Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Northern Lights

Living in Wisconsin, we get to see a spectacular occurance a few times a year that is caused by something out of this world.  Solar flares cause what is known as the Northern Lights.  Its a blend of colors that appear in the night sky, generally a few days after the solar flare occurs.

Tonight, Saturday the 13th of April, we are expected to be able to see the norther lights in Wisconsin.  The solar flare occurred Thursday, so like clockwork should appear tonight.

I have lived in this state or other northern states for nearly my whole life and have never once seen this light show in person.  Generally it's cloudy or I just simply forget and go to bed early.  For once though I am planning to attempt to see the Northern Lights tonight.  Hopefully the clouds disperse, the light pollution is low and the lights are bright enough to see from my location.  This could be an easy check off my bucket list, we'll see.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Seeing the Expected

I recently made a pretty random decision to move to Madison, Wisconsin from Fond du Lac.  Because of my vision and location and limits to my driving it has been hard to find a job in Fond du Lac so I have been living of some savings and just getting by.  A friend in the Madison area recently had her fiance move to California leaving her to take care of the house and a herd of animals.  This opened up some doors for me to escape what I was feeling to be a toxic and depressing location for me.  So long story short I packed up my animals and a few belongings and moved in.

My list of things I would like to see before going blind are usually very beautiful or just simply amazing, however there are hundreds of little things we see each day that when you stop to analyze are just as great.

For instance, I attended a the Black Earth town meeting to discuss the community concerns with expanding the street width and installing sidewalks on both sides.  It sounds silly but to be a part of a group of people debating over the life of their pine trees and standing up to protect their green space was visually stimulating. Then there was a trip to Woodmans, a grocery store in the area. To the normal person not facing a life of darkness in their near future, this is just a crowded grocery store.  To me though it was a beautiful display of produce, still in boxes because it sells so quickly here. An organic food section bigger than some stores, and eccentric people of all types gathered together for the common purpose of shopping. I guess you could say I was like a kid in the candy store, stimulated by all the vibrant colors.

Being from Wisconsin, I'm accustomed to seeing farm land but even a simple dirt field can be a beautiful landscape.  Silos and barns of various shapes and sizes, old farmhouses still inhabited by ancestors of the men who built them a hundred years prior.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so driving by a farm is like creating a short story in your head about its history and maybe even its future.

The point of this entry is that although I dream of seeing the Red Rocks and Killer Whales and Lantern Shows, I also want to continue seeing the little things in life we all take for granted. Until people start writing in braille on bathroom walls, there is always something to look forward to seeing no matter where you go. :-)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Orcas in the Wild

When I was very young, I vividly remember playing a soccer game and right afterwards getting in mums mini van and heading on vacation.  Destination Ohio, more specifically, SeaWorld.  Those rubbing their chins right now saying there is no SeaWorld in Ohio, there was at one time, but we art talking 20 years ago here.

We were a camping family, so we set up camp and planned out our few day long trip. An amusement park and SeaWorld were at the top and I was so excited to see Shamu! I went away from that trip with a fascination with marine mammals.  I wanted to be a marine biologist and save the whales all around the world.

These new desires ended up taking me to a place called SeaCamp in San Diego where we saw all kinds of marine mammals and of course took a trip to SeaWorld San Diego. Then as an adult I revisisited my marine mammal love with a vacation to SeaWorld in Orlando.  The idea of math and chemistry made marine biology a thing of the past but my love for these creatures were still alive.

I started researching though and watching documentaries like the Cove and realized that Shamu's home wasn't all that great of a place.  These animals were all captive, prisoners shown off to millions of spectators every day.  Sure many of them came to SeaWorld injured and were saved but how great is it to be saved when your freedom is stripped away?  So for this reason I come to my next item on my bucket list; to see Orca Whales in the wild.

Apparently some of the greatest places to see a killer whale, like Shamu, is right up in British Columbia. I've seen a few people blog about the Johnstone Strait off the Vancouver Islands being the go to place.  You actually take a few day kayak camping trip up there and see all kinds of great wild life. I've seen some video footage and it appears you get very close to the whales and some seals. It would be amazing to see a pod of whales without arched dorsal finds swimming, playing and communicating together in their natural habitat.

For those of you who don't really care to follow marine mammal stuff can I suggest you go and buy or even just rent The Cove.  It was created by the trainer for the dolphins of the original Flipper who has since seen the errors of his way which is all explained in the documentary.  This movie will change your opinions or give you an opinion on a matter you once did not know about. If you click on the link below you help me out. :-)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Concert at Red Rocks

I love music, it is the one thing I can rely on. When I'm sad all I have to do is put on my headphones and I can count on there being a song that will carry me through it.  I think that is why I chose to earn a degree in Music Business and then continue it further with a Masters Degree in Entertainment Management.  I wanted to be apart of the one thing that made me happy, music.  Take my word for it, the business end is where I belong because when I'm playing an instrument people run for the hills.  It's really not a pleasant sound.

Because I have worked for a short while in the music industry and been an avid fan of all music, I have been to a ton of venues.  I have laid in the grass at the Marcus Amphitheater at Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI. Pewed it up at the historic Rhyman Auditorium in Nashville, and been to so many small venues across the midwest that I couldn't count them if I tried. They were all great, especially when I'm seeing my favorite band the Goo Goo Dolls perform.  In fact I bet I've seen them at a dozen or so different venues in the past twenty years.  But this isn't about them, they are already checked off my bucket list. However they would make my next conquest a million times better, I want to see a concert at the unique and mystical Red Rocks outside of Denver Colorado.

Red Rocks is literally the most perfect naturally occurring acoustic amphitheater in the world. And when I say acoustic I mean acoustics, because of the lay out the sound just bounces and carries out over the crowd in an angelic manner. There are two rock formations on either side of the stage and a seating area that rises between rows almost like rock bleachers.  It is the amphitheater to play like CBGBs was the club to play.  Musicians have been playing there for over 100 years! The Beatles played there! Actually everyone who is anyone in the music industry has played there, even my precious Goo Goo Dolls. Tickets for shows here sell out well in advance, and many artists like Bruno Mars agree to do two dates back to back just to make sure everyone has a chance to see the show. The upcoming Fun. show at the Red Rocks is already sold out and it isn't even till summer.  Same goes for one of Bruno Mars' shows. If you are going to travel to a concert, everyone knows this is the venue to go to.

Normally due to my low vision festivals and large venues are a little scary to me. Assigned seating helps to reduce anxiety but guiding yourself to get a drink or to find a bathroom is literally a nightmare.  At Red Rocks the chaos seems to be controlled by the natural construction of the facility, and the peaceful natural setting just looks like an herbal sedative.  With the lights from the stage bouncing around the crowd and the rock formations it just seems like a dream, a dream I want to see.

Beggars can't be choosy but I would love to see the Goo Goo Dolls at Red Rocks, I'd totally settle for Bruno Mars or Fun. though. For more on the Red Rocks go to If you are a music lover, I think this one needs to go on your bucket list.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sky Lantern Show

Inspiration for a dream can come at the most random time, doing the most random things. While babysitting two beautiful little girls, I decided I could not tolerate another Taylor Swift dance party, so we popped in a movie. It was Disney's latest film Tangled. Near the end of the movie there was a magical scene where hundreds of people lit paper lanterns and let them lift up into the night sky. It was beautiful how they slowly raised and lit up the sky like hundreds of nearby stars that were slowly drifting away.

I knew these lantern displays existed in real life but had not realized how unspeakably beautiful they could be or where exactly they originated from. So of course I googled it.

Sky Lanterns are also called Kongming Lantern or Chinese Lanterns. Kongming was the name used to address a military man of the name Zhuge Liang who was said to use these lanterns as a message when surrounded by an enemy. Kongming is also a type of hat that guy was seen wearing alot that the lanterns look like, so history is a little sketchy. Because of him though, in China they are still referred to as Kongming Lanterns.

 Lantern Festivals are popular in many asian cultures. In Taiwan there is an annual sky lantern display in Pingxi District in New Taipei City.

In Thailand sky lanterns are used during the Lanna Li Peng festival which occurs during a full moon. The festival is a time to obtain Buddhist Merit and more recently the lanterns have just become so popular they are an every day part of the culture. They are used for play, decorating, and of course festivals.

Video does not qualify as seeing this spectacular event in person but wow is it amazing to watch. I have spent hours watching YouTube Videos of these festivals and it is just motivation to get out there and see one in person. Here is one of my favorite videos:

If you go up and click on the image of Sky Lanterns you can actually buy a set of them and put on your own mini display. Be careful though, many countries have outlawed these magnificent lanterns due to concerns of fires, I found one that was affordable and 100% biodegradable and flame retardant so hopefully you can have some fun over a lake or ocean with these.

For me I hope I can find a Lantern Festival somewhere in the United States in the near future. I would love to knock this one off the list. In the mean time if someone wants to buy some lanterns and put on a mini display, I'll be there!