2018 & Beyond

A new year is upon us.

For the past few months I’ve been pondering some thoughts regarding my energy, my time and ultimately, what I would like to exercise my concentration on. I want to announce some long needed changes to this site.

Most people hear the word “introvert” and equate it with shyness. If you’ve actually done any reading about it, you know that’s not the case. True introversion is a primary focus on one’s inner self, deriving value and meaning from that activity, as opposed to from the external world. Introverts can interact socially; they’re not afraid of social situations or interpersonal activities–rather they simply thrive more on solitary activities or with fewer people.

To the surprise of exactly no one who knows me, I’ve long understood myself to be this way. I’m totally capable of being social and thriving in those situations, but I prefer quiet environments, and more focused interactions with people. I also spend a non-trivial amount of time analyzing myself, my thinking, and my actions and trying to use this activity to learn more about myself, how I engage with the world around me, and how my actions affect other people.

I’ve always been a thoughtful person, even from a young age. But as I got older, different dimensions took shape and as my worldview continues to expand, the position where I place myself in the narrative of my life will often change.

Somewhere along the way I became interested in being someone on the internet. I started a blog, began using social media, and through those actions created an identity online, as so many of us have. It was great fun, I met a ton of terrific people, and explored new things with them. For about 10 years, it was a big part of my life, and somewhat how I defined myself as a person in the world.

But something changed in the past few years. I’ve found myself doing less online. Leaving social networks. Not publishing as many posts, and not beating myself up about it. All but disappearing from the public spaces I once inhabited, and reducing my voice to an occasional whisper in the dim of the dying night.

At the same time, I began focusing on other things. The balance of my life shifted. I began journaling even more, and making it a bigger part of my life than it had been. Actively reflecting more, and putting more effort into capturing my thoughts for myself. Talking about this with people, encouraging them to do the same. Always writing—because I do still love to write—but only for me, and not any other audience. Keeping those muscles in shape, but with a very specific purpose in mind. I use the app Day One on iOS and my Mac. I’ve talked about Day One to exhaustion but for good reason I believe. The app makes documenting your life so simple. The learning curve is close to nothing, and I truly believe the average person could use it and gain immense value in their life. So for the last time, go buy Day One right now… its like 2 bucks and fantastic.

I’ve tried to keep blogging, because I’ve had lots of people tell me they enjoy it when I do write, which is an amazing compliment and more than I could hope for. I mean, what better outcome could you have for writing something than for someone to say “I like that thing you wrote, thank you for doing that”?

But the fact of the matter is that I’ve lost whatever thing inside me made me want to write and put it somewhere on a steady basis, and I’m not sure why. I’ve lost the desire to do pretty much anything on the internet in any public capacity, and part of it is just who I am at the moment, and part of it is my ever-growing disenchantment with the rest of the world at the current time. So I’ve decided to just become an element of background scenery.

I wasn’t even going to write this post, but I figured I should. Because this isn’t me just being lazy and not blogging anymore, it’s a premeditated reflection on how I feel and why, what the effect of that feeling is, and how it manifests in my actions. Which exactly is the point. This is what I do. I’m just sharing this one with everyone, in case anyone gives a crap. (Presumably not, which is absolutely fine too.)

The internet is not the place it was when I started being really excited about it, and rather than stay here and complain about it like an old, cranky dude, I’m just going to leave it to other people for whom it’s still interesting.

I’m not disappearing off the face of the earth, I’ll still be around, and still work on deep, reflective blog posts that I enjoy sharing and hearing feedback on. I just don’t expect myself to churn in small post after small post. Week after week.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, the real life of less has already started for me. The discovery of minimalism and beauty of simpleness has already affected me greatly. It was only natural to reach my blog.

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Hello Leo

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.

2017 In Review

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:

  1. The Search for Silence
  2. The Abyss of Human Response & The Las Vegas Massacre
  3. Liam Age 6 / Disney 2017
  4. Rewatching My Movie 10 Years Later
  5. Fidget Spinner & Rubik’s Cube: The Tale of Distant Cousins
  6. Attention as a Resource
  7. The Conversation Triangle
  8. The Bible, Completed
  9. Luca – AGE 1
  10. Hurricane Irma
  11. Our Trip to Connecticut (2017)
  12. 2 Days in Tampa w/ Jeremy

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.

Merry Christmas!

-Danny

 

Liam – Age 6 / Disney 2017

Liam being 6 has brought many changes to our lives and his. First, Liam graduated k5 and made big strides in his last year at New Hope Christian Academy. After his summer break Liam would embark on his first huge challenge in life; changing schools. Not only changing schools, but in a big way, changing the type of school. He went from a small, private school to a much larger, public school. Lindsey and I were worried about this but unfortunately, we had little to no choice.

Liam surprised all of us with not only flourishing in the change, but doing exceedingly well at his school work. His resilience astounded me. He served as yet another great life lesson to me. I think we push aside young kids and our children and choose to write them off in so many areas in life, especially the life lesson department. For me, Liam keeps teaching me things. In his 6th year, He’s taught me change is tough but doable. This isn’t an earth shattering discovery. But a great reminder, especially when you see your own kid do it. He gave me strength.

As for this year’s video, there is an obvious change. The run-time. It’s long. 7 minutes plus. There is a reason for this. I don’t want to spoil it here. Just watch the video. Let’s just say I spent many long nights and early mornings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom hotel lobby editing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

To a strong, resilient and gentle soul….Happy Birthday Buddy. We love you.

iPhone X Day

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.

The Abyss of Human Response & The Las Vegas Massacre

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.

But..

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:

  • Ahlers, Hannah Lassette — 6/2/1983 Female
  • Alvarado, Heather Lorraine — 9/20/1982 Female
  • Anderson, Dorene — 4/16/1968 Female
  • Barnette, Carrie Rae — 12/16/1982 Female
  • Beaton, Jack Reginald — 12/10/1962 Male
  • Berger, Stephen Richard — 9/30/1973 Male
  • Bowers, Candice Ryan — 8/10/1977 Female
  • Burditus, Denise — 6/5/1967 Female
  • Casey, Sandra — 11/1/1982 Female
  • Castilla, Andrea Lee Anna — 9/29/1989 Female
  • Cohen, Denise — 8/2/1959 Female
  • Davis, Austin William — 6/20/1988 Male
  • Day Jr., Thomas — 10/29/1962 Male
  • Duarte, Christiana — 8/7/1995 Female
  • Etcheber, Stacee Ann — 2/26/1967 Female
  • Fraser, Brian S. — 8/20/1978 Male
  • Galvan, Keri — 8/20/1986 Female
  • Gardner, Dana Leann — 7/6/1965Female
  • Gomez, Angela C. — 12/26/1996Female
  • Guillen, Rocio — 12/20/1976 Female
  • Hartfield, Charleston — 5/16/1983Male
  • Hazencomb, Christopher — 9/27/1973 Male
  • Irvine, Jennifer Topaz — 6/6/1975 Female
  • Kimura, Teresa Nicol — 3/24/1979 Female
  • Klymchuk, Jessica — 5/1/1983 Female
  • Kreibaum, Carly Anne — 12/9/1983 Female
  • LeRocque, Rhonda M. — 8/29/1975 Female
  • Link, Victor L. — 9/7/1962 Male
  • Mclldoon, Jordan — 10/6/1993 Male
  • Meadows, Kelsey Breanne — 6/26/1989 Female
  • Medig, Calla-Marie — 8/8/1989 Female
  • Melton, James — 8/2/1988 Male
  • Mestas, Patricia — 7/25/1950 Female
  • Meyer, Austin Cooper — 9/18/1993 Male
  • Murfitt, Adrian Allan — 7/5/1982 Male
  • Parker, Rachael Kathleen — 12/16/1983 Female
  • Parks, Jennifer — 1/18/1981 Female
  • Parsons, Carolyn Lee — 12/28/1985 Female
  • Patterson, Lisa Marie — 6/26/1971 Female
  • Phippen, John Joseph — 10/25/1960 Male
  • Ramirez, Melissa V. — 11/29/1990 Female
  • Rivera, Jordyn N. — 7/22/1996 Female
  • Robbins, Quinton — 3/21/1997 Male
  • Robinson, Cameron — 1/1/1989 Male
  • Roe, Tara Ann — 9/1/1983 Female
  • Romero-Muniz, Lisa — 5/19/1969 Female
  • Roybal, Christopher Louis — 10/9/1988 Male
  • Schwanbeck, Brett — 1/31/1956 Male
  • Schweitzer, Bailey — 4/5/1997 Female
  • Shipp, Laura Anne — 5/9/1967 Female
  • Silva, Erick — 8/19/1996 Male
  • Smith, Susan — 8/24/1964 Female
  • Stewart, Brennan Lee — 2/19/1987 Male
  • Taylor, Derrick Dean — 9/25/1961 Male
  • Tonks, Neysa C. — 7/27/1971 Female
  • Vo, Michelle — 1/10/1985 Female
  • Von Tillow, Kurt Allen — 12/4/1961 Male
  • Wolfe Jr., William W. — 10/15/1974 Male

 

40th Anniversary of Close Encounters

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.

Here is one my favs from sci-fi 

“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.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

  • The “speaking from my heart” review:

Before I get all technical, I want talk about Desmond Doss for a sec. I couldn’t help watching him feeling a closeness to a way of thinking that is close to home. I couldn’t help the fact that myself and Doss are almost identical twins when it comes to violence and helping people. In many ways Hacksaw Ridge confirmed a lot for me. Its funny how sometimes the phrase “comfort in numbers” actually rings true. Even though Doss was one man, I felt a sense of  validity after experiencing his unbelievable and unquestionably courageous acts of bravery.

His gospel rang true to me. All too often people like to tag me as “soft”  when considering my stance on war and helping people. Doss and I are mirrored in our thoughts and is that different than the norm? Sure. But ask yourself this? Did he save 75 souls that after the fact could care less of his “softness.”

My point is we need to stop “tagging” people as whatever makes sense to us and throw them in a category jail. We need to start looking at people as exactly what they are: people. Diverse thinking, uniquely made individuals who maybe on their own exhibit an odd piece of the puzzle. But make no mistake about it, they are a piece to a puzzle. Usually an important piece at that.

Bottom line: If you think different than the average, you shouldn’t be ashamed in who you are, the ashamed should be the shamers.

  • The “obligated, technical” review:

After a decade long hiatus and no less amount of controversies, Mel Gibson makes his long-awaited return to the director’s chair and immediately lets his presence felt & relevance known to everyone,his latest is a biographical war drama that depicts the horror of warfare in all its unadulterated glory yet captures it in a fashion that highlights the film’s anti-war themes with clarity.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a God-fearing pacifist who enlists in the army to serve as a medic and becomes the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honour despite never firing a shot. The plot covers the events that shape up his beliefs, and his service above & beyond the call of duty in the Battle of Okinawa.

Directed by Mel Gibson (best known for Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ & Apocalypto), the film opens with a brief preview of what’s waiting ahead for the viewers before taking a step back to pave the necessary groundwork but once the soldiers are on the battlefield, Gibson unleashes hell on screen with excellent use of his skill set to stage one of the most harrowing depictions of warfare in recent memory.

The technical aspects are ingeniously executed and really assist in enriching the whole experience. Production design team skilfully recreates the required timeline with its period-specific set pieces, Cinematography utilises the camera to great effect and is at its best during the combat sequences. Editing is brilliantly handled & steadily paces the plot but there are few scenes in the first half that it could’ve done without.

Performance wise, the film packs a capable cast in Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving & Teresa Palmer, with Garfield carrying the entire film on his shoulders. Despite coming off as a creepy nice guy in the first act, Garfield is able to finish things off on a high and his rendition of Desmond Doss may as well be his finest performance to date. Rest of the cast chip in with fine supporting work, with Vaughn getting to have the most fun.

On an overall scale, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most vicious, violent & unrelenting exhibitions of war on the film canvas that presents its returning filmmaker in no-holds-barred mode and delivers a cinematic experience so raw & visceral that it will have its viewers gasping for breath & hiding for cover amidst all the mayhem & massacre that explodes on the screen in the final hour. One of the best films of 2016 that’s impressive enough to garner a spot amongst the greatest examples of its genre, Hacksaw Ridge is an instant classic that comes very highly recommended.

Put Your Phone Down Today

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:

 

The Search for Silence

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.