Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hope Still Flies (Or, a post 9/11 memory)

        Today, no doubt, all Americans across this wonderful country are remembering where they were and what they felt on this day eleven years ago. I know that I am. I recall the early morning oatmeal smell as I came down the stairs to some of the most explicit language I had (and to this day, have ever) heard in my life. I saw my grandmother, with tears in her eyes, trying her best to explain to little me what exactly had happened.

       She didn't have to.

       Everything else from that day, to be honest, blurs. It's been eleven years, and the world around me has changed exponentially since September 11th, 2001. We've seen huge shifts in religion, class, society, science, technology, privacy, the law, war, and the list could go on. Since that day, we've become a little less trusting, a little more scared, and a lot more on edge. The America that existed on September 10th died the next day, to be replaced by something else. 

      This is not a criticism of America post 9/11. This is not the place, nor the time. Any other day, I'm vocal about what I disagree with or do not like about what is going on in this country. Today, today is different. Today-we don't need that.

      In fact, I'd like to ask that if you have any sort of opinion that might hurt someone on this day, please keep it to yourself. Conspiracy theories can be saved for September 12th. Criticism of politics can wait until September 12th. Ultimately, we were caught completely off guard. Not that we weren't ready-the bravery of every emergency department in New York alone prove that-but because it's about near impossible to have known that this was going to happen.

      Something of this scale could not have been anticipated. Regardless of what anyone could have done, did, or didn't do, no one expected to turn on their TVs to see that blatant display of evil. And it was evil. Whatever those men did to justify what they did doesn't matter-any sane person wouldn't need two seconds to know this was, like the image above states, the actions of madmen.

     However, there is one resounding truth to take from September 11th. And that is the fact that the sun rose again on September 12th. We were different-changed and hurt. But we were still there. Like the flag we sing so proudly of in our national anthem; we survived one of darkest moments of our 300+ years as a country-and we were still there! 

     I remember September 12th better than I do the 11th. For the next few weeks after the attacks, we didn't wait for the dust to settle. And for the first time, I saw what America is really about. People stepped up to help other people recover. Volunteers began to dig through the rubble with exhausted and scarred service workers. People looked to their government, not to their political party. We honored the few men who decided to rise to the call and manage to prevent one more plane from hitting anything. Some people prayed, and other people didn't let it bother them. Others didn't pray, but didn't disrupt the prayer, and they weren't forced to. Gender, skin color, beliefs, opinions, these things didn't matter. We were Americans. All of us. And we needed each other more like we needed each other during the 1940's, like during the 1770's. We earned our heritage in those few moments. We were truly the realized dream of our founding fathers. 

    Because we are imperfect people, this could not last. It's tragic, but it is the truth. Eventually, things shifted again, and we are where we are now, eleven years later. And we are still here. On this day, as I remember all the loss, all the pain, all the scars, I remember that, even for a brief moment-we stood taller than any of us could have ever imaged. We stood together, one nation, under God, indivisible. That is the strongest memory I have of this most terrible event. We lost a lot, but we didn't lose it all. We were changed forever, but didn't forget who we were. And every year, on this day, we go back to the way we were in those days and weeks after disaster. It's only one day, but I still cannot be more proud to pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

     Stand tall, America.

     Psalm 3:1-3 "O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying 'God will never rescue him!' But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high."

*The images included in this post are from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #38 by J. Michael Straczynski with art by John Romita Jr. You can download this issue for free through the Marvel Comics application on iOS or Android or through Marvel Comics Unlimited online. This is not an endorsement of Marvel, but I did use their images, and I think people should read the whole thing.*

Friday, September 7, 2012

The question I get asked the most is...

"What should I buy?"

Okay, obviously this is more of a practical post than a very deep one. But it does happen to me a lot. I'm asked often especially about mobile devices. To say that mobile is how we like our technology is a bit of an understatement. So I'm often asked what people should get. Now if I had my way, I'd have something picked out for someone, but often-especially with something as personal as mobile tech-it's a matter of personal preference. So, I'll go over where each platform stands right now, (Objectively, I promise) and hopefully that will help you make the best choice for you.

iPhone (iOS)-Apple

It's impossible to talk about this without talking about the impending iPhone 5. As of now, we know nothing about the thing. However if leaks are to be accurate (just Google iPhone 5, watch what happens), then some people may be disappointed by the, well, lack of change. We do know, however, more about what the iPhone 5 (and 4s, and 4) will be running. iOS6 will have some changes to it, such as FaceTime over cellular networks and not just Wi-Fi, turn-by-turn directions *finally*, and some other features the 5 will no doubt be advertised with. Looks? Well, it looks pretty much the same as iOS5, with about the same limited customization options. If you were hoping for widgets to be added, too bad.

Things to note:
When the 5 is announced, the price of the others will obviously drop. If the 5 doesn't sell you, maybe a dirt cheap 4 will.
If you've used an iPhone before, jumping ship will surely be hard. Chances are high that you've bought an app on iTunes that won't work on any other platform, or you've managed to get iCloud working. That might be enough reason to just stick on Team iPhone.

Advice: If you love Apple, use it, or are interested in the iPhone, it can't hurt you to wait for September 12.

Galaxy S, One, Droid, and others (Android platform)-Google, Samsung, HTC, LG, Pantech, Sony, Huawi

Before we go any further, let me make one thing very clear that hasn't been for some time:
ANDROID is a platform, just like iOS. DROID is a device series that Verizon paid out the butt for the rights to use from George Lucas. Now that you have had that quick crash course, never confuse the two again. Thank you.

Anyway, the Android platform has never been better. The newest version, called Jelly Bean, has been announce, but has begun it's slow roll out. Of course, that might not be as slow now that Motorolla has promised that every phone that can be updated (if it was released in 2011 or 2012) will be by years end-with Google backing that up. And if your phone can't be? You get $100 to get a phone that can. This will hopefully get every other Android manufacturer in gear to keep Android devices updated, becuase that would be the greatest weakness of the OS. Unless you get a huge flag ship device, you can't be sure that the phone will still run well over the next 2 odd years you'll have it. Thankfully, the version of Android on most new phones (called Ice Cream Sandwich) is both stable and wonderful, so you shouldn't have many problems for some time. As for phones themselves? They are a plenty. You've probably heard of the Galaxy SIII somewhere, and rightfully so. It's on many carries, and is a great price at a cool $200. Becuase Android devices can be so varied across carriers, let me drop some links to what I think is the best for each carrier. *All of them have the SIII, so just consider it already on the list.*


HTC One X (the best value you can get in a smart phone!): http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/devices/htc/one-x-white.html#fbid=N7nhwZAGvwL
Sony Xperia Ion: http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/devices/sony/xperia-ion-black.html


Motorolla Droid Razr M: http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/devices/sony/xperia-ion-black.html
HTC Droid Incredible: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=phoneFirst&action=viewPhoneDetail&selectedPhoneId=5892


Samsung Galaxy Nexus: http://shop.sprint.com/mysprint/shop/phone_details.jsp?prodId=dvc6300001prd&deviceSKUId=63000402&flow=AAL&planSKUId=null&tabId=dt_phones&ptn=
HTC EVO 4G LTE: http://shop.sprint.com/mysprint/shop/phone_details.jsp?prodId=dvc6370014prd&deviceSKUId=63700579&flow=AAL&planSKUId=null&tabId=dt_phones&ptn=


HTC One S: http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/Phones/cell-phone-detail.aspx?cell-phone=HTC-One-S-Gradient-Blue
Samsung Galaxy SII: http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/Phones/cell-phone-detail.aspx?cell-phone=T-Mobile-Galaxy-S-II-White

Things to note: It's fall, so there are about to be a bunch of new phones drop all over. If you can wait, wait a couple of weeks for everyone to announce their fall lines.

Advice: If the SIII doesn't whet your whistle, there's something that just might. Be sure to give the phone a test run at a store before buying. Plenty of people are just unwilling to try to figure out what they are doing and cry "iPhone, iPhone!" Remember, the iPhone doesn't even have a manual. You're kind of expected to figure it all out yourself.

Windows Phone

To be honest, this platform isn't even actually out yet. You can get a feel for what they are going for on the current Windows Phone 7 devices that are running around. The problem with WP8 is that it hasn't gotten it's footing quite yet. I don't really have a full opinion of this OS quite yet. I like the Xbox integation with games. The tiles could be cool, but you can even customize the iPhone more. What I really think will be the appeal of WP8 will be the fact that their platform-as opposed to any other mobile platform-is, at it's core, the same kernal as Windows 8 for computer. To boil it down, the phone will work in conjunciton to your PC better than any other device. That, and the fact that big names like Nokia, Samsung, and HTC will be releasing devices that look and feel great and unique, just may make WP8 your choice.

Things to note: There isn't actually a confirmed Windows Phone 8 on any U.S. carriers yet. So keep your eyes out!

Advice: Go look up Nokia's WP8 keynote presentation. That should tell you right off if you'd like WP8.


..................................just wait for BlackBerry 10. If it doesn't interest you, don't bother.

So, there you have it, my advice about what mobile device to get for yourself. Hopefully this helps you make the best choice for you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Good, The Bad, And The Batman.

You've more than likely heard about the tragic events that occurred early this morning in Aurora, Colorado. So, I won't bother going back over everything that we know, because it makes my heart heavy, as I'm sure it does for you as well.

That said, I do want to make one plea to everyone:

Please do not blame Batman.

If you know me at all (or have seen my presence on social media), then you are aware of my deep love for comic books, particularly superhero comic books. However, this is not why I am writing this. If I were, it'd be more about how you shouldn't try to compare The Dark Knight Rises to The Avengers. This post is more about why we care so much about what happened last night, and why it matters.

During my short lifetime on this planet, there has been quite an lot of events to occur that shock our nation. I remember the school shooting in Columbine, Colorado. Obviously, I would not have been old enough to understand exactly what everything meant-but I've lived with the consequences as a graduate of the public school system post-Columbine. I remember 9/11. How could anyone forget. Those are memories that are imprinted now in our entire country. I remember the Virginia Tech shootings a few years back. Many of us remember these events, how we felt, the way our hearts broke-and how we were shocked that it even happened.

There is nothing that I remember better about my childhood than my. fascination with superheroes. I loved what they stood for-protecting the cities they loved, the people they cared for, and ultimately, fighting for the greater good. Batman: The Animated Series, for example, never went over Batman's origins in the actual series. They didn't need to; the Tim Burton film had just been announced. As for us kids watching the series, we didn't need it. Batman was good. The goons he was beating down? Bad. It was simple. When you are a kid, it's a lot easier to believe that the world is that simple. Obviously, things are always more complicated than they seem. However, society today can spend all day debating what is "good" and what is "evil." More over than not, we've just decided that we can all decide what is good and what is evil by ourselves. I did. My superheroes taught me that there was a greater good that needed to be defended.

In our "everything is relative" lifestyles, the world sometimes likes to remind us that there is a such thing as pure evil. This happened last night. There is a such thing as pure good as well.

Ultimately, the idea taught to me by superheroes is what led me to understanding God and His love. Over and over, in the book of Genesis we see that God sees creation as "good." This must mean that He understands what good is. And, being God, He must have it more figured out than us. Isaiah 55:9 tells us “For as heaven is higher than earth, My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (HCSB)

God's thought process is different than our own, and He sees pure "good." Occasionally, we can see it too. We see it in the little things, the person who is willing to give a warm meal to a hungry stranger, the person who starts a push to raise money for a life saving procedure for a child. There is still good in this world...and beyond.

All of these shocking events I've lived through have taught me that. Evil does strike. Even so, goodness still manages to survive. The good guys still win.

So, if your kids ask about Aurora, Colorado, tell them that evil attacked, but the good guys got the bad guy.

Pray for Aurora. Keep those lives in your thoughts. Give those you care about an extra hug today. And go see The Dark Knight Rises. They worked way too hard on this film for evil to win.

Evil loses in the movie, too.