Monday, August 22, 2016

Minecraft Temples

Minecraft users have created some incredibly cool builds, from Minas Tirith to a scale replica of Westeros. For the Mormon crowd though, an innovative fan has built several temples for geeks and the faithful to enjoy. I could say more, but honestly, the artist Justin Tate is far better at explaining it than I am.
Take it away, Justin!

Well ever since Elder Bednar challenged us to share the Gospel on Social media I have felt that is important since that is the direction the world is headed.  I have wanted to think of a creative untraditional way to share the gospel.  Since I have many hobbies such as BMX, flute music, and gaming, I wanted to somehow reach people who are interested in the same hobbies as me.  I only recently thought of this as a way to do that while playing Minecraft with my kids.  It's a game we enjoy playing together because it is very family friendly compared to many of the games out there.  Since we play together creating our own digital world, I decided to build a temple so that we could always have a beautiful temple in view while we are playing.   The first one was the Bountiful Temple, where my wife and I were married.  That was when we only played on The mobile version, Minecraft Pocket Edition.  Then after we started playing the Xbox One edition I needed to build a new temple in that world so we could still always have a temple in sight while we play.  This time I made the Washington DC temple since that is our home temple in real life.
After this, I thought why keep this hidden for only my family to see, when other people could enjoy it too?  The scripture that came to mind was..........

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.

So I decided to make a Facebook page where I could collect all my LDS themed Minecraft creations together in one place and hope that some other people may enjoy seeing it.  I also hope that other people will contribute their own LDS themed Minecraft creations so they can be shared with other people too.  I have always thought that if my efforts can at least uplift one person than it is worth it because "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;" (D&C 18:10).
So anyway, it may not change the world, but I'm just happy to see that several people have enjoyed my work so far, and a couple people have said how it has uplifted them already and that makes me happy to know.  Hopefully I will be able to reach some people within the gaming community who may have not otherwise heard of the church.

(When I asked what mode he used...)

As for what mode, definitely creative mode haha.  As impressive as it would be to gather all the materials in Survival mode, I simply don't have the time for that.

It's hard to say how long it takes because so far they have been very different.  To be honest, the DC temple was actually very easy to make and only took me about a week of working whenever I had a little spare time here and there.  So it only took a few hours.  The Preston and Mesa Temples on the other hand proved to be much more technical and time consuming.  As I practice, I am naturally learning little techniques to speed up he process.  With my next two temples, I have done a lot more planning and measuring before hand, which I think will help to speed up the process even more.  We shall see how that goes. But as of now, I think it's safe to say that they take roughly a month or so to complete.  My life schedule is very busy so I spread these projects out over an extended period of time.


Since Temples come in several general styles, I want to do one from each style, so they don't blend together and look the same.  I also want to feature some lesser known temples.  You know the big ones like Salt Lake, DC, and Hawaii for example get a lot of attention so I want to surprise people by featuring their temple that maybe wouldn't be the first to come to mind when thinking about temples.  Because they are all beautiful to me.  The first three were significant to me because of my marriage(Bountiful),where we live now(DC/Maryland), and where my full time mission was(England), but after that, I'm wanting to do them for other people.

What do you think?
-JOE

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Disney Super Heroes

As an established Mormon Geek, I’ve shown that I have an affinity for Disney movies. I’m also getting into Marvel more and more. Recently it occurred to me that we’ve got quite a few Disney characters who have some super powers of their own. Now obviously there are characters like The Incredibles and Super Goof, who explicitly have super powers, but I’m talking about more subtle characters. These characters have something inherent to them, possibly magical, but more than just the “regular” kind of magic.

Talking to Animals
Snow White, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, and Mowgli have all shown the ability to talk to animals. Granted, Mowgli grew up with them, but still it’s kind of weird that he hears their voices. Snow White and Cinderella even get their animal friends to help with the cleaning (I could use their help with unpacking right now). And then there’s Princess Aurora, who is so deprived of human interaction that she dances with animals.

Shape Shifter
Maleficent and Jafar both show the ability to shape shift. Maleficent has only been shown to transform into a dragon, but Jafar has transformed into an old man AND he’s turned into a snake. Pretty good powers for these super villains.

Snow Powers
Of course Elsa and her ice powers had to make this list. It could just be considered magic, but with such a specific kind of magic, this is more like Ice Man or Frozone (who, by the way, I’m tired of seeing fan art with him and Elsa together… Frozone is married… and she is the greatest good he is EVER gonna get).

Communication with Spirits
Next we have a hero and a villain. Both Facilier and Pocahontas have been able to talk to spirits. Facilier, as the villain, talks to the evil spirits. Pocahontas more often talks to the spirits of the trees, the wind, etc. Not the most useful power in fighting super villains, but still a super power in my books.

Healing Powers
Rapunzel of course has healing powers. Before it was cut, her hair was the outlet for her powers, strong enough to keep Gothel alive for over a decade. However, even after her hair was cut, her tears had healing powers enough to save Eugene from dying from a stab wound. It’s unknown whether she still retains this power, but I like to think that she does.

Flight
Time for the first non-human hero: Dumbo and his ability to fly using only his oversized ears. At first it seemed like he’d only be able to fly with the help of his magic feather, but it only took one leap of faith for Dumbo to learn that he could fly on his own. Now, I doubt the timid elephant would be much use in a fight against super villains, but he could help out I guess.

Super-Strength
Much like Thor and the Hulk, Hercules and Stitch get their super strength from their heritage and experimentation respectively. We don’t exactly know the limits of Hercules’s strength, but Stitch is able to lift 3000 times his weight. These two would be quite useful if we ever needed a Disney character Avengers team. Personally, Stitch is top on my list. The extra arms are definitely a bonus.

Talk to Squirrels
This could have been put up with Aurora, Mowgli, Snow White, and Cinderella, but Kronk is able to talk specifically to squirrels. Now this could be a learned skill and he’s not much of one to be on this super hero team, but he could be useful for developing intelligence… even if he lacks his own intelligence. Regardless, Kronk needs to be acknowledged.

Teleportation/Super Speed and Psychic Powers
As I noted a few weeks ago, there was something not fully explored with Pacha’s kids: Tipo and Chaca. When Pacha was in trouble, these two both seemed to have visions of his peril…. And having to (almost) give Llama Kuzco mouth to mouth. Even more impressive is later when Yzma charges out of their house, Tipo and Chaca have this ability to appear throughout her tumble down the hill (multiple times) and then be back at the top when Kronk leaves. I’m just saying that they must have some sort of super speed and/or teleportation to get around that fast.


Who else would you add to our list of Disney Avengers?


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pokemon Where They Shouldn't Be

It’s been about a month since Pokemon Go came out. It became a fad, it had more than its fair share of technical problems, and it’s started to slow down a bit. I think the last update annoyed a bunch of players, but I guess I’m ok with that, since there’s more server space for the rest of us true geeks now. Anyway, one of the funnest parts of the game for me has been seeing Pokemon in some of the most random places with the augmented reality feature. Or in the most appropriate places too, I guess (I haven’t played Pokemon Go at the gym much, but I’d love to catch a Machoke there). So here’s a tribute to some of the random places I’ve found Pokemon.


Holy crap! There's a Golbat in my shower
I'm gonna seriously need to sanitize this Goldeen afterwards.

Eevee came to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant!
Ah! There's a girl (Nidoran) in my bed!
Caterpie tried to stow away in my luggage after Pageant.
I made a new friend during Institute.
Who let a dog into the gym?
I think the house that I work in is haunted.
My dad didn't even know he was petting a Pidgey.
(Credit to my brother Brett for this photo)

What are some of the great places you've seen Pokemon during your Pokemon Adventures? Let us know and I'll see you next week for another Disney post.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 4

Bad news: Summer is winding down. Good news: I’m not in school anymore. Better news: I’ve got another Mormon Geeks post on the Marvel Cinematic Universe here (does that count as prideful? Oh well.)

Thor: The Dark World
Loki and Thor briefly team up in "Thor: The Dark World".
Long ago, Odin defeated the Dark Elves, but some escape and hide in suspended animation. In the present day, Loki is incarcerated after the attempted Chitauri invasion on Earth. Meanwhile, Thor and his friends are cleaning up messes that resulted from the bifrost being broken. Meanwhile, on Earth, Darcy interrupts Jane on a date and they go find a special anomaly in England. In dealing with the anomaly, Jane falls through a portal of sorts. Thor is alerted that she’s not on Earth and goes to find her. She wakes up on Earth, hours after disappearing. After Thor arrives, they discover that she has absorbed something the other realm and he takes her away from Earth.

While Jane is on Asgard, Odin realizes that it’s the Aether. Meanwhile, because the Aether has been found, the Dark Elves awaken. In the struggle of the Elves attacking, Thor’s mother is killed. Thor decides to team up with Loki to get Jane off Asgard. Loki appears to sacrifice himself in helping Thor fight the Dark Elves’ leaders, who takes the Aether from Jane. After returning to Earth, Jane and Thor get help from Selvig, Darcy, and Ian to defeat the Dark Elves. After the battle ends, Volstagg and Sif visit the Collector to have him take care of the Aether, which is one of the Infinity Stones.

Random Connections/Trivia:
  • When Jane meets Loki, she slaps him, because of what happened in New York.
  • The wars that Thor and his friends are dealing with are the direct aftermath of Loki’s aggressive actions in “Thor”.
  • Erik Selvig’s mental problems are a direct result of being controlled by Loki in “The Avengers”.
  • Loki briefly disguises himself as Captain America, to make fun of Thor.
  • The Collector later appears in “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

Thoughts:
I’ve heard a lot of critiques about Dark World. However, I can’t completely have a negative opinion about it. I mean, we get more of Darcy! How can you hate Darcy? Even though Jane won’t be coming back any time soon (thanks to contract disputes and such), I’d love to see Darcy pop up in another movie sometime. This was also a good place to start with “introducing” the Infinity Stones. Sure we saw the Tesseract before, but this one is more explicit about it, especially after seeing Thanos at the end of “The Avengers”.

Agents of SHIELD: Season 1 (Episodes 8-16)
In "The Bridge", Mike trades Coulsen for his son.
The specialized SHIELD team of Coulsen, May, Fitz, Simmons, Ward, and Skye continue on their missions, starting with the aftermath of “Thor: The Dark World” and leading up to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
  • 8. The Well: The team cleans up the aftermath of “Thor: The Dark World”, while a couple in Norway find an Asgardian staff giving them super strength. The team comes to check the scene out and end up on the hunt for the couple. With the help of Elliott Randolph (who turns out to be Asgardian) the team track down the Berserker Staff. Having touched the staff, Ward is incapacitated by memories from his childhood. May is finally able to retrieve the staff, using her emotional coping mechanisms.
  • 9. Repairs: The teams is brought in to investigate a woman (Hannah) who is apparently telekinetic. During their investigation, they discover a man (Tobias) who is stuck in an alien dimension. After Tobias starts sabotaging the Bus, May discovers that Tobias has been out to protect Hannah, phasing in and out of our dimension.
  • 10. The Bridge: Skye searches for leads to her past. Reluctantly, the team gets help from Mike Peterson to look into a break-in, involving Centipede soldiers. Meanwhile, Raina looks for guidance from the Clairvoyant. After a scuffle with the Centipede soldiers, Mike calls his son, only to find out that Raina is with him. Coulsen agrees to trade Mike for his son, but they take Coulsen instead. Later, Raina reveals that she wants to know what happened after Coulsen died.
  • 11. The Magical Place: The team searches for Coulsen, after Skye gets kicked off the Bus by Victoria Hand, with May’s approval. Meanwhile, Edison Po reveals that the Clairvoyant can’t see what happened to Coulsen after he died. Skye tricks a Centipede financer to help her track the money trail back to Raina. Coulsen agrees to let Raina uncover his memories. Skye regroups with her team to rescue Coulsen, who has learned of the TAHITI procedure, which revived him after his death. Meanwhile, Mike Peterson is told to await instructions.
  • 12. Seeds: At the SHIELD academy, a couple of students get killed in a sudden freeze at the pool. The team is brought in to investigate. After another sudden freezing, Fitz takes an interest in Donnie Gill and helps him complete a project. Meanwhile, May and Coulsen look for answers about Skye’s past, discovering that she’s considered dangerous. At the academy, turns out at the Donnie and his friend Seth are behind the freezing. Before they can sell their idea to Ian Quinn, they’re stopped by the team.
  • 13. TRACKS: The team goes undercover on an Italian train. However, not long into the mission, communications go down. After getting chased off the train, Ward and Coulsen get frozen by an dendrotoxin bomb. While they’re frozen, May (who has already fled the train) gets them out of harm’s way. She had been captured by Coulsen’s Italian police contact, who she follows to the Bus and kills, just in time to save Coulsen and Ward. Meanwhile, Fitz and Skye trace the target to Ian Quinn. When the rest of the team catches up with them, Skye has already found Mike Peterson in stasis. Quinn shoots Skye, against the Clairvoyant’s wishes. The team captures Quinn and puts Skye in the stasis chamber to save her.
  • 14. TAHITI: The team tries to find the facility that saved Coulsen, so that they can save Skye. Because they haven’t taken Quinn to the Fridge yet, they are intercepted by Agents Garrett and Triplett. They agree to help, to interrogate Quinn on the plane. The Bus lands at “the Guest House” where the team finds the GH-325 serum that saved Coulsen. They blow up the Guest House on their way out, but not before Coulsen discovers that the GH-325 serum is derived from Kree blood. Meanwhile, in Death Valley, an Asgardian appears.
  • 15. Yes Men: An Asgardian named Lorelei starts using her powers to create a posse of men to follow her every command. Meanwhile, Simmons is testing Skye for any irregularities after being injected with the GH-325 serum. Lady Sif arrives and teams up with SHIELD to find Lorelei. However, in taking on Lorelei, Ward is taken over as well. Ward and Lorelei take control of the Bus, with Fitz in tow. Finally, Sif is able to capture Lorelei, breaking the spell on the men. After Sif and Lorelei leave, Coulsen has a one-on-one with Skye, which is overheard by May.
  • 16. End of the Beginning: Trip and Garrett search for the Clairvoyant off the Index’s rejects, but run into Mike/Deathlock. Later, Agents Hand, Garrett, Trip, Sitwell, and Blake join up with Coulsen’s team to track down the Clairvoyant. Skye (recently made an official agent) randomly assigns them to missions to track it down. Deathlock attacks May and Blake, putting Blake in critical condition. Coulson, Ward, and Garrett track down Nash, their prime suspect for the Clairvoyant and Ward shoots him at the mention of Skye. On the Bus, Fitz discovers an encrypted line, which is traced to May. Skye and Coulsen realize that the Clairvoyant is a high ranking SHIELD agent. Skye, Coulsen, and Fitz confront May, when suddenly the plane shifts course, Meanwhile, Nick Fury is being shot at in DC.

The hunt for the Clairvoyant gets
serious in "End of the Beginning"
Random Connections/Trivia:
  • In “The Well”, both Thor movies are referenced as we see snippets from The Battle of New Mexico and The Battle of Greenwich.
  • Multiple Asgardians are seen, including Randolph and Sif.
  • Bucky Barnes’s name is seen on the Wall of Valor at the SHIELD Academy in “Seeds”.
  • Baby Skye is revealed to be an 0-8-4.
  • Blonsky, the Abomination from “The Incredible Hulk”, is referenced by Coulsen in TRACKS.
  • It is stated that Lorelei escaped Asgard during the events of “Thor: The Dark World”.
  • When Coulsen and Sif see each other in “Yes Men”, they recall meeting during the events of “Thor”, but she also recalls Thor indicating he’d died in “The Avengers”.
  • In “End of the Beginning”, Sitwell is transferred to the Lumerian Star, which is overrun by pirates and later saved by Captain America in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
  • The final scenes of “End of the Beginning” leads into the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, starting with Nick Fury’s car chase.

Thoughts:
I really liked how this part of Agents of SHIELD began connecting the episodes more to the movies. This is where things really got rolling and the interweaving of the show with the cinematic universe got fun. Having it just as a side story wasn’t as fun as having “The Well” and “End of the Beginning” tie into “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. It also started giving a bit more depth to the story, instead of just episode long missions.

That's all for now. Next Marvel post I'll get at the fall of SHIELD on two fronts: cinematic and television.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Everyday Use of Emperor's New Groove

Time for a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I think it’s a pretty Mormon thing to be into Disney movies. And I’m a big enough of a Disney geek that at my last job (at the Mission Training Center Bookstore) that I’m fluent in Disney quotes. I’m especially good at Emperor’s New Groove quotes. Let’s face it; there’s a good Disney quote for nearly every situation. As a result, today I have some Emperor’s New Groove quotes for your everyday LDS life (not non-LDS life, they’re pretty versatile).



"You threw off my groove!"
            Useful for pretty much every day. Someone cuts you off in traffic, your roommate is in the shower when you need the bathroom, or that one guy in Elders Quorum brings up his mission leadership experience AGAIN.
"No touchy!"
            Pretty much whenever you need some personal space. Or when anyone of the opposite sex gets too close to a missionary.
"Take your pick; I've got more."
            A more enjoyable way to say “etcetera”. I’ll occasionally use this after running out of ideas in a list.
"It's my birthday gift to me! I'm so happy!"
            Pretty much whenever I buy something for myself. I got really happy when I was able to use this quote for my plans to go to Disneyland after graduating from BYU (that trip is finally happening in September). It’s my graduation gift to me! I’m so happy!
"Well, I suppose there's time for dessert."
            Pretty much any meal as a missionary. “We need to run to another appointment… but I suppose there’s time for dessert.” I don’t know if I ever had a meal as a missionary that didn’t include dessert.
"Arg! I gotta go wash something."
            Anything frustrating: work, relationships, lack of relationships, or the upcoming presidential election.
"I don't know about you, but I'm getting all funned out."
            When work is nearly over. Or when someone goes over during their talk in Sacrament Meeting. Or at the end of a long plane ride. Take your pick; I've got more.
"And that's... Bad?"
            How I feel at the Hill Cumorah Pageant when I see the protestors making claims about Mormons and Joseph Smith and anything else about the church. Some of them end up being true, but they try to spin them in a weird light, so I just brush it off.
"Look at me and my bad self. I snatched you right out of the air."
            Whenever I lose my grip on something and miraculously save it from landing on the floor. Especially food. Can’t let any food go to waste if
“Now I feel bad. Bad llama.”
            Whenever I sarcastically feel bad. Of course this one isn’t complete without the weak self-slap.



Alright. That’s all for now. Next week more Marvel. Unless I come up with something better.

Side note: Can we talk for a second about the apparent psychic
powers that Pacha's kids have? I mean they had visions of their
dad's journey with Kuzco! And they made it down the hill fast
enough to ambush Yzma along the way down. Just saying.

Monday, July 11, 2016

3 Reasons to Play Pokemon Go


Ah! There's a Golbat in my shower!
So I’m minding my own business, getting ready to perform in the Hill Cumorah Pageant. All of a sudden, I see on Facebook that the long awaited Pokemon Go had been released. Within 24 hours, I downloaded, already putting me way behind other players. Ever since, I’ve been playing it between rehearsals and devotionals and everything. Even though I haven’t become addicted to it yet, it looks like the rest of Facebook has. If you haven’t started playing Pokemon Go yet, here are three reasons you should download it now.

First off, you’ll make friends. I’ve been out here in Palmyra and there have been plenty of other people in the cast who have taken up playing Pokemon Go around the Hill, but even more than here, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook and community building just over this simple game. Even though I’m out here still, I’ve already joined at least three Facebook groups for players of Pokemon Go, including one for all of Utah, one for Southern Utah County, and one for Utah Team Valor. All over the place I’m seeing pictures about people getting together at PokeSpots and making friends by playing Pokemon Go. I even saw one article about a guy getting a date with a girl he met while searching for Pokemon. Imagine meeting your soulmate because of Pokemon!

Someone left the window open.
Second reason to play: Many people weren’t expecting Pokemon Go to be an exercise app. However, I’ve seen many posts already about how much people have been walking for Pokemon Go. Not only are people having to get outside and walk around to find Pokemon, but in order to hatch eggs found at the PokeStops, people have get up and walk up to 10 kilometers. And then there are the PokeStops themselves; sure you can drive to them, but lots of people are walking to PokeStops, so that they can catch all the Pokemon along the way. Next time I go for a run, I’m definitely taking Pokemon Go with me to hatch an egg or two.

Third and most important reason to play: To be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them is your real test. To train them is your cause. (If you don’t understand all that, you’re probably too young to appreciate Pokemon as a whole) In all seriousness, isn’t the childhood nostalgia the reason this game exists? So many of us played Pokemon in the 90s and wished we could go on a Pokemon journey and collect all 150 (back when there were only 150). Now that is more or less a reality. Now we all have a new goal to catch these people, raise them, and stake our team’s claim at gyms around the country.


So give into your nostalgia and download Pokemon Go. After all, it’s free. What’s the worst that can happen? Happy hunting!

Lots of landmarks and churches and
stuff are PokeSpots and Gyms, like
the Hill Cumorah Visitor Center.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Top Ten Best Fantasy Worlds to Live In

10. Dinotopia
I've talked about this before, but the Dinotopia series features a fantastic world where sentient dinosaurs work side by side with humans in a utopian society (Dinosaur Utopia- get it?). Helping this fantasy is of course the beautiful scenes painted in the children's books of massive ancient cities and people just having fun side by side with dinosaurs.

9. Oz
Yes, they'res a Wicked Witch. And Yes, there's the Rollers, those scary things from Return to Oz, but if you ever read the books, Oz is less of a villain of the week place but is usually an incredibly peaceful place ruled by benevolent magic users with a great transportation system running through it.

8. Harry Potter Universe
Yes, again, there's evil here. But overall, it's kept in check by a massive community of witches and wizards. Reading the Harry Potter books made thousands of kids want to go to Hogwarts, even if they were far over the age of ten. Fun fact: The reason most of us didn't get our Hogwarts letters was because Voldemort wiped out all the Ministry's records of Muggle-Born wizards and witches born from 1985-1998.

7. Pokemon World
It doesn't really matter what age you are, who wouldn't want a team of cute animals as your friends and weapons of destruction? The Pokemon world, when not threatened by global disasters thanks to idiots in matching berets, is a place where you get to own and train Pokemon. I won't lie, if I had the chance I'd be a Pokemon trainer in a second.

6. Animal Crossing World
For those who haven't played the video game, pretend you run a small town in the world of Zootopia. Everyone gets along and as mayor you make most of the town income from fishing and picking apples. It's like being on a vacation all the time with your animal buddies, where the hardest decision you have to make is how to decorate your house.

5. Star Trek
Yes there's wars, but for the most part the United Federation of Planets is a Utopian society where anyone can literally be anything. Artistic and scientific pursuits are seen as equal, especially since money has become a thing of the past. Travel to the most distant stars or settle down at your personal vineyard, your future is yours.

4. Firefly Universe
Joss Whedon's Firefly universe is a lot like the Star Trek universe, but its a little more earthy and real feeling. Money is still around, but some argue that it's what makes the adventure even more sweet. Just grab a Firefly class ship and keep flyin'.

3. Avatar Universe
No, not the blue people. Avatar the Last Airbender universe. Imagine a world where half the population is born with the ability to manipulate the elements. Even if you're not a bender, you can still kick major butt. Plus if you start where Legend of Korra left off, there's a whole new world of spirits to meet and explore.

2. Every Studio Ghibli World (Except Mononoke)
Studio Ghibli worlds are full of whim and beauty that only the master Anime director can imagine. I clarify not the Princess Mononoke world because that world is just depressing, but could you imagine working at the bath house in Spirited Away? How about Totoro helping your garden? Or maybe traveling in a moving castle? Where could you go wrong?

1. Looney Tunes Universe
From its conception, the Looney Tunes world has been one I've always wanted to live in. Nobody dies, even from a direct gunshot to the face. You just turn your bill back to the front of your face and you're good to go. Play with the characters that brightened up your childhood? Yeah, I'm in.