my two grandfathers for their service in the Army Air Corp.
Everett Howard Swann (left) 1918-1975     -     Arthur Wayne Schofield (right) 1922-2013

   Recently, my aunt discovered some letters from my great uncle to his parents, sent home during WWII in 1942. This was a beloved brother, son, and husband, who joined the service in an answer to his country's call. It was a terrible time of war (and is reflected in some of his language). I consider the time and circumstance of a nation at war. My great uncle Fred was killed while in service,  and never made it home. That makes it hard to read the line, "I can't say where I have been but will tell you one of these days when I get back." I stumbled across the article to the right some time ago that features both brothers AND their father enlisted at the same time. As my grandfather put it, "It's just something we all felt that we needed to do." I admire the snapshot we get from great uncle Fred's letter. Love for his wife, respect for his father, and a love for his country. Below is the letter transcribed from the letter photocopied and sent to me. I never knew my great uncle, but this little piece of him survived and ties me to him, even if a little bit more. 

June 20, 1942

Dear Mother and Dad,

    Gosh it sure was swell to hear from you. I received your Christmas card and letter and was sure happy to receive them. It gets so darn lonesome over here without my adorable wife. I sure do miss her. But I guess a fellow would miss a person a awful lot if he loved his wife as much as I do.

    Well pop I guess I have seen some of the places you have seen. At the present time I am in Australia, + I am now in non-combat zone and so things are pretty quiet. I can't say where I have been but will tell you one of these days when I get back.

    You know those Japs are sure poor shots. They never did hit anything when they did their bombing. I think I could do better with my eyes closed than those slant-eyed so & so can with their eyes open. The good old U.S. Air Force are sure raising hell --- with the Japs though. The boys fly over their targets then come back and tell us how they sure made things hot for all Nipon [Nippon]. You know I don't see why those Japs don't quit because they sure bit off more than they can chew when they picked on the good old U.S.A.

   Gosh I never in my whole life realized what the United States meant to me until I left to come over here. It is the most wonderful place in the whole world. I heard the National Anthem played the other day and it reminded me of the States and sent chills up + down my spine I thought what a wonderful country I live in. I imagine you can understand how I feel pop being you were away from the States.

   You know Australia is somewhat like the States even though it is 20 years behind us. The climate is a lot the same though they haven't the snow like we have in the States.

   Well it is 11:30 so I guess it is time to go to bed so will close now till my next letter.

    Well good night,

    Fred

   So celebrate Veteran's Day by having some time off if you're able, and remember those who serve and have served our country to defend our freedoms.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Days When I Feel Like An Island



"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent." - John Donne

   Every once in a while, we all feel like an island. Cut off from our family, friends, and peers, it can appear that it's us against the world. There are a million reasons to be left feeling like an island, so I won't bother with a list. My most recent has been another round of unemployment. As one of my last interviewers said, "It looks like you've just had a run of bad luck." Er....uh.....yup, that's it. While layoffs, empty nest syndrome, and the like are all fair reasons to be left feeling like that proverbial "island", I've come to rely on the fact that it just isn't true.

   I am blessed and lucky to have a wealth of people in my corner. Friends and family abound, and help to make hardships easier. At the very, VERY least, I have a wonderful wife, and kids who still think I'm a rock star (circa 2014, so we'll see what the future holds). I've seen Internet threads of people who feel they have next to no support in their life, and in response they get a barrage of total strangers answering their plea. Lesson learned? You're never alone, and you're never and island. It just feels like that.

   I most recently realized it has a lot to do with pride, and letting others in. If you don't allow others to help, then you will ultimately receive no help. Seems simple, but there's nothing more aggravating than someone moaning about no one caring after getting multiple offers to be of assistance. I've tried to strip away my pride, and allow people into my life who are there out of love and compassion. They would be unable to offer assistance, unless I provide a bridge. It's a simple concept, but can feel like a mountain to overcome.

I'm not an island. It just feels like it sometimes. You're never alone. Remember that.

And so,...I leave you with Disney/Pixar's "Someone To Lava" from an upcoming animated short in 2015.


All my best,

J.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Friday Flush #14

The Friday Flush #14
   The Friday Flush was intended to be a place where I dropped little nuggets of goodness from the net on my fellow man. There will be days where it is all very relevant, and other days where it is mindless dribble with links to support my brain doodling. Whether it is to inspire, show off, or anything in between, I love to share. Today is more inspiration. I stumbled across some good stuff and present to you cellos with a vengance, craftsman paint, and a sweet white noise maker for online or your smartphone.


2Cellos
I've always had a love for the cello. I played the violin as a boy for a year or two, and have always been moved by the stirring vibration of the low strings. I also have a love for metal. When I stumbled across the 2Cellos, I was blown away. The Wife and I love the old English period movies, so when I saw the still picture of this YouTube video, I was intrigued,....and then blown away. Once these guys were discovered by Sir Elton John, the rest has become history. I watched several videos from their channel on YouTube, and we were both entranced. I encourage you to do that same.

Milk Paint
If you love DYI projects of any kind, you've gotten your hands dirty with paint at some point or another. In the past two years, the wife and I have gravitated away from turn key furniture purchases, and have now come to enjoy re-purposing pieces into something we envision and then turn into a reality. One of the materials we've come to love is milk paint. This is a artisan paint that comes in powder form. It can certainly scare people off, as we've become accustomed to fast food ready-made paint from our local hardware store. The Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint that we use allows for more control over what you're putting on the piece, and flakes in a way that gives each piece its own unique aged look. An example of the result on a bench piece can be found on our craft website here. It's worth reading up on and trying out if you want to push the envelope of what you can do with paint. Miss Mustard Seed's Milk paint is a great place to start, and her site has a wealth of information to get you started.

A Soft Murmur
I was never a person who needed white noise to fall asleep. Until we had children, and now we use them for home and travel. It's a way to knock down all the little noises that occur during a nap at home, or when the teenagers are sprinting down the hall of a hotel. My little ones can sleep soundly with some decent white noise. We've used an app here and there, until the day I stumbled across A Soft Murmur. Just take a look at the options to fiddle with. The volume sliders allow you to custom tailor your sounds, and there are plenty of them to choose from. I had them all up at once thinking it'd be too much, until my eyes got heavy. so the jokes on me. As of this post, you can use it from any browser, and through Google Play store. It's free, so why not take it for a spin? I was thrilled to find it, so I'm sure you will too. 

Alas, another Friday Flush has come and gone. We've rocked out to some smooth cello rock, discovered some new painting materials, and found yet another way to become sleepy through sound aids. Enjoy your weekend, and until next time!

J.