Saturday, September 23, 2017

Donald Trump Criticizes NFL National Anthem Kneelers

Donald Trump, no stranger to speaking his mind, recently harshly criticized NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in an effort to protest racism in this country. Who knew a multiple-time draft dodger (who is currently being investigated for Russian-ties) cared so much about patriotism?  Trump has called these NFL players some nasty names, and (in a huge blow to free speech) insisted the NFL fire these players. Yet Trump wasn't so harsh on Nazis and other white supremacists at the Civil War protests. Is this really about patriotism? I doubt it. 

Fact of the Day: Bird Flu Paranoia

For some time, bird flu had caused mass hysteria in the Western World as many people were afraid to eat chicken. However eating a bird that had the bird flu would not give you the disease as the cooking process eliminates it. The only reasonable way someone could get bird flu was by coming into close-contact with a bird while they were in Asia.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Photos: Sea Life Aquarium Starfish

 On day two we went to Sea Life Aquarium which is in a huge mall in Concord North Carolina which is really part of Charoltte as well. For being in a mall, the place is giant, but it is a little small in comparison to other aquairums I've been to. One of the first things I saw was the petting tank.

Things I Hate: Petyr Baelish (Game of Thrones)

 Petyr Baelish is a well-written character, but who honestly liked him as a person by the very end? He walked the fine line between villain and ...hero pretty well. He's also one of the few characters you notice their full importance from season one to near the end. By the start of the series, the minor lord (very little land and the lowest rank of lord) managed to make himself a wealthy man and a member of King Robert's Small Council as Master of Coin.

Fact of the Day: Emperor vs King

While certain kings in history had more power and/or lands than certain emperors, emperor is considered a higher-rank mainly due to the days of the Roman Empire. Roman Emperors would allow client kings to rule but they had to be subjects to the Emperor. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Photos: Hotel Pool

When we checked in at the hotel, there was a very large group in the hotel pool causing all kinds of chaos in their fun. By the time we finished eating and got relaxed, they were all gone. So we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Story: My Basketball at School

At our elementary school, they had basketball goals installed outside but I don't recall any teacher handing them out during any grade for us to play. So seeing an obstacle to fun, I decided to provide a solution, I brought my own. We had free time during school and I started playing with my basketball. It didn't take too long before two kids took it away from me and wouldn't let me have it back. Eventually a teacher made them stop, but I was advised to keep my basketball at home. It only takes one or two idiots to ruin everything for everybody else. 

Fact of the Day: Conrad Heyer

Conrad Heyer was a soldier in the American Revolution in his youth. He served under George Washington was there during the Crossing of the Delaware. At the age of 103, his photograph was taken and he became the earliest-born person who had been photograph that we know exists for certain.  

Fact of the Day: Safe Quicksand

While many movies and tv shows have people stuck in quicksand in the plot, it's actually almost impossible (due to levels of density) for a person or an animal to be submerged in quicksand.  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Photos: Hotel Pizza and Wings

 Walking into the hotel, we saw some group in the pool and some of them were eating Papa Johns pizza. That got me hungry about pizza and we originally wanted to go to Domino's (closest) but that location was closed for some kind of safety thing or something, so that was bizarre. So we found a Pizza Hut and I got a pan pizza and Daisy got wings. We just ate the food in the hotel room.

Favorite Quotes: Don't Detest a United Country

"Madam, don't bring up your sons to detest the United States government. Recollect that we form one country now. Abandon all these local animosities, and make your sons Americans."

-Robert E. Lee

One of the biggest ironies I see here in the South is a racist "rebel" carrying both a Confederate flag and a American flag together. The two flags could not hold any more different meanings from each other. While most southerners are proud to be Americans, the neo-confederates quickly forget that the Confederacy was all about leaving the United States. While the South as a whole sort-of took his advice here, the horrid traditions of racism and bigotry hiding under the excuse of "state's rights" still influence the current conservative politics of today. If only Robert E. Lee told them not to underachieve when becoming Americans. 

Fact of the Day: Coelacanth

Coelacanths are an order of fish that were first discovered as fossils. Since no living specimens were found, it was assumed that they had perished in the Late Cretaceous along with the dinosaurs. However in 1938, they were found to be alive off the coast of South Africa. The earliest fossils date back to the Devonian period (long before the dinosaurs emerged in the Triassic) which means Coelacanths have changed very little since their origins roughly 400 million years ago. Despite living as a species for so long, Coelacanths are still a very endangered species. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Photos: Kannapolis' Country Inn and Suites

I don't travel much but I also don't have any loyalty towards one hotel chain versus another. We decided to sleep the night after a long day at the NC State Zoo at the Country Inn and Suites in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Hotels outside the city limits of major cities (in our case Charlotte) are a little less expensive and parking is usually easier. I also liked how there weren't many floors. I saw some hotels in Atlanta that remind me that I am afraid of heights. 

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014 Film) Review

 To be honest, I was never too thrilled with the Night at the Museum movies. The original and the first sequel were okay, but there wasn't much plot as it was really about funny interactions between Ben Stiller's character Larry Daley and the magical exhibits. This movie came out about the time I started watching the original films. Since the original two movies had a lot of de ja vu between each other, I decided to wait a good while before watching the final movie. Because even if I hated the series, it was one of Robin William's last movie roles before his death, and you can't say no to that anyways.

Fact of the Day: Old Kites

The art of kite-flying most likely originated in China during the 5th Century BC. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Photo: Solar Eclipse Cakes

As I mentioned before, the day we went on vacation was during the solar eclipse. We had to run by the Walmart near our hotel in Kannapolis, NC (really close to Charlotte/Concord) to get one little thing, and I saw this table of cakes.  Were people really throwing parties over the solar eclipse? 

Story: Zach and the Strawberry Shortcakes

While many of you who have siblings know, they can be a real pain. My brother Zach was a horrid little creature for most of his life and he kept this practice even in his 20's. I remember I once got a package of strawberry shortcake rolls from a bakery and kept them in the refrigerator. I didn't even get the chance to eat one until he claimed he had licked them all in an effort to spite me. I was pretty sure he was messing with me (but not fully confident), but in an attempt to get revenge I outsmarted him. At the time, my mother had a list of bills we owed her for, so I demanded that the shortcakes were now his and that proper adjustments were due. That's what he got for playing jokes, I hope he thought those shortcakes were good. 

Fact of the Day: French King John II's Return Trip to England

During the Hundred Years' War, King John II of France was captured by the English. The English agreed to let him return to France to complete conditions stated in the Treaty of Bretigny but only if he let his son Louis be a hostage. However Louis escaped but John II felt bounded by honor to return to England since he made the promise. However John II died there in England before ever getting a chance to return to France. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Photos: Seeing the NC State Zoo Polar Bear One Last TIme

The only reason we really went all the way to the NC State Zoo was because of the polar bear. So we had to see him twice. Luckily he was in a much better spot than the first time we saw him earlier that day.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017 Film) Review

 While many like stories like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and many more, but long before almost every work of English-based fiction, there was the story of King Arthur. I was a big fan of the TV mini-series (often confused as a movie) Merlin with Sam Neill and I also liked the TV series Merlin with Colin Morgan. What wasn't so good was 2004's King Arthur with Clive Owen, which mixed fiction with "history" and created a Roman Empire story that wasn't very compelling but it wasn't horrible per se. I was actually pretty excited for this new King Arthur movie but not enough to see it in theaters. Critical opinion was in the dumps, but apparently regular folks liked it enough. Well not enough to keep it from being a fairly notable flop at the box office, though to be fair, it had a massive budget.

Fact of the Day: Sapa Inca

The Sapa Inca was a South America royal title that eventually rose to Emperor of the Incan Empire as well. The original founder claimed to be the son of the sun god Inti so every ruler afterward also claimed to be "son of the sun". 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Misting Station

 At the NC State Zoo, there is a little misting station. And I'll tell you, in the August heat, it felt wonderful.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS) Review

To be honest, I've been ignoring my Nintendo 3DS for quite some time, and started to play a bit of catch-up. When I was little Kirby's Adventure was one of my favorite games on the NES, and I also really liked Kirby's Dreamland 2 on Gameboy and Canvas Curse on the original DS. Most of the other Kirby games I've played were good but those really stood out. Granted I've missed a lot of Kirby games especially on the hand-helds, but was this one really that good or did it fall into obscurity among the series?

Fact of the Day: Freedmen Voting

After the end of Reconstruction in a post-Civil War American South, those who supported the Confederacy eventually gained control back over the state governments. Though some southern states like South Carolina for example had more freedmen than white residents in the population. Knowing they could not out-vote African-Americans, white racists started organizations that stopped freedmen from voting with fear and violence and punished white people who supported the rights of freedmen and voted for (or ran-as) liberal politicians. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Shuttle Bus

After we done walking the majority of the zoo, we took the shuttle bus back to the top. It's the world's largest zoo apparently (walk through), so even my feet were tired. 

Favorite Quotes: Education and Ignorance

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

-Original author disputed

I've seen this quote around a lot of places and can't seem to figure out who said it first, but everyone who has said it has said it correctly. Education doesn't mean showing up every day from Kindergarten onward, but having teachers actually teach you more than math problems and historical dates you won't remember. Earlier this year Betsy DeVos became U.S. Secretary of Education under Donald Trump and my heart aches for all those who are now under her thumb. They won't be teaching facts, they'll be teaching ignorance. 

Fact of the Day: Wilbur Glenn Voliva

Wilbur Glenn Voliva was an American Christian evangelist who owned his own radio station which had listeners world-wide in the early 20th century. Voliva was very against the fact the Earth was a globe and he was so confident the earth was flat that he offered a large reward to anyone who could prove the earth was round. He also preached against the "evils" of evolution and also thought the sun was about three thousand miles away from the Earth. He commented on the matter by saying "The idea of a sun millions of miles in diameter and 91,000,000 miles away is silly. The sun is only 32 miles across and not more than 3,000 miles from the earth. It stands to reason it must be so. God made the sun to light the earth, and therefore must have placed it close to the task it was designed to do. What would you think of a man who built a house in Zion and put the lamp to light it in Kenosha, Wisconsin?"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Safari

 This is the safari area to the NC State Zoo, though the safari only operates on certain days and since we came on Monday, we could only see it from far away. The zoo is pretty big on its own, but this huge area doesn't make me doubt why its considered the world's largest zoo (walk-through) even if there are less animals per square foot.

Question: Do You Have Great Respect For the Bald Eagle?

Now this probably only applies to my fellow American friends here, since it is our national bird. I recently read a story where a man admitted to gruesomely killing a bald eagle for taking fish out of his pond. It really upset me more than it had been another type of bird. I also remember when they were endangered when I was a kid, they really should be off-limits in all reasonable cases. If a bald eagle wants fish from your pond for example, let him take it. 

Do you have extra respect for bald eagles? 

Fact of the Day: Hokkaido

Hokkaido is Japan's 2nd largest and most northern main island. However Hokkaido was not really a part of Japan until the conquering of the native Ainu people (who were also native to Siberia) by the Japanese. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Game

I thought it was rather dumb, but Daisy begged me to let her play this little "board game" they had painted on the concrete at the NC State Zoo. I just spun the wheel, you always win if you're the only player. 

Things I Hate: Organic Valley's Organic Fuel Chocolate Milk Shake

Being a vegetarian, I don't get nearly as much protein as you meat-eaters naturally get. I always heard about these shakes and doubted their taste. However I saw these on special in the dairy section and figured it wouldn't hurt to try one. And I will say it's got a STRONG taste to it. I had to mix it with regular milk to dilute it a bit. It's not really disgusting per se, but just not very tasty. 

Fact of the Day: Sluggish Schizophrenia

Sluggish Schizophernia was a made-up mental disorder in the Soviet Union originating during the 1960's. It was used as an excuse to punish political dissidents who opposed the one-party rule of the communist government. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Photos: NC State Zoo Elephants

 At the NC State Zoo, like practically every zoo ever, there were elephants. I can tell Daisy really likes elephants.

True Grit (2010 Film) Review

 True Grit was a movie I had never even heard of for almost a decade. However I'm a big fan of Jeff Bridges and I heard about this one after researching some of his greatest roles. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role here, but lost to Colin Firth for his role in The King's Speech which is understandable. I learned that the movie is a remake of the 1969 film of the same name starring the Hollywood legend John Wayne. But both films are based on the 1968 novel of the same name by author Charles Portis. I had obviously never seen the original film or the novel, but all versions seemed to be worthy of praise, so were they?

Fact of the Day: Mauritania Abolitionists

Mauritania was the last country in the world to officially abolish slavery which happened in 1981. However it still is a problem for the country as the guarantee of human rights is not enforced very well. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Photos: NC State Zoo Gorillas

 At the NC State Zoo, we saw the gorillas. The exhibit was a little better than Zoo Atlanta as you got a much closer look at them.

Question: What Helps You Sleep?

When I have to go to sleep early to show up early for work sometimes, I have to take a sleep aid. The only time I seem to be able to sleep without issue is right as it turns midnight especially with my wife Daisy already going to sleep too. Sometimes if my stomach feels empty but I don't want to eat, I'll drink some milk to settle it and I can usually go right back to sleep.

What helps you sleep?

Hurricane Irma Vs. South Carolina

Since many of you know we reside in the American South, Hurricane Irma is not expected to even be in the borders of South Carolina, so we have been lucky compared to Florida and soon-to-be Georgia. Today and tomorrow we will still get a lot of rain and wind even though we are far away from the storm's path. Daisy was a little upset as it did ruin some plans. It's her 31st birthday today.  

Fact of the Day: Asian Hurricanes

Literally, there's no real difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone. The name only changes depending on where it is at. A hurricane is in the Atlantic, and northeast Pacific. A typhoons occurs in the northwest pacific. And a cyclone occurs in the south pacific and Indian ocean. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Photo: Tired Squirrel at the NC State Zoo

We saw this little squirrel (I almost stepped on him before we saw him) at the NC State Zoo. He was crawling like he was tired or perhaps hurt. He didn't look like he had broken anything, but it was during the time of the solar eclipse, and they did say some animals do act strange during the time.  

Things I Like: Ser Barristan Selmy (Game of Thrones)

 One of my favorite characters who I didn't appreciate quite as much at first, was Ser Barristan Selmy. While the books don't go into detail much about his early life, he entered a serious tourney at a very young age and was mocked until a Targaryen prince took pity on him and jousted him giving him the nick-name Barristan the Bold. He eventually became a member of the Kingsguard for Aegon V until Aerys II. He was defeated and almost died alongside Prince Rhaegar Targaryen at the Battle at the Trident. Roose Bolton advised Robert Baratheon to kill him, but instead Robert had him healed and placed him on his new Kingsguard.  

Fact of the Day: Ancestor King John

Since King John had several legitimate and many illegitimate children, the number of his descendants grew into thousands within just a few generations. Many centuries later, it's more than probable than almost anyone with English (and to a lesser but still considerable extent other European) ancestry is related to King John as the number of ancestors you have had since then is more than the population during his lifetime. A study had found that every U.S. President from George Washington to Barack Obama with the exception of the Dutch-American Martin Van Buren, was descended from King John. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Art

We came across this art mural thing at the NC State zoo. Pretty simple design, but I like the artwork. 

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016 Film) Review

 I do remember the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon many moons ago though I had forgotten a good chunk of the story. It was made in China, and spoken in Mandarin (though an English dub does exist) but funny enough this sequel was actually spoken in English and dubbed in Mandarin for China. The original film was a huge international success both with critics, awards, and at the box office, so I assume this is why they decided to make this one in English so they didn't alienate those who hate subtitles and dub work. Even though it really was made for Chinese audiences as a standard movie, outside of China it's one of the first "original" Netflix-only movies. I waited about a year to see it, and I later learned people weren't exactly as pleased with this one. Was it really the case?

Fact of the Day: Chinese Cousins

While marriage between two first-cousins was common for many cultures, China had a strange double-standard. Typically a person was not allowed to marry a first-cousin with the same surname, however they could marry a first-cousin with a different surname. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Photo: NC State Zoo Arctic Fox

This is one of the arctic foxes at the NC state zoo. They were pretty cute, reminded me a lot of their canine cousins, dogs. Though I doubt they're people-friendly. 

Favorite Quotes: Gospels Vs. Education

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence."

-Bertrand Russell

For many super-religious Christians, many of them will tell you that The Bible is a guidebook on how to live your life. But if you read the stories, just like Russell said, you'll find almost no praise for intelligence. Even in the Adam and Eve story, they were doomed for absorbing knowledge. Instead followers are told to be faithful despite any evidence telling them otherwise, which is hard to do in the modern world. The Lord is your Shepherd, so be a sheep and follow blindly. I think this why the Catholic Church originally wanted the Bible to be read in Latin regardless of what country you were in. You can't have the masses reading between the lines and figuring this stuff out.  

Fact of the Day: Ancient Beekeeping

Humans keeping bees for their honey goes back about ten thousand years and it didn't take too long to spread across the world. However it took until the 18th century when Europeans figured out how to make a movable comb so that honey could be harvested without killing the colony.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Photos: NC State Zoo Carousel

In the central section of the NC State Zoo (where the main resturants are) there is a merry-go-round. Daisy always like these so I thought it'd be fun.