24 Hours to Middle Earth by way of New Zealand

The first thing I shouldNew Zealand - Middle-earth say about New Zealand is 24 hours is not long enough to get acquainted with all this beautiful country has to offer. I have not taken this trip, but it is on the list of things to do as early as next year. You see, I have a 16-year-old daughter who loves necessarily, all things New Zealand. That love started with a healthy respect for Karl Urban and continued with the invitation to Middle-Earth from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies. Since then, I have had to gain facts and other information about New Zealand to discover if this might be something entertaining.

The one thing I have found about New Zealand that draws New Zealand- Middle-earth rotundame in is that it is uncrowded. That is such an incredible change of pace in travel. Normally, wherever you go, there’s no room to move. Not so, in this beautiful place, even the weather is fantastic. You can find temperatures in the Spring, Summer, and Fall (September – May) all ranging between in the lower 60’s to upper 70’s. Only the Winter brings lower temps, but not much lower. The welcoming of the lower 50’s and the upper 60’s usher in the cooler air and this cooler air is present in the months of June – August.

New Zealand is rich with history and today that history shows a multicultural and diversely beautiful country established under British law.  New Zealand preserves its founding document in the same building the treaty was originally signed, also known as the Treat of Waitangi. So for 24 hours in New ZealandNew Zealand- Middle-earth Bilbo, the last thing you have to worry about is when to go and if you will have enough to see and do.

From curious geysers, National Parks, botanical gardens, and museums of maritime history, the availability of scenic excursions are quite appealing. There is no shortage of animals at the zoo, at the park, on the waterfront, and some have their colonies to see them all at their best. You will not go hungry or thirsty while there either, and regardless what time of the year you go, you should find yourself enjoying a rather lively festival of sorts.

Many people travel to New Zealand for the trip to Middle-earth. Nothing is quite like the Waikato region, or Matamata, where Hobbiton and the Shire are just a couple of about 150 locations memorably linked with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.and it’s not to see what remains, but to visit the preservation of all for just that occasion.

The North Island is home to Peter Jackson’s Stone St Studios, Park Rd Post, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital that was central to The Hobbit Trilogy production. The movie business center is off-limits to visitors, but the Weta Cave is open to all those who travel to see sights froNew Zealand - Middle-earth Squirem the set of either location. Tours for The Lord of the Rings include helicopter rides over the limestone formations that formed Dimholt Road. Found in Wellington, this is the meeting place where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli rode to find the ‘Army of the Dead.’ The Kaimai mountain range is also among the permanently constructed materials for The Hobbit Trilogy. Tongariro National Park in the North Island’s central plateau became the Emyn Muil for The Lord of the Rings. Thousands now tread the same path as Frodo and Sam by walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as if they were crossing the Shire themselves.

The South Islands should peak considerable interest for those excited Lord of the Rings tourists use New Zealand-Middle-earth water fronta luxury FWD into the remote back of the valleys to an area transformed into Edoras, to view the capital of the Rohan people. From Queenstown, it’s possible to fly, drive, cycle, or trek to many of the locations that provided the most dramatic scenery from either Trilogy. However, it is not recommended to travel this area without a guide, or a company with you, as some areas are not as easily identifiable as others.

There was something I found disheartening about the first 24 hours of my trip to New Zealand. For an actual Middle-earth fan, the first seven days is just a trip from Auckland to Wellington. However, seven days is only the beginning. The tour may be extended seven days longer, a total of 14 days, ending in Central Queenstown. After reviewing the real fan options, I realized only the most loyal fan would come to New Zealand, and not participate in the Ultimate Tour of Middle-earth, which is a 21-day tour.

I have since found, every region of New Zealand’s Middle-earth is likened to remind these hobbit-loving tourists of the great lengths gone through in filming these Trilogies. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy itself was fNew Zealand - mountainsamously filmed in one hit, making it one of the longest and most massive productions in movie history. And for all of you who are fans of Middle-earth, that adds up to how many days for each? A little trivia for you who love of J.R.R. Tolkien?  If you said, “266”? You are correct, which is how many days it will surely take you to recover from your Middle-earth tour.  Your first 24 hours though will be a time of reflection, direction, and perhaps, reviewing your map reading skills and compass reading abilities. Especially since from all accounts read, when touring New Zealand with their primitive wildlife and towering mountains, there are times when those who wander without a guide, will indeed get lost.

#AccorHotels24hrs

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY QT JAZZ”: CELEBRATING HER MILESTONES AND STEPPING-STONES

QTJAZZ Birthday/Empowerment Edition

There is no better day to take stock of all your yearly accomplishments than on your birthday. For the average person like myself, this doesn’t take long. I spend a good part of the year taking care of other people, places, and things. Yes, I am a verb in a noun world. Imagine what it would be like to live in a world full of adjectives and adverbs. Just endless facets of the accomplished tasks completed in just one year. One thing is for certain; QT Jazz has no shortage of particulars for her achievements in the past, present or future.

Jasmine "QT Jazz" Robinson 2015
Jasmine “QT Jazz” Robinson 2015

One year ago I wrote a post about Jasmine “QT Jazz” Robinson. And today, I have another opportunity to once again recognize her personal and professional milestones. For someone like QT Jazz turning “21,” today is something unique, as will be her way of celebrating. This young lady has accomplished more at this age than some people do in their entire lives. Am I bragging on this girl? No, I am just speaking the truth. And you do not have to take my word for it. You can come to that assumption all on your own.

I know what you are thinking, “She’s 21-years-old? I’ll believe that when I see it.” Well, how about when you read it? Take a look back at the article on my blog from last year. Then, follow-up with the year forward. You will draw the conclusion for yourself of this lady’s inspiration to treat life’s milestones as if they were stepping-stones which have encouraged her to take every step forward, regardless of the positive or negative outcome. Still not convinced, then perhaps you should do some more research of your own. You can find @QTJazz on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So, you do not have to take my word for it. You can make your inference.

For those of you who just happen to be in the Warren, Youngstown, Akron, Newton Falls, Cleveland, and as far as Columbus, Ohio, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but why not just celebrate with the lady. Join “QT Jazz while she celebrates her ’21st’ birthday at the “Youth Empowerment Faded Royalty Rally.” Another of life’s milestones realized she claims on her terms. “Proclaim Your Royalty” and “Your Right to be Great” are the convictions she will share at the Rally. For the young adults, the teens, the children and all who come,  “Unite and Empowerment” are the messages she will share in Northeast Ohio to help others realize the potential created by their milestones, as she has, as stepping-stones.

QTJAZZ Birthday/Empowerment Edition
“Happy 21st Birthday, @QTJazz!! #FadedRoyalty”

We all learned early in our grade school grammar classes; a verb performs an action. By interpreting life and its purpose through the eyes of a young visionary, one step at a time, QT Jazz has taken action and her world by storm. She lives her life with no expectation of failure. Her dreams of a future in music entertainment, she expects to become a reality. She’s smart and determined, and she’s walked recently, in the shoes of America’s youth. She’s not done yet, though. She has much more to do.

Birthday wishes are being sent to QT Jazz today, as a reminder of her year-to-year birth milestones. Feel free to post this budding young entrepreneur some of your own, or if you are in the Northeast Ohio area, go by, feel the energy she creates. There’s so much more to learn about QT Jazz, who she is, what she’s accomplished, and the stepping-stones that lay ahead of her. Start today, her birthday, wish her well, and introduce yourself to the energy of this talented, young person. Just do yourself a favor and don’t get in her way. She’s stepping on stones, hard and fast, and she’s going places.

“Happy 21st Birthday, @QTJazz!! #FadedRoyalty” CELEBRATION TIME!

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A Closer Look at What Matters to “Black Lives Matter”

Celebrities have taken to social media, journalists have taken up their postings, and activists and protesters have taken to the streets to announce “Black Lives Matter!” In return, “All Lives Matter” fills the air, and throughout Dallas, Texas, tears of pain and hurt have left others riveted with the question, “Police Lives Matter”, don’t they? Why the hate? Why destroy innocent people in retaliation for others? It’s time we take a closer look at the matter at hand and where we can go from here, together.

Some people say the group has become more vocal with every interaction between a male or female of color, and a white police officer.  Others say, celebrities like Jesse Williams have gotten more vocal, and forgetting their forum, have let their voice and their message get misconstrued. Williams, an activist of Black Lives Matter, (BLM), recently gave a speech on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards show, encouraging people of color to stand up for their culture, and for critics to sit down. He even mentioned restructuring the role of the police. For most of us, we understood the speech, and when Williams and others of the (BLM) use terms such as “we,” “us”, and “our people,” we understand it is a collective group of individuals of not only a race, but of culture.

There are things people in the celebrity world need to consider. Williams and other celebrities are some of those individuals who work and live around people who think and feel just like they do. How many interracial couples live in Los Angeles? How many live in California? Williams works on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, with an amazing group of multicultural actors and actresses, just like himself. His role as Dr. Jackson Avery opposite Dr. April Kepner, played by Sara Drew, is an interracial relationship as well. Other characters played by Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers, are also involved in interracial marriages. Ellen and her husband Chris Ivery, and Justin and his wife, Keisha Chambers, both offset, instead of on set. This television world of biracial families and same-sex partners and parents is no different to daily reality accept it. Children who are born to couples in these relationships are the ones who suffer most. They learn to tolerate the dismissive behavior of not being accepted by either race and as adults, they find it hard to connect to either the black or the white culture.

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza spoke out stating, “Black Lives Matter has never, ever called for the murder of police officers,Garza told The Huffington Post. “What we have said over and over again is that it is a time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them. And so quite frankly, we can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, we can also push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing that has oversight from communities and that is accountable to the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.

If you compare Garza’s words with the speech given by Jesse Williams, you will see many similarities. And for an audience of celebrity entertainers like himself, many who support the (BLM) movement, Williams went from Humanitarian Award recipient to political hopeful in a matter of moments. Some of us are still wondering if Williams forgot his audience that night. Certainly, his fellow entertainers and activists downstage from him made perfect sense of what he was saying. All while being bi-racial himself, to push the issue with such a broad audience was certainly challenging for him, but what about others struggling to identify with one culture or another? As much as those still living in a black or white world; those not blessed with milk chocolate skin and stunning blue eyes, for it is those people who may feel the pressure to be one or the other to obtain leadership roles. And for some people still trying to find a place in the world, people like Micah X. Johnson, words like “mobilize” and “restructure,” this could very well be a call to arms.

Upon first hearing about the shooting in Dallas, I told a friend there were people there with their children. This shooting had to be intentional, and I am confident the Black Lives Matter, (BLM) protest would be the blame. Minutes later, the reports were staggering. Garza clarified (BLM)’s position stating, “We are anti our people being murdered in the streets.”What happened to Alton Sterling, what happened to Philando Castile, what happens to so many black people in our communities is absolutely unacceptable, and I think that’s something that we can all agree on,” Garza continued. I believe she is right about that, as being murdered in the street is something everyone agrees inconceivable.

There are some cruel, violent individuals in this world. They lack feeling, logic, and they join hate groups that keep them encouraged. These are the people who recruit people like Micah Johnson. These self-motivated activists are prepared to become martyrs for these groups. Johnson was not afraid to die for what he did. He was more afraid to live. Johnson did have a family, and his death left family behind, and yes, even his life mattered. Regardless of race or reason, this family lost their family member. Johnson‘s actions were the direct cause of his death, and though it is regrettable, it was his decision, and it did not have to be like this.

What about Alton Sterling, didn’t his life matter? And what about Philando Castlile, didn’t his life matter? What’s the problem with Black Lives Matter taking a closer look at what’s happening, or is it just because they are being attentive to one group of people?  Studies have already determined there are racial disparities not only in policing, but within departmental hiring practices, as well, and not only because of race, but the use of force against minority races as well. Thus the organization of Black Lives Matter formed realizing there would need to be a representative sampling for people of the black race to ensure progress doesn’t take as long as it has in the past, especially with so many lives lost. Their intent seems is to show the disparities, in an effort to deter this pattern.

However, there is something else to consider, and this should go without being said, but it still must be, so I will. Regardless if you are black, white, red, etc., if you make the decision to commit a crime or break the law, and you place a police officer’s life at risk, it is not murder in the street. An officer is trained to defend him/herself with their firearm. If a man or woman, regardless of color, is involved in some interaction with a police officer, and the officer reasonably perceives a threat against him/her, this meets the legal standard for use of force. This standard may be something you don’t agree with, or maybe you have a problem with guns, but the bottom line is a police officer only has about two seconds to make that decision to shoot or not shoot. And whether you want to understand that concept, it is in fact, the nature of their job, and the justification of a lawful shoot when working a situation involving another person who threatens the life of a law enforcement officer.

I understand any concerns about people abusing this standard, or perhaps exceeding the level of force against you or your family member. One statement Williams made that is so relevant, “Realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.” There are police officers who for various reasons have overstayed their time in law enforcement, or were never meant to be there. However, I also know there are men and women who like to provoke police officers into an altercation, and once they are placed in handcuffs, they become more aggressive.  We all need to realize we have a flawed system. We need to make changes, nothing can remain the same in an evolving world. Black Lives Matter is taking a stand, but you do not have to be black to stand with them and say, let’s make some changes to benefit us all. Let’s protect our citizens, protect our communities, and protect our police from the hate groups and their recruits, who come in all races and genders, by remembering every life matters to someone.

Warm and Weatherproof Winter Footwear, that’s Cute, to Boot!

20 Warm and Weatherproof Winter Boots That Are Actually Cute

So you bought a new winter coat, stocked up on cozy sweaters, and already started sporting your favorite scarf and hat combo. Next on the list? Warm winter boots—preferably a pair of the cozy, but weather-combating waterproof variety. We have you covered with these 20 awesome styles, all ready to face the most blustery days of winter, but stylish enough that you’ll never want to take them off…until spring, of course.