Best performances of the Star-Spangled Banner

It’s Independence Day weekend and that means red, white, and blue; fireworks; and the Star-Spangled Banner. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of awkward (or just bad) performances of the Star-Spangled Banner. So when someone gets it right, it’s magical and should be noted.

There are a lot of great performances of the national anthem including the Cactus Cuties and the US Army Academy Choirs. I started to make a list of my top five favorite performances, but this performance by the Gaither Vocal Band is so brilliant, it needs to stand on it’s own. Five-part harmony, classic performance(no unnecessary frills), and David Phelps hitting some impressive high notes–what’s not to love?



Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

This might as well have been what the drive-thru employee at a popular restaurant asked me when I picked up my order one morning.

One day, I decided to get some breakfast from a restaurant I love.  I didn’t really need to be buying anything, but I wanted to treat myself that morning. So I pulled up to the drive-thru and placed my order. When I pulled up to the window and got my food, the employee told me that the person in front of me had paid for my order. I thought, “How exciting!” Who doesn’t like a surprise free meal? But then the employee gave a subtle look that implied people had been doing that all morning. Well, I proceeded to drive away, quickly feeling guilty about not continuing the chain of pay-it-forward breakfast payments.

It was hard for me to really enjoy my ‘breakfast of shame’, thinking about how the employee probably judged me for not “doing a good deed”.

We’ve all seen those stories about how hundreds of strangers have paid for each others meals in pay-it-forward style. It’s fun to see stories about people doing nice things for people they don’t even know. However, I recently saw an interesting article on Yahoo about the topic that really frustrated me. (When will I learn that nothing good comes from reading an article from the Yahoo front page? Well, that’s an article for another day.)

The title of the link read, “Ok, so who spoiled the Florida pay-it-forward?”

A Starbucks in Florida had reach 378 people who payed for each other’s drinks. However when it came to one woman, she said she only wanted to pay for her own drink. The writer of this article and many others criticized her for not paying for the next person’s drink like all the other people.

The Barista later told a reporter that he thought she didn’t understand the concept of paying it forward.

I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. When did acts of kindness become a competition? Essentially, they were trying to beat a previous record of people paying for each other’s drinks. It’s not always about doing something that people will see. The first person who paid for the drink did it because they genuinely wanted to do something nice for someone else, not because they felt pressured to or wanted to keep something going.
  2. Let’s be honest. If people are getting something from Starbucks, they’re most likely not suffering for money. 
  3. Sometimes people won’t acknowledge your “good deed” or may even try to reject it, but that shouldn’t stop us from ultimately extending kindness and love to one another.

Really, “pay-it-forward” acts are all about grace. It’s remembering that you have been given something you don’t deserve and doing the same for someone else.

Acts of kindness don’t always have to be big gestures. It’s all about doing something for someone else; showing kindness and love to another human – not always getting anything in return or even receiving any acknowledgment.

The World Cup Bandwagon

The World Cup Bandwagon

Hi. My name is Katie. And I’m a World Cup bandwagon fan.

Yep. I’m one of those people. Today is the USA versus Germany match and I found myself today trying to figure out how I could watch it.

I love big-event sports. Superbowl? Awesome. World Series? You know it. Olympics? Heck to the yes. And now the World Cup. The huge crowds, chants, songs and ridiculously dressed and decorated people.

I really don’t know all of how soccer works and its rules. I would probably make any soccer fan crazy with my bandwagon spirit. But I say, who cares. The more the merrier.

So I say, don’t be shy. Jump on the bandwagon. Red, white and blue. Toot-toot!

Also, USA! USA! USA!

A New Prince

Image In case you haven’t heard, Prince William and Duchess Kate have finally had their baby. Their son was born Monday afternoon. It was announced today that he has been named George Alexander Luis.

The fact that a birth of a baby can cause so much international excitement is amazing, but I think it’s fantastic. People have been waiting for this day from the moment they were married.

News teams have been camped outside of the hospital for weeks waiting to catch the first images of the new addition to the royal family. I love that people get excited about something as normal as a baby being born. But it’s always exciting when a baby is born. This time, the baby just happens to be part of one of the most famous families in the world. The only other time you see this much international excitement is for a sporting event….or a royal wedding.

People have purchased commemorative mugs, baby shoes, shirts, and the list of commemorative merchandise goes on. In fact, experts say this baby could generate $400 million of economic activity.

Even Americans, who really have don’t have a Imagereason to care about the royal family, have become a part of the hype. For the month of July, Sprinkles Cupcakes is selling special commemorative Prince of Cambridge cupcakes filled with blue icing.

With all the chaos in the world, uncertain economic times, hostile political environments, and everything else, it’s nice to take a break and have something normal to celebrate and enjoy with millions of other people. I see people posting all over Facebook, “Why should I care?” – Because it’s fun.  That’s really all there is to it. It’s fun to celebrate something. It’s fun, in my case, to talk about a real-life princess. It’s fun to get excited about a family that we’re all so fascinated by.