Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Reflection on War and Military

I saw a documentary last night called Hell and Back Again. It followed a young American soldier as he fought in Afghanistan. He happens to get wounded which gives the opportunity for them to document his recovery at home. The film makers flip back and forth between these two settings which works well for the film and really shows the contrast between what most of us live everyday compared to what it is like fighting in a war.

It really put things into perspective. The daily problems we think are such a big deal are really nothing compared to what these soldiers are facing in battle each day. I could see how going to war, surviving, and then returning home would have a huge impact on who you are. I think if you could get through a situation like that, it would make everything in regular life seem like a piece of cake. At the same time, it can have a negative effect on the soldier and cause reoccurring stress from memories of what happened while they were at war.

Overall the documentary was captivating and thought provoking throughout. The camera crew was right up on the front lines as gunfire and bombs were being sent back and forth between the troops and the enemies. I kept thinking about how brave these guys were to put themselves in a situation like that, thousands of miles from home, where they could be killed at any moment.

I found it interesting how the soldier explained how he was dedicated and willing to die for his country and how most share that mindset, yet at the same time, he explained that they didn't really know the big picture as to why they were fighting. I have heard this same message expressed in another war documentary. That's great that they can follow orders without knowing exactly why, but personally, I would need a clear reason as to why we are fighting before I would put myself in that kind of situation.

I have never really thought about the military in depth, but on this Memorial day, this documentary got me thinking. I realized I took our freedom for granted. Other countries could attack us and try to take our land and belongings and change the way we live, but they don't because we have a strong military that would prevent this sort of thing.  After doing a little research I found out that the US has the 2nd most military troupes out of all the countries in the world behind China. 

Each soldier plays a small role and has a specific job. One may not be able to do much, but all of them together protect our entire country. The cost is huge and the tax payers must pay for it, but you can't really put a price on freedom and safety.

Before watching the documentary, I also took soldiers for granted. I figured they get paid, so it is just like any other job. I realize now that the difference is that they are risking their lives to protect us. This is why we must recognize them and thank them for their services as well as remember those who died fighting for our country.

With the fighting and so many lives being lost so easily, it seems like there must be a better solution. I wonder if it is worth it. Do soldiers have to die to accomplish a goal? Sometimes it seems like our country gets involved with matters that are so far disconnected. I understand that we as a strong country should do the right thing to protect innocent people in other countries, but again, if it costs American lives, is it worth it?

You would think in modern age, the wars would be over. Thankfully for the most part the world is stable and peaceful, yet there is still, and most likely always will be conflict somewhere.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TV Recap - Celebrity Apprentice, America's Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior

This season of Celebrity Apprentice was full of drama and surprises. The surprises came in the form of who Trump decided to fire each week. There were many times when the obvious weaker player was kept and a stronger player was sent home. The way I see it, there are 2 reasons to keep someone on the show, 1 they are a good player who is involved and wants to earn a lot of money, and 2 they cause a lot of drama and are good for ratings. Trump did not really follow either of these so it made his decisions baffling.

In my opinion it should have been Aubrey and Lisa in the finale. Both of them were the stand out players who were passionate about winning and were also entertaining. Instead, Clay and Arsenio were chosen. They are ok, but certainly not the top 2. Then in the finale, Arsenio was picked as the winner even though he raised much less money. Trump did not really explain his decision. Maybe he was just trying to surprise people. Well he did, but picking the wrong person to win is not a good surprise.

Overall, the show is still fun to watch, but Trump need to make better decisions when it comes to who should stay and who should go.

The new season of America's Got Talent has started, and while I have enjoyed previous seasons, so far, this one has not been very good. Maybe it is because it is still early on, but the acts have been pretty weak in my opinion. I don't like how they try to enhance it with pop songs overlapping the content. They need to focus on unique acts and less over production. I may get back into this once they narrow down the field.

American Ninja Warrior has been around for a while, but it is just now being aired on a major network. I like physical skill competitions, so I was looking forward to this one. Overall the show is ok, but it gets old quick. With contestants doing the same course repeatedly, it gets boring especially in qualifying rounds. This would work best as a 1 hour special with the top 10 competitors, like what they did last year. One thing I don't like about the courses is how there is so much emphasis on upper body strength. Being a ninja is not all about pull ups and hanging from things. There should be more agility and balance obstacles. I might watch this, but only if there is nothing better on.

UPDATE: 6-5-12 American Ninja Warrior chances the courses each week so it is not as repetitive as I thought.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Joe Sell of Lucky Boys Confusion passed away

If you have never heard of the band Lucky Boys Confusion, go check them out now because they are one of the best bands that a lot of people don't know about.  Unfortunately you will not have the chance to see them live with their full 5 piece line up because their guitarist Joe Sell passed away this week at the young age of 33.

I was very saddened when I read about his in the news in the paper the other day.  LBC has been one of my favorite bands since I first discovered them in the early 2000's.  I saw them play live many times
and their shows were always a blast. 

Here is one of their songs called Saturday Night.  I choose this one because not only is it a great song, but I love the little guitar parts throughout the song.

It is a sad time for Lucky Boys Confusion fans, but through their music, they will never be forgotten.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Magazine Subscriptions are so Cheap

With the age of the internet and digital media, it seems as though less and less people are reading magazines.  However magazines are still fun to read when you are just lounging around and have some free time.  I have not actively subscribed to any mags lately, but a relative of mine sometimes gives me his old issues to read.

I knew prices for subscriptions were pretty low, so out of curiosity I looked them up.  I had this Esquire magazine that was interesting to read.  It's like a men's magazine that covers topics men would be interested in.  It's a classy, upscale kind of magazine, with some interesting articles and some filler.

I looked up the yearly rate and guess what?  It is only $8 for 12 issues.  This price is incredibly low.  To think I could get a year's worth of magazines for about the same price as the breakfast I had at McDonald's the other day seems unimaginable.  And I can tell you this, I would enjoy a year's supply of reading material a lot more than that breakfast.

So the frugal nerd in me had to break down this cost and rationalize it.  At $8 for 12 issues, the cost per issue is about $0.67.  Factor in the cost to mail the issue, (I'll say $0.45, the cost of a stamp) and that brings the amount they make on the issue down to $0.22.  Now factor in the cost of the printing, paper and ink and it's fair to say they are actually losing money on subscriptions.

A quick look at the list of people involved in making the magazine and you will find upwards of 50 to 100 people working for the magazine.  They have to get paid somehow right?  

So I figured they had to be making money some other way and that's when I remembered the advertisements.  Of course the magazine has ads and companies pay this magazine to show their ads.  Usually I hate ads.  On the internet, I block them.  On tv, I switch channels or go do something else.  But the funny thing is, in this magazine I actually like the ads just as much as the content.

The ads in the magazine are like art.  You can study the photography, the models used, the choice of text and words get some appreciation out of it.  Sometimes they even have fragrance samples.

So yeah all of this for $8 a year.  It's so reasonable it's almost silly to pass it up.  I'm not subscribed yet, but I am definitely considering it.  It's fun to get magazines in the mail.  It sure beats bills and junk mail.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Funny Videos - Jack Vale, Uncle John, Ed Bassmaster

Here are some funny videos from 3 different guys on Youtube.

First is Jack Vale.  He is most known for his "farting" videos where he goes around in public with a device that makes a farting noise and records peoples reactions.  Lately he has been branching out into other videos such as this one called Hearing Things, where he goes up behind people and quietly says "sir" or "mam" but then pretends he didn't say anything.  The results are very funny.  Check it out.
Jack Vale - Hearing Things

Next is Uncle John who is related to Jack and makes similar hidden camera style videos.  In this one, they both play tricks on grocery shoppers by putting things in their basket when they are not looking.
Uncle John - Fun With An Orange Ball

Lastly is Ed Bassmaster who is a great prankster and has a lot of different characters and voices he does.  Here is one where he does the farting video in Time Square.  Make sure to watch the 2nd half of the video as it becomes crowded and people start to catch on and it literally becomes a show.
Ed Bassmaster - Ultimate Farting

If you liked these videos, be sure to check out each of their channels for a lot more hilarious videos.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Theory on Working Out and Exercise

Most people would agree that exercise is good for you. Studies show that working out is beneficial to your health. I was very active as a kid and participated in athletics throughout school. In high school I used to run several miles and lift weights about 5 days a week. I wanted to be in good shape for competitive sports. At times I probably overdid it and in turn got injured from over use. Still I was able to heal and get back into top shape in no time.

Now that I am older, my exercise habits have changed. I am no longer interested in being an elite athlete. I would rather spend my time on other things besides working out. I find that working out hard and frequently has more negative effects than positive. Examples include injuries from lifting heavy weights, and the need to consume more calories. I mention this because I already have a hard time getting enough calories without working out a lot. You also have to take more showers and clean more clothes.

My current exercise habits include light free weight lifting, calisthenics like push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, and light stretching. I try to use all my muscle groups to keep them active and toned, without overdoing it. I agree it would be beneficial to be in better cardiovascular shape, and have stronger muscles, but I have found it is not worth the trade off for the negative aspects that come with it.

What are your thoughts on working out?