My Christmas!

We had my older brother and sister down for Christmas last week, and we had a great time. We had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of waffles and dozens of toppings, followed by present opening!

I got some clothes (which I desperately needed), a lot of chocolate in my stocking, some G.A. Henty books on MP3, $260 which (along with $40 of my own) I just used to purchase a refurbished $500-$600 (depending on where you buy it new) desktop computer, I also got another Ron Paul T-shirt, and a collectible Ron Paul coin! 

But of course, the best part isn't the getting, it's the giving:
 

"What is it, Gampa?" :-)




I think Ryan liked the "Special Premiere Edition" of Dialtone I got him! I also got him an iTunes gift card because I was able to pick up Dialtone so cheap!




Abby in her special Christmas Dress!




"Look at the camera, Caden!"




Abby with her hand-made matching hat, scarf, and mittens. Is that not the CUTEST pose!?!?!


Well, that's all for now. I was really disappointed we didn't take more pictures, but unfortunately, we let Abby take to many pictures and we didn't many good ones! :-P

-Graydon L

Ninja-Cat!

There have been a lot of viral video hits featuring cats... but I think you'll agree that this one takes the cake.

Watch out for the super sneaky Ninja-Cat!!!



:-D

-Graydon L

The Snow Architects

We got about 7-8 inches of snow this week so Jonny and I decided to get out there and make some snow sculptures.

I've always been annoyed at how unimaginative people can be when playing in the snow; regular old snowmen and their families, regular old snow forts, regular old snowball fights... well Jonny and I go for the more interesting creations:




Like a SnowThrone! I made this one by myself out of our patented SnowBricks (TM, R, C). It's about 6 1/2 feet tall! 

In case you're wondering, a SnowBrick is when you take a crate/box/hollow rectangle thingy, fill it with snow, pack the snow down hard, then flip the crate over and and lift it off the snow inside. What you're left with is a rock-hard rectangular piece of compacted snow!




And... A SnowStairs (also made of SnowBricks)! Up one side of the fence...




... and down the other!


Here's a video of me climbing/decending the stairs:

video
I'm wearing sandals because I didn't want to go through all the trouble of putting on my boots.

Well, that's all for now. I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for your own snow creations, if not I suggest you read some Calvin and Hobbes comics :-)

-Graydon L

A Very Strange... Um... Thing

Watch this crazy video and then try and think of what this black "formation" really is.



A strange cloud formation? A storm brewing? Aliens?!?!?

Nope... birds. Starlings to be specific.

Didn't I tell you it was crazy :-)

-Graydon L

Movie Review... Wednesday - Valkyrie

OK, so I'm a cheap, no-good schmuck that watches movies a week before they open  to the public and then gloats about to all of y'all... 

... And boy am I happy that I am :-)

Valkyrie (2008)

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander

Starring Cast: Tom Cruise (Colonel Clause von Stauffenberg)

Supporting Cast: Keneth Branagh (Major-General Henning von Tresckow), Bill Nighy (General Friedrick Olbricht), Tom Wilkinson (General Friedrick Fromm), Carice van Houten (Nina von Stauffenberg), Jamie Parker (Lieutenant Werner von Haeften)

What's it Rated?: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language

Genre: Drama, Historic, War

Synopsis: Colonel Clause von Stauffenberg is just back in Berlin from North Africa where he was wounded by an attack on his panzer division by British Spitfires, and he is intent on killing Hitler and ending the war through a new government and negotiations with the Allies.

My Take: Na-na-na-na-na, sorry... I just had to do that. I just got back from my press-and-invited-guests-only screening of the acclaimed film Valkyrie, and you know what, I reeeeeally want to see it again. Being fascinated with history in general (and also that man fails to learn from it), I really enjoy a good drama-oriented "thriller", if you will, about WWII... and Valkyrie delivers.

The story is excellent and well explained, operation Walk├╝re (AKA, operation Valkyrie, designed to protect Hitler's Germany if he were to be assassinated) is well outlined and stated clearly that the Resistance is going to use Hitler's own protection-plan against him. Unlike similar "coup oriented" films like the Ocean's 11 films, Valkyrie is relatively easy to follow, and it all lends to this films excellent plot.

Naturally, a caveat must be thrown in here: brief strong language and scenes depicting executions by hanging and firing squad as well as suicide make this otherwise non-gory film possibly very disturbing.

In conclusion, I'd like to give a round of applause to director Bryan Singer. He's crafted not only a fantastic drama, but an almost tear-jerking, inspirational tribute the men that risked not only their own lives but everything they owned and loved to attempt to bring down a terrible regime and reestablish their beloved Deuschland to it's true, unperverted glory.

Story: Based on a true story, and I gotta say, truth is better than fiction. 9 out of 10

Humor (more like comic relief): 8 out of 10

Action/Suspense: 9 out of 10

Overall: 8 out of 10

-Graydon L

MRM - Dialtone

The premiere has come and gone and I gotta say, It was better than I ever hoped. I know most of you have already seen Dialtone, but if you haven't found some way of seeing it, it's totally worth it!

Here is the Dialtone website: www.dialtonemovie.com

Dialtone

Written by: Brian Lohr

Directed by: Brian Lohr

Starring Cast: Brian Lohr (Greg Pleasant)

Supporting Cast: Craig Munson (the mysterious client), Natalie Lohr (Abagail Pleasant)

What's it rated?: Not Rated (I give it a General Audiences rating)

Genre: Drama, Independent Christian Film

Synopsis: A mysterious phone. A missing lawyer. An abandoned warehouse. They all help tell a story about Greg Pleasant, a Seattle lawyer who's held back from leading the dynamic life Christ wants him to live because he fears man's opinion of him more than God's. After Greg loses the control he believes he has over his life, an odd client tells him about an old phone that calls back into the past. When faced with the ultimate wake up call, how will he answer? How will you?

My Take: I've been following the production of Dialtone for over a year now, pulling in every scrap of information I could find, trying to get a glimpse of what Dialtone would be like. Now that I've attended the official Premiere and seen this fantastic film for myself, I have to say it's better than I ever dreamed.

Naturally, it's not perfect, almost every independent film isn't, but it's definitely the direction film should be going to reclaim the culture for Christ.

I'd say the story was pretty good, perhaps a little vague in places, but it's not especially hard to follow. There are a lot of movies that you have to watch several times just to understand why some character did something, I'd say Dialtone was pretty free of this.

As I said before, It's a great film, I totally enjoyed watching it, and I recommend it to everyone.

Story: 7 out of 10

Humor: N/A

Drama/Suspense: 7.5 out of 10

Overall: 9 out of 10

-Graydon L

Scientists Discover New Element!

A guy who works in my dad's office sent him this and then Dad forwarded it to me. I think you'll find it quite humorous :-)

Administratium:

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the
heaviest element yet known to science. This new element has been tentatively
named "Administratium." Administratium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons,
75 deputy neutrons, and 111 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic
mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are
surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since
Administratium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as
it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount
of Administratium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete when
it would normally take less than a second.
Administratium has a normal half-life of 3 years; it does not decay but
instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant
neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Administratium's
mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization causes some
morons to become neutrons, forming iso-dopes.
This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate
that Administratium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in
concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical
Stupidity." You will know it when you see it.

-Graydon L

My Crazy 16th!

Well, yesterday was my 16th birthday, and I must say, I was not a little surprised at what happened.

How can this be? Well my day started off normal enough with the usual early-morning "happy birthdays", and soon I came to realize that my family was planning nothing particularly special for my birthday. I thought to myself, "well I guess that's OK, I wasn't really wanting do anything fancy anyway"... but all that was about to change.

Shortly after leaving our weekly Toastmaster's meeting, I was grabbed, blindfolded and stuffed into the trunk of our car (actually, I got to sit in the front seat, but it sounds cooler this way) and carried off to an unknown location.

Soon I was rewarded with the sound and feel of gravel crunching beneath the car tires. "Ah", I thought to myself, "we're going to someones house", but I could not think of who I knew that had a gravel driveway.

I was guided out of the car up to a set of wood steps, with a small hand (who's owner was giggling unceasingly) grasping mine...

...I heard a door open... 

...the blindfold came off...

A chorus of "Happy Birthday"s greeted me! Turns out that the day before Jonny had spent all his time making phone calls arranging a surprise airsoft birthday party for me at the Ng's house!

We spent the rest of the day playing airsoft, eating pizza, playing board games, and wishing that the Pollocks could have made it (We missed you guys!!!)

Well, enough talk. Pictures!


Yeah, Thanks for the gesture, guys ;-)

Amanda saying "happy birthday"


Josh even made a cake! Thanks buddy!


I had a great time and I'm very gratefully to have a group of friends (and a brother) that would go through all this trouble for a guy like me.

Thanks Guys!

(by the way, that little giggly hand turned out to be Hope :-)

-Graydon L

P.S. Thanks Ng's for opening up your home for us rowdy, trigger happy, crazed airsofters!

P.P.S. My brother, Ryan bought me a Ron Paul T-Shirt (which I will be wearing on Friday night.), My dad bought me The Dark Night on Blu-Ray ("ha ha ha ha ha! You're just a freak... like me!!"), and I got a bunch of money from other family members to go towards the computer I'm planning to buy.

The #1 Way To Get Soaked

Here's yet another video I found on Yahoo.com, These people are either big-time idiots, or they did this on purpose to get attention. If their goal was the latter, they succeeded.

A hose at a car wash gets loose and goes nuts:


I would also like to formally welcome Christian R to the "Blogging Loop"! His blog is titled "A Christian View" and you can visit it here.

You can also find a link in my Blogroll.

Lastly, I'd like to ask forgiveness ahead of time for infrequent posting, I've got an insanely busy weekend/week-after coming up, and I'll probably not be able to post in the next week or so.

Thanks!

-Graydon L

Them's Fightin' Words!

"I prefer fifty thousand rifles to fifty thousand votes."
  
-Benito Mussolini


"Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained."

-the Duke of Wellington


"It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience."
-Julius Ceasar


"I want you to remember that no  *bleep*  ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb  *bleep*  die for his country."

-Gen. George S. Patton


"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun"

-Mao Zedong


"In war, you win or lose, live or die - and the difference is an eyelash."

-Gen. Douglas MacArthur


"Do not forget your big guns, the most respected arguments of the right of kings."

-Frederick the Great


"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
-Herman Goering


"They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29 to 1. They can't get away from us now!"

-Gen. Chesty Puller

Merry Tossmas!

Happy Holidays? Season's Greatings? Merry X-Mas!?!?!

I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty tired of not hearing "Merry Christmas"

I think this guy is on the right track.



-Graydon L

MRM - August Rush

August Rush (2007)

Directed by: Kirsten Sheridan

Written by: Nick Castle, James V. Hart

Starring Cast: Freddie Highmore (Even Taylor/"August Rush"), Keri Russel (Lyla Novecek), Jonathan Rhys Myers (Louis Connelly)

Supporting Cast: Terrance Howard (Richard Jeffries), Robin Williams (Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace)

What's it Rated?: PG for some thematic elements, mild violence and language. (I'd call it more of a PG-13 for mature subject matter)

Genre: musical, drama, romance

Synopsis: When star cellist Lyla Novecek and rock musician Louis Connelly meet after their respective concerts, it's love at first sight. But Lyla's father forces them apart even after he and Lyla learn she's pregnant. Lyla's father gives the boy up for adoption without her consent and the boy spends the first 11 years of his life in a boys home. But he runs away to New York city to "follow the music" and to find the parents he's never met.

My take: Although featuring a very talented cast, August Rush fails to push through the flimsy directing and schmaltzy plot. I personally enjoyed it's a bit of a one-time-see because of the subject matter and it's rather "Oliver Twist" flavor. 

Now, after bashing the entire thing, I gotta say that the film is almost worth watching for the music itself! The music is amazing and I would definitely like to get the soundtrack somewhere! From soft-rock to deep hearted classical and contemporary guitar improvisation, There's something for everyone here. But the best part of all is the collage sort of feel that is given by weaving all the "songs" together. 

Because of the music I've even added another "out of 10" rating at the bottom of the post.

In conclusion, I'd say that August Rush gets mixed reviews from all over the spectrum of film-lovers. It's a new take on the musical genre, and a relief from the dark and "hopeless" films that Hollywood is producing these days.

Story: 4 out of 10

Humor: 6 out of 10

Drama: 7 out of 10

Music: 10 out of 10

Overall: 7 out of 10

-Graydon L

Karl Marx and The Communist Manifesto

I know I should probably talk about what I'm thankful for, but I just finished reading Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto, and I just had to say what I'm NOT thankful for. Judging by the title of this post, I think you know what I mean.

I know I don't need to tell you that Communism (on a mass scale that is) is a bad thing and that it doesn't work, but part of my school work is to write about what I read, and I decided I'd put my writing in a post.

First off I'd like to explain my comment in parentheses above. Communism on a national, state, county, or any group of more than say... 20 people, for that matter, will not survive. There must be a common bond between every individual in a Communist society. If there isn't, someone will get lazy. In a family setting Communism is used every day (not in the strictest sense of the term, but bear with me). A family has a common bond: that of love and care for one another. 

For example, a father goes to work every day and supplies his family with income. His young children are not able to go to work every day so they are dependents. In a nation ruled by Communism, this would not last long. However, this father is bound to care for and feed his children. He is giving according his ability (out of love and commitment), his children are taking according to their need. Eventually, this father will retire, or will become too sick to provide. At that point, hopefully his children will be able to provide for him in his old age. Now the children are giving according to their ability ( out of love and commitment) and the father is taking according to his need.

The common bond is Love, Care, and Commitment.

Naturally, this isn't exactly the same as the purest form of Communism as suggested by Marx, but you get the point.

Also, there are other common bonds. There are some hippie communes in the backwoods of Missouri where everybody gardens, has long hair and plays drums around the campfire. The common bond here is a particular belief. that belief may be a religion, a view of the environment, it my even be belief in Communism itself! But as I said before, these groups are rarely over 20 people and if they are, they usually don't last long.

If you disagree, please comment, I'd love to hear from you.

And now onto the atrocious statements made by Marx in his book.

when talking about how the current (The Manifesto was written in several editions over the mid 1800s, so keep in mind what "current" means here) general system of economics and government in Europe, Marx states:

"there are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality..."

He then goes on to say that in order to establish Communism as a form of government, you must first use Socialism.

"Of course, in the beginning, this [That is, Communism] cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and o the conditions of bourgeois [that is, the land-owners and upper class] production; by means of measures therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production. 
These measures will of course be different in different countries.
Nevertheless, in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable:

1.  Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public 
purposes.
2.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3.  Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4.  Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5.  Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a nationally 
bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6.  Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands 
of the State.
7.  Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; 
the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the 
soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8.  Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, 
especially for agriculture.
9.  Combination of agriculture with the manufacturing industries; gradual 
abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more 
equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's 
factory labor in it's present form. Combination of education with 
industrial production &c., &c."

Heavy graduated income tax? Free education in public schools? Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels? Equal liability of all to labour? I don't know about you, but it seems like we're living in a very socialistic society! Now keep in mind it took 150 years for these few of the ten points to become part of American society, and it may take some time to have all ten of these points to become reality, but still! 

A 150 year old recommendation coming true is FRIGHTENING!!

And just to prove that Marx never read a bible ( and was a nut):

"Nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge. Has not Christianity declaimed against private property, against marriage, against the State? Has it not preached in the place of these, charity and poverty, celibacy and mortification of the flesh, monastic life and Mother Church?"

Oh, and one last thing; the last 6 words in the infamous "The Communist Manifesto":

"WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES,

UNITE!"

-Graydon L

MRM - Inherit the Wind

Last Sunday, Y'all asked for a negative review to put my other ones in perspective. Well, lets just say that I could have called this "Movie Warning Monday"

Inherit the Wind (1960)
Written by: Jerome Laurence, Robert E. Lee.

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Starring Cast: Spencer Tracy (Henry Drummond), Dick York (Bertram T. Cates), Fredrick March (Matthew Harrison Brady)

Supporting Cast: Gene Kelly (E. K. Hornbeck), Donna Anderson (Rachel Brown), Harry Morgan (Judge Mel Coffey), Claude Atkins (Rev. Jeremiah Brown)

What's it Rated?: PG for thematic elements and some language

Genre: Courtroom Drama

Synopsis: A small-town school teacher is arrested and put on trial for teaching evolution in his school. Two big-time attorneys come to help their respective sides of the argument. One for Darwin, one for the Bible.

My Take: Inherit the Wind is actually a dramatization of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 when a biology teacher was arrested and challenged a law passed by the Tennessee State legislature making it a crime to teach anything other than the account of creation as set down in the Book of Genesis. Dick York is the biology teacher here, renamed Bertram Cates for the play and the film version of that play.

We when we watched Inherit the Wind we knew that it was from an evolutionary perspective, but I never thought it would be this bad. Not only does it assume that evolution is true, but it blatantly mocks God, the bible, and any who believe in either. Further, it labels Christians as legalistic, superstitious bigots who don't think about anything and just believe what ideas are fed them by their "religious leaders".

If you know what's good for you, put a good ten miles between you and this awful film.

Story: 6 out of 10

Humor: 6 out of 10

Drama/Suspense: 7 out of 10

Overall: 2 out of 10

-Graydon L

Elected Officials Flunk US History Test

Here's another short article I just found on Yahoo. I thought it was pretty funny.

Check it out.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one question which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to "supervise the first televised presidential debates."

In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents' basic understanding of economic principles, asking why "free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning?"

Activities that dull Americans' civic knowledge include talking on the phone and watching movies or television -- even news shows and documentaries, ISI said.

Meanwhile, civic knowledge is enhanced by discussing public affairs, taking part in civic activities and reading about current events and history, the group said.

***     ***     ***

This Article found on the Yahoo News site.

-Graydon L

Einstein's Formula Proven!

PARIS (AFP) – It's taken more than a century, but Einstein's celebrated formula e=mc2 has finally been corroborated, thanks to a heroic computational effort by French, German and Hungarian physicists.

A brainpower consortium led by Laurent Lellouch of France's Centre for Theoretical Physics, using some of the world's mightiest supercomputers, have set down the calculations for estimating the mass of protons and neutrons, the particles at the nucleus of atoms.

According to the conventional model of particle physics, protons and neutrons comprise smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are bound by gluons.

The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent?

The answer, according to the study published in the US journal Science on Thursday, comes from the energy from the movements and interactions of quarks and gluons.

In other words, energy and mass are equivalent, as Einstein proposed in his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905.

The e=mc2 formula shows that mass can be converted into energy, and energy can be converted into mass.

By showing how much energy would be released if a certain amount of mass were to be converted into energy, the equation has been used many times, most famously as the inspirational basis for building atomic weapons.

But resolving e=mc2 at the scale of sub-atomic particles -- in equations called quantum chromodynamics -- has been fiendishly difficult.

"Until now, this has been a hypothesis," France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) said proudly in a press release.

"It has now been corroborated for the first time."

For those keen to know more: the computations involve "envisioning space and time as part of a four-dimensional crystal lattice, with discrete points spaced along columns and rows."

***      ***      ***

This article was found on the Yahoo News website.

-Graydon L

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