Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Bigger Table

When you have more than you need, build a bigger table - not a higher fence.

This is a maxim that I want to live by.  I've known several people whom I admire that live by this principle.  That always have room for more.  That welcome others in.  That understand that life was meant to be shared.

Don't get me wrong, they know how to retreat to solitude or small groups to recharge.  But generally, they recognize that much has been given to them, so they have much responsibility to share.

In that regard, I'd like to tell you a story of two artists that I recently learned.

Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple

Sir Anish Kapoor is an Indian-born, British sculptor, whose work has received great recognition and honor.  Perhaps his most recognized works are the Cloud Gate (or the Bean) at Chicago's Millennium Park and ArcelorMittal Orbit in London, a work created for the 2012 Olympics.

In the art world, he's more known for the controversies surrounding him.  Like purchasing an exclusive license to Vantablack, thought to be the least reflective (or blackest black) material on Earth.  Formed by vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays, it is a very difficult form to work with, but produces the deepest color black imaginable.  And Kapoor has blocked off access to other artists.

Enter Stuart Semple.

Semple, a contemporary British artist and curator, known for his large scale canvases incorporating text and found imagery.  Semple tries to promote positivity in his artwork and believes in art being more accessible to patrons and creators.

Semple decided to fight Kapoor with PINK, the world’s pinkest paint.  Semple released the paint at a very affordable price to everyone except Kapoor.  Anyone can buy a 50g jar for $5.99.  Anyone who can sign an acknowledgement that they are no Anish Kapoor, in no way affiliated with Anish Kapoor, are not purchasing for Anish Kapoor, and that to the best of their knowledge, information, and belief, this paint will not make its way to Anish Kapoor.  With the hashtag, #sharetheblack.

Semple described Kapoor as the “kids at school who wouldn’t share their coloring pencils, but then they ended up on their own with no friends.  It’s cool, Anish can have his black.  But the rest of us will be playing with the rainbow!

It gets better.

Kapoor somehow managed to get ahold of PINK and took a picture of his middle finger dipped in PINK, with the caption “Up yours #pink,” posted on his Instagram.  Semple could not let that stand, so he created Diamond Dust which contains glass shards and came with a warning not to get glass shards on your fingers or hands.  He has also created Black 2.0 (and Black 3.0), a functional equivalent of Vantablack, that is less toxic for use and comes in an acrylic.  All products come with a prohibition against Kapoor.

I know this fight about colors and paint seems petty.  And it seems unconnected with the idea of a bigger table.  But Kapoor is the definition of a higher fence person.  He acquired the exclusive license to a material with a color he did not create, so he could be the only one to experiment with it.  He’s tried to expand his studio in Farmers Road, which would block the light and view from the back of his neighbors’ properties.  (The neighbors contacted Semple for help with this one, and he created Phase and Shift, two color changing pigments - still prohibited for Kapoor).  Kapoor even notoriously hated the nickname "The Bean" for his Cloud Gate sculpture, though he has claimed to come around to it.

Semple, on the other hand, started his response as a performance piece.  It was a stunt designed to draw attention to such anti-collaborative moves.  To provide an alternative available to all artists.  To drive home this point, with his new pigment LIT, the world's glowiest glow pigment, Semple includes language about providing "all artists*" with the asterisk pointing to language that states “Especially Anish Kapoor.  If you are Anish Kapoor, can prove you are associated with Anish Kapoor or to the best of your knowledge information and belief this substance is going to make it’s way into the hands of Anish Kapoor, your order will be free!  We want you to know how lovely it feels to #shareTheLight."  

Maybe it's just a generational thing.  Kapoor is 65 and Semple is 38.  A difference in the idea of building up for ones self and building up for their community.  

But, haven't we seen enough of where higher fences get us.  The last thing we need are businesses with more wealth, CEO's with higher salaries, a 1% that's even more exclusive.  

Perhaps, just perhaps, it's time we all start building bigger tables.

In big ways and in small ways.  To each do our part to take care of the people that are put in our circle.  To take whatever surplus we may have been given and spread it around.  Whether its money, or paint, or food.  

After all, no one likes to eat alone, or to approach a table filled with people, only to be told that despite the open chairs there is isn’t room for you.  

Let’s instead tell everyone to pull up a chair.

The mores the merrier.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Statute of Limitations

Anyone who claims that nothing was revealed in the Mueller testimony was not paying attention.  Or had an agenda in their coverage.  Mueller was clearly a very reluctant witness, unwilling to cooperate in the proceeding (or perhaps, more correctly stated, ordered to be uncooperative).  He did, though, show glimmers of truth throughout the entire proceeding.  Like a law professor turning the Socratic method around on his students.  Waiting for them to ask the right questions in the right sequence, with the exact right wording.

The most revealing questions centered around what happens after Trump leaves office and the statue of limitations.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler asked Mueller, “Under Department of Justice policy, the president could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice crimes after he leaves office - is this correct?

Mueller answered, “True."

Representative Ken Buck, Republican from Colorado, had to confirm. “Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?

Mueller responded, “Yes.”

Reiterated, “You could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?” 

Mueller agin, “Yes.”

Democratic Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois brought up the potential wrinkle.  “What if a president serves beyond the statute of limitations?…Would it not indicate, if the statute of limitations on crimes such as this are five years, that a president who serves a second term is therefore, under the policy, above the law?

Mueller demurred.

The statute of limitations is a policy that we expect certain charges, certain cases within a particular period of time.  It is an enacted statute prescribing exactly how long of a period for the bringing of certain kinds of suits.  When the statute of limitations expires, the court no longer has jurisdiction over the case - the matter is dead.  

The intent is to make sure that disputes are resolved within reasonable lengths of time to ensure a fair trial.  To make sure witnesses are still available, to make sure evidence still exists, to give people finality, etc.  For this reason, lighter crimes or cases have shorter periods for limitation, more serious crimes and cases, like murder, have no statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for federal obstruction of justice is five years from the incident where the cause of action arose.  So, as in the example, if the obstruction of justice is for the Mueller investigation, the last events described as potential obstruction are from 2018.  The statute of limitations would expire in 2023, the last year of President Trump’s potential second term.  Charges on these actions would not be available to be brought.  

This occurs because of an Office of Legal Counsel opinion (an internal Justice Department policy) saying that a sitting president cannot be indicted.  The policy dates back to the Nixon administration, when another president was under investigation for obstruction of justice, and is binding on all Justice Department employees, including the special prosecutor Mueller and his team. 

This opinion provided the entire framework for Mueller’s opinion.  Mueller framed his entire investigation around the notion that he could not bring any charges against Trump, even if he found ironclad evidence against him, because of this opinion.  Meaning, even if Mueller found evidence that proved 100% that Trump is guilty, he could not bring charges against him.

This explains why the report is a series of facts gathered with no conclusion.  Mueller is laying out the case for Congress and waiting for them to act.  Because under the OLC opinion, that leaves Congress as the only parties able to hold a sitting president accountable.  Through impeachment.  To impeach the president in the House and convict him in the Senate.

Then OLC opinion says that the prosecutor cannot bring a charge against a sitting president, nonetheless he can continue the investigation to see if there are any other persons who are drawn into the conspiracy,” outlined Mueller.

Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat from California, asked, “The reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of the OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?

Mueller answered, “That is correct.

There is another way Trump can be held accountable - at the ballot box.  To make sure the statute of limitations does not expire.  And to let the prosecutors and courts do their work.  To make sure there is a full and fair testing of these claims.

We can only hope.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Traveler's Report 12 - Costa Rica

Pura Vida!  Pure life!

This is the motto of Costa Rica.  A dedication to a simpler life.  A life that is more connected to the Earth and it's protection.

And it's a motto that Jamie and her students picked up in their travels this year.

Jamie and her crew enjoyed the Costa Rica: A Touch of the Tropics tour with Education First (EF) Tours, spending ten days traveling the beautiful country. I’ve included their itinerary below, interspersed with Jamie’s commentary and pictures.

Day 1: Fly to Costa Rica
Meet your Tour Director at the airport
We finally made it to Costa Rica after two delayed flights. We’re ready to take in the scenery. Tomorrow we start the day with a tour of a coffee plantation(yum), then a nature hike to visit a volcano and onward to La Fortuna.

Day 2: San Jose - Arenal region
Bella La Paz Waterfall. Quick photo stop. Such a cool spot.

Our tour guide has given us a Scavenger Hunt. We’re on a mission to be the first group to complete it.

Take a tour of a coffee plantation
Our tour of Doka, the top rated coffee plantation 3 years in a row. Doka is famous for providing the highest quality coffee in the world. There is a Starbucks University just down the road. Needless to say we LOVED this tour!!!

Travel to the Arenal region
Visit Arenal Volcano National Park
Hiking up Arsenal Volcano National Park

Day 3: Arenal region
Enjoy a kayaking trip on Lake Arenal
Visit La Fortuna Waterfall
Participate in a cultural exchange with locals
Visit the Arenal hot springs
Our Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna was such an amazing experience for obvious reasons since a majority of us are addicted to the lovely taste of chocolate but this tour provided so much more. Our wonderful guide Chapo not only entertained us with his fun and inviting personality but he made us think. Although the cacao beans were originally produced in South America, it was Central America that began to produce chocolate as we know it from the plant. Even though there are more plantations in Central and South America it is Africa that has over 70% of all chocolate production. It doesn’t take very long to find out why. Labor is cheap because it is child labor. There is a documentary on YouTube you can check out and see what companies are purchasing from these labor camps. Hint: Hershey’s is one.

Day 4: Arenal region - Monteverde
Travel to Monteverde
Explore on your own

Day 5: Monteverde
Participate in a canopy adventure - Zip-lining
Our stay in Monteverde was such a great escape. We’re higher in elevation so it feels a good 10 degrees cooler which is a nice change from the weather back home. Our zipping tour was more intense than any of us expected with 10 zip lines and a hike to get them but, oh, man was it amazing!!!

Visit the Santa Elena Cloud Forest
Day two in Monteverde and our stop along the way. We went on a nature walk through the Cloud Forrest Reserve both in the day and night. Let me tell you we experienced a lot more creatures in the night tour and since the first one was a pit viper I was very alert for the rest of the night tour.

The view driving away was absolutely breath taking. One of the great things our tour director came up with us to do in order to interact with the locals was doing a scavenger hunt. One of the bonus activities was pay it forward and how we did that was by purchasing items for a family in need whose little girl, Pamela, has special needs and will be undergoing her 5th surgery soon. Though the view from their house is a million dollar view they are living in less than comfortable place. Yet this family of six lives with joy, faith and each other. It doesn’t take long to realize the things we can take for granted.

Day 6: Monteverde - Central Pacific Coast
Travel to the Central Pacific Coast
Visit the Rainforest Adventure Park, where you can ride an aerial tram above the canopies, explore a nature trail, and visit a butterfly sanctuary
Enjoy a crocodile jungle safari boat cruise
Crocodile just chillin on the side of the road. This was the only shot of a crocodile before we went on our crocodile cruise as my phone died as we boarded the boat but we got to see several crocs of all sizes while on board.

Day 7: Central Pacific Coast
Visit Manuel Antonio National Park
This was our view while staying in Jaco. We got to see magical storms out on the ocean at night. It looked like something out of a movie.

Manuel Antonio National Park was the highlight of this stop with the howler monkeys trying to take your lunch and the beautiful beach. We liked to play in the ocean and let the waves crash on top of us. We ventured off onto a little island and watched an iguana try and catch its lunch and lots of little crabs scurried across the rocks.

Day 8: Central Pacific Coast - Sarchi - San Jose
Travel via Sarchi to San Jose
Explore on your own

Day 9: San Jose
Enjoy a whitewater rafting excursion
11:23pm tonight I awoke to what sounded like a stampede of teenagers going down the hall in our hotel. As I flung back the covers to the bed I quickly realized we were experiencing an earthquake. Shortly after I have all three of my girls knocking at my door while the guys chilled in their room. We laughed afterwards but in the moment it was slightly terrifying. Everyone is ok, no damage or power outages just a good dose of adrenaline pumping through our veins.

Day 10: Depart for home

Next up in this series, our anniversary cruise.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Mickey & Minnie Together Again

Russi Taylor passed away yesterday at the age of 75.  That name may not sound familiar, but I'm sure her voice would.

Taylor voiced Strawberry Shortcake and Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby Vanderquack, and Grandma Duck on Ducktales.  She was Martin Prince, Sherri and Terri, and Uter on The Simpsons.

But she was most famous as the official voice of Minnie Mouse from 1986 to date.  For everything from film, to television specials, to parades, to "live-action" character appearances, it was her voice you heard.

In a wonderful case of art imitating life, she married Wayne Allwine, the second voice of Mickey Mouse in 1991.  He had become the voice of Mickey in 1977 and remained so until his death in 2009.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1944, Taylor had always wanted to work for Disney.  “When I was a little girl, I was with my mom and my brother, and it was late at night at at Disneyland.  We had just come off the Mark Twain Riverboat and were getting some popcorn.  I looked over and saw Walt sitting on a bench, so we introduced ourselves and shared our popcorn with him.  At one point during our chat, he asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, and I said, ‘I want to work for you!’  So he said, ‘Okay!’ - and now I do!

Boy did she.  Taylor beat out 200 other hopefuls during a 1986 audition for the role of Minnie Mouse.  She voiced other roles for Disney up to and including parts in Sofia the First, The Lion Guard, and Tangled: The Series.

Minnie Mouse lost her voice with the passing of Russia Taylor.  For more than 30 years, Minnie and Russi worked together to entertain millions around the world - a partnership that made Minnie a global icon and Russi a Disney Legend beloved by fans everywhere. We’re so grateful for Russi’s talent as well as the tremendous spirit and great joy she brought to everything she did. It was a privilege to have known her and an honor to have worked with her, and we take comfort in the knowledge that her work will continue to entertain and inspire for generations to come.  Russia will be sorely missed and our hearts go out to her family and friends, along with our deepest condolences.
Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company

I never wanted to be famous,” she once said.  “The characters I do are famous, and that’s fine for me.

Well, whether she wanted fame or not, to a group in the know, she definitely found it.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Zippered Merge

Let's talk about something really important today.

When you see a sign like this what do you do?  

Do you immediately get over into the right lane as soon as you see the sign?

Do you expect that everyone else should get over into the right lane when they see the sign?

If you do, I hate to break it to you, but you are WRONG.

I'll say that again.  If you are using this technique, you are not merging traffic in the correct manner.

I know, I know.  You hate those people who drive by in the left lane, all the way until the last second and then try to work their way back in.  They're annoying, aren't they?!?  I mean they are just thinking about themselves and just causing problems trying to get back in.

But guess what, they are right.  They are doing it correctly.  And they are not the ones causing traffic problems.

You are.

That is especially true for you mister I'm-going-to-drive-in-the-middle-of-the-two-lanes-semi-driver looking to keep people from driving all the way up to the merge point.

By moving over too quickly (and especially blocking the left lane before the merge) all you are doing is moving the choke point back further, causing traffic to back up even further back.

No matter how much it may pain you, the correct technique is to drive all the way up to the point where you are forced over and then to merge.  This is the Zippered Merge, and it is recommended by nearly every Department of Transportation.  Study after study recommends it.   This way uses all available road space and reduces traffic by 40%.  It is designed to keep both lanes moving and can be performed at higher speeds (dependent on the traffic level).  This is especially preferred to the stop and start method we get now.

Now, I get it, sometimes it doesn't really matter because the traffic is so light, you can get over whenever you want to.

But the next time you find yourself in real traffic, think twice about moving over too early and just stay in the lane as long as you can.  

That way you can help all of us keep moving.

Friday, July 26, 2019


On our first day as nomads, we're off on a road trip.  We're heading out with Jamie's family to end up in Pendleton, Kentucky.

Through this trip, we'll be spending time in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.  We'll see new states and places we haven't been to.  We'll get to catch up with friends who have recently moved.  We'll have new adventures.

The trip will definitely end up as a Travelers' Report soon.  But wanted to let you know we're heading out, so that you can expect a little more relaxed posting pace.  I'm hoping to keep at it regularly and have some banked, but may not be as fastidious at it as I would typically be.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we travel.  We've got four kids seven and under, so it's going to get really interesting, really fast.

But it should be a whole lot of fun.  And that is a welcome treat right now.

Bon Voyage!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

End of Chapter;

The semicolon is a punctuation mark used to indicate a pause between two clauses.  One more pronounced than a comma.  It reflects a change, but not an ending.  Similar to the transition between two chapters in the same story.  One thought is complete, the next related one is coming.

And for us, one chapter is now closed...

The apartment is empty.  The power is off.  Most everything is in storage.  We are out of Wills Point. 10 years in Wills Point.  Eleven for Jamie.  Through that time we've had a lot of great ups and downs.  Made a lot of great friends that will be with us always.

Now, we transition into nomads.  We'll visit a few states and friends starting tomorrow.  We'll split time with family following in case our next stop is out of state.

We're in the transition.  In the space after the semicolon.  That period in which the sentence content changes.  It's connected, but different.  It's a waiting period for something new.  

A dramatic pause, if you will, we're the audience with bated breath to see what happens next.

Because something is coming.  There are things in the works.  I've had several good interviews with recruiters and companies.  Just waiting to see where we go from here.

But for now, we wait.  And we trust in the waiting.

To all our friends in Wills Point, we love you all.  We'll miss you all.  We hope to see you soon.  And I hope Sunday was not the last day I get to sing backup at Stonepoint.  Hopefully we'll get a few more Sundays there before we're off to whatever is next.  

To our friends and family beyond, we hope to get to see you in our travels.  We're looking forward to that part of the waiting.

To my readers, we'll be keeping you updated on our progress.  It should prove to be a really grand adventure.

Excelsior!  Onward and upward!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Hugh Southern

Hugh Southern passed away Monday, July 21, 2019 at the age of 87.  That name may not sound familiar to most people, but for patrons of the theater in New York, Southern was a patron saint.

Southern was the acting chairman for the National Endowment of the Arts in the 1980s, later general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, as well as the first executive director of the then called Theater Development Fund, running the organization from 1968 to 1982.  TDF is a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone, with a specific mission to sustain live theater and dance by engaging and cultivating a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance.

Southern oversaw development of the "half-price booth" in 1973 in the theater district.  The booth, now known as TKTS, has become an integral part of the New York theater scene, selling more than 1.1 million same-day discounted tickets for the recent 2018-2019 fiscal year ending June 30.  This accounted for 8% of the total Broadway ticket sales.

TKTS has been a great outreach in making Broadway more affordable and accessible.  I know I've used the service with friends and family a couple of times to be able to enjoy spur of the moment shows. 

Southern's life is a reminder that art should be accessible.  That it needs an audience.  What a great legacy he has left in that regard.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

MCU Phase 4

Marvel won San Diego Comic Con.  All of the major coverage of Comic Con seems to center around Marvel's Hall H presentation for the reveal of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4, aka how to we follow Avengers: Endgame.  With Spider-man: Far From Home out now and putting a bow on that story, it was time for Marvel to reveal what's next.

Boy did they.

Marvel revealed their film slate for 2020 and 2021, listing six film titles that will take them into 2022.  The list included expected films and a couple of surprises.
  • Black Widow (May 1, 2020) - It's great to have this finally confirmed and for us to find out a bit more about it.  David Harbour as the Red Guardian, Russia's Captain America.  Yelena Belova, the other Black Widow.  Rachel Weisz as another Red Room spy.  The Taskmaster as the villain.  And a surprise role by Ray Winstone.  This should be good.  
  • Eternals (November 6, 2020) - This is the one that has Guardians potential.  A race of alien gods essentially, played by a very diverse and interesting cast.  Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek.  It will have one of the first LGBT leads in the MCU, the first deaf character, etc.  This is one to watch. 
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021) - Master of Kung Fu.  Marvel's first Asian lead, with a Hong Kong cinema legend as its villain.  Marvel has solved two of its problems in this film - how to present the Mandarin in a way that won't reek of Orientalism and how to avoid Fu Manchu as Shang-Chi's father.  By casting the Mandarin as the primary antagonist, I assume he will be Shang-Chi's father.  This will also help Marvel fulfill the promise of the All Hail the King short.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021) - Marvel's foray into horror.  Perhaps this will help premier a hero a couple of bullets down.  Promises to have a big part for the Scarlet Witch carrying over from her show.  This helps show how much faith they are putting in Disney+.
  • Thor Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021) - Taika Waititi is back!  And Jane Foster will be Thor!  Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Chris Hemsworth. If this continues the feel of Ragnarok, it will be awesome.
  • Blade (TBA) - for the "oh and one more thing" announcement - Mahershala Ali as Blade.  A reboot to bring the character into the Marvel universe.  If the main villain is Marvel's Dracula, I'm all in.  And it better be the original Dracula from Tomb of Dracula, not the new redesign.  Hopefully this could open up the Marvel Horror line.
Marvel also revealed how much Disney+ will play into their future plans, including their five named series for the platform in their presentation here.  A couple of surprise announcements were included here.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020) - with Daniel Bruhl back as Baron Zemo with the purple mask!
  • WandaVision (Spring 2021) - a lead up into Doctor Strange, building up Scarlet Witch.  If Vision comes back in the stark white design, this could be very interesting.  And it's going to introduce Monica Rambeau all grown up from Captain Marvel!
  • Loki (Spring 2021) - Time traveling adventures of the Avengers era Loki.  Hiddleston is great in this role, so this will be fun.
  • What If…? (Summer 2021) - An animated series exploring left turns in the MCU, with the first one being Peggy Carter as Captain America.  With the original actors as the voice cast!  And it will have the Watcher?!?  I always loved What If...? as a comic series and this should be just as fun if done well.
  • Hawkeye (Fall 2021) - This will introduce the Kate Bishop character to take up Hawkeye and have Clint Barton still in Ronin.  If this borrows from the Fraction run, it could be great.  I would love to see a version of Rio Bravo at the Barton farm, with Clint's screw up brother and the rest of the family.  If we learned that Clint's wife was also a SHIELD agent and was a better marksman than he, all the better.
What's interesting is how this does not even include the real expected sequels on the slate, including ones with some form of announcement already.  Could these be held for D23?  Or will they reveal Phase 5 a little later?  We know it's planned out that far at least but there are still so many factors to consider.
  • Black Panther 2 - We know this is already in production,  and I would think has to be the first film lined up for Phase 5.  With the gross that Black Panther brought in, it is a forgone conclusion.  I know they are trying to explore potential villains, Kraven the Hunter being one mentioned.  
  • Captain Marvel 2 - Another forgone conclusion given the success of the first film this year.  It would be nice to see Captain Marvel truly fully integrated into the modern MCU age in something more than an extended cameo.  Perhaps this could be a backdoor for A-Force, or at least bring in the Carol Corps.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp 3 - This one has been mentioned as a potential new offering.  I like the Ant-Man films and would like to see them get their set of three.  Plus, the need to play with Cassie being aged five years since Scott last saw her and to potentially prepare her for Stature/Stinger.
  • Spider-Man 3 - We know this is planned, with it potentially taking place in Peter's senior year.  This one also has Kraven as a potential villain.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 3 - We know this is coming as well, as James Gunn has been rehired to complete his trilogy.  Filming will start after Gunn completes The Suicide Squad.  This one should introduce Adam Warlock and really dive into Rocket's story.
Phase 4 looks great and beyond is so exciting.  The integration with Disney+ and how those will intersect is truly going to bring new meaning to the idea that it is all connected.  I know they want to bring back the one shots as well.  They continue to innovate ways to explore the story further and to expand this world.  

The future truly looks Marvellous!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Avengers: Endgame #1

It's official - Avengers: Endgame has become the number one highest grossing film of all time.*  At $2.790 BILLION, Endgame has just passed Avatar to have the largest grossing film at the box office.  Now, the asterisk is for the caveat that this is not adjusted for inflation.  If you adjust for inflation, Endgame is only fifth, behind Star Wars, Titanic, Avatar, and the all time champion, Gone With The Wind.  It has a long way to go to pass Gone With The Wind, at $3.728 billion.

This achievement joins the list of all the superlatives that the film has earned, making it one of the most successful films of all time.  And it's still in the theaters.

Hollywood will still probably learn the wrong lessons.  Because it will be a hard trick to repeat.  This film is the culmination of ten years of storytelling.  Twenty two films leading up to it.  A cliffhanger previous film that really served as part one.  The ultimate crossover.  So much fan service.  I doubt even Marvel can repeat itself.

Disney will be undoubtedly comparing how well Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker does this December.  I'm sure they will hope that it does as well or better, but that expectation is too much.  Particularly with the concerns over Star Wars fatigue with Han Solo.

It will be interesting to see how things progress from here.  At San Diego Comic Con, Disney announced the slate of films for Marvel Phase 4.  That seems to take things in very different directions.  Tomorrow, I'll work through those upcoming films with a few thoughts on what this means for the broader MCU.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

All Downhill From Here

As of the posting of this blog, all our furniture and the majority of our possessions should be out of our apartment.  There's a little bit left to try and sell, and there's the cleaning that remains.  We should be en route to our storage unit, to unload tomorrow morning and return the truck.

So a short post today.  Mainly to say thank you.

Thank you to those whose thoughts and prayers have been getting us through this time.

Thank you to everyone who came to our moving sale and bought things through Facebook marketplace.  We're glad to have helped those pieces find new homes.

Thank you to those who shared the Marketplace posts to help get them sold.

Thank you to the businesses who donated boxes to help us pack.

Thank you to our parents who are letting us store stuff in various places.  And who we are looking forward to spending more time with until we find a permanent new location.

A special thank you to everyone who came and helped us load the truck.  We could not have done this without you.  Physically and mentally.  I'm getting so sick of going up and down stairs, I'm going to be glad to be on flat ground for a while.  I think climbing the decks on the cruise was preparation.

We are blessed beyond measure to call you friends.

Thank you as always for reading.  This next week is going to be a little hectic getting everything finalized, but I hope to keep up with this semi-regularly.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Small Step For Man

Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.

It is a most important decision that we make as a nation.  But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.

I believe we should go to the moon.  But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful.  if we are not, we should decide today and this year."
President John F. Kennedy, May 25, 1961, Speech to Congress

Fifty years ago today man first stepped on the moon.

The Eagle landed on the moon at 20:17:40 UTC on Sunday, July 20, 1969 carrying Buzz Aldrin and Neal Armstrong down to their moment in history.  “Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed."  Aldrin commemorated the landing with a private communion, prepared by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church.  

With that landing, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first of twelve men to set foot on the moon.  Twelve over a period of fifty years, despite 326 attempted human spaceflights, beginning with Vostok 1.  A very rare brotherhood, indeed.

Space has always fascinated humans, from the very first moment we could see the stars.  From art to science, our trajectory had always been moving us to try and leave our atmosphere for that frontier beyond.  To reach the stars.

Space flight gave us perspective.  "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth.  I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.  I didn’t feel like a giant.  I felt very, very small.” Neil Armstrong.  It reminded us of our place in the universe.  On a pale, blue dot, suspended in a beam of light.  

I'm grateful with Artemis, we seem to be dreaming again.  We're seeking to reach even further.  Our new moon shot, now to human missions to Mars.  To push beyond the boundaries of what has been, and explore beyond our current experience.  Not through a space force, through the militarization of the final frontier.  But through the continued humanitarian discovery of the world beyond.

We're celebrating this milestone in a lot of interesting ways.  NASA has stunningly recreated point of view footage of Armstrong's landing on the moonCBS News livestreamed the footage of the launch of Apollo 11The National Air and Space Museum is projection mapping the Apollo 11 launch on the Washington Monument, for a pretty cool recreation.

May we keep pushing forward.  Hopefully in the next fifty years, we will have explored so much further beyond.

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all mankind.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Travelers' Report 11 - Walt Disney World

The continuing travels of the Keeler Crew.

For my parent's 40th wedding anniversary, they wanted to get all the family together for a trip to Walt Disney World.  They used their vacation club points to get a three bedroom villa at the Grand Floridian.  The room clocks in at a whopping 2,800 square feet, the largest villa in Walt Disney World property.

This trip to Disney World was marked by a few distinctives.   We attended a lot of character breakfasts, we rode a lot of new rides, and tried a couple of new restaurants.  Our first character breakfast was at Minnie's Beach Bash at the Beach Club Resort.  Here we found out the older two kids loved the characters and the younger two loved to see them, but not to interact with them.  You can see how Jude is very cautious of Minnie above.

This is what Granna and PapaRock wanted.  All four of the grandkids together and enjoying themselves.  

Jamie and I were able to break away for our date night at Epcot.  With Flower & Garden going on, we were able to try a food booth and to get this great photo at the entrance.

As we are working our way around the World (Showcase) with their signature restaurants, our date night was at Tokyo Dining for some excellent sushi and tempura.  One of our favorites in our eating around the world.

The family photo 2019. Trying to get all four grandkids looking at the camera at the same time was a challenge.

And our Keeler subset picture.

Jude rode every ride like this, no matter what type.  The above is the Teacups.  He likewise rode Small World like this, but thoroughly enjoyed it.  He loved everything with music, especially The Country Bear Jamboree.  For that, he danced.

This was what Jude wanted the most: Meeting Mickey and Minnie.  And though he wouldn't get down and walk up to them, he loved this so much.

Character meal #2 - family style dining at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.  The kids weren't as familiar with Lilo and Stitch, so there was a little more hesitancy.  The food was pretty great though.

Our Keeler crew with Pluto following the meal.

I think these are the most appropriate faces we could have made for the Haunted Mansion.  I particularly loved Avalyn's disbelief.

This trip, Avalyn became a rider.  On our last trip to a theme park in Dollywood over Thanksgiving, Avalyn cried and screamed through the entire small kiddie roller coaster.  This time, she was ready to ride.  She asked to ride the Goofy coaster, the Barnstormer, and loved it.  From there she progressed to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids, and Dinosaur.  That smile made it all worth it.

This was Avalyn's other high point: getting to be a mermaid.  She had mermaid lessons at Caribbean Beach resort and had the time of her life.  She had one of the best swim instructors I have ever seen as well.

One of Avalyn's favorite rides - Dinosaur.  I was really surprised she enjoyed this one, but she did.

For the anniversary surprise, my parents rented the Grand One Yacht at the Grand Floridian for a fireworks cruise.  This vessel was a complete seaworthy yacht with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchenette and dining/living area, as well as the bridge on the upper deck.  Here Avalyn and Jamie are popping up through the sunroof in the master bedroom.

Now a picture peering down through the sunroof looking at Jamie, Avalyn, and Ezra on the master bed.

The view of the fireworks from the upper deck.  One of the best seats to see it all.

Another highlight for Avalyn: getting to meet Anna and Elsa.  She became very shy at the time, but loved getting to see and talk to them.  In addition, I ran into a former colleague in the line.  It truly is a small world after all.

A great shot from the resort on one of our last days there.  The rainbow after the afternoon shower.  Truly picturesque.  A great finale to the vacation.

This marked the first of several trips over the summer.  For the next series, Jamie's tour with students of Costa Rica.