Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First iBook Book Review: Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter by Josh Gates

Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter - Gallery Books

My Dad had a friend selling an iPad and he decided to buy it for me. I've had it for about 2 weeks now and I love it for some things. One thing I was really curious about was reading books. We are going on an extended vacation this summer and we have limited space. Could I download some books and have things to read while camping and exploring? Would it hurt my eyes? Can it be similar to reading a book? All of these things were big questions for me, so I downloaded my first book. I'm a bit of a geek at heart, and I've fallen in love with this TV show called Destination Truth. It's on the Netflix streaming. Basically, these people (including the author of the book, Josh Gates), go all over the world in search of "monsters". They interview eyewitnesses, look for evidence of the monsters, and conduct a nighttime investigation, where they always seem to be chasing some real animal (usually, what I suspect to be tigers, or other rare predators). In the end, they give their thoughts on the existence of the monster - usually they chalk it up to folklore, but sometimes, the find a big old Yeti footprint in the jungle, which is also pretty cool. What I find most entertaining about the show is the host, Josh. He's funny, and sarcastic, and always over the top interesting. I also love watching the travel. They really get into areas, interact with locals, travel deep into the interior of countries. So this book is based on his TV show, and includes some behind-the-scenes scenarios. How the show started, how they film it, some shows of particular interest, and his opinions on the existence of these monsters. The books is an easy read, written about adventure travel, so I thought it was pretty interesting. His sarcasm and sense of humor come through the book quickly, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure if you need to be a fan of the show to read the book, but it would probably help.
All together, I was really pleased with this book. I'm not sure I could really get into a difficult book on the iPad. I haven't yet figured out a way to "curl up with it", as you would with a book. Also, the screen switches on you, depending on how you hold it, so that can sometimes be annoying. I am sure I can change that - it's all a learning curve. But I did not find that my eyes got tired, so that's a bonus. I think the only thing that was weird to me was that I didn't feel like I was reading a book. I felt like I was reading a website, so I don't know how much that affects the relaxation you might get from reading a real book. But the good news is, there are lots of stupid books out there to read!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Numbers - now improved! with pictures!

  • I did not pack any boxes this weekend.
  • I drove Broad St to my friend's house. That's the street that I ran 10 miles on. It's pretty far. I was just a little bit proud of myself. 
  • Alex defends his thesis in about two weeks. His thesis is due this week to his committee. And then he gets to put together an hour long talk.
  • Its Penn graduation. It's been one year since I graduated. 
  • This past weekend was gorgeous, near 80 degrees and just stunning. I hope it happens again!
  • I got a new camera. It's red. It's the first camera I've bought in over 7 years. I love it. I will use it often :) Use illustrated below.
  • We have about 7 weeks left here in Philly. Things are starting to get a little crazy around here! On Saturday, I worked for 4 hours. Then we headed out to REI, where we got two bike racks for the car.  We tested out the bike racks by putting my bike up on the car. I have no idea how noisy these things might be, but this is how we're gonna drive across the country! Wahoo!

Alex adjusts the bike up on the car. Thankfully, he knows what he's doing. But I have to keep thinking, "We're gonna drive to Canada in this?" Crazy, right?
  • On Sunday, I got to head out to my friend Lisa's house in the 'burbs, about 30 miles away. It's the first time I've been out to see her, so it was a lot of fun. We drove all around the area, and I took a few pictures, illustrated below. 
I found an old Ford, selling drinks at Peddler's Village. I had to get my picture in front of it, of course!
This is the Delaware River. It separates New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I thought it was pretty. Oh, and also? We were driving when I took this picture!

I saw this flower at a market. Are you kidding me? Those are my wedding colors! All in a flower! So pretty!

This was taken in Lambertville, NJ. There are just amazing houses there, Victorian, with turrets and just beautiful detailing. I loved walking those neighborhoods!

And this is a canal that parallels the Delaware river. In the olden days, the only way to get up river was to have a mule team pull you up river. Often, they would dig these canals next to rivers, which could help isolate traffic going upriver. Obviously, there is no need for these now, so they've become this lovely little area with a footpath and restaurants lining the canals.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy birthday, Randi!

Dear Randi,
Here are a few goofy pictures to illustrate our exploits over the last few years. I can't imagine my life without you in it and I am so glad we are BFF. I hope you have the best birthday and I hope you are spoiled rotten (per usual) :). I can't wait to live closer to you!
xoxo LYLAS

Oh, and also one random picture of you with a Japanese tourist in Philadelphia. I knew you would never forget that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Haiku Friday

This week tough challenge
I won't deny, ups and downs
lots of stressful things


Hopefully coming
back down to reality
Get down to business


I'm so ready for
this move new perspective new
outlook better coast!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A new little addition

Well, that's our little darling, Mr. Kitty. Or Simba. Or Kill Monster. Or whatever the heck you want to call him. Randi found him at her work, he's just an itty bitty thing. My parents are kind enough to foster the little guy until we get to CA in a couple months. By then, he'll be a little terror, I am sure. Should be fun!
The situation has been somewhat comical. I have wanted another pet for a really long time. I've tried to convince Alex to get a dog, or another cat for some time now. He's hesitant because we're moving so soon, so he didn't want to have to cart a new creature across the country. Me, however? I'm a sucker. I'm an only child and I would love nothing more than to fill my house with animals. I know, I'm a little crazy. I am lucky that my parents indulge my thoughts and ideas, however. My parents are great people, just awesome. They have company visiting right now, Steve and Leslie. Luckily, S&L are cat people too. My folks picked up this little guy and took him to the vet. He needs to be syringe fed four times a day, and needs to have his butt rubbed by a wet washcloth to get him to go potty. My mom has him sleeping in the bathtub in their room (with a bed and a litter box). I think this extreme kitten stage should only last about another two weeks, but I have to say they are enamored with him already. My dad has sent me two videos, has skyped with me, and has sent me several photos - including the one above, where he has an enormous bandage on his leg because he got a blood test at the vet. He's pretty helpless, but, apparently a little spunky. He is not eating a ton yet (I am sure that will change soon), but he seems to already have the idea that he runs the place. He has hissed at the dog when her tail whapped him. He will sorta scratch his scratchy post (yes, of course he has a scratchy post- he's three weeks old!). My mom thinks he's figuring out the whole "bathing" thing - he's licked his paws a couple times. And my Dad told me he has reduced adults to crawling on the floor just to hang out with him. I am sure the novelty will wear off soon, but hopefully not before we get to CA to meet this little guy. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The car, oh the car!

I haven't had a car since 2003. That's nearly 10 years I have only driven my parents' vehicles, or I've driven rental cars. But I've never owned one of my own. Not for a long, long time. As you probably know, if you read this blog at all, I bike everywhere. To get my groceries, to run errands, to get to work, to get my hair done, to go to dance lessons, to hit the gym. Everyplace I've gone is by bike. Before I had my bike, I would walk everywhere. Obviously, this has limited my abilities to go places. Lots of times, I had to turn down parties, or occasions, because I really couldn't get there. We tried to space out our car rentals since they ended up being so expensive (with the rental, and the insurance, it was just too much). Our grocery shopping trips would be epic if we had a car. I would always be a little bit on edge the whole time we had the car, just because I knew it had to go back to where it came from and I needed to budget time and energy for that trek (and trust me, it's a trek!). Thankfully, I live off a bus line, and my parents can ride the bus for free with their Medicare card, but my family visits have been limited too.
Now, we've had a car two whole weeks. It's funny how much it can change your life in such a short time. I've hit the mall, and the grocery store. I've driven to the post office, and to Trader Joe's. I've driven into work, realized I have free parking on the weekends at work, and then driven into work again! We still do epic shopping trips - those might not end for a while. I just feel like the car might get taken away at any moment. Or that we have to return it soon. It hasn't really set in that it's our car (although with then car payments start, perhaps it will!). It's so nice, with OnStar and XM radio (free for 6 months!). I haven't forgotten how to drive, I've just forgotten what freedom you have with a car. I realize that most of the time, you don't really go anywhere but work, home, errands. But the possibilities are endless! We were talking about Hershey today - Hershey! The Chocolate Capital! We can go there! And eat chocolate! We can take the cat to the vet without strapping her to the back of the car! I can donate all those boxes of clothes in the basement to the Salvation Army without taking 25 trips on my bike!
It's also funny because Alex and I don't know how to drive together. Something that is such a fundamental part of most people's lives, is something I don't really know that much about my husband. One of my friend said her husband "always slams the car door". I thought, I have no idea if Alex slams doors or not. I do know that he can't parallel park, which I find hysterical. We once rented a minivan (don't ask why - I think we were "upgraded") and I had to park that damn thing because he couldn't get it in any spots on the street. I do know that he doesn't like to drive for pleasure. He's much more content to get where we're going, instead of enjoy the view while we go. Me, I'm pleased. I'm excited there's an XM station dedicated entirely to Pearl Jam. And, yes I still sing at the top of my lungs, like I can. Traffic doesn't bother me that much, even with a stick shift. I'm not sure how driving through San Francisco will go, but I'm sure we can do it. We can do anything. With our little car!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Numbers

  • This past weekend was a little busy, a little boring and everything in between. Friday night both Alex and I were done. We left work at a normal time (5:30) and headed home to just chill out. We drank a few beers and chatted and just hung out which was so, so nice. Normally, life is a little crazy, and lately we just haven't had the time to just chill. So it was really nice.
  • On Saturday, we hit up Wegman's, the nicest grocery store around. They even sell beer there (trust me, it's the little things!). This store is just so nice - it's like Trader Joes' (with their own brand name stuff) and Vons (with popular brand name stuff) all rolled into one. We filled up the cart and spent $187 on food. Crazy, right? But that did include a rack of pork ribs on sale for $10. I cooked ribs last night, and they literally fell off the bone. Delicious!
  • On Saturday, we also hit up Target to check out some cameras. I have had my camera for nearly 7 years, and I've been wanting one to take with us on our trek across the country. It was fun to try out the little point-and-shoots, and we found one that I think I will really like. Then I promptly came home, read the reviews on the different cameras and ordered one on Ebay. It comes on Wednesday - I am super excited to try it out!
  • We also went into work for a bit on Saturday night. I began processing about 60 different samples that I generated last week. That took a while, and I have to got into work today to finish the processing and test all them out. Hopefully at least a percentage of them worked!
  • Sunday was "around the house" day. I did laundry, made the ribs, and I started packing. I packed two boxes, which might not seem like a lot, but it's all the stuff that was in my curio cabinets, so it's both nice and depressing to see those cabinets empty. I also packed a few things that were on the walls. We got a couple large plastic tubs at Target as well, so I think I might use those to pack up some of our linens, as well as maybe the more precious things like our dishes. Although, I already broke one plate and one bowl (oddly, both turquoise, which is one of my favorite colors). Hopefully, there's nothing associated with bad luck in breaking your wedding dishes :)
  • And now, here we are, facing about 8 weeks left here in Philly. The weekends are starting to fill up, and the time here is pretty limited. Here's hoping we can get it all done!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Haiku May the 4th Be With You!

Star Wars day May the 
fourth. Childhood memories
Wookie Han Solo.


Tiny figurines
Epic battles, flashlight swords
Princess Leia buns.


Storm troopers, ewoks
Playing outside in the dark
Parents in, lights on.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Numbers again!

  • I just can't keep away from the numbers, you guys. So, for the second time this week, here goes!
  • I went to the doctor recently for a check up. My blood pressure was 106/80. I am really, really proud of that. Even if my weight isn't what I want it to be. 
  • I found a way to move our stuff across the country. It's a pod-like thing, but we have to go to a place to load it. I have absolutely no concept of how much stuff will fit in this thing (seriously, 6'x7'x8' - who knows?) but I am hoping our whole lives will fit in there. Otherwise, it's being donated.
  • Moo is only with us for another 4 weeks. She is going on an adventure (in reality, an airplane) with my in-laws to live in CO for a few weeks while we pack up, move, and vacation a bit across the country. She has no idea what is going on, but we took her for a test drive the other day. She meowed a lot when she saw you, but she calmed down if she couldn't make eye contact. She is going to be a carry on, so I am hoping she doesn't meow the entire time across the country. My vet won't give her any sort of sedatives for the flight, so I'm at a bit of a loss. I might try to take her to another vet before she leaves. 
  • We have 9 weeks left here in Philly. In that time, there will be: one wedding, a week long visit from our parents, Alex's defense on the 29th. I will write one grant, finalize one paper, write one more paper, finish about 6 more experiments, all while packing up my house, donating used items, and trying to wrap things up here in Philly. Oh, and hopefully hanging out with some of our friends here, too! 
  • For the last week, I've been battling allergies that have been really bad. I've had sinus headaches every day, and the other day it was so bad, I thought I might toss my cookies. It makes it really difficult to work and write and complete all the things I need to do.
  • My orchid is blooming for the first time since I received it as a gift several years ago. I'm a little bummed to leave it behind.
  • You guys, I sold a bunch of stuff on Ebay - guess how much money I made? About $500! Are you kidding me? I think I might buy myself a new camera for our trip across the country. My camera is 7 years old, and I get really frustrated with how slow it is. I am hoping I can find something small that takes good pics because I want to document this whole drive across the country!
  • We got the roof rack for our car! Apparently, it's a little noisy when you drive fast, but that's the way it's gonna have to be, since we are taking the bikes with us. We are hoping to explore some of the country on bikes, too. Camping, biking, hiking across the country? I can think of nothing better!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Movie Review Tuesday: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

I decided to use the British version of the title of this movie in my title. I'm not quite sure why they changed the title of the movie for the American market, and I refuse to believe that it's because the Republicans are winning in the war on Science and the war on Women. This movie is put out by those brilliant people who invented Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and Chicken Run, all favorite movies/TV shows of mine. The movie follows our hero, Pirate Captain, on his quest to win a Pirate of the Year award (he's been denied for the last 20 years, so he must win this one, right?). This movie is sort of everything you want in a movie. A band of misfit pirates (including one with gout, an albino, and a woman dressed up as a man), and of course the first mate who is logical and reasonable, the only straight character. While trying to win the Pirate of the Year award, Pirate Captain comes upon the realization that he sucks as a pirate and he could never win the Pirate of the Year. He tries and tries to plunder and steal from ships on the sea, but never comes across anything carrying any sort of booty. Until, that is, he comes across what I am assuming to be The Beagle, an exploratory science ship that carried Charles Darwin on his circumnavigation of the world, and lead to the formation of the Theory of Evolution. Charles is portrayed as a bit of a mad scientist, as well as a stick in the mud. He realizes Pirate Captain's parrot Polly is actually a Dodo, an animal that went extinct hundreds of years ago, and hopes to present this discovery to the scientists in London. What ensues is hilarity, adventure, intrigue and a lot of good old warm-hearted fun. While I found the movie to be slow at points, and I also found the humor to be terribly British, I did enjoy this movie immensely. For one, I thought that the characters were so well done - each one contributed a great dynamic to the plot. I also thought the animation was a lot of fun. While not entirely "claymation"(I think some was CGI to speed up the process), I loved the 3-D-ness of the characters, and I loved the look and the feel of the movie. Altogether, I think this movie is a win, especially considering the other movies out right now. It's done in the theme of the Muppets, with humor kids will get and humor adults will enjoy. I am really looking  forward to everything that comes out of this studio!