Movie Review: Last of the Mohicians

What would you do if you were the last of your family, your heritage, or your culture? Would you record it? Perhaps share with others? Or maybe try to save it?
Chingachgook and his son are the last of his tribe. Hawkeye, his adopted white son, also remains, but is not of indian blood. Together they face the perils of the french and indian war. They operate as a small group, standing up for the commoners in the face of British tyranny. In the course of doing so, they discover a plot to murder an entire family, as another indian, Maugwa, desires revenge for his people.
These three men take it upon themselves to defend this family.

Even it if will cost them their lives.

Things I liked
The three men who are the Last of the Mohicans have many admirable traits. In essence, they are true gentlemen. They treat women with respect and protect them. They are selfless, always sacrificing themselves for others. They stand up against the authority when the officers do not keep their word. They also communicate with wisdom and tact. Save for one example, the men were models worthy of respect.
All the settlers fighting for britain have their families as the main concern in their eye. Everything they do is to protect their families and make sure they are safe in this dangerous land. A few men in the film die protecting women they swore to defend or care about.

A certain quote stuck with me as well, in regards to one general surrendering to another.

Death and honor are thought to be the same, but today I have learned that sometimes they are not.

I appreciated the fact that, in the midst of this war and killings shown, value on human life was clearly established. That it was more honorable to save lives if possible, rather than sending everyone in your command to their deaths for a fort.

Things I didn’t like
There was quite a bit of violence, as the indians are out to destroy the british troops. The indian’s guerrilla type warfare was devastating against the british troops on the road. We see the devastation in full. Tomahawks fly, chop, and hack. Indians and soliders are shot point blank with rifles. Soliders are stabbed and then scalped. One indian cuts the heart out of a man and holds it above his head in victory. While blood and gore are minimal, the massacres are definitely something which will make you want to turn your head. I did anyway.

Cora and Hawkeye have an intense and intimate scene where they kiss for long periods of time. Definitely could have done without that.

We see a girl commit suicide. A man is burned at stake, and then shot to relieve his suffering. There is some cursing, but I do not recall hearing God’s name being used in vain.

Closing Thoughts

The Last of The Mohicans is not a story of an epic quest, an invincible hero, or even an ultimate goal. This movie is simply a story of the trials three men face trying to do good for the common people. Britain’s military is oppressive and laws relative to the situation at hand. These men choose to help others instead taking care of themselves. It is about little stories. Each with little thoughts to take and chew on should the discerning view desire.
Thoughts on submission to government, honor, sacrifice, equality of race and justification are all themes which the movie shows. Most biblically so, but some not so much.

If I have a complaint against the film as a whole, it would be the violence as the scalpings and ritualistic removal of an organ. Seeing that kind of massacres should be enough to turn anyone’s stomach sour. That, and the unneeded intimate scene between Hawkeye and Cora.

The heros exhibit many admirable biblical traits, and no so admirable in others. There are some touching scenes, and some gruesome ones as well. The value of this movie lies not in the story, but the interaction between the characters we can feel good rooting for. So while this film does not get a thumbs up, I’ll definitely tip my hat to it, because some of the messages are well worth remembering.

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Flashbacks: The Power of Stories

We all have life stories.

Stories of joy, stories of suffering, and stories of lessons learned. The cool thing is, God uses these events in out lives to teach us things. To grow us in our character. And to strengthen our relationship with him.

I have found though, all to often we forget these events, which hurt us, and prevent us from teaching others what we have learned in life. Often we remember the lesson, but not the context. Thing is, people don’t remember lectures about why you shouldn’t do something….
   They remember stories, and the result of the actions which took place in that story. The lessons learned from life experiences stick with a person. Look at scripture, how did Christ teach? Through stories.

So I personally have been challenged to not only recall past stories, but to share and record them. I never have journaled, which is huge flaw on my part. But it is simply something I cannot do. These coming “Flashbacks” is an effort on my part to record past events of my life which taught me something. I do this not for my benefit, but for the benefit of my future family, and maybe you might learn something too. I’d also like to challenge you, what are your memorable flashbacks? What are events, people, times which are burned into your memory from experience?

I’ll be answering those questions in the future. I hope you will join me and do the same.

Combating Women in Combat

Yes, I am responding to current events with a blog post. It seems to be happening more and more of late.

I am sure you have heard of the Pentagon’s most recent change in policy. That of allowing women to take positions of combat should they desire, or show above average qualifications.

Before I go into the following… I’m going to tell you I don’t think the only place for women is at home. I believe places in business, politics, and other societal areas are fine for women to participate in. I don’t think scripture calls women to be only ones who are “Barefoot, Pregnant, and in the Kitchen.”
The following points come as always, based off scripture. You can argue all day about physical prowess and scientific comparison of male/female body types… And both have valid points. Problem is, if you base your arguments upon these facts, you are simply debating scientific viewpoints. These are not what we should base our opinions on, because our understanding of science is always changing.

   Personally, I think it if fine if a woman wants a domestic intelligence job, and can do it well, let he work there. My personal line comes up when they can be placed into combat, on the ground, situations. The recent decision does not place women in combat role, but rather, allows them to volunteer to do so.  I do not believe at all in any way women should have, or be allowed to have, a role in combat.
   I say this because I see nowhere in scripture a precedent placed that it is a woman’s role to go out and fight for her country or family. It is clearly, the man’s role and job to defend his family. I see today, a society shirking off that responsibility in the name of equality. Guess what? Men and women aren’t the same. They have different God-given Strengths and weaknesses. This is a good thing! Instead of celebrating these differences, we see a society rejecting God’s perfect design, and replacing it with what they deem best.

“Uh Austin?” You say. “What about Deborah?”

I’m so glad you asked. ;)
Women did indeed have roles other than wife in scripture…. Specifically to this topic of leadership and war.
We see first, and most famously, Esther. Who was made queen in a time of jewish captivity, and used that political power to save the jewish race.
We see Deborah, made judge and leader of the military in the darkest time of the jewish people. Why? Because there were no men to fill the position.
Also in Judges, we see Jael, the wife of Heber, let the commander of the Caanaite army into her tent, and then killed him in his sleep, as God predicted.
What do all of these have in common? The state of their society was in ruins or degradation. In each of these stories, we see the Jewish people have turned from the perfect ways God has made known to them… and the result creates stories which are terrible and sad.

This is the same thing we are seeing today. In the name of “women’s rights” (which I believe are a good thing), we are taking the roles of men, and societally pressuring women to step into those roles. The majority of men also, are at huge fault, for gladly relinquishing these roles, so as not to seem stuck in the cave man stone age. They too are succumbing to the societal pressures of “progress”. Not all progress is good. If I am walking towards a cliff edge, I am indeed making progress, but walking over a cliff, even if it is your goal, is not beneficial to your health.

There is a huge difference between women having equal rights in society, and being pressured into roles not designed for them by God. That is what is happening today. And I shudder to think in a few generations what that will look like if something doesn’t change.

   What we can rejoice in though, is in the knowledge God has everything planned out and is going to his plan. He wasn’t surprised by this, He isn’t concerned. Honestly, I am not concerned either. Am I sad? Yes. Am I frustrated? Yes. But if we rest in the knowledge God knows what he is doing, we can have peace, and praise Him for working all things to His glory.

The Dash of Stan the Man Musial

Whenever a personal hero of mine passes, I am reminded of a poem. Stan Musial died a few days ago at the old age of 92. For those who don’t know, he was a man of character, integrity, and humility. He was a continuing bright light in all of baseball both on the field and off. 

He was a gentleman, and left quite the legacy and example to follow for those who play sports.

Deaths like these remind me of this poem, ironically written by an athlete himself. What dash am I creating? How will people remember my dash? Is it reflecting Christ? Is it a Biblical example? I pray and hope so. It reminds me it doesn’t matter how long you live, but how you live in the time God has given you.

So with that, here is possibly my favorite poem of all time. It doesn’t have perfect pentameter, nor does it completely rhyme. But poetry is more than just meter and verse. It is an expression of thought, and this he does quite well.

The Dash
I have seen death stare at me with my own eyes in a way many cannot know.
I’ve seen death take others but still leave here below.

I’ve heard many screams of mother cries but death has refused to hear.
In my life I have seen many faces with many, many tears.

After death has come and gone, a tombstone sits for many to see,
But is serves no more than a symbol of a person’s memory.

Under the person’s name it reads the date of birth-and the date the person passed,
But the more I think about the tombstone the only important thing is the dash. 

Yes, I see the name of the person but that I might forget,
I also read the date of birth and death, but even that might not stick.

But thinking about the person, I can’t help but to remember the dash,
Because it represents a person’s life and that will always last. 

So when you begin to chart your life, make sure you are on a positive path.
Because people may forget your birth and death, but they will never forget your dash.

~Alton Maiden (Notre Dame football player)

What does your dash look like?

Movie Review: Forever Strong

Soccer is for sissies, football is for boys, and rugby is for men.

Rick is a young man who plays rugby, but acts like a boy. He loses his temper, he hangs out with the wrong crowd, and is as arrogant as they come. Like proverbs says though, with Pride, comes the fall.
And oh how Rick falls. He falls so hard, and so deep, he lands in a juvenile detention center and will remain there until a change in behavior is observed. Instead of shaping up however, he turns for the worse. He picks fights with inmates, and does not observe the center’s rules. The center assistant, Marcus, decides to attempt to help Rick out, and gets him playing on another rugby team. The only bugger is, this is the rival team of Rick’s school.
Coach Gelwix and Marcus begin to teach Rick what it means to be a man, and how to act as one. Rick now has a decision to make. Will he stay loyal to his father and school? Or will he remain true to what he now knows what is right? Will he go back to bad habits? Or will he continue on the path he is leading?

He has to decide, if will he remain forever strong.

Things I liked
This movie is a coming of age tale about a young man who has to beat his pride before it beats him. Rick learns throughout this film life is not just about himself. That a team isn’t about winning, but about character. He learns to forgive, to submit, and to stand strong for the truth. All traits which are admirable and scriptural.

This would never happen however, without mentors. Marcus and Gelwix feed wisdom to Rick constantly. They give him a second chance, and a third chance, and a fourth… The provide grace and compassion to Rick, even when he doesn’t deserve it in the least. Coach Gelwix is a man to take special note of. He tells Rick:

God doesn’t make a no-good anything.

In one of his lawnchair sessions, saying that everyone has a purpose. He brings a team together based not upon winning games, but on winning characters.

“I’m more interested in turning out champion boys than champion teams.”

The coach binds the team together based upon principles of character, not plays in a book. We see them do charity activities in addition to playing the game.

The rival team Rick is a part of is one of incredible quality. The young men, for the most part, are very patient with Rick, giving him an example and forgiveness when again, he deserves none and attacks many teammates. They know how to have fun too, pulling pranks on others, and doing it all in a clean and harmless way. In tragedy too, they rally around, and comfort each other like brothers. Their mantra is this… and they stick to it.

We only have one real rule – don’t do anything that would embarrass you, the team, or your family.

Things I didn’t like
An early scene has a bunch of guys and gals at a pool party. All the girls had bikinis, and there were a few close ups. All of the people are drinking, and most quite drunk. It is worth noting however, the results of these actions show how terrible the consequences are.

One guy gives another “the finger”.

A guy gets hit by a car. And another person is flung from a car. We see their body in a fence later.

If you have never seen rugby, know it is a very physical sport, and they hit each other hard. Something to be aware of. Some blood is shown on a few players during the game because of the nature of the sport.

Closing Thoughts

I want you to be forever strong on the field so you will be forever strong off it.

Coach Gelwix tells this to his players right before a game. He gives them context for life, not just a sport. A context where we are to live in a manner which puts others above self. Sound familiar?

Forever Strong tells a powerful tale of a boy who fell, and through the guidance, counsel, and love of others is built into a man. It tells of a team which is focused on each other more than winning a game. It tells of second chances, and everyone should be given one.
It is a rough and tumble film chock full of scriptural themes and lasting lessons. Lessons it wouldn’t hurt for us to be reminded of either. Because of that, Forever Strong is a forever keeper in my playbook, and should be in yours as well.

Star Trek TOS Phaser Project: The Color Scheme

There are many different types of Color schemes of Phasers in the Star Trek Original season. The first season was largely a work in progress as it was being made, so the consistency of props was nonexistent. The tricorders and communicators are varied as well… All of this is from reading, and opinions are going to vary because of the inconsistency of the prop making methods.

Because all the color schemes and combinations are “Screen Accurate”, this allows for a bit of flexibility in choosing my preferred color setup… So here are the more well known versions in the TV show.
First, the Black and White model. These are only found in the first eight TV shows to my knowledge. Some say the color was a cream or pearl… Something to consider. You can see why they *ahem* phased them out.

Rare Original screen used white phaser. They are rare because most were painted over.

What the color of the remaining handles were depends in the type of Phaser you are talking about. There is the Stunt/dummy model which is the cheapest of all the props, often not even colored. Then there is a AA model. These usually had a Black handle with a grey/blue color. Some say it was completely grey. My opinion is it was more of a slate color… This is most commonly seen prop. Some had gold grips, to based off the hero, but failed in the execution… Again, IMO. ;)

AA version prop. Note the lack of the metal conical tip

The last version, is of course the Hero Version (or AAA), which I will be basing my project off of. These got close ups and had functional parts such as raised sights. There are two opinions as to what the color of the Hero grips were, either Dark Bronze Metallic or a Charcoal Grey Metallic.
   The color of the body of the Phaser is a dark blue. No Metallic. Here are two Screen Captures… Both have the Metal Conical tips.

So, after the long and lengthy amount of research, I think I will be going with the dark Bronze handle and a dark blue Slate paint job.

Here are the paints I plan to use.
For the Pistol Body:
Santa Fe Blue. http://www.testors.com/products/137307
And more to consider here: http://www.testors.com/category/560957/Naval_Colors

For the Type 2 (smaller Phaser):
This color is tricky, because it is supposed to look dark grey in the light, and black in less light.
Engine Black: http://www.testors.com/products/137240

For the Bronze Grip:
Rustoelum Dark Bronze Metallic: http://www.amazon.com/Rust-Oleum-7272830-Metallic-Bronze-11-Ounce/dp/B000ZYTNJA

Random Pictures of 2013 (Part 1)

Around the first of the year, I considered doing a 365 day challenge. I realized however, it is much easier said than done. I decided instead, to do something I call “Random Pics of 2013”. I have no idea how many parts it will be, but it will just be a collaboration of pics I take and edit throughout the year.

So here is Part 1
Story of my life right now. Studying studying studying! :)

A gift from my best friend. I think he knows me to well. :P

We played this on New Year’s. Pretty much the best game ever.

Grace. She really does have a green and blue eye.

Firewood.

Another Day, Another Story

Another day has come and gone, which is pretty cool, considering everything which was accomplished and learned.

I was able to get to work on my car today, FINALLY finished the sanding of primer. We’ll be shooting color in a few days! More importantly though, I talked with a guy about luck, and it was pretty interesting. The question posed on the radio was “do people make their own luck?”, and we talked about that question for a while. Does luck exist? Is God luck? Why are good people unlucky? are all questions we discussed. I was able to offer scripture to a great many number questions by the grace of God, and he in turn with more questions. Not only was it productive in terms of work, but also in terms of eternity.

Do you know how to make a telegraph? I do now. In history discussion, we decided to start off the new year with a . –  and gets some hands on stuff made. They worked after some finagling with the wires. Pretty cool they were! Here is a link should you desire to make one:
http://www.w1tp.com/perbuild.htm

My bro and I got to go to a chick-fil-a that opened today! It was so fun. There were balloons, happy people, and the chick-fil-a cow (which was kinda creepy). What always amazes me about chickfila most is not the food, but the quality of service. The workers there set a standard which is so incredibly high and polite, it honestly challenges me to do the same where I work. A quality business is not just in the products they offer, but in the people they hire. Chickfila has figure that out, and as long as they keep up that service… I’ll keep giving em my money.

So, just another blessed day in the life of Austin. God is so good to us, and it floors me to fathom where that goodness comes from. :)

The Star Trek TOS Phaser Project

I don’t know about you, but Star Trek “The Original Series” is one of my favorite TV shows. Yes. It is cheesy, corny, and not even realistic. But the actors are some of the most memorable in TV history, and work together in a way which we don’t see anymore in TV shows.

While most props were rather… Lame. There are three which are pretty interesting. First, the Tricorder. Spock’s Instrument of choice when he needed to pick up life forms or any other reading. Second, the communicator, which was their ticket back to the Enterprise. Lastly, The Phaser, which was first a tool to cut, weld, or heat. A weapon to defend themselves from hostile aliens. And a  bomb. If it gets set into overload.

You don’t want your phaser to go into overload.

I have wanted to build a fully functional 1:1 Star Trek Phaser for a long time now. There are many cheapy kid models, but few quality cast kits. Even Fewer which are 1:1 scale. After a few months of searching I managed to snag 2 of these Brand new:

This cast kit is a full 1:1 Scale, which was made back in the 80s. The people who made this actually operated out of a garage, and because these were so accurate, got a cease and desist order from CBS. They are very hard to find, but they will pop up on ebay once or twice a year. It is one of the best kits out there to install electronics and maintain the accurate scale.

So here’s the goal. To turn this pile of plastic into two fully functional LED phasers with sound. The Type 1, with two modes. The Type 2, with one. Rechargeable cells will also be used, so you plug it in instead of swapping batts.

A project and a half, but I think it will be fun, and provide that nice change needed from saber building at times.

So, things to do.
1. Find proper adhesive and purchase
2. Find accurate paints
3. Find replica sized metal thumbscrew
4. Mounting solution for grip other than glue
5. Custom Soundboard with a friend of mine
6. Layout internal electronics
7. Switch and LED holes
8. Dual Mode switch solution
9. Photoshop settings diagram
10. Glue, sand, bondo, and paint pieces
11. Install electronics
12. Close everything up and test/fire/enjoy

If you are wondering. I plan to make a High powered Phaser that will actually burn through items, pop balloons, etc with the second model. Using a LED Laser Diode this is possible (the same kind which burn DVDs, CDs, etc. I wanted to tackle the easier project first. ;)