Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter 2016

Back in 2008, my very first blog post was on Easter. I had spent Easter at the apartment of friends in Harlem. I was tasked with bringing an angel food cake, except I didn't' have an angel food cake pan. I didn't want to buy one, because I was a fairly poor New Yorker. So I just made it in a regular cake pan. And now I know that there is a reason why angel food cake has it's own special pan. I remember being a bit embarrassed about how it turned out, because one of the people at our Easter dinner was a dessert chef.

Here's a photo from that Easter Sunday:

Interestingly enough, I still have that pink sweater (I bought it at the Target just off the 1 train in the Bronx) and wore it this Easter Sunday as well. I'm actually quite impressed at how long it has lasted and is still in excellent condition.

I spent this Easter with the Clements, my Texas family. I love that they include me in their family events, seeing as how my family continues to do things without me in Salt Lake (rude, right?).

Denise orchestrated a visit by the Easter bunny, then we all chilled and took naps until we left for church.


Fort Worth Nature Center

Even though north Texas doesn't have any mountains, we can still do "hiking". It just doesn't involve elevation change. It's walking in nature, which is really, at least to me, what hiking is all about.

My friend and I headed south to Fort Worth to their Nature Center and Refuge to get out and enjoy nature. It was the perfect weather for hiking.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Let My People Go: Epic Epicness

Every year, ABC broadcasts The Ten Commandments the Saturday before Easter. I actually look forward to this and make note to watch it if I'm home that night. This year, though, I didn't have to wait and instead experiences it on the big screen in all its epic gloriousness.

The story of Moses gets the all-star treatment in Cecil B. DeMille's film. The costumes! The special effects! Yul Brynner! He really steals the show as Moses' nemesis, Rameses.
The film is three hours and thirty-nine minutes long, and that's without the intermission. Yes, the film has an actual intermission (plus an introduction by the director and an overture), which was needed for a bathroom break.

The first half of the film, in my opinion, is stronger than the second half. I love the struggle Moses goes through when he discovers his real lineage. He's always been different than those around him, more kind and patient. But as Prince of Egypt he could make real and good change. He immediately identifies with his people, but doesn't immediately believe in their God. When he first finds out he is the son of Hebrew slaves, he decides to live with them, which leads to one of my favorite scenes in the film: Moses working in the mud pits as a slave and witnessing the cruel death of an old man. I really like the contrast of the life he lived and the life he has chosen.

The second half is Moses, finally accepting of his role as "The Deliverer", trying to get his people free. He delivers plagues, until finally having Rameses relent after losing his son. But then he immediately changes his mind once his wife gives him crap for it. Which leads to the awesome scene of Moses parting the Red Sea. For 1956, it's pretty spectacular.

Even when Moses is leading his people out of Egypt, he still wonders how he will do it. He still questions God. That's pretty significant. I think a lot of us feel inadequate, even if we believe in what we're doing. It's a powerful message.  The film obviously takes some liberties with the story as found in the Bible, but it still gets the basic message across. And that's pretty miraculous.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Great American Cleanup

Saturday morning I got up "early" to spend the morning picking up trash along a busy road in Denton with my coworkers. It was part of the Great American Cleanup, a yearly event in Denton orchestrated by Keep Denton Beautiful. It's a pretty cool concept - get community members to take an active part in keeping their community clean. People form groups and volunteer, then are assigned a street or area in the city to clean up. We are given a bag for trash and a bag for recyclables. Then y'all go out and pick up trash!

I have some pretty great coworkers and was glad to spend the morning with them.

 Afterward everyone brings back their trash and there's a party at the Civic Center with food and various organizations providing information and free giveaways. I was there for work as the "Bike Czar" to provide bike lights and coloring pages for kids. I always enjoy when I get to go out and interact with the community. Denton  is pretty darn awesome.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Everybody Wear Green

Today is St. Patrick's Day. I love that most everyone follows the social rule of wearing green on this day. I picked out a shirt that was green. I got to work and noticed that others had to. I went to a meeting and took note of those wearing green. When I walked home I passed many people wearing green.

I just love it. Everyone decides to follow this random and arbitrary social rules on the same day, year after year. It's awesome.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Doldrums

This time of year is the doldrums for movie releases. All the big prestige, Oscar pictures were released at the end of the year. January is the time to catch up with all of them. No studio releases anything of real importance in January or February (which is why I avoided the Coen brothers' Hail Caesar; their movies are generally Oscar hopefuls so a release in January made me suspect). This is good, for me at least, because my blog had been taken over by movie reviews. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but perhaps I should do other things with my time :)

March is sort of a doldrum month as well. There will be the occasional "big" movie or quasi-blockbuster released during this month: the first Hunger Games movie was released in March (subsequent installments were moved to November); the Divergent series has claimed March, with the third installment opening this weekend. There's also one-off action films that aren't quite right for the Summer Movie Season.

What I think is strange this year is that the follow-up to Man of Steel, the Zach Snyder-directed Batman v. Superman is being released this weekend. This is just strange. The first installment was released in the summer and was meant to be a big, grand, tentpole-reboot of Superman. It sorta failed. It wasn't entirely bad, but there were a lot of longtime Superman fans who were upset with the ending and how is wasn't true to his character.

I admit that I'm curious about Batman v. Superman. I was probably one of eleven people excited about Ben Affleck as Batman. I just find it odd that it's being released in March. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it. I probably am. And I probably will see it this weekend. Correction: Batman v. Superman opens next weekend, not this weekend.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Conference in Houston

Last week I was in Houston for the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference. I've never been to Houston before, but I have heard a lot about Houston. Basically, no one likes Houston. Not even people from Houston (or so my co-worker from Houston tells me). It was hard to get a decent feel for the city that wasn't tainted by the bad word-of-mouth, the flight there that took two hours instead of one (and had a lot of turbulence), and the torrential downpour when we left the airport. It also rained the entire first day.

Also, the conference was at hotel in the Medical Center area, and since we also stayed at that hotel there wasn't a lot of exploring of the city or downtown. So I'm sort of indifferent about Houston.

The Conference was good, though. I was there not only to learn, but also to present. Myself and a few co-workers did a presentation on the progress of the bike plan in Denton. It went great! I always love talking about Denton and the cool things we are doing.

After the presentation. My boss, Jim with Parks, Noreen the Engineer, me, and a councilmember.

Noreen and I! I adore Noreen. 

The presenters.

I've been in my career for three year now. I've presented at conference a couple other times. And yet sometimes I still can't believe anyone takes me seriously as an adult and knowledgeable person in my field.

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