Movavi Video Suite is the ONLY Choice for Video Conversion and Editing

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As many of you know, I am a lover of movies and TV. Over the past 7 months or so, I’ve accumulated quite an impressive collection of various videos. Over 700 films, from classics to primarily movies from the past few years (I started by getting movies I’d never seen). As well as my favorite TV shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and my latest discovery….the American Experience on PBS. American Experience is easy to find online at various sources and so I will focus on its episodes with regard to my main purpose, which is to introduce you to the Movavi Video Suite family of products, and how they can help you to begin to, or enhance your existing efforts to build a collection of high quality videos.

I started with a couple of the American Experience shows, I believe my first downloads were “Surviving the Dust Bowl,” “Battle of the Bulge,” and “JFK: Like No Other.” I was so impressed with the content, format and production that I decided to seek out more episodes. For those that are uninformed of this show, it’s been produced on PBS since 1988, and as of this writing there are well over 300 episodes. They’ve included award nominees and winners including season 4’s “LBJ,” parts 1 & 2, which won the Writer’s Guild award for best documentary (have you ever said LBJ, as if it were a spanish word, like “El…”? If not, I highly recommend that you do so now, and enjoy the giggle.) And more recently, season 26’s “Last Days in Vietnam,” which was nominated for an Oscar. If you are a history buff, even on topics you are well versed, you can learn a lot from watching American Experience.

For me, a man who likes to own copies of his favorite film and TV, is that American Experience is widely availabile from various sites online. For starters PBS has over 30 available to watch, then you can find many more on YouTube and other websites that allow you to watch for free. Take it a step further and using an application such as iSkySoft video down-loader or many others similar, you can easily and quickly download anything you can view live on the internet. In fact Movavi may even allow you to use it to download from the web, but I learned iSkySoft a while ago, and have grown comfortable with it and never even looked into Movavi for this purpose. If you download one of these many types of online down-loaders, it’s simple to click a button and then you have an MP4 of your very own.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, there are a few “buts,” first of which can be the quality. The versions downloaded directly from PBS are in HD, and even YouTube has many that come correct. However, there have been some like “The Man Behind Hitler,” “The Great San Francisco Earthquake,” (which is episode 101, the first ever in season 1 1988), and others that you just can’t get a good copy of. But not all is lost! This is where the great Movavi Video Suite, and in particular Movavi Video Converter comes in to save the day and offer a valuable solution.

Movavi in itself, allows you to take any video that you have in a file on your desktop or laptop, or any hard drive, and convert it for viewing either on your client or media player. Formats that it can handle include: AVI, MP4, FLV, MPEG-1,2, MOV, MKV, WMV, VOB, 3GP, WebM, OGV, SWF, MP3, AAC, WAV, and more. However from YouTube or other sources you’re unlikely to find many formats outside of those Movavi can handle. Not only will it convert from and to these formats, but it will also allow you to improve the quality of the download. Some improvements are simple such as: decrease file size, convert AVI to MP4 (one example, you can do almost any type of container conversion with little to zero quality loss), trim, crop, flip, rotate, lower or increase the volume, enhance with all types of additions to the film, as well as add or remove subtitles and soundtracks. Speaking of subtitles, you can also find a version online of almost any language track you are interested in! You can find subtitles at sites such as:

Once you have the subtitle track in the language you desire, Movavi will practically do the rest itself. Just follow some simple instructions and you’re in business.

Another major benefit of this program is that it is able to convert your file into a compatible version for iPad, iPod, iPhone, Nokia, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets, Android devices, Sony PSP, Google Nexus, Xbox 360, and more! This is really handy and unique to Movavi, and you may not realize it if you’ve watched a movie you downloaded on your phone before. But if you get a movie through iTunes, and you’ve got it on your laptop, phone and iPad…it’s only intended for one of these devices. So maybe it’s watchable, maybe you haven’t even noticed. But if and when you take the film and convert it into a version that is styled and intended for your specific phone or tablet, trust me you will then notice the difference.

I want to take a break here to address the concerns of my mother, and your mother…and probably many other people that think this all sounds really complicated. IT’S NOT! Well at least it’s not if you are using Movavi, which is simple and intuitive. This isn’t to say instinct will guide you through every step and that you can blindly become a pro video converter. But I’d compare learning how to utilize the features of Movavi Video Suite products to the learning curve of that first iPhone you bought. Now yes, you’ve used phones before, so it wasn’t starting from scratch, but Movavi Video Suite products are just that simple to use. Most are clearly labeled, and help is available both on the application and online via power user led forums, and Movavi technical support. Support is available with Movavi technicians Monday through Friday, midnight to 6PM (Coordinated Universal Time), or 4Pm to 10AM (Pacific Standard Time). Technicians are available to chat, email and discuss any issue you are having on the telephone.

Now back to all the great things about Movavi Video Suite products and features it has! I was just explaining the ability to convert videos for playback on specific types of device. But if you’re taking the video on your mobile, you need to make sure that you have some basic security in place right? Well Movavi Video Suite products have got you covered there as well. Movavi Video Suite products allow you to add watermarks, add captions and even to add an intro page at the beginning or end with your details so if an honest person comes across it, they can get it back to you….most likely with a compliment on the beauty of your videos and a question on how they too can achieve such professional looking quality!

One problem that Movavi Video Suite products has helped me to overcome, is the ratio or “size,” of an image you see on screen. I’m a stickler about filling as much of my screen as possible. No letterbox, widescreen or other types of video are acceptable in the Van Every home. I want to stretch that video so it fills the screen. With Movavi Video Suite products you are able to easily resize the images with a simple click and drag technique. I mention specifically that other products do this as well, however it’s rare to find one such as Movavi, that will allow you to click and drag. This reaffirms my position that anybody can use this software, as it’s not necessary that you know the size you need, or how large your screen can handle. Simply drag it to the edges of the editing window, and click done.

Speaking of the editing window, sometimes when you download a video from YouTube or similar you will end up with dead space at the beginning or end, a video that is three times as long as necessary because the up-loader has “looped,” it for some unknown reason. They may even add some personalization or a promo of themselves as if they are Spielberg. Luckily the Movavi Video Suite products have this covered as well with the trim option. The user interface is simple as all you do is drag the movie, represented in a “status line,” to the point where you want it to begin and then cut out the beginning! You can also do the same at the end, and once you’ve got it all dialed in simply click “convert.” Voila, you’ve got a movie with a running time of 123 minutes, and a personal video version with a running time of 123 minutes! Taking it to the next level, you can splice clips together to make a movie or show split into two parts into one, or even take a movie with two discs and make one. Does anyone remember the made for TV epic “Lonesome Dove?” Well, I own a CD of this that I’ve had for years, and I tinkered with Movavi Video Suite and was able to take the four discs that make up the entire series, and I now have one file on my iTunes for Lonesome Dove, albeit one file that is six hours and 55 minutes long! But as I hope you’ve come to understand, Movavi Video Suites products are all about personalization, and for this guy that rocks!

Finally, and potentially most important, is increasing the quality of the film or show you’ve downloaded. Unfortunately via YouTube you’re not always going to get a high quality HD video. Not to say that you can’t find that video of your choice in HD or at least an acceptable quality, but for many you will not. However, with the help of Movavi Suite products, quality is job one! Simply download the video of your choosing (do use the highest quality you can find, as the better you start with the better you’ll end up with…and it will take you a lot less time), and then with a few simple settings changed Movavi Suite products will take that old clunker, and “Pimp that Video!” I was skeptical of this at first, in fact I would spend my valuable time scouring the depths of the internet to find a better version of a video I wanted to have. Sometimes I’d find it, others not so much. No more thanks to Movavi Video Suite products is this an issue. Now I just take the best I can easily find and then upgrade it to the quality that I desire. I prefer my movies in 1080 HD, and with Movavi Video products, this is easily accomplished. As I stated above in parentheses, do be aware of the quality you find, and if given a choice, or a couple quick searches you are able to find a better video to start with, I encourage you to download that version. The video you start with will impact the end result, and if you take a 280p video and try to make it into a 780p or above, you may end up with the results you seek, but you’re computer will be locked down editing for the next 24, 48 or even 72 hours! I am usually able to find a version that my conversion takes an hour tops.

In conclusion, with the Movavi Video Suite family of products, you can convert to and from just about any type of video file. Movavi Video Suite products allow you to convert video, audio, and DVD as well as play the videos on mobile devices. The conversion speed with the most common types of video files is much faster than with most other types of video conversion software programs. And of course, the entire process is so easy and has so much help available that even a monkey in a closed room, typing on a typewriter could use it. Literally the process is as easy as adding your video, selecting the file type you want to convert to and clicking on Convert.

Video Converter

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Sparrow Hawk Revealed

This is an article I wrote in the July 18, 2005 issue of The Northeastern.  At the time I was a staff write, but did go on to become an editor, and this was my first front page headline. Sparrow Hawk is a controversial and purportedly odd place up in the hills near the Illinois River.  I was proud of the interviews and research that went into this article and attempted to set the record straight about the people I met there.

Aura of mystery surrounds Sparrow Hawk

Many rumors circulate around Tahlequah and the NSU campus regarding Sparrow Hawk Village.  Some say that the residents are a mysterious cult, and that they are bad news.

“I’ve heard the rumors, but my kid’s doctor lives there with his wife who is a dentist.  I can attest that they are very normal,” said professor Kin Thompson.”

Everyone seems to have their own opinion as to exactly what goes on there.

“Somebody said they worship peacocks,” said Donita Osawee, Tahlequah graduate.”

While the peacock rumor is one that will raise eyebrows, it is not near as disturbing as some more extreme ideas such as residents of Sparrow Hawk Village throwing babies off of he cliff!  This idea is one that even residents of Sparrow Hawk cannot explain.

“We have never heard that one, but of course, it’s completely ridiculous,” said Doris Pass, Sparrow Hawk resident from Tulsa.

Sparrow Hawk village is many things. It is Sancta Sophia Seminary, a university where students from all over the world come to study theology and various religions This school has all of the facilities of most universities including a cafeteria, a wellness center and of course, a library.

“This is a metaphysical research library, one third of our collection are books that are no longer in print and extremely rare.  We have over 150 subjects covering all areas of spirituality,”  said Jenny Roberts, Sparrow Hawk librarian from Tuttle.

The library is primarilty for student use but people in Tahlequah can apply for library priveleges.

“People in town have them,” said Roberts.

Sparrow Hawk is also the LIfe of Christ  Community Church, where every Sunday morning members gather to praise and worship by learning and singing.

“We sing all kinds of songs, not just typically religious ones.  We sing ‘We are the World,’ ‘Oklahoma,’ and ‘It’s a Small World,’ then we also sing all the national, patriotic songs,”  said Pass.

Founded in 1981 by Carol Parrish an Charles Harrah, Sparrow Hawk Village is a place where individuals and families choose to live in a small community, where they know their neighbors and enjoy some of the most beautiful views in the area.  The community currently has between 90 to 100 residents, ranging in age from 2 to 90 years old.  They have their own fire department with 22 firefighters including women.

“We get more calls for 911 and emergency responses than actually fighting fires,” said Charles Pass, Sparrow Hawk fire chief.

The church, which is “Holistic Christian,” is a Christian church, but they emphasize the metaphysical in life and adapt aspects of various religions to explain life’s mysteries.  To many Christians the idea that there are many roads to the same God is blasphemy.  However, for Holistic Christians, this is exactly what they believe.

“We believe there are many paths to the same afterlife, whether you are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim, you are welcome at our church and we incorporate those beliefs,” said Pass.

As far as peacocks, there place in Sparrow Hawk life is greatly exaggerated.

“When Carol Parrish started this community a peacock appeared on the mountain and to protect it and take care of it they built a cage and started feeding it.  Over the years people have given peacocks to the community and we always take them in.  We raise them just like some people raise llamas or anything else,” said Pass.

The peacocks are nothing more than pets, but what about the cross on top of the hill?  Many locals talk about how it used to be painted black.  This accusation of a black cross on Sparrow Hawk hill might help explain some of the feelings about the place.

“When the well was first drilled there was a black waterproof undercoating that was put on it.  It was painted white after a couple months, but people had already started talking about how we put up a black cross.  I suppose people just believe what they want to believe,” said Pass.

After a visit, it may seem to be that Sparrow Hawk village is a pretty normal place.  Visitors see residents as nice and friendly as the could be and Sparrow Hawk residents love when outsiders come up to learn what they are all about. They are open to the public and they have a gift shop and bookstore where visitors can buy things like candles and incense.  Church services are held every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. and guests are always invited to come and check it out.

“We love when people come and visit us, we just wish more did,” said Pass. 8762077_orig

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My New Home, Mobile Work Station (well maybe it’s not that mobile, but it could be)

I say not that mobile, because I’ve yet to use it anywhere other than lounging on my ass in my La-Z-Boy! But that was the idea, and I’ll break down how I got to this and each step/inspiration. I must declare, the final product exceeded my expectations and I’m really proud and it’s as productive or more so than a “Home Office.”

So I got the La-Z-Boy, and as any man who owns one will tell you, once you go La-Z-Boy***, well you may end up with bed-sores on your hindquarters.

***It’s a similar implication to that classic if not classy description of sex with an African-American woman “Once you go black…” (you get the rest, I regret I must refrain as this is a family blog).  We all know what they say about the berry right? 

La-Z-Boy firmly attached to my ass, sitting anywhere else was no longer really much of an option. Unfortunately, “full 180 degree reclining, with optional heated seat” had never been proven compatible with “productivity filled home office.”  But I’m nothing if not up for a challenge, and shoot, it had to be possible! I mean, once you own a LZB, is sitting elsewhere really an option? Could it even be a potential health risk?  Try to say those three words out loud (Lazyboy, sit, elsewhere”) and you’ll see…it’s practically a tongue twister. Okay, so it’s not “Peter Piper Picked…” but it’s not as if it just rolls off the tongue either.  It’s certainly no “Miercoles.”

What to do? Well, I came to the obvious conclusion that instead of leaving the La-Z-Boy feeling needy and unappreciated, I needed to bring the work space to me…er, I mean to the La-Z-Boy. So I set about researching portable desk ideas and shopping.

When I shop online, it can take me a long time to make my decision. I do a ton of research, but it usually does pay off. How much is “a ton?” Well, when I bought the USB hub (we’ll get to it’s application), I logged on Amazon to pick one out and hit “pay now,” on Friday evening, and by bedtime Sunday I had finally skinned the proverbial cat. So anyway, I searched reviews to decide what would work for this conundrum of La-Z-Boy meeting productive office space most effectively. Should I go with the “rests on arms of chair,” u-shaped-tummy rounded desk? Perhaps a pop leg desk that crosses my lap? Or the traditional bean-bag lap desk? Oh the decisions life presents…and their lasting impact on our future.  Here’s a couple examples, can you spot the one with long-lasting life implications?

  1. Get behind the wheel after breaking the all-time keg stand record
  2. Purchase portable work desk in the style of “bean-bag,” or “tummy-wrap arm rest”

Long story, slightly less long…I settled on a sliding under the chair, extended table top desk.  ***Coaster Desks Laptop Computer Stand with Adjustable Swivel Top and Casters

51hK+MKNcOL(Amazon ASIN: B003TPAV3E)

It is easily moved, and I can get up and down from my chair without adjustment it. Obviously it’s primary benefit is convenience, but additionally it can hold several items, and includes the “tilty, back-and-forth table top,” thingy so I don’t have to move my neck much when I lie in prone position to analyze a spreadsheet. However, and this is exciting because my first customization is happening, I wanted more “tilty,” so I added a laptop mount to set on the table top.

 

So things with the work station are going well, actually that’s selling it short…they’re really starting to go quite well. But no peace is truly made to last and over time I moved more and more tasks to my “desk,” and I began to experience USB availability issues. I had my wireless keyboard fob and wireless mouse fob requiring (impending high level math) __ of __ available ports on my Macbook.  If I wanted to connect my iPhone or iPad, potentially to sync, charge, download a “movie,” I had to make another decision, and that prospect I think I’ve already established…is not my forte.  And in this ever more reliant on computing world, what if both “i,” products needed to sync or charge simultaneously? Or even my Kindle suddenly demanded new content? All the while, I’m suffering the humiliation of not using my wireless keyboard of mouse! Not to mention the future is unpredictable.  Who know, some day my full size nude blow up doll (with life-like ‘humid’ ……) may be USB compatible.

So I started the fore mentioned 48-hour search for a USB hub. Initially thinking 4 ports would be plenty, but in reading reviews I repeatedly saw it suggested to err on the side of as many available ports as possible.  Silly me, of course more is always advantageous…except when in reference to:

  1. Herpes
  2. Nervous gents in the aisle seat with the surname “Al-Badhawi”
  3. Movies produced by….I feel tacky putting them on blast publicly so I’ll simply say the name starts with “Happy,” and ends with “Madison”

Also, in researching, I determined I needed to have USB ports that were “3.0,” as this allows for much faster data transfer, and even though my current laptop only has 2.0 ports…I think I’ve already established that I like to consider possibilities in the….well heck, I forgot? Finally, good to have at least 2 high-speed charging ports for the iPhone, Android, tablet, Kindle, etc. The model I settled on is a LOFTEK® Inet SV720 High-Speed USB 3.0 7 Port Hub + 2 USB Charging Ports with 5V 2.1A & 5V 1A, 12V 4A Power Adapter and Micro B to USB 3.0 Cable In  61kDXNb1kuL._SL1500_

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The Secret of the Ancients…

Easter IslandPyramidsK030970

We’ve always been fascinated by such ancient architecture as the pyramids, Easter Island and Stonehenge.  How did ancient people move such enormous pieces of rock into place? Our ego and ethnocentric generation assumes these ancient’s were so far behind us mentally and idealistically they couldn’t have possibly built these structures without some sort of help or secret technique. The fact is these are amazing feats of human innovation and one way or another these supposed crude civilizations found a way to engineer these feats.  From watching enough National Geographic television about these structures and the people who built them I have developed a theory into how these structures appeared.  They weren’t done by magic or alien assistance, and not even by insane numbers of humans pulling on the same stone.   They were done by manipulating a simple tool we still use today, magnets.  To be more specific a concept I call reverse-magnetism.  Much like how high speed trains, such as those in Japan, use the power of two magnets working against one another to create a tight sliding fit without actually touching;  I believe that ancients harnessed magnets to push against one another to create lift.  Reverse magnetism, two magnets pushing against one another, if harnessed correctly can create a force strong enough to create lift.  The ancients then used this force to assist in moving large pieces of rock into place to build the ancient structures. With a modern application this force could be used to replace cranes, elevators and any other technology used to create lift.  We know these structures exist, we know they were built by man, yet we don’t know how they did it.  This is the question my theory will attempt to answer.

The power of magnets has fascinated many of us since we were children.  It was always fun to see the way household items would leap toward a magnet held near them in your hand.  But every now and again we would press two magnets against each other from the wrong direction. They would push back and we would attempt to manhandle them into staying together.  I always wondered what exactly caused this. Today I am still not educated properly to explain how magnets work, but my eyes tell my brain that the power of two magnets working against one another creates force which could be used.  Using what we all see from these magnets when working against one another, and knowing that magnets were present in ancient society.  Is it far-fetched to imagine ancient builders taking the power of magnets in opposition and using it to create a device used in building, much like today we would use a crane?

I’ve never seen the pyramids or Easter Island up close but one look in a picture or on TV tells me that gigantic blocks were somehow moved into place by people with a limited knowledge engineering.  Obviously hard work was involved, but in my theory the question of whether manpower alone maneuvered these huge blocks into position is a resounding no.  I believe they harnessed the power of two magnets working against each other and created a device to do the job for them.  I remember watching Mr. Wizard as a child turning paperclips into magnets, so why not the ancients using the same concept to create a lift system to move these giant pieces of rock for them.  Once they had magnetized a platform of metal, they could then put another magnet beneath it.  Using simple pulleys and ropes they could control the ascent of the magnet and much like an elevator move large hunks of rock with relative ease. Generation after generation of science has written these ancient people off as having been simple.  If that is truly the case then this is a relatively simple solution.

Why not use this technology to impact building and engineering in today’s world, eliminating elevators, overhead cranes and other devices used to generate lift.  Imagine a device where a window washer is pushed up from the ground instead of dangled from on high, safer and more efficiently revolutionizing building. It would be difficult to accept that ancient engineers created a tactic of engineering superior to our own, but does our lack of understanding of ancient technology and people in itself acknowledge that they may be equal to to the modern day task? Using modern technology to harness reverse magnetism would improve on the ancient model of ropes and pulleys for control and allow for these changes in building. Start with a magnet platform under which another magnet pushes against it. Add in a barrier that can be slowly removed to allow the magnets to push agains one another, providing adjustable force to impact both the speed at which the platform rises and the height to which it rises. Then add a cable at the top and enclose the platform in something akin to an elevator shaft and you’re in business.  It sounds like something out of an episode of Myth Busters, but with the proper technique, why not? The technology could change the world and make all kind of tasks safer and more efficient.

Obviously this is an unproven theory, both to whether or not reverse magnetism could create a considerable amount of lift and whether or not it was what helped ancient people create the structures we marvel at today. But I believe that reverse magnetism is real and that both hypothesis could be true.  Whether or not I could prove that the ancient structures were built as such may be impossible, but it’s one more theory to add to the discussion. The modern day application would be the easier of the two to test and we’d know pretty quickly whether or not it could revolutionize building and jobs accomplished at a staggering height.  Someday I may get a chance to test my idea and participate in creating my “reverse-magnet lift system,” (patent pending…).  Until then I’ll continue to muse as to whether or not this idea has merit.  If anyone has thoughts please share them with me.  And if you happen to be someone with the engineering skill to build a prototype then let’s connect and get to changing the world!

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Is the Cold War Still at Minimum Luke-Warm?

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I recently read a book titled The Company by Robert Littell, the same book that spawned the 2007 television mini-series starring Chris O’Donnell http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0488352/?ref_=nv_sr_5.  I never saw the series but it’s easy to assume the book blew away anything made into a TV show.  I’d classify The Company in one of my favorite genres, espionage fiction, ala Vince Flynn, John LeCarre or Daniel Silva.  It centered on the rise of both the CIA and the KGB after World War 2 and their subsequent interactions throughout the Cold War up until and including the fall of the Soviet Union.  While a tad long for someone like me with the attention span of a fire-ant I did finish it in less than a week and consider it time well spent.

The book got me to thinking of whether or not the Cold War ever really ended.  I know I shouldn’t presume the world’s secrets from reading a fiction book but I did some fact-checking and much of it is historically accurate. The book details the gamesmanship between the KGB and the CIA and the clever, often fatal games they would play with each other.  One of the lasting strategies the KGB used was making the CIA feel they were gaining the upper hand and that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, particularly with respect to their military and intelligence capabilities. This got me wondering if the “fall of the Soviet Union,” was an at least somewhat choreographed event, just one more ploy in this ongoing battle between the respective intelligence agencies. I’m not saying the fall was 100% faked, but as events unfolded it would be within the realm of the typical for the KGB to have sought an angle in which to use events to their advantage.  In other words, the KGB capitalized on the fall of the Soviet government to play the ultimate long con. All they KGB would have to do is fade into the shadows and continue to fight the United States much like they did in Vietnam.  After all, that’s what much of the Cold War was, us and them fighting in the shadows through more overt action.  From our failed attempts to lead a Hungarian revolt to their failed attempts to place nuclear weapons in Cuba.  Later their behind the scenes training and support of the North Vietnamese and vice versa with us and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

That was one aspect that the book focused on that I wasn’t as aware of, having not lived through Vietnam and being a young child during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  Those two wars were completely fought with arms supplied by the opposing Cold War enemies.  The Soviets let the North Vietnamese do their bidding, we did the same with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.  These were covert operations funded and supplied via the shadows by the respective intelligence communities of the two powers.

One difference is that the Soviets had no worry of future backlash from supplying the Vietnamese unlike our worry while funding the Mujahideen.  At the time men with foresight in the US were worried sick that by supplying weapons, particularly Stinger missiles, the Mujahideen would one day turn our own weapons against us. This was exactly what would eventually happen.

It’s always rumored these days, and where there is smoke there is usually fire, that the modern-day Russians are supplying America’s enemies with x-ray goggles or other weapons of war that are used against them on the battlefield.  It’s not hard to imagine that these aid packages go a bit farther than simple goggles and kevlar vests is it?  And who is to know exactly what aid our enemies get from communist China or their proxy, North Korea.  (Yeah, I said it, I think China and even Russia, laugh with glee every time those backward-ass North Koreans make one of their high school quality video productions of an attack sonnet involving New York City, or rattle their saber in some weapon test off the coast of South Korea.)  We pretty much know China thinks it’s hilarious, and something tells me that the former Soviets have a cozy relationship with the only real bastion of current communism, China.

Given all of this conjecture, there is by no means hard proof of anything.  But it would surprise me none if some back channels of KGB operatives are still fighting the cold war and when the Soviet Union fell, got together and said “this is just what we need to ultimately pull the wool over the eyes of the United States.”  Even now, as that country has grown and prospered with the introduction of capitalism, the old cold war feelings of resent and mistrust persist, despite few seeming differences as to our societal and monetary policies. These guys are still pissed about their seeming loss in the Cold War, and much like an isolated Japanese soldier on a remote Pacific island, I don’t think some of them got the message (or accepted the message) that the Cold War is over.  By supplying the terrorists in places like Afghanistan and commiserating with known assholes like Ahmadinejad in Iran, these guys are still plotting the downfall of the United States.

I read another book by the author Brad Thor, in which China takes advantage of a terrorist network to attack the good United States. Something called “total war,” which is not dissimilar to what General William Tecumseh Sherman instigated to finish the southern states in the American Civil War.  I don’t remember the name because I read all of Mr. Thor’s books in a quick sitting of about a month, but the premise made a lot of sense.  Essentially they killed the leadership of an Arab terrorist network and planted new leaders to impersonate Wahhabbist assholes and plan and carry out attacks on the United States. However without the fanaticism getting in the way of sound strategy, the Chinese brought some Sun-Tzuesque Art of War to this battle.

It makes sense to me that this is entirely possible.  The enemies of the United States all working behind the scenes together to bring us down, with the strings really being pulled by former Soviets.  Far-fetched?  Maybe, maybe not.  The US is facing major problems, that threaten to end our reign much like the fall of ancient Rome. Politicians are too busy arguing with each other to realize what is happening under their noses and pull together to get something done.  As we fall further into debt, the value of the dollar decreases, and we spread our selves thin by policing the world, we become susceptible to the fall of an empire.

Russia is governed by a former KGB lieutenant in Vladimir Putin.  He’s an old cold-warrior who like a spurned lover continues to plot and encourage the fall of the American empire. China is more overt but make no mistake, Putin is no friend of the United States.  He’s also smart, smart enough to realize that playing the long-game with regard to the fall of the Soviet Union is sound strategy.  As the United States intelligence community is distracted fighting the War on Terror, and American armed forces are spread thin around the globe.  An old foe continues the battle by playing possum.

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P90X, Round Two

This was a post of Amanda’s, but worth sharing…

I’m sure anyone who has watched early morning television or flipped channels on a Sunday afternoon has seen the informercial for the workout system called P90X. When I was pregnant with Hudson, Matt got himself suckered in by Tony Horton’s abs and promises that in 90 days, he too can do his laundry on his stomach.

Two weeks and 200 dollars later, we were unwrapping the package that came through the mail, reading the materials and getting excited for Matt to begin his 90 day journey to explosive fitness!

That lasted about two weeks until my water broke while making dinner on a warm evening June 4, 2009. Matt kind of fell off the wagon after that. Understandably so.

By the time I was cleared to exercise again, I was braced at the starting line, ready to take on the 90 day challenge. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t even meet the minimum fitness requirements. Not even close. I couldn’t even sit myself up to get out of bed.

My first attempt at P90X failed. New baby. No sleep. Just had my abdomen sliced open. I won’t be too hard on myself.

At the beginning of February, this year, I started it again. This time I finished it! Missing only a day here and there because of uncontrollable events, I did the complete P90X program! I am very proud of myself!

I didn’t get the washboard abs like Tony Horton or the psycho Drea (who gets on my nerves so bad) but I feel fantastic! I still didn’t meet the minimum fitness requirements when I started. Just having my second cesarean section barely six months before, I could barely do a handful of push ups or even make it five minutes through the ab workout. I can definitely do way more than that now! While, I can’t do everything in the videos (yet), I have still come a long ways! I can now make it through entire workouts, using modifications, of course.

I really feel like those 5:00 a.m. workouts are paying off!

I am beginning round two of P90X today. I feel round one got me in shape enough to prepare me for this next round. Now, I can really take it and run with it! I’ll do my best and we’ll see how it goes!

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It’s Hudson’s Party

Everyone loves a good party. Birthday parties are particularly fun, especially for the birthday boy or girl. This was not the case with Hudson’s first birthday party. He screamed and cried and would not let me out of his sight, ever.  I don’t know why…. Screaming children running around the pool, taking their wet butts in the house on our cream colored carpet, and scattering HIS toys all over the place. Well, maybe I would cry to.

Only one thing could dry up the tears…baseball cupcakes! These special babies were made by Mommy herself! From the “cake” part of cupcake to the icing to the delicate decorating job, everything was made from scratch, mixed by the hands of love. I’m quite proud of myself! Hudson’s tears turned into squeals of happiness. Soon, thanks to all of the sugar, he was running with the “big” kids. I think I even caught him voluntarily sharing a hot dog or two with Veronica.

While nothing is greater than making my baby boy smile on his birthday, my mother-in-law did something that was the icing on my cupcake.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of swimsuits, cupcakes, and hot dogs, she started saying, “Attention everyone! I need to say something!”

I thought, “This should be good.”

When she finally had everyone gathered around, she told the story of Matt’s first birthday party.

“When we had my son’s first birthday party, he screamed and cried the WHOLE time. He would NOT let me put him down for anything! I held him and held him. All of a sudden I felt something warm run down my leg. Matto had diarrhea and had expelled himself on me!”

Matt, who was standing behind her, rolled his eyes and said, “Thanks Mom.”

Everyone groaned and moaned. I, however, laughed and laughed. On the inside, that is. I wouldn’t humiliate my poor husband even more by laughing at the horrible story just told about him.

Soon enough, all of our guests were headed out the door! Thank God that was over. Surprisingly, everyone picked up after themselves and we were left with only a minor mess to clean up. Praise the man (or woman) who invented dishwashers! The kitchen was clean in record time (thank you Matt) and the kids and I were cuddled up on the couch, sleep quickly overcoming us.

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