Monday, July 9, 2012

Between the Bubbles

Well friends and family, I have ventured into the world of podcasting, and I have to say I am VERY excited.  My great and amazing friend Braeden Jones and I decided to explore this technological world, and quite frankly it has come together quite nicely the last two weeks.

It all started when I say a comic book writer tweet a video review of two guys at a table picking up a comic book and saying very simple and generic phrases that gave no insight whatsoever.  I am guessing they asked her to tweet it, but still, I felt like Braeden and I could do more.  Friends in Iowa ask us comic book questions all the time, and have stated that they love listening to us passionately discuss our geeky fandom. So I hesitantly sent a text to Braeden asking him if he wanted to do a podcast.  I didn't know what he was going to say, and I didn't want him to say yes to something that he didn't really want to do, but felt like he should to support a friend.  Fortunately for me, he had been wanting to do a podcast on something for a long time, so Between the Bubbles was born.  By the way the name came to Braeden while watching Pixar's Brave.  Pixar's creativity really is contagious.  

Braeden's excitement showed, as he went full speed ahead and created a logo, a web page, got our mic situation together, and really put his heart into this. And it shows.  He even got us on iTunes! I'm running the Twitter account, and I've had a great time. Sounds legit, looks legit, heck maybe we are legit.  All I know is I had a total blast recording our first episode.  Were there things I can improve upon? Yes there most definitely are, but that is okay.  I was excited, nervous, and quite frankly I was in the process of regaining my voice from being sick.  The fact I didn't hack a lung while talking was a huge blessing, as I was having coughing fits two hours before.  I love that I can learn about social media and podcasting with a hobby instead of when I am a chiropractor trying to build my practice.  It will be a great learning experience.

Anyway, definitely follow and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, like us on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook.  You give our podcast a listen to, subscribe to Between the Bubbles on iTunes, and follow us on Twitter here http://betweenthebubblespodcast.blogspot.com/ .  Enjoy and appreciate your support!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Switching Classes: A Twin's Tale

Being a twin brings about a lot of questions from people. The most famous questions being, "Hey, you're a twin? Did you ever switch classes?" For the longest time our answers were always a disappointing no. My twin brother Devin always wanted to switch classes, but being the shy and timid child that I was, I would always decline. I knew if I got caught, I would feel absolutely embarrassed. But finally, after many years of shameless begging and pleading from him and our friends, I relented and traded places our junior year.

Devin was our school's stand out bass player, and our high school band teacher loved him. At this point in the year he was in an orchestra class and really didn't enjoy it. Bowing a few notes on an old stand up bass in the early hours of the morning didn't really enthrall him quite like flying through bass riffs off of The Red Hot Chili Peppers' songs on his baby blue electric. Devin wanted a break from this mundane morning experience, so he came up with the "brilliant" idea of switching classes. Constantly I'd tell him no, as I had never played the stand up bass before in my entire life. But push came to shove, and I finally relented. I'm ashamed to say it, but I really gave in to peer pressure.

As my brother looked forward to that moment with glee, I looked downward with dread. I was absolutely terrified to go to his orchestra class that morning. The night before I couldn't even sleep. I kept waking up every hour, looking at the clock and counting down the time until 8:10 rolled around: the start of his class. Finally, when the alarm went off and I had to get up for seminary, a sickening feeling in my stomach began to rise. I knew as soon as I got out of bed and put my feet on the floor, the time would soon come where I would have to try and avoid detection and hide the fact that I was a complete bass playing fraud. For one of the few times in my life, I really didn't want seminary to end. It's those moments where you wish time could go slower, and better yet even go still. But of course when we least want it to time seems to speed up twice its rate, so before you know it your slammed right into the situation that you have been trying to avoid. I felt like King Louis facing the guillotine.

I showed up to class about five minutes early, clumsily fumbling around the room as I gathered my things together. Trying to act calm and confident on the outside, inside I was a stressed out wreck. I absolutely did not want to get caught, as I knew that I would have to get a complete tongue lashing in front of the whole class of students, while my brother would get it hours later in the social comfort of privacy (the band teacher was a feisty individual).

Soon 8:10 came, the teacher raised her baton, and the moment I had been dreading for the last few days finally dawned upon me. Trying to control myself, I decided to just make up notes. I told myself, how hard can it be? I just push on a string here, do a little bowing there. It shouldn't be too hard. You see, Devin was the ONLY bass player in the orchestra. I had no one else to rely on to drown me out, so I had to make this work. So I decided to play, making up notes as I rubbed the bow against the thick, low sounding strings. Hoping to at least make some semblance of a musical note, I realized in horror that not only was I not making anything close to a sound that should emanate from a bass, but the sounds I was producing were reminiscent of a screeching dying cat. I quickly realized that there is absolutely no way I can keep this up, as eventually I will most definitely get caught. So instead I decided to not produce any sounds whatsoever, and played instead what one would call the air bass. It's harder than you think to move the bow back and forth in a convincing manner over the strings without having the bow actually touch anything (I showed great skills in dexterity and balance that day). To my great relief and surprise, this actually worked! As the time clicked away, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I actually realized that I was going to successfully pull this off. That is until the teacher stopped the class and decided we all needed to play our individual parts as sections...

Well, unluckily for me, I was my section. Me, and no one else. All of my hope of success quickly evaporated like rain under the desert sun. Now I was filled with complete fear. The sick feeling I had in my stomach grew about ten times its size. I looked around at my friends across the room, and their looks of fear as they all mouthed the words, "You are SO dead..." did not give me much confidence. Trying to think of anything that would help me stop producing a sound that not even a mother could love, and produce a sound of musical beauty, I realized that my friends were right: I was dead. I was soon to be caught, and there was no way out of it.

Section by section, the teacher went around the room. The ten minutes that lapsed as she did this seemed like ten hours. Until finally, FINALLY, the teacher stopped, raised her baton in front of the whole class and started a new piece of orchestra music. Never, in my short little high school life, had this orchestra sounded more beautiful. I was completely overtaken with relief!

Now, you can probably understand the emotional roller coaster that I was going through in the last hour, as I went from going down a steep slope of complete nervousness, to a high rise of hope, through a couple loops of extreme terror, to only end up at utter relief. I felt like I was going on a great ride. But if you know roller coasters, you will know that some like to have little surprises, or tricks rolled up their sleeves in order to add a little extra "umph" to the whole experience. And this coaster was that type; the type that had a startling surprise ending of a complete downward free fall.

About 5 seconds into our song the teacher abruptly stops everything, looks over at me, and with a bright smile on her face (and might I add both hands enthusiastically extended in my direction), she happily exclaims, "I can't believe I almost forgot about our favorite bass player!" I couldn't believe it. I felt like a sneaky little robber who stole all of the cash from the high end bank, successfully outran the cops with daring wit and cleverness, only to come home and see a policemen patiently waiting for him in his living room, twiddling his thumbs.

Accepting my fate, and with complete shame, I picked up my bow, laid it against the strings of the bass, and played a most terrible sounding tune. Seeing the bright smiling face of the teacher turn into a dark angry frown certainly didn't make me feel good. After about two or three unsuccessful attempts, I finally gave up and made up some silly excuse. I quietly mumbled, with downcast eyes, that I forgot my sheet music and had no idea what I was playing. With a very serious and stern tone my teacher said, "Class, I should be very mad at him, but I'm not going to be." She then looked straight ahead, stuck her nose in the air, and in very tense and jagged movements continued to conduct the music.

As my teacher brooded for the rest of class (she did a poor job hiding how upset she was), my friends and I couldn't help but smile to each other that I actually didn't get caught. Yes, my brother looked like a total slacker, but at least she didn't know it was me. Well, when my twin found out what happened he immediately told her the situation. Expecting her to laugh along at the joke, she instead hit us both on the tops of our heads with music folders, told us it wasn't very funny, and never spoke of it again.

It was totally worth it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My September 11, 2001 Memory

I just wanted to quick jot this down so I have it written. I was sixteen years old and a junior at La Canada High School in La Canada, CA. I remember showing up to early morning men's choir right after seminary. Men's choir was zero period, so it was before school. I walked in and saw that the few people who had arrived in class were very troubled (there were about 10-15 of us). The emotions in the room consisted of somberness, confusion, and complete shock. I asked what was going on and someone told me that a missile had hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At this point I believe both towers had been hit. Other people said that it was two planes. Few of my classmates had heard some details from their ride to school of what had happened, so naturally rumors were flying around like crazy. We were all trying to gather truth from fiction based on the various news reports.

I'm sad to admit this, but at the time I had no idea what the World Trade Center was nor where it was located. Regardless, I thought to myself that there is no way a small private plane could do damage to a large building (as the thought of a commercial jet being used didn't even cross my mind). Naturally I believed that someone had fired missiles at our country. The event that was being described to me didn't seem real, and as a result I wondered why everyone was so worried. I assumed that people were over exaggerating and that the news reports were blowing up a story. The whole scene seemed like it was straight out of a summer action movie. These types of events only happen in movies or books; not in real life. After about two minutes of talking we heard that the band room had the TV on, so we all raced down the hall to see what was going on. What I experienced next I will never forget.

On the TV, we saw that both towers of the World Trade Center were smoke filled and burning. Students had told us as we entered the room that people were actually jumping out of the enormous and towering buildings to escape the fires, as they realized a death from impact was more tolerable than a death by burning flames. Hearing this caused us to immediately get sick to our stomachs, as we just realized that people were actually put into such a situation that they had to make a decision of how they would rather pass from this life. All us high school students were gazing in complete silence at the devastation that was being presented before us. Here and there in the classroom were whispers and murmurs of shock and bewilderment. When it was confirmed to us through video and images that it was in fact commercial jets that were used, we were all dumbfounded. How anyone could attack our country, and in such a way that seemed so imaginary and surreal, silenced us.

After the shock had somewhat subsided, there were sporadic and quiet comments of theories on who were behind the attacks, but of course none of us had a clue. The fact that is was a terrorist organization never crossed our minds. I think that someone darkly joked that it was probably Russia, but of course we knew that it wasn't true. After about twenty minutes of watching footage, hearing different TV personalities come up with theories and speculation, the unimaginable happened; one of the towers actually collapsed before our very eyes on live television.

It was like watching a climatic special effects heavy scene in an action movie. Personally, I love those scenes in cinema. It's why I go to the movies. The explosions are big and loud, I hope the magnitude of awe as the buildings fall will overpower me, and the intensity of the moment as I view people running away for the perseverance of their very lives pulls me in as an audience member. I empathize with the people on the silver screen as I put myself in their very shoes as they deal and grasp the horror of the situation presented before them. I never thought that I would see such a scene in real life.

The image was disturbing. We all watched in horror and disbelief as the seriousness of what happened presented itself before us. It's amazing how such a scene in a movie can present such different and extreme emotions when it takes place in real life. This moment ended the silence in the room. Some people were teary eyed with the shock of what happened, and with the knowledge and understanding that many people just lost there lives before our very eyes. The unknown number of casualties silently scared us in the room. It got even worse when the second tower fell. Later reports estimated that more than ten thousand people might have lost their lives. That is more than the famous Battle of Gettysburg. We also watched in horror as we saw footage of people running away from the collapsing towers, only to be helplessly engulfed by the rapidly pursuing thick and growing cloud of dark and gray smoke. We didn't know if those people had died as well.

Next reports came that firemen and policemen were also among the causalities, and we assumed, only to find out we were indeed correct, that they knew the tower was probably going to collapse. They gave their lives anyway. All of us in the room were humbled and emotional as we learned that such brave and selfless men knowingly gave up their lives to save strangers.

Later it was reported that it was believed that a middle eastern terrorist group may have been behind the attacks. Deep down all of us became a little frightened that LA might be their next target. We worriedly thought that if it New York and LA are major targets in movies, why wouldn't it happen in real life? I also remember my friend blaming President Bush for what happened and being kind of upset that he would make such a statement. The thing is, we were all trying to make sense of what chaotically unraveling before our eyes; and why. We all wanted someone to blame.

As the day wore on some of my teachers decided to have us watch any new news reports, while others decided to lecture. I am still a little upset that some teachers would turn the TVs off and decide to teach. None of the students were listening anyway, nor could we even concentrate on school. Eventually, I believe around a little after 1:00 PM, we found out that our school was cancelled, and that every student had to go home immediately. My high school was a mile away from JPL, a NASA jet propulsion laboratory, and intelligence believed that it might be a possible target.

Some students were selfishly cheering, which sickened me at the time, as they were happy to get a break from school. Others of us were scared and quiet. One student exiting the classroom next to me was singing "It's the End of the World As We Know it, And I Feel Fine." The tone of his voice and his cloudy and misty eyes made it very apparent that he definitely did not feel fine, as he was trying to grasp the sudden seriousness of the situation as it literally started to hit home.

My twin brother Devin and I immediately met up and raced home. We turned on the TV and discussed what had happened in shock with my parents as we tried to gain more and more info on what had occurred that infamous morning. Later that night, or even that week (I can't remember), images were displayed of possible deceased victims of the tragic events. This was done with the hope that someone had seen these people alive, and that they could be reunited with their families. It was also done as a tribute to those who had lost their lives. As images were shown of family members of the deceased, crying as they were clutching photographs and other items that represented their lost loved ones, no one could help but feel sorrow that a husband, wife, brother, sister, father, and mother were tragically and quickly taken from their loved ones, all because of a needless and hate-filled "cause."

It's been ten years, and I have to say that I believe that our country has quickly forgotten what had happened. It saddens me. Many people drew closer to God and gained a new sense of patriotism, only to quickly forget both. We as a country took on the pledge and motto that we will never forget September 11, 2001, but I hope we will never forget with our actions and faith in God as a nation, and not just our memories. It was our selfless actions of sacrifice and renewed faith in our divine creator that really showed how great of a nation the United States of America really is.

Here is a link to some videos. Play the John Schmidt video for the music while watching the 9/11 slide video at the same time. I accidentally did this and I found it quite moving. The images and the music match up really well.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Media Matters

A couple blog posts ago I wrote down how I had finally taken the plunge into totally embracing my geekieness (if I spelled that wrong I'm sorry, but spell-check doesn't have "geekieness" in its databank). I had started reading comic books and totally loved it. I loved the stories, the artwork, and the fact that I sometimes felt like a little kid again. This last part was important as school can sometimes make a person feel too grown up, and start to lose touch with their inner child. If I'm not careful I'm afraid this will result in me becoming more stiff and boring than a game of Monopoly at a retirement home; and we don't want that. In fact, my family might have noticed hints of me trying to counter this by trying to reclaim some of my inner "9 year old Darin" while we were at our last trip in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was on a three week break from school, and I had to store this up in preparation for the next trimester. I practically begged my family to go laser tagging, as I can't think of any better remedy to calm my "boring old man" fears. I mean really, you're in a dark room, with other team members, shooting lasers at each other for points. If that doesn't make you feel like a little kid again I don't know what will. Lucky for me my incessant begging like a sweet eyed puppy dog paid off as we went multiple times.

Anyway, enough of side tracking. I love reading comic books. I love the stories, the art work, and the fact that superheroes are saving the day on a usual basis. Comic books are just a fun concept. The thing is, there are some comic books that have excessive violence, and some of the costume's can be a little risque. I can try and quickly breeze through these pages, but the I still have to see the drawings.

Honestly, the longer I had the types of immoral and violent comics in my apartment, the more and more I could feel the Holy Ghost not being as present and strong in my life. I noticed a difference with how I felt. I was praying one night, asking what I needed to do to get my apartment to have a stronger present of the Holy Ghost. Leading up to this prayer, I had been confused because the TV shows and movies I watched, as well as the music I listened to, are pretty clean. I also was reading my scriptures and praying to Heavenly Father on a regular basis. Regardless, I knew something was off. I had never connected what was happening with how I felt spiritually to some of the comic books I had in my apartment until I had the very strong answer to my prayer that I should throw them out. This I immediately did, and I cannot tell you the difference it has made in the overall spirit and feel of my apartment.

The reason I wanted to write this down is so that I, and those who happen to randomly read my blog, will think more about what type of media we allow into our lives. Many times we justify the things we read, watch, play as video games, and listen to. We justify it by saying, "Violence doesn't bother me. I'm not going to go kill someone because of what I watch or play." Or we say, "I hear swearing all the time at school and work, so what does it matter if I hear it in the movies I watch, the games I play, or the music I listen to?" I am not saying that we need to throw everything out and only watch Disney movies and listen to classical music. What I am saying is that, from personal experience, we need to be aware of how the media we have in our home affects how we feel and the spirit of our home. If we know it affects us in a negative manner, we need to get rid of it and throw it out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Very Best Family Vacation

Here is a link to a slide show of a photo shoot my family had professionally done while were were vacationing in the outer banks of North Carolina. I wanted to put this up here so I can always reference it. I have such an amazing and wonderful family who I love very much. I don't know what I did to be born to such wonderful parents and siblings (and to have such a great, kind, and thoughtful person as my twin brother), nor do I know what my siblings did to marry such amazing and uplifting people, who also helped give my family such adorable, talented, and sweet nieces and nephews. However it happened that we all ended up together as a family, I'm sure glad that it did. Enjoy the video.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Meow...

These past three weeks I was on a much needed vacation. I only get three weeks off for a break from school in the summer (which in my professional opinion as a student, I think should be longer). During that time, I started and ended my vacation by staying with my brother Devin and his wife Deanna in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Now, before you all get visual images of podunk USA full of toothless rednecks who can't formulate a clear sentence, I must say that Knoxville is actually really nice. It's nothing like my ignorant mind imagined. There are great restaurants, it's a clean city, the people were friendly and great to talk to, and it is close to the Smoky Mountains (which happen to be absolutely beautiful). But no vacation can be perfect, and this vacation was no exception. The reason why? Leroy the cat.

If you were to describe, in general, how cats behave, what words would you use? I know what words I would choose. The words would be solitary, loners, quite, loners, self-maintaining, loners. Oh, did I mention that I think cats are loners, as in they usually like to be alone? I did? Three times you say? Well, that is because every single cat I have ever met has been a loner. They like to be alone. You get within twenty feet of a cat and they run away like Usain Bolt running the forty yard dash. Dogs, on the other hand, will gleefully run towards you while they simultaneously try to smash their stinky hairy body against you, with their tongue sloppily lopping around in a dopy grin in the hope to be petted before you even finish your first step of walking into the room. Dogs crave attention like a drug addict craves heroine. Dogs want us to love them, while cats think that they are too good for us. They make us earn their love (which boggles my mind why someone would want a cat for a pet, but that's a whole other blog entry by itself). It's what makes dogs great and cats silly as a pet. But Leroy? He is no typical cat. He's more like a cog; body of a cat, mind like a dog. It sounds great, and in most ways it is; but there are times it can be absolutely terrible. And the absolutely terrible is what I am writing about.

This morning at 6:00, my brother Devin left for meetings for church. This posed only a slight problem as I was sleeping on the couch in the front room after traveling the whole day before. I was extremely tired, so falling back asleep seemed inevitable. I of course forgot to calculate that there was a cog awake in the room. Leroy, who is very awake and active at this fine early hour of the day, decided to voice his sadness of Devin leaving. This would actually make for a really cute story if it were in a ABC Family children's movie, or if no one else where around. Unfortunately it wasn't a cute children's movie, and I happened to be around. Leroy, like a dog, sat by the door that Devin just exited. And, like a dog, Leroy was vocal about his displeasure of his owner leaving him. Leroy meowed, again, and again, and again. Not just for 5 minutes, for that would be tolerable. Nor for 30 minutes, which would cause only mild agitation. No, Leroy the cog meowed for a whole hour and a half. Non-stop, no break, of straight meows at 6:00 in the morning. I even got up and locked Leroy in the bathroom as an ill attempt to put him in some sort of a time out. It made sense since dogs get the cue that they are being punished. Leroy didn't quite understand that he was in trouble, which proves that he does possess some cat-like characteristics, so the vocalization of his displeasure only continued louder now that he was away from his coveted front door. Long story short, for the duration of the hour and a half, I slept for five. Leroy was let out of his time out after two minutes, and immediately went back to his position in front of the door. There he continued his lamentation of his departed owner.

I think it is sweet that Devin is loved by his cat. I even think it is kind of neat that Leroy acts more like a needy dog than a loner, self absorbed cat. But having a cat meow for an hour and a half in the crack of dawn doesn't cause you to think about the positives of a cat acting like a dog; it makes you want to throw the cat in the middle of the street and pray that a stray raccoon discovers its new toy.