Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Change of Pace

My obligation of writing this blog is almost at an end. I didn't do a very good job at being consistent with my writings on my specified topic of traveling. Something has occurred in the last few weeks that has awakened my faculties and is slowly pulling me out of the stupor that I have been in this semester. I am supposed to be learning about developing content. So that's what I am going to do right now. Try to develop and put my thoughts into some sort of cohesive mass. I had a project in another class that has really spiked my interest in the understanding of ethics. I think this greatly applies to social media and new technology. We live in the technology age. We can quite literally say anything we want, at any time during the day and have it published that very day for the entire world to see. I was listening to a paper someone wrote today about how his brain and conscience often don't agree. As I reflect on this, I find that to be most interesting in that I have often have the same issue. I can have a feeling occur in an instant and wish to act on it but yet a part of me will not agree with another part of myself to act on such a thing. I feel that our ethics and moral courage are created in the fusion of our immediate thoughts and feelings and what our more logical conscience would be telling us to do. I think we find ourselves in difficult situations on a daily basis. From trying to protect our religious beliefs, to trying to uphold a policy at the place we work at, or listening and responding to a family member or friend. We do our best to find a reasonable course of action for such situations. Then we usually walk away from that decision and wonder if that was the best option we could have taken. Life is a series of events that is an ongoing journey. Someday we fail more than we learn. Other days we are able to take from those failures a positive angle and use them to succeed in future endeavors. We are not going to magically wake up one day and finally have all the answers. It comes day by day, line upon line, and after many applications of the trial and error principle of life. Life is a slow process. We need to enjoy it for what it is and stop looking forward to tomorrow and the "i'll be happy when I get there" statements.

I think I covered three of four different topics just now. I just wanted to write and get part of my thinking onto/into something more concrete. There you have it. I should probably read through it and see how it sounds and what mistakes or incongruence's there are. I won't though. It shall stay as it came out from head to type. I have a lot more on my mind and I think I will continue to cover them in the ensuing days and then possibly continue after the semester is over.

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." -Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Travel Tip Tuesday

Once upon a time on a stormy day in Rexburg, Idaho is how this tale begins. Last year a friend of mine decided to go camping. The day started out amazing, clear blue skies and a mild temperature. But then old mother nature reared her wondrous head and out of no where came a storm that sent temperatures dropping like a hunters spear into his prey. The clouds rolled in and the snow began to blanket the countryside, causing us to seriously rethink our trip. Did we shy away from this ominous foreboding seen unfolding before us? No... We did not. We girded up our loins, spiked our testosterone with thoughts of adventure and decided to venture out into the unknown. When deciding upon something such as a mind boggling adventurous excursion within five seconds, it's important to note that we knew beforehand what we might face and thus prepared ourselves with the materials needed in case something disastrous should happen. When in the face of danger, never laugh out loud and run full steam ahead. Give a sly grin and walk on with your head held high knowing that you are ready to face such a challenge. We packed our vehicle full of supplies and emergency equipment should we get stuck in the car for a day or two. Blankets, sleeping bags, hand warmers, extra pairs of clothes for all parts of the body. Plenty of water and a safe amount of food for enjoyment and life saving purposes. We had a tow rope, emergency flares, spare tire and a small extra tank of gas for either the car if we ran out of fuel or were forced start a quick and easy fire. Please know that using gasoline as a fire source should be your ultimate last resource, there are many other more efficient ways to go about making fire. And so it was that we journeyed out into the wilderness of the surrounding area for an exciting adventure. We went, we saw, we conquered, got stuck in the snow, managed to get ourselves out and all in all had a grand ol' time. Thankfully we did not end up having to live in the vehicle for two days or get trapped in the forest somewhere. The important thing and moral of the story is to always be prepared. When you are going on an adventure, you can never be too careful or bring too much stuff with you unless you decided to strap your bath tub on top of your car. In that case you might want to either rethink your strategy, your destination or possibly go visit a doctor. Thanks for tuning in. Go big, and go prepared.

“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character” - Henry David Thoreau 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hometown Monday

Click this ---> Just a simple country jingle about a good livin'

When I think of good american corn fed country livin' I usually think of this song. It's been a favorite of mine and my dad's for quite some time now. We always talk about grass roots living and how life can be really be as simple or as complex as you make it. Sometimes it take a song to help us remember the good things in life. I feel that where I'm from has helped me figure out who I am and given me experiences that will fortify me in my future endeavors. Experiences positive or negative can be learned from and used in a progressive direction when the bigger picture of life understood. No matter where we go it's vital to remember who we are and where we came from. This for me is especially true. Life can turn into a magical box of surprises being thrown around a roulette table and sometimes you have to find a way to deal with an outcome you didn't plan on having. So when times get tough, remember those life lessons you learned. We really only need a few things in life to truly make us happy. Most of the other stuff that comes along with it, is simply that... stuff, and it isn't really all that important in the big scheme of things.

"To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone."
- Reba McEntire

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Travel Tip Tuesday

Feel like going abroad for a lovely holiday with your significant other? Ready to see the sights, set the mood, show off your debonair flair for your woman? Besides midnight walks on moonlit beaches, and candlelit dinners on French balconies, you can show off your suave side by simply not acting the fool in a public place in a foreign land and earn brownie points by not getting robbed and made a sham. There are many ways to be smooth on foreign shores without seeming like the odd man out of the pack by following some basic traveling guidelines.

Travel as light as possible when you're out in public. Fanny-packs and backpacks are generally a dead give away to most would be robbers. Depending on where you are, it is best to have your passport on your person or to keep it in a safe in your hotel room. Passports go for big bucks on the international black market and can cause all sorts of problems for you if you happen to lose it. Avoid carrying your camera around your neck like a lone bird watcher in the woods during spring. Keep it in your pocket or in one of those side bags. Don't lose line of sight with your camera if at all possible. I have lost two cameras in the process of traveling to Europe and both times I had let my camera out of my sight for a fairly short about of time. I love Europe and apparently it loved my cameras too. If you can, be familiar with some basic laws of the country or place you are visiting. If you are uncertain about crossing a street or doing something you would normally do back at home, I would strongly advise against it and if you must take a longer route to get somewhere, then do it. Most foreign law enforcement are understanding of travelers but you never know when you may come across the one who had a bad day and in turn wishes to release his authority on you. If you happen to see political demonstrations or rally's it best to steer clear of the area. Do research beforehand and ask around for safer places to visit. You don't want to accidentally find yourself in an unsafe area with no way of finding your way out. Never, and I repeat never flash your money around in public. Unless of course that is you have a strong desire to make your trip a disaster then by all means, you have your own right to do so.

Hopefully this doesn't paint a completely grim picture of having the need to travel with a straight-jacket during your journey. I simply encourage and advise you to use common sense on your trip and to be able to get the most brownie points possible from the person you are trying to impress. And if that happens to be no one at the moment, you can at least impress yourself with keeping all your belongings intact and in your possession. Good luck and happy jaunting to you.

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hometown Monday

Mesa, Arizona is on the rack today. I began traveling back and forth between Quartz Hill and Mesa when I was about five years old. I'm pretty sure I was in love with Mesa and everything Arizona had to offer from a very young age. I was an Arizona everything fan first before anything else. Arizona Diamnondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Coyotes were my sports teams. I've wanted to attend Arizona State University since I was about eight. Some thing in life you stumble upon and you find that it's just a part of your blood. Arizona was that way for me. My family dad grew up there, I ended up growing up there and now my little brothers who are 12 years younger than me get to do the same. There has been many changes throughout all this time. My dad tells me stories about where we live now used to be desert and orange groves. He and a childhood friend used to go bird hunting and romp through the desert together. Now all of that land is developed and commercialized into residential areas for the exploding population of Maricopa County. Surprising to the knowledge of most people Mesa is one the largest cities in the United States just barely edging out Miami, FL. In fact I even remember when I was younger that we could drive down the road and be in alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see. Orange groves covered the land giving off the aroma of citrus in the evenings when the weather was mixed just right. Now all that remains are patches here and there and to really get out of the city we need to drive for about 30-45 minutes.

Mesa resides in what is known as the east valley and continues looking eastward to the Superstition Mountains. These mountains have been the backdrop of my life. I have hiked them, camped in the them and watched them become covered in snow when the valley decides to have a freakish winter storm, which all though incredibly rare, it happens and is one the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. During what we dub our monsoon season, the monstrous storms gather weight behind these mountains with clouds billowing up to an unimaginable height and then roll across the valley making Arizona home to some of the most incredible lightning and thunderstorms in the country. The Mesa Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is only a few miles down the road from me. This is a wonderful destination for many across the entire country during Christmas time when the Temple is covered in thousands of Christmas lights making it truly a sight to behold. Also, during the easter season we have the Mesa Easter Pageant. Please visit this page for more information regarding the pageant,

No matter where I go or what I do in life or even where I end up, Mesa will always be home. My life has basically come full circle in this place. I have been from one extreme to the next in this town and thankfully it still loves me for who I am.

"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to." ~John Ed Pearce

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

European Wednesday

England is a place steeped with a culture and a history that dates back thousands of years. I feel incredibly privileged that I had the opportunity to visit this wonderful place. I don't have my notes with me from that trip right now so I might have to update this particular day at a later time when I have those with me. I went there with the Arizona Ambassadors of Music in 2005. It was an Arizona all-state band where we traveled to and performed music in several different countries. England happened to be our first stop. We had the opportunity to experience pieces of England such as Westminster Abbey, the London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and many other churches and palaces in the surrounding area. I remember being fascinated with so many things. They actually had telephone booths, like the old red ones that you see in the movies, and absolutely amazing architecture on every street you could walk down. You should be warned at how expensive England can be though. One US Dollar when I was there got you just about 0.5 Pounds. Right now it's about one USD to 0.61 GBP. Needless to say other than food, I really didn't much money there. Pictures are the best souvenirs anyone can have anyway right? Well, maybe not but it's the best alternative to spending cash. If I could recommend any one particular thing to visit and see it would have to be the London Eye. It's basically the world's largest enclosed ferris wheel. On a clear day you can see nearly all of London and you can pick out spots you want to travel to. The tube is London's underground public transit system which is incredibly efficient once you get the hang of it. Just remember to 'mind the gap!'My group did have something not very nice happen to them one day when we were walking down the street. Some kids on the other side of the street behind a high chain-linked fence threw a water bottle at us. It just goes to show you that not everyone is a fan of America. Which I honestly don't blame them, they were no more than 10 or 12 years old. I'll admit it is a little unnerving to get stuff thrown at you but at the same time eye opening to the fact that the world is a really big place with many different views and ways to go about living a life and yours isn't always considered to be the best way.

"England and America are two countries separated by the same language."
-George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Travel Tip Tuesday

Don't leave home without it. Traveling by automobile, aka, road tripping can often be one of the most rewarding ways to travel. But it can also be one of the biggest headaches of your life if you're not adequately prepared for multiple scenarios. I don't mean to sound drastic and I'm not trying to say you have to bring a trailer attached to your vehicle so that you can weather out a three day storm while traveling across the Saharan desert. It's simply important to have the basic supplies you need in case of untimely incidents that may occur during your journey. Spare tire, a working jack that actually fits underneath your vehicle, emergency road kit with flares and reflective mini towers, small first aid kit, and a physical roadmap just in case your GPS stops working or your smartphone decides to die when you need it the most. And if you really want to get creative and be travel savvy you can have some extra emergency food tucked away, a bottle of water, an extra pair of clothes, if not used for you specifically you never know what or who might need your help along the way to your destination. Following and keeping these few extra things in your motor vehicle of choice can save you a lot of time by allowing you to take care of yourself and maybe others you come into contact with. I personally wish I would have known to check and see if my jack actually fit underneath my car a few years ago when I ran into a little issue in the desert. I had recently just bought a used car that was slightly lower to the ground than normal and didn't think twice about checking to see if the jack would actually work. That tire problem stuff only happens to other people right? Wrong... Anyway, short ending to an odd story, a police car just so happened to be passing through this area and gave me his jack to use which happened to fit just right. If not for that extremely odd coincidence, I would have had a very long walk into town to try and fix my problem. You may be wondering what I was doing in the desert and how my problem came about, luckily for me and for you this is neither the time nor the place to be reciting that tale. Needless to say it helps to know what you're getting into and to be ready for the unexpected situations that can come out of thin air.

"Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe