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Lawrence Brooks' 110th Birthday Party

1 month ago

The National WWII Museum hosted Lawrence Brooks and his family again to celebrate his birthday. I personally love celebrating this man’s birthday. It was the first event I was a part of when I first started working at the Museum two years ago. I’ll never forget it, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. The Museum itself is so awe inspiring, but this event brought that feeling to a whole new level. I remember thinking to myself back then how awesome it is that’s he’s been through so much and is still going strong. It’s no different now.

I was asked to help take some photos of the event, and I of course I was all over that. The event was really nice. They showed some of his Oral History, presented him with gifts, and praised the long, amazing life he’s lived. His birthday ended with cupcakes for everyone! It was a successful birthday once again!

There were several media outlets taking photos and videos, and I made a cameo in a couple of the videos!

Upgrading to Laravel 6

1 month ago

Laravel 6.0 is out, and it’s update time for Bloganueva! For those of you who don’t know, Laravel is a fire PHP Framework that I used to create this site. I really enjoy using it, so if you’re looking for something like this, try it out! Now here are the steps I followed to upgrade (these steps are only for MacOS).

Update PHP

Laravel 6.0 requires PHP 7.2, so first you need to update your PHP version. Here are the terminal commands I used.

brew install php72
brew services stop php71
brew unlink php71
brew link php72
brew services start php72

At this point I tried visiting my local install of Bloganueva, but I received a 502 BAD GATEWAY. I Googled around and found I may need to uninstall my PHP 7.1 installation, so I did that.

brew uninstall php71

Then I reinstalled Valet. Valet is the development environment I use. It’s really easy to setup and use! I highly recommend.

valet install

Update plugins

After all this is done, make sure the plugins you installed are all updated in your composer.json file. Just Google their repositories, and most of them either will just work with the new update or give you explicit instructions on the version you need to require. I did this, and then I ran composer update.

I got an error for the helper str_slug. In Laravel’s upgrade docs it says they were moved somewhere else, so I needed to required that package.

composer require laravel/helpers

Then I ran composer update for the last time. Everything worked! I had no more errors. I checked my Laravel install, and it said I’m running Laravel 6.0.1. Success!

After you get all this done, you should go through your site and test to see if anything is broken. I ran into an issue with my search. It said the Input facade I was using wasn’t found. In the Laravel’s upgrade docs (again), it says the Input facade was removed and to just use the Request facade. I changed use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Input; to use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Request;and Input::get to Request::get, and it worked! I did more testing and found no other issues!

This was a pretty easy update process, but I wanted to document everything I ran into because I knew I would run into something. Hope this helps if you need it!

Creative Exercise

1 month ago

I was itching to create something today. I had the idea to add a little more to my logo. I originally wanted to layer the 4 main colors on my site around the white blocks to achieve a 3D look. After some fiddling around in Photoshop, I decided to have a linear pattern of colors instead, and I think it looks good. I'm not sure if I'll use this for anything, but this was fun! However, because of this process I also made inverted colored logos where the blocks are colored instead of the background this time.

My Bachelor Party

1 month ago
August 15 - 18, 2019, Panama City Beach

My Bachelor Party was everything I wanted it to be and more. I’m not really a wild person, and I didn’t want my bachelor party to be wild. It was so relaxing and chill and so much fun. My groomsmen really were down for anything I wanted to do, and they didn’t pressure me into anything. I can’t thank them enough for that and for everything they did to make sure I knew this party was about me and for me. Basically, they’re the best, and I couldn’t have picked a better bunch of guys!

I also vlogged a little bit during the trip! I’m glad I decided to vlog so I can have another resource to help me remember this awesome party. Be warned, there are a couple of F words in the video in case you were planning on watching this with a child.

Below is a rundown of everything we did. I didn’t try making it sound good because it really was just for the purpose of remembering everything that happened. If you’re interested, go for it! If not, I get it.

Day 1

We left Thursday after 1. Jordan rented a 2020 Suburban for the ride! It was so nice. The drive was nice. We kicked it back with conversation and throwback music. We stopped at the Buc-ee’s just past Mobile. It was awesome as always! Then we finally made it to the condo! Austin had been there for 2 hours already because he flew in from Houston. When we walked in I saw group shirts that Austin got for all of us. I was speechless, and I almost started crying. I didn’t even think about this, but it was seriously so touching that he got them. They’re really awesome. We unpacked and went to Wally World! We stocked up and were good to go for the weekend! We also then went to a liquor store. When we got back, Edward got there shortly after. We did some peach vodka shots and started drinking. I got drunk! Yay! We watched most of Jackass 3 and then went to bed.

Day 2

We all woke up around 10 or 11. Late start! Jordan cooked us all eggs and bacon. It was delicious even though we didn’t get salt or pepper at the store. Then Austin, Jordan, Edward, and Bryan went to the store, not for salt and pepper. Allen and I stayed back and chilled. Then we went to the beach! We got 2 sets of chairs. We played some frisbee. I got tired real quick lol. Then we talked and drank and went into the Gulf. We played with this skip ball Edward brought. Then we went back on the beach and played more frisbee. Then we went back up to eat some sandwiches. They were so good! Then we hit the pool! We chilled, and this guy tried being cool with us; it didn’t work. Then we went back upstairs to shower. We got ready and walked to Pier Park. We went to Ron Jon for a little bit before eating some alright food. Then we went to Dave & Buster’s and played a bunch of games! Edward hit the jackpot on one of them! It was 1,900 tickets. No one really got any prizes except Bryan and Jordan. Then we went to Shuckums for like 10 minutes because they foolishly closed at 11. Then we went back to the place and drank more.

Day 3

We rented a pontoon boat for the first half of the day. We got up early and went so Austin and Edward could take the boating license test before our time started. Edward had the best idea of the trip for Jordan and Bryan to swing by the nearby McDonald’s and pick up some breakfast while they studied and took the boating license test. It literally saved all of our lives. We were actually ready now. We got on the boat, and while waiting to leave, this kid that apparently worked there came in hot parking another boat, and we thought he was going to ram in to us, but he was a pro. We finally disembarked! Ed drove us out of the slow parts, and Austin took over a little while after. We saw a half pirate ship that was pretty cool and just enjoyed the cruise. Where we took the boat was a lagoon/inlet type of deal. We stopped at Shell Island. There was a thin strip of land separating the lagoon from the Gulf. We got out the boat and walked through it to get to the Gulf. I caught a Sand Crab! It was huge! No one brought their phones. We played a little frisbee again, but we had a really nice moment where all six of us just sat and watched the waves together. It was really nice. Then we went back to the boat. It wouldn’t start for some reason. We called the place, and they started sending a replacement boat. Then Edward realized we didn’t have the kill switch thing inserted, so obviously it wouldn’t start. I called the place back and told them of our foolishness, and we were off. We tried hitting up some shops and restaurants, but we didn’t find anything. We stopped at another little spot and chilled some more. Then we brought the boat back in. It was super windy, and the pontoon was hard to park in the tiny spot, so the kid jumped in from the dock and did it for us. Seriously, he was a pro. We went back to the condo and ate more sandwiches. They were super clutch. Then I started the trend of taking a nap because I had a headache, and I’m so glad everyone else followed. We woke up, ate some delicious pulled pork from Ed’s mom, and went to Pier Park. We walked around the shops. I wanted some shoes but unfortunately didn’t find any. We went back home for more pulled pork. Then we went back to Pier Park for some Kilwins ice cream. It was really good! While sitting, we saw these 2 dudes and their dog trying to stunt so hard in their doorless Jeep. They drove up and down the main street 5 times. It was super cool. Then we went home and drank. Then we went back to Shuckums. It was pretty wild in there. Then we went home, and I asked someone to poor me some milk so I could eat cookies. Allen came through! We chilled and talked and then went to bed.

Day 4

Austin left around 4:45 in the morning because he had to catch an early flight because it was the cheapest one. We all started waking up around 7. We followed the classic condo checkout checklist which consisted of putting away the dishes and leaving the laundry on the ground in the bathroom. We cleaned up and packed everything. I said goodbye to PCB, and we left. We had Round 2 of Buc-ee’s on the way home. Then we got back and parted ways.

I met Gary Sinise!

2 months ago

I fiiinally met Gary Sinise! I’ve very briefly written 2 other times about seeing him at the Museum, but I never talked to him. Well, today was my lucky day.

Today at work another Soaring Valor, a partnership between the Museum and the Gary Sinise Foundation to bring WWII Veterans here, was scheduled. I walked in and talked with Dave about it for a little. He mentioned Gary Sinise would be there, and I freaked out a little. I told him I was going to talk to him this time because I swore to myself after squandering so many attempts to talk to celebrities I would do it the next time I saw one. This was my chance! Dave even offered to take our photo if given the chance, and I accepted.

We then experienced another Soaring Valor. I truly love being a part of this. Welcoming the Veterans really is something else. It truly is an honor and a privilege to get to do this. After they were all escorted into Solomon Victory Theater, Dave signaled to me. IT WAS GO TIME.

We walked in and looked for Gary in the preliminary room before Beyond All Boundaries; and we didn’t see him at first, so we walked out. Right as we were walking out I SAW HIM. I was like, “Wait, Dave. He was in there!” So we went back in. Then Dave was like, “Now’s a good time!” And I was like huh?, what?, oh no! But I found myself walking over to him, smiling way too big already. I walked up to him and started introducing myself because I was so nervous I couldn’t think of how to say, “Hello, Mr. Sinise.” I raised out my hand to shake his, and whispered, “Hi, I’m Marshall. I’m the Developer here.” To which he said, “I’m sorry, what was that?” I WAS SPEAKING TOO SOFTLY BECAUSE OF MY NERVOUSNESS. So I repeated what I said, and he heard me this time. Then I told him, “I’m a huge fan, and I think what your foundation is doing for these Veterans is amazing.” He was genuinely thankful, and I could tell he meant it and could see his appreciation. Then I asked, “Would it be okay if I took a picture with you?” He said, “Uh, sure.” Upon further reflection, I believe there were 2 reasons for this. 1) He didn’t want to get taken away from talking with these Veterans, which I totally get. 2) It was dark where we were. Luckily we found a little light and walked over there. Dave was there to snap the pic. I remember how big my smile felt while taking the picture. I told him thank you and shook his hand again.

After, my adrenaline was pumping, and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone! I’ve been so starstruck the past 2 times he was there, and I didn’t even meet him. This time I was HYPE. Anyway, that’s the story about how I nervously met Gary Sinise! He seemed like a genuinely nice person, and he’s doing amazing things for WWII Veterans.

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Latest Post URL

1 month ago

Ever since I created the social media accounts for Bloganueva, I’ve wanted to find a way to direct users to my latest post. I thought it’d be a good idea to have something like this, especially for Instagram since you can only have links in your bio or stories (if you have more than 10,000 followers). Users would be able to go straight to the corresponding post from Instagram or wherever, and it would always be correct. Here’s what I did:

$post = App\Post::orderBy('id', 'desc')->first();
$slug = '/posts/' . $post->slug;
Route::redirect('/latest', $slug);

This code is in my web.php file with all my routes. The first line grabs the most recent post from the database. Then I set a variable for the URL in the second line. In the last line I use Laravel’s Route::redirect method to redirect /latest to the variable I’ve set for the most recent post.

This code is simple; however, getting here was pretty annoying. I was trying to use my PostsController with this. However, no matter what I did, I figured out for some reason that this route required authentication for it to work. I believe this had something to do with the Auth changes made in Laravel 5.7. When I created Bloganueva Laravel was at version 5.5. If I wanted to update my authentication to the 5.7 structure, I would have needed to basically remake a lot of stuff; and I do not want to do that at all. I decided I needed to find a new solution for this problem. That’s when I came up with what I have above. I’m so excited about this. I think it will make my Instagram account’s user experience much better and will prove to be more useful than I know in the future.

Bloganueva Has Tags

2 months ago

I finally added tags to my website! I’ve tried 2 separate times before, but I never could get it to work. I encountered everything that was stopping me before on this most recent attempt, but this time I was able to get past them. Something just clicked this time.

I’ve previously been able to use php artisan tinker to add tags to posts, but I couldn’t translate this action and related ones into my PostsController and blade file. No matter what I tried at the time, it didn’t work. This time, I got back to the tinker part. I approached it one step at a time.

I followed different tutorials to help me every time I tried. I used different approaches because none of them were working. I was really confused because, if I followed the instructions for the most part, it should work, right? WRONG (lol). The tutorials I was using had different code than each other and myself; so it made it more difficult. What was tripping me up was for some reason in the previous 2 attempts was my code wasn’t retrieving my post’s ID from my database. I determined that this was the problem in my second attempt, but none of my code worked. This time, I was able to figure out a way to do it!

$post = $post->latest()->first();

In the tutorials I was using, you would just see some version of the first line and the last line. In my situation I needed the middle line for everything to work. I needed to explicitly retrieve the latest post from the database AFTER it was saved. Once a post gets saved to my database, that’s when it’s given an ID. With this second line, I’m pulling the post after it’s saved, therefore also pulling in it’s newly given ID. Then the last line attaches the tag(s) to the post!

With this code, I FINALLY ADDED A TAG TO A POST. Before I got really excited, I started testing out other things to try and break it. Once I figured out this step and nothing else broke, EVERYTHING started falling in to place.

It sucks knowing how close I was the last 2 times, but I’m just glad I fiiinally figured it out! For posts to have tags on a website, you need to have a polymorphic relationship. That means posts can have more than one tag, and tags can belong to more than one post. This makes it a little bit more difficult to do than say, categories (which I also have). Categories can belong to multiple posts, but posts canNOT have multiple categories. Most blogs and websites have this tagging ability, so I sort of felt left out, even though I was putting that feeling on myself. Well, not anymore! I’m heeere with everyone else, and it feels great to have conquered this problem after nearly 2 years! I literally love coding so much!

Weekly Artifacts | James Willard Oglesby

3 months ago

This collection of artifacts shows how somber and almost uncertain losing a soldier is. You would only get the belongings he carried during war. You didn't "get" his body. You received a letter that said your son died, but it didn't give specifics; how can it? Over 400,000 US soldiers were killed during this war. I can't imagine the administrative effort that would have been required to be able to give every family the exact reason and location of death for each soldier. That certainly must have been hard for the families to know their family member died without specifics. You just needed to accept that they're dead, and it's because of this war. In the chaplain letter the funeral is scarcely described. I started thinking while reading it, how similar if not exactly the same these sorts of letters must have been because of the sheer quantity that were sent out. A lot of the time, you weren't allowed to properly grieve for this person. Tangible things like a gravestone or casket weren't available to the soldier's family. You had to grieve off the abstract thought that this person you loved is just no longer with you. Getting the chance to think about this collection reminded me how this world does not need another war like this. We need to remember how the world got to that point back then and never repeat it. It's too much and too costly.

This collection of artifacts means a lot to me. My future boss showed it to me on my interview day at The National WWII Museum. He took me around the Museum after my interview was over, and this was the first stop we made in Rode to Tokyo. He told me this woman kept her marriage a secret so that his family could get his life insurance. I thought to myself how selfless and hard that must have been for her. That's a huge reason this artifact sticks out to me out of all of the artifacts in the entire Museum. I'm never going to forget it. I really appreciated that after my interview I was shown around. That made me want this job even more. I wanted to be a part of spreading the mission of this institution. Now I get to do that everyday.

Knit Bag for Sarah

2 months ago

After I finished the scarf, I immediately started knitting something else. I didn’t want to lose steam after finishing a project. I didn’t know what this something was going to be when I first started. I cast on 30 stitches using some yarn Sarah didn’t explicitly need. I soon decided I wanted this project to be a bag. I thought it would be an easy thing to make to help me practice the stockinette stitch. The yarn I used was a little larger than the scarf yarn, so I was able to see results more quickly, and I really like that. It helps with my motivation when I’m making something. This project also helped me practice more joining from a new skein and binding off. I even whipped out some crochet skills that I haven’t utilized since I made my keyboard bag 2 years ago. When I started this bag, I didn’t have the size picked out. I truly was just knitting until the skeins ran out. Luckily, it was exactly enough yarn for the bag to fit Sarah’s Chromebook! She told me that it fit, and I was so dang pumped! Overall, it was a relatively well-rounded project for me to practice on, and I’m incredibly happy with the results.

Knit Scarf for Sarah

3 months ago

I finally finished the scarf I've been making for Sarah since before Christmas. I was almost halfway done before Christmas, but then I just got lazy. I procrastinated a lot--a few months to be exact. I just didn't feel like knitting during this time. Sarah and I weren't going to the knitting group we go to for a few weeks, and that's usually at least one day out of the week when I knit, but I wasn't even getting that time. We eventually started going back, and I picked up this project again. I got halfway in it, joined a new skein, and kept pushing through. I started off knitting a row at a time and putting it down. I wasn't going to make any progress doing that over and over. It would have taken me way longer. I kept telling myself not to put my needles down and to keep going. I could feel how close I was getting to being done, and that motivated me to not stop this time. I bound off, sewed in the loose ends, and was DONE! It felt so good finishing another project. It looks really good. I know it's summer right now, but it's at least ready for her to use later this year.

Hap Tim Laptop Backpack Review

1 month ago

I’ve had the same orange L.L.Bean backpack since I was in high school. There’s a lot to like about it. It’s rugged. It’s water resistant. The design isn’t too bad. It has enough pockets. It holds everything I want it to. It’s a good backpack. However, I figured it’s about time I got a new one. My friend Trey got me an Amazon gift card for my birthday, and I decided to use it for a new backpack. I wanted to make the most of the gift card, so I looked and looked and looked for a well reviewed, sick looking, modern bag. Then I found the Hap Tim Laptop Backpack.

First Impressions

When I first opened the box, I was very impressed with the design. Pictures can make a product look nicer than it actually is, but this bad boy is the real deal. I was not let down at all. I put the bag on immediately because of how excited I was about it. It felt lighter and is more compact than my L.L.Bean. It felt comfortable on my back, and I couldn’t wait to pack it with my work supplies. I thought about going through everything to keep it minimal just in case this bag couldn’t handle it because sometimes a bag can be TOO minimal, but I decided against that. I’m glad I did because it handled everything like a champ. Everything1 fit and fit with ease. Every single one of the pockets still has space. This is key because I don’t want an overly stuffed bag that makes it difficult to put stuff in and get stuff out. I was ready to put it to the test.

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Everyday Carry LMAO

This bag exceeded my expectations all week. It feels good when I wear it. It stands up on its own as advertised. The zippers are very nice and feel so smooth. The handle at the top comes in clutch. Since the two straps can be grasped together, the balance of the bag is more centered when I lift it up compared to a bag with the one loop sewn on to the back of the bag. That makes it easier to lift this bag. The general compactness of this bag also contributes to its ease of lift.

I also seized the opportunity to push it to its limits. I used it as my only bag for spending the weekend away. I kept all of my work stuff in it while packing it with all the clothes I needed. Everything fit! I was so psyched about this because I love this bag so much, I literally want to use it as much as possible for anything at all. I’m glad it passed this self-imposed test. I’m so hyped on using it all the time now.


Now I’d like to talk about the nitty-gritty about this bag. The outer fabric feels tough, and I’ve already utilized the water resistance (WE’RE GOOD). The inner fabric is slippery, which is nice because that makes it easier to move things in and out. The hinge mechanism of the main compartment is metal. It feels really solid, and that gives me confidence in this bag’s longevity knowing that I probably can’t break/bend it too easily. The front magnetic button has a solid click to it when it closes. It’s relatively easy to open, which I like because sometimes I need to get something out of it quickly; but I can also tell that it’s secure and won’t open without explicit action. The tiny strap that holds the top straps together comes in handy. I was able to hook my hat and knitting bag around the handles so I didn’t have to carry them separately. Unfortunately I haven’t needed the luggage strap yet, but I’m definitely glad it’s there. I love being able to see directly into the bag when I open the main compartment. I don’t have to do a bunch of stretching to the bag to view any compartment really. I had to do that a lot with my L.L.Bean when I was looking for stuff. Everything is just so much more accessible in this bag, and I appreciate that so much. Truly the use and accessibility I’m getting out of this bag makes my life just that much better.


All of these little things help boost all of the features this bag already has and raises it to another level. This is definitely the best backpack I’ve ever owned. It has quickly become my favorite. This bag has everything I need and want. I can’t say anything bad about it. I’ve enjoyed using it since day one. It has presented absolutely no problems and has surpassed my expectations. I highly recommend this backpack to anyone looking to purchase a new one.

Everything: 1 pair of khakis, 2 shirts, 1 button down short sleeve shirt, 1 button down long sleeve shirt, 2 basketball shorts, 1 pair of Chubbies, underwear, socks, 2 really long charging cables, toothbrush, razor

Journaling in DayGram Diary

3 months ago

I started journaling in 2016. Before I continue, let me define journaling for me because I know people have different purposes for it and ideas about it. When I journal, I just write down parts of my day and more recently my feelings about them in DayGram Diary. That’s it. Journaling has solely been for the purpose of posterity and remembrance.

I wasn’t very consistent with journaling until 2018. I would journal every now and then, maybe a few times a week. Sometimes I had spurts of nothing. In 2018, I made a goal to journal everyday. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach that goal, but I do have a journal entry for every single day that year. Luckily, DayGram lets me retroactively input entries, so I can always go back and fill out days I missed.

This is the only journaling app I have experience with. I know there are plenty, but I wanted a very minimal one. DayGram is exactly what I need. It has a simple design that encourages short journal entries. I originally would write down the most significant thing that happened that day. Jotting down a single thought or event was very appealing to me in the beginning. However, I recently started writing down how I felt that day in addition to a more detailed account of what actually happened. I think it will be useful for me to be able to reflect on my emotions along with ensuring a more accurate recollection of the day. I want my journaling to start having more than just a cataloguing purpose.

Journaling is already very rewarding. I just went back to when Sarah and I got engaged and remembered how that was the best weekend of my whole life. It was perfect. It means a lot to be able to reflect on past experiences. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t write things down. I’m definitely able to remember things without this, but there are little things I’ve written down that I’ve forgotten about. You need to enjoy the little things (Rule #32).

Journaling has been such a nice practice for me to make a habit. I really like being able to look back at my life. If you’ve been thinking about doing it, I’d definitely suggest starting now. You never know what could happen today.