Habitica

There’s a glut of self-improvement apps coming out for your smartphone lately. WeightWatchers, Strava, FitBit, the various one’s built into Android and iPhone’s operating systems, and plenty of other ones.

Most self-improvement apps focus on a specific purpose, whether that’s exercise, dieting, or quitting bad habits.

My self-improvement app of choice doesn’t have any specific focus. And if you haven’t already guessed from the title, the app is called Habitica.

Habitica Banner

Habitica lets you define your goals, what habits you want to develop, and which bad habits you want to lose. You can also define rewards for yourself (such as eating a piece of cake while on a diet). Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

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David and Goliath Book Review

David&Goliath

I recently finished listening to an audiobook version of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. The nonfiction piece focuses on how being an underdog can occasionally confer advantages that the “overdog” doesn’t expect.

The book uses a wide-range of examples of underdogs overcoming their disadvantages and actually using them as jumping off points to topple bigger and stronger opponents.

This isn’t a new idea to me or the world. Scholars were peddling this theory at least 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire fell. I first read about it in Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece, Dune, where the fictional race of Freman are hardened by their desert homeland and are able to overcome the forces of the Padishah Emperor. Continue reading

The Shack Movie Review

The Shack

I saw The Shack with my wife. We were expecting a spiritual journey movie like Field of Dreams or Peaceful Warrior. We got something far more overtly Christian than that.

The Shack stars Sam Worthington as Mack, a father who’s young daughter, Missy, is kidnapped and murdered. The tragedy ruins the lives of him and his family as they are consumed by depression.

Mack receives a note inviting him to spend the weekend at the eponymous shack where his daughter was murdered. The note is signed “Papa,” which is his family’s nickname for God.

Mack goes, half expecting the murderer to be there, but instead he finds that the note was actually delivered to him by God. Waiting at the shack are Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu (The Holy Spirit). Continue reading

Christmas Movies

With December comes the holidays and with the holidays comes Christmas music and Christmas movies.

I’ve got my favorite Christmas movies just like everyone else, drawing from the classics as well as some stuff that is seen less often.

I like the TV classics as much as anyone else. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman are all films I like rewatching, I just don’t like them as much as my favorites.

And my favorites are: Continue reading

Nashville: The Attractions

Nashville, is a tourist city, a state capital, and a center for the music, car, and health industries. All these things lead to a great deal of fun things to do, see, and visit in the city.

Nashville has an almost exact replica of the Parthenon from Athens in the American city’s Centennial Park.

No joke here, the tour guides are awesome.
Beautiful AND COMPLETELY UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW of the Nashville Parthenon.

The Nashville Parthenon is complete, unlike the Athenian Parthenon which seems Continue reading

Nashville: The City

I hate saying anything negative about Nashville as I had a great time while there, but the city itself was not pleasant.

As typical of large cities, there are tons of one-way streets downtown that we weren’t familiar with AND that weren’t marked on maps.

Compounding that confusion, a number of streets were blocked off due to the July 4th event.

EVEN MORE! A lot of streets were blocked off by construction work and what one tour guide called, “Tennessee’s state bird, the crane!” (It’s actually the mockingbird if you were curious).

Crane's so tall I needed to do a collage!
Crane’s so tall I needed to do a collage!

Additionally, parking was… difficult, but at least we expected that. Parking in the Gulch neighborhood on the edge of downtown and walking in over the railroad was the way to go for us.

Second major problem with the city was the smell.

There was a faint garbage stench throughout downtown. Not exactly sure why.

Obviously it got stronger when we got close to dumpsters, but I’ve never experienced a problem like this in any major city. Seems like the dumpsters just don’t trap smells in Tennessee’s humidity.

Final issue with Nashville was the myth of Southern hospitality. I’ve heard of, experienced it, and expected it in Nashville, but it was not so!

Not that anybody was particularly rude, just people were notably less polite than what I’d experienced in Davis, CA.

Maybe it’s because Nashville is a tourist town and the locals hate tourists? Maybe it was due to the extra stress of the downtown construction and July 4th? Maybe something in the local news had everyone on edge?

Whatever it was, the people there just weren’t as nice as I expected them to be.

Like I said, all of these things by no means ruined the vacation. There were just… noticeable.

-GoCorral

Nashville: The Opry

Frank Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers
Frank Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

The single greatest attraction in Nashville, Tennessee is the Grand Ole Opry, a radio show turned concert that has been active since 1925.

Given that it’s Nashville most of the Opry’s music is country.

We got tickets to the concert for our first day in Nashville. The headliners were Rascal Flats and Frankie Ballard. The other acts were The Gatlin Brothers, LOCASH, Parker Milsap, and someone else I can’t remember.

The concert hall is a big place that seats over four thousand people.

There’s a concession stand and they let you bring the food into the actual venue which was new for me. Rarely do I get to bring food into a theater-type venue.

The actual music was quite nice. My favorite was Parker Milsap and my wife enjoyed LOCASH, buying their new album after we left. We both liked Rascal Flats and Frankie Ballard (the names that brought us to the concert).

The Opry is also a radio show on 650AM in Tennessee and maybe in other places.

The Opry typically plays twice a night. They repeated the concert, so as we drove to the hotel we got to listen to everything again!

We liked the experience so much that we went back for a tour.

We got to go backstage and see the musician’s entrance, the dressing rooms, and the enormous green room that felt more like a living room.

Each of the dressing rooms was themed for different country music stereotypes (old dude, young cowboy, up-and-coming girl, comedic woman, etc.).

We got to go on the stage and get our picture taken standing on “The Circle.”

The Circle is a cutout of the Opry’s previous longtime venue, the Ryman Auditorium.

The Ryman eventually became a bit small for the audiences that wanted to attend an Opry show so the new concert hall was built specifically for the Opry show.

The Grand Ole Opry House holds twice as many people as the Ryman and still routinely fills up nearly all the seats!

After the tour there was a July 4th weekend concert as well.

Before the official concert there was an opening act outside by Fifty Shades of Hey who did a bunch of covers of famous songs.

Fifty Shades of Hay is all about BDSM (Bluegrass, Duets, and Super Music)
Fifty Shades of Hay is all about BDSM (Bluegrass, Duets, and Super Music)

The second concert was great too, but the first one was definitely more to my preferences and my wife’s.

A great experience and one of the most important parts of Nashville. I’d say if you’re only there for one night going to an Opry show is what you should be doing!

-GoCorral