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Though I'm originally from Germany (and hold citizenship there) I do consider myself an American.  Which is just as well because I have no idea what the equivalent of Independence Day is in Germany.

When I lived with my nuclear family we did the traditional fireworks and barbeque.  I was really excited when I got to start setting off fireworks of my own.  The first ones I got to light were in Germany when we were on base for a celebration.  My dad (Tony) let me hold the punk (incense stick looking thing used to light things) and light up an artillery shell.  It was really exciting.  As I grew up it was about blowing things up.  By the time we moved to Kansas I would start gathering together old toys I didn't play with anymore and go out with my friends and our firecrackers to try and blow them apart.  Usually it was Army men or something like that, a big favorite was kids' meal toys.  The toughest one was a Lion King character.  We ended up jokingly setting him up on a brick with a sparkler which we lit and then left to go swimming.  We came back and he was melted.  I'm not particularly proud of having done those destructive things, but they are what characterized my 4th of July holidays.  The food, barbeque stuff was just like most other barbeques, my parents cooked up hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, and had a good time with their alcohol while us kids drank way too many sodas and blew things up.  Once I was in my teens and we had moved to Tennessee my dad (Troy) showed me how to fire bottle rockets at each other.  That was more than a little dumb I'll admit.

Nowadays I'm perfectly happy enjoying the day off without fireworks and alcohol.  Today for example we stayed at home and lounged for pretty much the whole day.  CD (mother-in-law) has been out house sitting since this morning so it was just me and Byron and Sam (wife).  It was very relaxed.  We watched a couple movies and had some Frito Chili Pie style munchies with turkey dogs.  Byron was the only one who drank and it wasn't that much.  It's nice to have a more relaxing version.  Normally we would do something a little more (depending on whether it fell on a weekend or not) to combine it sort of with CD's birthday since it's so close to the Fourth.  A visit to the zoo or aquarium, maybe even a little trip to Bosque del Apache.  Fireworks-wise we obey the city limit of under 10 feet.  As I've grown a bit older (not a lot mind you) I've come to enjoy the fountains more than the booms, and it helps that our dogs are afraid of the louder noises anyway.  This year we didn't light any off because of a particularly dry dry season.  With all the fires in the state it didn't seem worth trying our luck, or spending the money.  Sam and I watered down our yard the last three nights to make sure that our plants and ground were well saturated, we didn't burn down.

Someone else who answered this post had posed the question about whether most Americans even know why we light off fireworks on Independence Day.  I don't think they do.  The reason is because it's to serve as a reminder of the war fought to ensure our freedom.  The fireworks represent gunfire, bombs, and artillery.  It's even in our National Anthem (Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would become the Anthem while he was present during a battle for the Revolution.  "The bombs bursting in air," were literal.).  As time removes us from the event I think it gets easier to forget the reasons behind the traditions.  Another thing that came up in response to this question was the leaning attitude of the question itself, being posed on the 4th of July (instead of say, the 1st, which was Canada Day) and asking about "Independence Day," which is not what all countries call their holidays celebrating similar circumstances.  I suppose if you want to get picky it's alright to point out the flaws with the wording, but I don't see the point in making a big fuss about it.  If your country has a day celebrating national freedom, I would love to read about it, instead of reading your complaints.  

Having said all that stuff, Happy Independence Day to all those Americans out there, and happy freedom for those others who are lucky enough to enjoy it.  The worst thing we could do as citizens of a free nation, whatever the name, is take it for granted.
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I prefer "Road Warrior" to "Mad Max."  To be honest this is one of my failings.  I know I ought to be more open-minded about movies and all, but I let my preconceived ideas color it a lot.  The action from Road Warrior appealed a lot more to me, and it seemed to have more of those theatrics.  The fact that I wasn't aware of Mad Max at first didn't help a lot.  When I did get around to seeing it the differences in style seemed to be pretty big.  They probably weren't, but my mind was clouded.  The series got really goofy (even for it) after Road Warrior so I think it's also sort of a happy medium between a lot of brainless action and silliness. 

For the most part I prefer the first movie in a series, as they tend to get worse and more thrown together as they go along.  For a lot of the original ones there is a sense of adventure in that they put something out there that isn't so easy to predict public reaction for.  After that it seems like it's just about capitalizing on something that is already popular and will make money almost guaranteed.  That's not to say I think sequels are inherently bad, I just think they tend to be worse than the original.  I end up giving a lot of sequels to movies I liked (5 stars) 4 stars.  I like the sequel, just not as much as the original.  In all honesty I can't think of any more sequels I liked more than the original right off the top of my head.  I'm sure there are more, but I'm drawing a blank.

In another sphere of this whole thing is the fact that I haven't seen a lot of the Horror Movie series.  I haven't seen most of the "Friday the 13th" movies (saw the first one) and haven't seen any of the "Halloween" movies.  I also haven't seen any of the "Hellraiser" movies.  I've seen the original "Predator" and the original "Aliens" but none of the others (I have seen "AVP" but don't really count that as in their respective series).  In that way there is opportunity for me to enjoy sequels more than originals, especially since the horror genre tends to have sequels that don't necessarily tie back into previous iterations.  I try to be open-minded, I guess I'll think on this one a bit more...
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This seems like the type of thing I would keep changing my mind on.  For this very moment though I think that the ability to always be on time would be really neat to have.  It's not so much because I'm late often, but when I'm out and about (especially on my own) I have this paranoia of being late.  I tend to get places way too early in order to compensate for that.  Though I've been getting better about it lately, who doesn't like a quick fix when it's offered no strings attached.  The idea, I think, would be that with having 100% assurance that I'm always going to be on time, I wouldn't feel a "need" to feed into this neurosis about possibly being late.  Like I said, more often than not I'm early, but that doesn't change the fact that I "might" be late.  That's what I would hope to get rid of with this Practically Amazing power.
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Ruling a country isn't easy.  I don't think I could rule a country all by myself.  I do happen to believe in a functional monarchy though (RE: "Does this job come with a crown?").  Any sort of leadership I think is about public awareness, at least if I'm in that position.  I don't usually talk about my political beliefs, but maybe this would be a good place.  For the sake of simplicity ("too late for that," I hear you say) I'll answer the question really quickly before blathering on:  the United States of America.

My idea is that there needs to be an overhaul of how the country is run.  Of course there is all of the corruption in the politics and the corporations with which they are so inextricably entwined.  I would look at eliminating that.  Find the people who make up the various communities and start at a ground level re-imagining.  Leave the greater government fluttering in the wind for a while.  I'm not even against the idea of shrinking things a bit.  The fact that America is so big doesn't help matters really.  The misuse of resources, the abuse of the citizenry, these things are exasperated by all of the land mass that the government is in charge of.  Maybe break into five (Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest) separate countries, loosely tied by the cultural association.  I can't break myself into five people, but then I don't think I'd make a great leader of a country and people at this point in time anyway.  Make the governments more people centered.  The role of government is protection that a small community cannot manage (standing army) and general outlines which are to be enforced (example: Bill of Rights).  Higher courts don't hurt a whole heck of a lot either, for extreme circumstances.  Otherwise it should be a localized system.

I don't see a problem with helping to spread ideas that can work for the greater good.  The monarchy comment above is based on the idea that power is more easily corrupted the more it's spread out.  Sure, if the monarch is corrupt we're screwed, but you put in an adequate (if not outstanding) king or queen who honestly cares about the people and you're all set.  With power spread throughout multiple bodies (and more accurately more individuals) it's a constant tug of war between those people who care about the nation and those people who care only for themselves.  In that case the folks who care for themselves tend to come out with at least a little something, while the nation suffers because those who fight for them require an all-or-nothing victory which they cannot attain.  I also believe in the power that people as a whole have.  If you do not have a satisfactory monarch, the people can remove him or her.  It's easier to replace a single leader than it is to overhaul a system tied down with red tape.  

I guess all in all I did little to answer the question, but the place was chosen at least, even if I didn't accept the job.


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Ha, this is a tricky one.  When I was really getting into girls I was pretty confused, so I'm not exactly sure who my first love was.  I remember my first crush, except for her name. :P It'd be hard to communicate though because she's German and I don't speak my native language that well anymore.  Besides that I doubt I would recognize her since I haven't seen her since second grade.  If it was Sam, well, no problem, we're married.  Harley, well I'd probably invite her in and ask if something was wrong.  Luckily we're pretty good friends with her now so there wouldn't be that weirdness.  The only weird thing would be what in the heck she was doing way out here in New Mexico.  Photo shoot I guess?  I've been interested in quite a few girls who could lead to awkward encounters if they suddenly showed up (in person no less!) but I'm pretty sure that if it was those two it would be alright.  Make for a pretty interesting day if nothing else. :)
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The Camdens from Seventh Heaven.  I'm not a follower of Christianity really, but I really like the way they modeled a healthy lifestyle for their kids.  There was a lot of communication, even if it had to be forced sometimes.  They weren't perfect at all (even with Eric being clergy) and didn't try to act like they were.  The parents had just as many short-comings as their children and used them to be there for each other as a family.  The problems they ran into themselves and that their kids were exposed to were real problems which apply today as well, not just who is going to ask them to the prom or what will the neighbor think about this burnt pie I'm entering into the competition.  One of the biggest things that stuck out to me was when Eric's sister showed up and the family took them in for her to detox from alcohol abuse.  It was really hard on everybody but they managed to get through it.  I think that a lot of that attitude comes from being brought up with good morals and values and the gumption to actually put them into action.
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This is an extremely difficult question.  Off the cuff my answer would have to be experimental.  I would think that there would be enough variety in there to keep me occupied and interested and seeing a lot of new things.  From some of the experimental music I've listened to it seems like it's a genre which blends a little bit of all genres based on the artist and the time and the mood.

Growing up I was in a weird place with music.  I didn't listen to it very much at all, but I was oddly attracted to techno music.  In Germany Captain Jack was my favorite. "Hey-Oh Captain Jack!  Bring me back to the railroad track!" :D A friend of mine had an older sister who had the track on tape and she made a copy for me.  She let the recorder run too long and I got an extra song: "There she was, just-a walkin' down the street, singing 'doo-wa-dee d'dee-dee-dum-dee-dee doo' snappin' her fingers and shufflin' to the beat."  It was something else, but I listened to both quite a bit.  Later on the Smurfs came out with children's tapes where they sang pop songs.  I listened to those going to sleep.  Most were pop techno, must have been a German thing.

In America I started listening a lot to Weird Al.  I wanted to buy every CD he had coem out with.  I liked his style and I liked the comedy (not that I was a comedy connoseur or anything, I was like 10).  He was all I really listened to at the time.  In the background was my parent's music though, which seemed to be a blend of R/B and country.  Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Marky Mark, and some others were listened to a lot.  I really was not a fan of those when I was a kid, I guess because my parents liked them.  Of course Mom had a habit of connecting a lot of these songs with her mood swings so there's also an association there. 

When my Mom and Dad (Tony) divorced we met Dad (Troy) in Arizona.  I felt a need to impress him, so I started listening to the kind of music he liked, Rock, mostly classic Rock.  That's when Ozzy, AC/DC, and GNR came into the picture (I'm still a big GNR fan).  I became really closed-minded about music here especially.  It was rock or nothing.  I "hated" Country and Pop music, anything my sister and mother listened to.  It was just hard Rock. 

I met Sam, my wife, in 2005 officially, but mostly 2006 and she started to slowly turn me.  I was pretty pig-headed with her too, but in the end I was the one listening to her music and loving it (though she liked some of my songs too, even though mainstream music was not a favorite of hers).  Now I'm listening to all kinds, including Country and Pop, including Tim McGraw.  Some of my favorite musicians are Infected Mushroom, GNR, Gary Jules, Depedro, and many more.  A little bit of just about everything.  I've become pretty addicted to the variety different genres offer.

That's why, I think, I would have to go with Experimental, just because I enjoy that variety.  Not the same old thing, not groups who all sound the same, or even in a genre.  That's my choice.

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