At 12:17 PM December 26 2017, Leo arrived safe and sound. I’m not very smart, but I don’t believe blessings get better than this.
At 12:17 PM December 26 2017, Leo arrived safe and sound. I’m not very smart, but I don’t believe blessings get better than this.
The year has come and gone. 2017 was supposed to be the year of less. But, that didn’t work out as planned. God had another idea. This past year brought challenges, learning experiences and growth. On the site, I attempted blogging every day for 2 months. While it went well and really allowed me to grow as a writer, I ultimately succumbed to the exhaustion.
I was lucky enough to have 1 of my posts featured by WordPress editors again this year, which is a huge honor. Also, I received some fantastic feedback from listeners on some of my more challenging stuff. Of course, the kids videos did really well with site traffic and I was especially proud of Liam’s video this year. The age and trip experience combination was really magical and I worked extremely hard on his video to convey all of that. I am really proud of the result.
Once again, thank you guys very much for sticking around and reading my stuff. Although this site is designed for personal reflection and documentation, I am grateful for any readers that pass by.
As usual below are the top
10 (12) posts this year based on site traffic:
In regards to 2018, I have a post coming that will better explain the direction I am shifting to. Thanks to everyone who spent their time reading my site. I genuinely appreciate it.
My buddy Jeremy and I visited the city of Tampa last weekend. It was an event-filled blast from beginning to end. From countless conversation topics ranging from flat earth theories (for those keeping score, i’m still a round earther) to our place in the world, we had a throwback journey of sorts.
After a few last minute hiccups before leaving, we were off on the open road. Jeremy chose to drive, we pulled out of Georgia and the trip was on. The drive there was to take about 3 hours. Jeremy didn’t waste much time before bringing up ‘flat earth’ theories. This is a subject he has been passionate about for the last few weeks and I was open to having the discussion. He approached this topic quite interestingly though. His first question was: “prove to me the world is round.” I have my beliefs because we all are engrained with such. The world is round, the grass is green, the sky is blue, etc. So I understood where this was going. But interestingly, as I pondered his question, I came to the stark realization that all of my “1st hand, personally encountered” evidence of a physical round earth is mostly by faith in science and our intellectual higher uppers. Still, that didn’t change my opinion. But I am always open to information and the talk was fascinating if nothing else.
A side note here. You will notice that I mention a lot about “talks.” That’s because Jeremy and I always manage to have great, honest and open conversations about many, many things and various subjects. A bedrock of our friendship in many ways.
When we arrived in Tampa, the sun was shining and there was a cool breeze through the air. Another side note: Tampa is a gorgeous city. It’s super clean, like DisneyWorld clean. And everyone was super nice. We checked into our hotel which had an amazing skylight in the lobby and a lot of drunk military men. But i’ll get to that later.
We were starving, so we scoped out some local eateries and settled on an authentic french restaurant. The food was decent enough. I ordered a veggie melt sandwich with fresh salad (my 1st choice was not available). Jeremy had an ultra authentic french panini with like melted cheese and an egg on top. The real treat was desert though. Across the street we spied a little place with a colorful sign: ‘Dough Nation‘, what could this be? For those who know me, I am a cookie dough guy. And sure enough, this was a cookie dough and ice cream place. 3 scoops of cookie dough, 3 scoops of ice cream. The food dream was achieved.
After our eating endeavors, we realized we had a gap in the day. The bolts / Isles game wasn’t until 7:30 and here we were in the middle of downtown Tampa with 5 hours to kill. So we did what we always do. Find a movie theater. And boy did we.
The words CineBistro meant nothing to me before Tampa, now they are my life goal. If you didn’t gather by the name, Cine Bistro is an ‘upscale’ movie theater dining experience. I’ve been to these before. In Connecticut, Lindsey and I visited “The Gilson” and of course in Jax, good ol’ “Sun Ray Cinemas“. But this was a step up, everything at CineBistro was first class. Even after the film, exiting the theatre, they gave you a complimentary mint. Oh ya…..we saw Murder on the Orient Express, it was decent enough. But the CineBistro took the the prize.
After the film, it was Hockey time! The reason for the trip in many ways. We drove back to our hotel and walked to Lightning country. I was super excited simply because i’ve never been to a hockey game. The stadium was filling in with crowds and crowds of people. It was clear to me, Tampa was a hockey city.
My immediate impressions were as such: Hockey arenas are cold, hockey players are vastly underrated athletically, and hockey fans are awesome. The whole experience was such a blast. Jeremy’s knowledge of hockey helped a bunch with the aiding of my learning of the sport. To my surprise, my Islanders got a quick 2 – 0 lead in the first period and then padded on an insurance goal in the 2nd. This was borderline shocking considering the team’s records coming into the game. The Lightning had the best record in hockey, the Islanders are more of a middle of the pack team. After a major 3rd period scare, the lightning held on to 5 – 3 victory. The game was a fantastic time. We seat-hopped and ended up with some really spectacular seats also. It was an amazing experience.
After the game we were again starving and walk/ran to Bavarro’s Pizza. A place that Jeremy talked about for a long time. They closed at 10PM and we snuck through at about 5 minutes till. Their pizza was amazing.
We wandered back to our hotel only to be met by some drunk military peoples exiting their “Military Ball.” 1 man said some interesting claims about censorship and common day war practices. I would love to repeat his epic choice of words, but hopefully one day my son(s) will read this site, so I digress.
Back in the hotel room, more deep conversations occurred and I sort of watched a documentary on the Watergate Scandal while making a mental note to research more into Richard Nixon.
I woke up early and journaled my Day One entry, took a shower and read my daily bible amount on old fashioned paper, then a little Walden on my iPad. I headed downstairs to the Starbucks attached to out hotel and got some watered down Hot Chocolate and had a very interesting conversation about Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, CT. I was wearing my Pepe’s t shirt and a man from CT saw and a conversation was sparked. He confessed to being more of a Modern Apizza guy. So ya, not everyones perfect. Nice guy, though
About that time Jeremy called me and was ready for some food. We went to a small breakfast place in the heart of downtown Tampa. I got the feeling this was a very “Tampa” place. Many locals, no thrills, good service, good food, huge Lightning flag reading: Go Bolts! on the back wall. I had an Italian omelette with home fries and some toast. Oh and a fresh glass of orange juice. Is there anything better than a free glass of OJ in the morning? Another great conversation ensued at the breakfast table regarding many topics. An excellent way to get the day started.
We set out to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Admittedly, I knew close to nothing about Salvatore Dali, but whoever he was merited a huge museum. Walking through the Dali Museum I was struck by how talented the man was. I think the average entry opinion of Dali is how “crazy” and eccentric he was. Which is definitely true. But his fame wasn’t that shallow. Not even close. His work was simply amazing. I don’t mean he was amazing in the tortured soul/crazy looking paintings way. I mean, technically he was a brilliant painter that painted in ways my mind didn’t know were possible.
I was taken back by how thorough the Museum was with Dali and the details of his life. His backstory, origin, family life, wife and death all documented well. Even his transition from the Surrealism movement to more of a spiritual tone was documented impressively. The $24 price tag was well worth what I experienced. Also, the museum provided a VR tour of one of Dali’s painting which was the most amazing 3 minutes i’ve had in a long time.
Somewhere in the middle of all the this I realized how fortunate I am to have a friend like Jeremy. I would have never gone to Tampa on my own. Maybe, ever. But here we were eating the best foods and experiencing amazing things one after another. Honestly, buy all the goods and things you want, but nothing can replacement a good friendship and good conversation. Coincidentally, that’s a perfect transition into our last event.
So I haven’t really talked about this much lately, but I’d like to consider myself a minimalist. I know people hear that and get a super bujee feeling. But, really it’s anything but. The other main reason we came to Tampa is to see The Minimalists. They are a duo of two people who travel the world and talk about a movement called minimalism and how to simplify your life. Their movement has caught on and they now make a living in this lifestyle. On a personal note, they have inspired me greatly.
After we left the Dali Museum, Jeremy noted that the Minimalists coffee shop was actually somewhere near us. Sure enough, we looked it up and it lived about 9 miles away. Their show wasn’t until 7:30 that night, so we had a ton of time to kill. We pulled up at Bandit Coffee, I ordered a latte in an otherwise simple looking, clean coffee shop and we just talked. About everything: foods, diets, lifestyle. Why this, Why that. All in all, good stuff.
After a quick walk around a shopping area we both liked, we headed over to the Stratz Center, where the Minimalists would take the stage. We were a tiny bit early, so we hit up Bavarro’s Pizza again for an early dinner. We walked through downtown Tampa in the brisk, windy weather, sunsetting and reached our final destination.
What a show! The minimalists had some great advice as usual, and seemed committed to the cause as ever. I can’t speak for Jeremy, but I got an extra boost that I needed to do some more cleaning out for stuff I just don’t use. Their message is simple, but so hard. Get rid of stuff that doesn’t add value to your life. Seems easy, but good luck. Once you achieve some sort of minimalism in your life its like a drug. It keeps you coming back. Because its not really just throwing away or donating stuff, its living more efficiently and actually using 100% of your belongings. Crazy idea, huh?
After the show we hopped in Jeremy’s car and heading back for home. We both had long “back to the real world” days ahead of us. Looking back at Tampa, it was a great trip with an even better person. Sure, the sights were fun, the food was great and experiences was amazing. But the company of a great friend, having honest, open talks was my highlight. If I never get to go on a trip like that again, I am a better human for at least being able to have 1 trip that equaled 2 days in Tampa w/ Jeremy.
I woke per usual at 3AM EST to preorder my next phone. That in it self sounds ridiculous because it is. But us humans are prone to do ridiculous things. Also, per usual, my supposed silky smooth preorder process was anything but. To spare you the boring details, I finally got my confirmation email at 3:31 AM EST. That’s a lot of pull to refreshes on the Apple store app.
To be honest I wasn’t really surprised. That preorder process has never gone smooth for me. I’m always up at an ungodly hour, my devices are ready, and before I know it, people on twitter are saying what model they purchased and i’m still waiting for the store to open. At the end of the day I got in and my phone is set to arrive 11/17 – 11/24. The original launch date is 11/3. Considering dates fell all the way to December, I shouldn’t complain.
I settled on the black (space gray) iPhone X 64gb with Apple Care Plus. It wasn’t cheap, but also not extremely more expensive than what a regular iPhone would cost someone.
I think people get this confused because they are paying monthly on a phone (30 or 40 bucks usually) and for whatever reason, this particular model (X) was being lauded by its full price.
Days since my preorder have been interesting, though. My buddy Jeremy ordered one almost 24 hours after preordering opened and he is scheduled to get his sometimes in the next few days. I figure this was because he ordered through T-Mobile and not Apple, but this sort of thing was unheard of years ago. I’ve also seen people’s preorders jump dates from my expected ship date all the way to launch date. I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs. No movement on mine.
I don’t care much anymore to be completely honest. There was a time in my life I would be sitting in a line at some Apple store somewhere at this very moment instead at home typing. I guess the rumor is true, you change as you get older. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for a new phone. My current is almost 4 years old now. Thats the longest i’ve ever kept a phone. I’m proud of such an achievement, but the age is showing in more ways than one.
Happy iPhone day to all! If you’re getting a shiny new iPhone X today, enjoy it! If you’re not, you’ll be ok. You’ll get one eventually. After a little while, you’ll start looking up rumors for the next iPhone. Thats just what we do. But challenge yourself to enjoy the now instead of the next. After all, its what you’ve been waiting for.
This wasn’t the time to stick your flag in the ground and fly it proudly. Unfortunately and predictably, thats what almost everyone did. It seems we live in a society that thrives on people’s opinions being heard and self righteous, boastful ideals being put on display, more so than prioritizing a basic human trait of sensitivity and humanity.
As if the massacre in Las Vegas wasn’t bad enough, how disgusting of a people have we become when the way the average person reacts is running to their side of the crowd, huddling up and playing follow the leader. Let me explain a little more clearly.
The cowardly, evil acts transpired on the night of Oct. 1 2017, and before Oct. 2nd turned my calendar, every social media or news outlet was filled with people who were attempting to state their case and dig their flag deeper in the ground. The Republicans or people who identify with the “right” attempting to preserve their guns and the rite to have them. The Democrat side of things or people who identify with the “left” rummaging to bash the media for not calling this a ‘terrorist’ attack because the shooter was white.
I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to call myself a human. Listen, 58 souls died that night and guess what? All of them didn’t side with your political party, all of them didn’t have agendas that leaked out their nose. The majority of them weren’t like you.
All of them most certainly had families. All of them were dads, moms, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins. You get the point.
Or do you?
I’m not so sure the average person does anymore. Human’s revolting recital to act like an insensitive blob of thoughtless flesh has proven beyond astounding to me. How did we get here? When mass amounts of innocent people are killed by a madman, and as humans we just use the event as a pawn in our chess game to further agendas.
It’s disgusting, unacceptable and reality.
Do you care so much about what others think about you and your political stances that you gladly will use someone’s disaster as your benefit? These are questions EVERYONE needs to start asking themselves. In an honest, humbling manner. What are we as humans if we walk over dead corpses only to gain ground for our beliefs, political gains, and the idea of false-self fulfillment? The answer is quite simple actually, we’re not humans at all .
I understand there is a perception now that you as a person, are so important. So you flock to social media because you must be heard. But the reality is your not important. These victims are and were and you took their precious last moments and reflection/ respect time to walk all over them and spew your prideful ideals out of your selfish mouths. Is it too much to ask the average person to put aside their own motives and be sensitive to people’s lives and the families of the victims? I fear the answer is an astounding, despicable yes.
To the very few I saw respecting the victims, thank you. You are a light in a very dark place. To the majority who plainly showed zero respect, I would say shame on you, but you obviously lack the ability to feel shame.
Below are the majority of identifiable victim’s names, DOBs, and gender. Please spend some time in prayer or solitude for the families of these souls. To us they are just names, to their loved ones, they are so much more than we could ever imagine:
I currently am in the midst of Hurricane Irma. The rain is smashing against the windows and the wind, whistling seamlessly through the air.. I’m not sticking around for the worst of it though. I’m leaving for work in a few hours. I just wanted to document a little of this experience.
First and most importantly, Lindsey and the kids are safe about 6 hours north of here. They left yesterday morning while I was getting off shift work. We live in Kingsland, GA. We are very close to the coast and in the early days of this storm, the experts were reporting the eye was going to come right through here. Thus, we were under mandatory evacuation. Since, Irma has changed its track and is currently hovering over the west coast of Florida.
My dad was down here visiting and had to book an emergency flight up to the safe north. So I picked him up and headed towards the airport. He was staying on Amelia Island or more specifically, right on Fernandina Beach. Dad said he wanted to stop at the beach to take a picture. To my surprise, it was extremely windy and the waves were about 6 feet high already. This was Saturday, Sept. 9 at about 9AM. The strength of this storm is amazing.
I came home and “prepared” our house as best as possible. Bringing in our grill, chairs, little stuff like that. Arriving home and driving through our neighborhood, I saw many houses boarded up. That gives off such an eerie feeling. Like an alien invasion was imminent. Anyways, yesterday I spent most of the day just relaxing, going for walks and keeping an eye on the storm. You know, taking it all in I’m a weather nerd, so as scary as this storm is, it’s equally intriguing to me.
I’ve kept the TV on to stay in the know. We don’t have cable, but some nice person is mirroring the weather channel live feed on YouTube. So that’s been great. Watching the destruction of the keys and Cuba has been very thought-provoking, though. Seeing devastation like this really puts things in perspective. Nature has a way of doing that for me.
Overnight, my sleep was interrupted numerous times by hard rain against our windows. When silence fills your home, I guess any noise is loud. That rain sounded violent. At one point around 3AM, I went outside. it was rainy, breezy and cool. Just my type of weather.
Today (Sept. 10) would be day 2 I guess. The storm is starting to pick up. The rain is coming down hard and the wind warrants a serious foretelling. Hopefully everyone reading this is safe. I leave for work in a little bit and know we are possibly in for a long shift. Like I mentioned, this is only the beginning, but it looks as if Irma is delivering on the promises that a serious storm brings.
Tomorrow (Monday, Sept 11) is predicted to be the worst day for our area. Here’s to hoping it won’t be too bad and no one gets hurt. Make sure your loved ones are safe and take care of yourself.
See you on the other side.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Spielberg’s masterwork about UFO’s, obsession, and conspiracy. One of my favorite movies ever released. A theatrical release is also slated to start today through Wednesday, Sept 6!
So many interesting tidbits are coming to surface today regarding production, etc.
“In the movie, the mothership lands, and then the little aliens start coming out. But as it was originally planned, they were supposed to come out and then sort of float around,” Alves says, still a bit bummed he couldn’t make the creatures fly around his massive set. “Flying all those kids would have been very, very difficult. And as it was, to begin with, the set was so big that we had 48 arcs up on that terrace and all these photo floodlights. It was just really, really complicated.”
The next idea was to have “little cuboids of light” fly all over the place. “The little cube things we had on wires, so there were little square lights flying by,” he recalls. “That became too much, so we killed that, too. Today we could do it with CGI. We would have flown the kids and gotten a green screen, put them in a layer and the same thing with the cubes.”
Unbelievable stuff. Please read the whole article though. If your interested in Close Encounters, its fantastic.
We have a big problem in the world. We don’t look around anymore. We just look down. Today, more than any day, please look up and admire the amazing, once in a lifetime event that is a full solar eclipse. (I shouldn’t have to twist your arm).
It will be much more amazing than your cell phone.
Here is a great video from ‘Smarter Everyday’ to get you ready:
Our minds are poisoned. I hate being so pessimistic but it’s true.
What’s even more heartbreaking? I’m not totally sure were at fault. A combination of the times we live in and the attractiveness of things. If you take a step back and look at your life, you’ll very clearly see a picture of static surrounding you. What is that static you ask? One word I came to find: Noise.
Noise could come in many variations: sounds, screens, opinions, jobs, motives, goals, etc. Really, you name it, it could turn into noise. Believe it or not a bunch of our time is spent in noise. Noise controls, surrounds and for the most part, dictates us. Whether we agree with that notion or not, noise is a constant companion to our lives.
In our homes, we turn on our televisions. In our cars, we turn on the radio. When we exercise, we put on our headphones. Even when waiting in elevators or on hold with customer service, sound fills the void. I challenge you to find an area in your everyday life where you achieve peace and quiet. Report back, please. I promise you the task is sadly difficult.
That’s where the search for silence started for me: the realization that tranquil, calming moments were strangled by a stronger force. I started to see how routine noises had become, how it seeped into my life. And unfortunately, how it didn’t seem to bother me much.
You know, sometimes life has a way of swooping you up and turning the volume on so loud that we forget what no volume is like. Truth is, I can’t say I really miss the silence because as much as I think I’ve experienced it, I haven’t. Neither have you. Think about it. There is so much noise surrounding us. So much clutter, and so much distraction. Maybe it’s because I’m a minimalist at heart but all of this noise was an overwhelming force I had little control over. That bothered me.
A lightbulb then sparked: my quiet was gone, my God given rite to tranquility stolen. Like stillness was something I used to hear about. Like a distant relative that you don’t see any more, that doesn’t come to any family parties. I started thinking very intently about the sense of silence and about what benefits moments of quiet brings. Here’s a crazy thought exercise: What would the world be like if we all had a designated time of quiet? What changes would spark? What realizations as a people would we come to?
One of the biggest realization for me was taking control of my time. I don’t have to live a life of distractions and unnecessary detours. Although it doesn’t always feel like this: I am empowered to choose. The problem is, choosing is hard. Because habits are hard to break, especially bad habits. I started to focus on my bad habits. Social media…noise. Radio……noise. Podcasts……noise. Sports…….noise. I’m not saying all these had to go. But balance had to be achieved. My scale was way out of whack.
Like I mentioned earlier, all of our quiet to noise ratio is overwhelmed by the latter. We just don’t realize it. We’re overpowered and unaware of the noise. That really got me thinking. If I’m so out of balance, it’s impossible to see what I’m missing.
So, what am I missing? Are there benefits? Benefits to having quiet in our lives? Or did silence go by the wayside for a reason. Was it unconsciously chalked up as unnecessary?
Is silence worth saving?
Well, I deemed yes and i’ve started searching for ways to achieve silence. It meant breaking habits and routines. It meant odd, long spaces of nothing. It meant unnatural long pauses of quiet. It meant many bonfires by myself and long quiet walks. It honestly meant going out of my comfort zone and all I’m used to.
What I’ve found thus far has been startling, though.
I want to talk about focus and reflection a little bit. When I started quieting down elements I sensed something creeping back into my life. Something that was there, but much harder to achieve. I’m talking about focusing. I’m unsure if I’ve been a clearly focused, but knocking down the distraction of noise has helped tremendously.
Looking deeper though, it seemed most of my noise came from my wanting of content. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I really wanted to know what I was missing in those time blocks of noise. I found that when left to just silence, I was reflecting on my past a whole lot more. Not in a depressing manner, but in a pro active learning objective. This was super interesting to me.
The focus and reflection I achieved that resulted from times of quiet where astounding and equally priceless to me. That’s an amazing notion, huh? That we could possibly produce something priceless with no worldly amount tagged on. In this case, my priceless product of silence was focus and reflection. I was able to think more clearly because I felt so much more in tune with myself. That made sense to me. Connecting with myself was an inability before, now it seems more reasonable based on reflection time in silence.
Of course, It goes without saying that I’m still in the very beginnings of this exercise, but what I’m finding is eye opening and demands personal documentation, in my opinion.
At the end of the day, what are we as a people if we don’t think, focus and reflect? I think piling on so much noise that prohibits silence is an extremely hazardous habit that equates to us being a whole lot less human as a society.
I fear the value of true, unobtrusive, calming, personal quiet time is fading softly into a dark sea. What I fear even more is that no one even flinches. Like throwing a life jacket is too much of a hassle. Personally, if I lose my quiet time, I lose myself and thoughts with it. Over the past few months, I’ve become aware of how valuable quiet time can be. It can be an escape in times of crisis. It can be as comforting as a warm blanket or as soothing as a hot cup of tea.
The truth is, silence is what you make it. But you can’t make anything out of what you can’t find.
I was extremely fortunate to meet Casey Neistat at the Hills Film Festival in New Milford, CT back when I was making the rounds for my film, The Fiction. He was a genuinely nice guy and gave me some great filmmaking tips. Since then, he has become sort of a youtube sensation to say the least. If you haven’t check out his videos, they are most certainly worth your time. (links below)
His most recent video touched me on a deep level and I thought it was worth sharing. I can’t think of a better way for someone with 7 million subscribers to spend 12 minutes. This was truly sensational and good on Casey to showcase such a inspirational talent.
You should subscribe to Molly’s, truly inspirational stuff.