December 10, 2013

Google Today, SkyNet Tomorrow: My Birthday Edition

I was surprised to see this when I fired up the ol' Lappy 486 yesterday:


Yes, it's probably just based on a simple date in my Google+ profile (yes, I have one. no, I don't use it. yes, I'm still ashamed to have one), but it's nonetheless indicative of the coming SkyNet takeover.

And yet, I still like that it was a screen just for me.

So thanks, Google, for personalizing my internet experience yesterday.
And even more, thanks to all of you who made it a great day by wishing me a happy birthday through calls, texts, in-person greetings, and Facebook wall posts!

I'm who I am today because of all of you! Muchas gracias!

December 5, 2013

This Year's Pie Night and Thanksgiving

Another amazing week of Pie Night and Thanksgiving festivities. And too much to write, so I'll sum it up mainly with pictures.

For another great recap of these lovely holiday events, see my sister's blogpost about them.

Pie Night Prep

You can't have a good Pie Night if you don't prepare properly.
So we made a few pies (a chocolate pecan and a cranberry-ginger pear).
Doesn't this chocolate pecan look amazing?!

Pie Night

I think our chocolate pecan and cranberry-ginger pear made their first flavor appearances at this year's Pie Night.
Both did well (meaning they got eaten quickly), but the chocolate pecan was the first gone, and I'm not surprised, because it was absolutely delicious.
Smyth boys (minus dad)
We even had gluten-free pie (thanks, Danny!)
The first round of options
The night "Cup o' Pie" was invented
Thanksgiving

With our pie lust satisfied (as much as is reasonably possible) the previous night, we were ready for turkey and all the rest of the Thanksgiving goods. And I definitely had plenty, though my favorite part was and is and likely always will be the spending time with family, immediate as well as extended.
Siblings gotta snuggle a lil bit, right?
These gals have style

After this point, all I could think of was eating and socializing, so the camera got put away.

Thanks for a great holiday, family and friends. Hope yours was just as wonderful!


November 25, 2013

Monday: Oh, Bother

Another Monday.

Sometimes, I just wish the weekend kept going a few extra days.

November 11, 2013

Thank You, Veterans

Thanks to the men and women of our U.S. military, past and present, for their sacrifices on our behalf.

May the families of those who have perished by blessed, and may our active duty all return home safely.

May we all strive for peace at home and abroad so fewer and maybe eventually none have to put their lives on the line.

Happy Veterans Day, all.

October 23, 2013

What Would Your Baseball Intro Song Be?

During the MLB playoffs, I started thinking about the players' "walk-up songs".
That's the song played by the ballpark while a player is walking to the plate or the pitcher's mound, and I believe each guy gets to pick their own tune.

Some current players have pretty awesome songs, as shown in this BleacherReport list.
Pretty cool that James Shields had Rammstein and then went to Kid Cudi, and Nyjer Morgan uses a Michael Jackson song, and Lance Berkman has Johnny Cash to get amped up.
Closers appear to have the best selections, including Mariano Rivera with Metallica's "Enter Sandman".

With the World Series starting tonight between the St Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, we'll get to hear on the biggest stage which songs the players on this year's two best teams choose.

So I started wondering, which song would I select for myself?
And what song would my friends and family choose?

I had to go with "Fuel" by Metallica. Such a good pump-up song!

Here are some of the responses I got from friends when I asked on a Facebook post:

Heidi: 
Led Zeppelin - Rock and Roll

Stanley:
Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower

Laurie:
The Foundations - Build Me Up Buttercup
Everybody sing along!

Dan:
Chumbawumba - Tubthumping
Maybe Dan gets hit by a lot of pitches?

Lucy:
Mary J. Blige - Work That

Jody:
Mary J. Blige - Grown Woman
Bringing her big-girl bat to the plate.
Note: I incorrectly had Beyonce's 'Grown Woman' here before. My bad.

Scott:
AC/DC - Thunderstruck
Does this remind anyone else of the start of Jazz games?

Alison:
The Killers - Move Away

Troy:
Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand - You Don't Bring Me Flowers
Troy specializes in power bunting.

Blythe:
Guns 'n' Roses - Welcome to the Jungle
Like a wild beast in the batter's box.

And last but certainly not least,

Tommy:
Lion King - Circle of Life
Pretty sure the crowd would always go wild for this one.

I think some of these suggestions were in jest, but I had to share them anyway since they're funny.

Most of them would certainly be good walk-up songs, and they'd get the batter pumped up.
And I love seeing the personality of the person reflected in what they chose.

What song would you pick?

So let's play ball! Batter up!

October 21, 2013

The First Time I Heard a Celia Cruz Song

If you haven't seen Google's homepage today, they did a tribute to Celia Cruz, because it would have been her 88th birthday today. She is regarded as the "Queen of Salsa".

Which is why this is a good time to share the story of the first time I heard one of her songs.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I was serving a mission for the LDS Church in Guatemala, and I'd been there for around a year.

On a Mormon mission, usually the leadership moves you to a new city with a new companion every 4-6 months. After two months in the Provo MTC, I'd been in the coastal city Escuintla to start (#1); then Boca del Monte, a suburb of the capital (#2); and now I was serving in a mountain city, Sololá (#3).

When we needed to travel farther than we could walk, we'd either hitchhike in the back of a pick-up truck for a small fee, or use the public transportation--otherwise known as the famed "chicken buses".

Beautiful, aren't they?

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked laying out the background info.

It was a Monday (our one-day-per-week off from proselyting), and my companion and I were riding on a chicken bus down to Panajachel to hang out with the other missionaries and eat lunch together.

Usually the buses play the radio, which was heavily skewed to Los Tigres del Norte, Hermana Shaki (Shakira), and the Brothers Maná, but a song came on during this ride which I'd never heard before. It was upbeat, catchy, and fun, so I asked my companion if he knew the band or who the guy singing was.

Yep, I asked about "the guy" singing.

We got a good laugh when he didn't know but someone sitting nearby informed us that it was Celia Cruz, a woman famous in the Latin music scene for decades.

I heard that song a lot more during the rest of my time in Guatemala, and I always thought of the funny story of when I first heard it. I'd recommend searching for a song or two of hers on YouTube, like maybe "La Vida Es Un Carnaval".

Listening to it now, I can hear clearly that it's a lady, but I guess my ear wasn't tuned quite right that day.

Happy 88th birthday, Celia. RIP, and thanks for the memory!

October 17, 2013

TIL: Ponies are Not Baby Horses

TIL is internet short-hand for "Today I Learned".

Some things you think you know, and then you learn you've been wrong or just a little off-base for years.

My understanding of what a pony is fits into that category, and recently I was set straight when it came up in a group chat with my friends on Facebook.

So here's the surprise about ponies.

Ponies are not baby horses.

At least not anymore.
The original meaning was from the French word for foal (a baby horse), but that's no longer the case.
Maybe only a few of us had that idea wrong... but maybe a lot of us did.

So here's the clarification:
A pony is not based on its age (baby vs adult horse), but on its size at adulthood.

1- Baby horses, under 1 year old, are foals.
      Bonus knowledge: male foals are colts, female foals are fillies. Grown males are stallions, grown females are mares.

2- Ponies are small horses, measuring less than ~14 hands (just under 6 feet) tall at the withers (that's the top point where the neck meets the body).

Mind... blown.
Many comparative pics, like this one, emphasize the size difference


So next time you hear someone is "going to watch the ponies", you might wonder if they're really going to see small (yet grown-up) horses racing, or if they're using the term incorrectly.

At least, I know that's what I'll wonder.

Ride 'em, cowboys and cowgirls!

October 9, 2013

I'm Currently Licensed to Ill

It's not nearly as fun or cool as the Beastie Boys made it sound.

Oh wait, I guess Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock didn't mean "ill" in the way I'm feeling it these days.
My illin' requires the help of herbal remedies and medicines like these:

And is it just me, or does having just a persistent cough and achy body almost seem worse than being completely sick and stuck in bed? Then at least I wouldn't have to get work done, right?

Nah, I'd go crazy being unable to get outside at all.
But I do hope all the supplements and teas get me better soon, because I've got fun weekend plans!

October 7, 2013

Music Battle: Ke$ha vs Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen

These two songs are a study in opposites, which I kind of think is cool.
Actually, the singers are pretty much inverses, right down to their hair color.

Ke$ha - TiK ToK

Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen - Good Time

So which do you like more?
My positivity-loving side wants to pick 'Good Time', but Ke$ha is just grungy (is that a word? why, yes it is) enough that I can't help but pick her song as my winner in this face-off.

Previous Music Battles
Sara Bareilles vs Katy Perry
Robin Thicke vs Marvin Gaye and George Clinton

October 4, 2013

Friday Funnies: Stairway to Stardom

Have you heard of Stairway to Stardom?

I hadn't, until a friend recently shared some of its glorious clips from YouTube with me.

The public-access TV show "aired in New York City from 1979 to the early 1990s" [source]. I'd say it was kinda like our current American Idol or America's Got Talent, but without money or talent.

It is indeed amazing/hilarious/tragic to watch.
We're talking pure train wreck stuff here.

Since it's been a long week, and we could all use a laugh, here are a few of my favorite clips:

This is the theme song, sung by the show's emcee

Best rap by someone who shouldn't be rapping

Best comedy routine featuring the entire Nat King Cole "Christmas song"

Best song performance by this amazing lady 

And finally, best dramatic monologue (warning: hilarious graphic language)
"That was beautiful, Precious."

To be fair, all of these people deserve props for having the guts to go on TV and perform.
I certainly don't have the cajones to do it.

Of course, more can be seen on their YouTube page.
Have a great weekend, everybody!